story

A nature-filled, tech-focused co-working space

The office experience as we know it is changing due to COVID-19, Gen Z, and fast-paced technological advancement. What we think of as a “normal” office space is quickly transforming into a new, modern environment for us to work. While 2020 has brought us many changes, we must remember that change is what keeps us going. We have learned, adapted, and welcomed changes to our office experience that have made us grow. In the long run, what we have learned will help us make the right decisions in the future, and it will drive us to create a better office experience for everyone.

Many companies are intentionally incorporating social settings into the office, which are designed for coworkers to get to know each other in a relaxed way. This setting could be a family-style kitchen or a café inspired lounge space.  This boosts employee morale and creates a new atmosphere. Creating a connection with coworkers is an essential part of the office experience, and by implementing social settings in the office, companies are acknowledging that.

In these images, you can see an outdoor office space with a fire pit, garden and ample seating, a lounge area featuring vegetation, and a conference room with large windows looking out into an open, green space. These spaces are perfect for co-workers to mingle with one another in a natural setting. Being in an outdoor setting is extremely important - A 2015 study of 2,000 people in the United Kingdom found that more exposure to nature translated into more community cohesion and substantially lower crime rates. And while more vegetation is thought to encourage crime by providing security for criminals, another study found the opposite — vegetation abundance is associated with a reduction in assault, robbery, and burglary, although not theft.

Outdoor Collaboration Space
Outdoor Collaboration Space

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Cafe
Cafe

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Conference Room
Conference Room

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Outdoor Collaboration Space
Outdoor Collaboration Space

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Game Area
Game Area

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Blue Room
Blue Room

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Igloo Entrance
Igloo Entrance

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Game Area
Game Area

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What remains a vital part of the office experience is the connection to the workplace family. Both employers and employees deeply value the relationships that are made in the workplace, as those are the relationships that keep the office running. The people who work at the office are the spirit and drive behind a company’s name, brand and reputation. This aspect of the office experience is something that needs permanency – and will have it, thanks to technology. As we move forward into 2022, a plethora of technology makes it possible for us to have conferences calls via Zoom and over the phone. If we cannot be in the office, technology will bring us there. 

Having an outdoor workspace is a vital part of any successful office. Sunlight, fresh air, and experiencing what nature has to offer not only will put everyone in a good mood, but will boost productivity. 

In a study of 20,000 people, a team led by Mathew White of the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter found that people who spent two hours a week in green spaces — local parks or other natural environments, either all at once or spaced over several visits — were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t. Two hours was a hard boundary: The study, published last June, showed there were no benefits for people who didn’t meet that threshold.

These studies have shown that time in nature — as long as people feel safe — is an antidote for stress: It can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood. Attention Deficit Disorder and aggression lessen in natural environments, which also help speed the rate of healing. In a recent study, psychiatric unit researchers found that being in nature reduced feelings of isolation, promoted calm, and lifted mood among patients.

In this image, you can see an outdoor collaboration space where co-workers can get their work done while enjoying fresh air and sunlight. 

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Gold Room
Gold Room

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Plant Bar
Plant Bar

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Plant Room
Plant Room

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Gold Room
Gold Room

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Igloo

The new office experience is not about functionality, it is about creating a work of art that is designed for more than just work. Creative interior design, architecture, colors, and textures spark creativity, turning the workplace into a catalyst for new and better work. Making offices into a work of art not only attracts top talent, but impresses new clients and inspires employees. The office is no longer a workspace – it is a life space. The possibilities are endless when you start thinking of the office as a place where life happens, not just work. These added perks can be the deciding factor for prospective employees and shows customers that the company cares about their employees.

Japanese researchers have studied “forest bathing” — a poetic name for walking in the woods. They suspect aerosols from the forests, inhaled during a walk, are behind elevated levels of Natural Killer or NK cells in the immune system, which fight tumors and infections. A subsequent study, in which essential oils from cedars were emitted in a hotel room where people slept, also caused a significant spike in NK cells. However this growing field might be defined, it is gaining momentum. In a recent paper, 26 authors laid out a framework to create a formal role for the positive impacts nature has on mental health and to formulate a model for conserving nature in cities and integrating it into planning for these health effects. 

In the second image here, you can see a perfect example of forest bathing. This immersive experience can be brought to the office to reduce stress and improve mood.

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