The Value of Outside Spaces (a three-minute read).

September 16, 2019    Ann Clarke     ,

Britain isn’t famed for its great weather – to the contrary it is our rain-washed summers that are known the world over. But despite the drizzle, there is real value in bringing the outside into the heart of UK workspaces and there are plenty of great examples of biophilic design.

Fresh air and time spent feeling closer to nature can improve concentration, boost energy, promote wellbeing, reduce stress and improve productivity by as much as 15%. While high-rise office buildings in dense urban cities don’t always make it easy to bring the outside in, there are innovative ways to give interior spaces a dose of the great outdoors.

Developers and landlords have already recognised that outside spaces provide a unique point of difference when attracting tenants and that the younger generation in particular wants more workplace stimulus and variety during their day.  Shared terraces, balconies and courtyard gardens are all being incorporated into new build developments and many refurbishments too.

Our design and fit-out of King’s new London office took advantage of the balcony, kitting it out with colourful deckchairs so employees can take in the views, have space for quiet contemplation and get some fresh air. Our design of TalkTalk’s new Salford office saw inclusion of an outdoor terrace and a herb garden for employees to tend, as well as an in-door picnic terrace to bring employees a little closer to nature whatever the weather.

Indeed, our own office in Warrington makes full use of its ground-floor footprint, opening up the kitchen onto the garden with double doors and ensuring a flow of fresh air throughout the office.  Decking and picnic tables mean that as well as offering somewhere to sit for lunch, it’s an impromptu summer time meeting venue too.

Mediacom in Manchester uses its balcony to supports its focus on collaborative and sociable spaces and brings the striking Manchester skyline into its workspaces. Equipped with tables and chairs it’s as much used for social encounters, as it is meetings and client entertaining.

For businesses without any obvious access to outside space bringing the outside in certainly requires a little more creative thinking.  The use of colour, wall graphics and interesting planting, even nature-inspired noises can help to forge a strong connection with nature and provide a softer and more visually interesting work environment.

Blake Envelopes in Yeovil used a grass effect floor and blue-sky ceiling to give its trading estate office a more nature-inspired feel and the use of glass on the front of the building floods the office with natural light. Ethicall in Bristol doesn’t have any outside space at all, but its use of playground equipment, chiefly two slides connecting two areas of the office, helps to bring an element of outdoor freedom and play into the workspace.  Nature themed wall graphics and widespread use of the colour green take the idea even further.

Studies show that homeowners living in greener areas have improved psychological wellbeing and the same can be  said of workers too. Find ways to embrace nature and you will improve productivity and employee wellbeing. It is time to bring the outdoors in!

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