The value of outside spaces.

May 5, 2016    Ann Clarke     ,

Britain isn’t famed for it’s 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.

Fresh air and time spent outside can improve concentration, boost energy, promote wellbeing and reduce stress too. 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 an international gaming company’s new London office took advantage of the balcony, kitting it out with colourful deckchairs so its workers can take in the views, have space for quiet contemplation and get some fresh air. Indeed our own office in Warrington makes full use of its ground-floor footprint, opening up the kitchen onto the garden with double doors. 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 brining the outside in certainly requires a little more creative thinking. The use of colour, wall graphics, planting and vinyls can certainly help. Blake Envelopes in Yeovil used a grass effect floor and blue sky ceiling to give the whole office a more outdoor feel and the use of glass on the front of the building helped further by flooding the office with natural light.

Ethicall in Bristol is an office without any outside space at all, but it’s 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.

The BBC reported the findings of a study in 2013 that showed that homeowners living in greener areas had improved psychological wellbeing. It’s a fair assumption that the same can be said of workers too and that green spaces, the outdoors and fresh air have a valuable role to play in increasing workplace wellbeing and productivity too.

To find out more about workplace wellbeing and how to write a wellbeing agenda, download our Workplace Wellbeing whitepaper, which is full of guidance and advice:

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