The most productive workspaces are designed to bring the best out of your team, and they communicate the message that human resources are the company’s most important kind of resource. There are multiple basic characteristics to any truly employee-first workplace: an positive vibe, with a rush of activity that feels like a environment where something important is happening; a workplace where employees feel that they are part of something bigger, and their contribution is considered as important; and they allow a “walk in the park.”
Every employee needs a break from time-to-time to regroup, revitalize, and to take rest. A sustainable workplace supports this. It can be facilitated simply with a refreshing view, or integrating interior planting, or even through a quick walk in the park across the street. Many companies often overlook this feature, but it can have a profound influence on the success of an office.
Bring Nature into Office Building
Human well-being is fundamentally influenced by nature and can measurably reduce levels of fear and stress. Nature has the ability to soothe and even reduce pain. It’s no coincidence that health systems and other institutional settings increasingly try to bring nature and outdoors into their office building and designs.
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Nature’s ability to restore health, strength, or well-being can improve one’s productivity and the ability to pay attention and focus. A simple break can refresh our mind to improve our cognitive ability and come back ready to take on new tasks. A workplace that can bring in nature into their office environment is one that can truly make employees healthier when they leave office in the afternoon than when they arrive in the morning.
The coronavirus pandemic has expedited this line of thinking as facility owners and managers are now seriously considering this as the next level of effective workplaces. This renewed attention is not only limited to actual outdoor spaces, but also indoor atriums, and even interior community spaces. There is great interest in how to create this connection between modern buildings and nature or convert existing spaces or underused features into effective workspaces, particularly because of the fact that the transmissibility of the virus is significantly less in outdoor settings where open flow of air is present. In fact, many educational institutions are seriously considering the possibility of outdoor classroom settings where facilities and weather permit.
The workplace is not far behind as they are closing down the gap between interior and landscape architecture in order to build more effective rooms that are suitable for both indoors and out for small gathering, for team spaces, for brainstorming sessions, and substitute work seats.
A place for rest and a place for work
Traditionally, outdoor settings have been considered as places to be seen, but not an option for a work day. But as the time is changing we’re seeing these spaces with a different focus, they are not just useful to create a beautiful ambiance, but can also function as a workspace. They can work great as a breathing space for stressed employees, and can also be a productive work setting. During extreme weather conditions, By adding a bit of shelter and even heat on a cool day or cooling on a warm one, outdoor settings can work as highly effective extensions of interior community spaces. All you need are some materials and features that make the inside and outside look similar and blend seamlessly.
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As people who are in charge of facility management look for ways to increase the features of their portfolio, they should look at outdoor spaces with a view to capture and repurpose them as another employee convenience in the arms race to attract and retain employees. An exciting feature of this trend is in existing buildings where underutilized roof tops, parking garage roofs, or balconies are increasingly being used as gathering areas for small groups of employees or teams. Something as simple as a physical connection between the dash of an active building and recaptured but adjacent outdoor space can provide an entirely new and very welcome experience for employees. And it supports the idea of a compelling, human-centric work experience. Facility managers must ask themselves: What can be done to make individuals come to the office from the relative safety of their homes? The experience, the facility, and the chance to work productively with colleagues must be entrancing.
Making the outdoors workable
A productive outdoor workspace has the same requirements as their interior family: Furnishings should be flexible and portable. Materials should be green and welcoming. Technology can play a vital role by transforming a space by shuffling the arrangement of chairs to a real and effective team collaboration space. Strong and uninterrupted network connectivity is also a must. Lighting (or shade) should put too much strain on workers’ eyes and let them view screens properly. We need to keep in mind that the new normal will always have virtual participants whether it’s a meeting or a group discussion session.