So, here’s an interesting stat,
We spend 90% of our time indoors.… 90% …based on data collected before the pandemic.
It’s not surprising that experiencing what is outside of our built environment has become increasingly important. Much focus is being placed on the benefits of getting outside and connecting to nature. People are being encouraged to get up and move to create different experiences. I’m sure we’ve all noticed an increase in traffic on the hiking trails near our homes. The human body was not designed to maintain static positions for long periods of time. Not only is there a physical benefit but there are many psychological benefits.
Being in nature reduces our feelings of anxiety by reducing our blood pressure and muscle tension. When people are in a more relaxed state they can think more clearly and ultimately function better. The elements of nature contribute greatly to our mental well-being in this way.
But what if it’s not possible to get outside? Well, let’s explore some ways to bring nature indoors to help make us better.
Subtle changes can be made to add some “life” to your day. Perhaps you just need to place a little bit of nature within reach. Maybe its as simple as adding a plant to your line of sight. Maybe it’s ensuring that you have access to a window. These are things that can easily be put in place to make your home office a more comfortable place to work.
Workplaces are also beginning to understand how deeply our connection to nature impacts our sense of well being. Architects and Designers are more consistently using the principles of Biophilic Design to curate workplaces that support the human element.
Both active and passive spaces can benefit from these design principles. Active spaces which are designed to promote engagement and collaboration. Passive spaces that allow for resting and thinking…a respite area that allows for nesting or solitary work.
Consider how these elements are represented in your office space.
- Natural Daylighting – gone are the days when the thought process of sitting near a window was perceived as distracting. Areas that have a view to the outside add greatly to the creative process. Natural daylighting is also important in the support of mental health. We’ve all heard of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and how it affects people. Treatment for SAD can include light therapy which supports the concept that natural daylight has an effect on our moods. Natural daylighting is important in both active and passive spaces in support of collaboration or deep-thinking activities. There are so many reasons to include some element of natural daylighting to your office. If sitting near a window is not an option, consider having your lighting represent natural daylighting as closely as possible.
- Natural Materials – think about how to bring the elements of nature indoors in some subtle more abstract ways. What is it about your view of nature that brings you comfort? How can you replicate those elements in your office? One of the first things that comes to mind is adding plants or a living wall. Not all offices can accommodate this concept so think outside the box. Think about the addition of moss walls. Features like these require little or no maintenance. If your office space is moving toward a hybrid solution or rotational office attendance this may be the ultimate solution.
- Use of Fractals – Fractals are the shapes that are found in nature. Think of leafy patterns or the patterns we see in snowflakes. This can be done in a more subliminal way through carpet and fabric patterns or in art installations. The use of fractals to bring the elements of nature indoors is probably the most abstract way of adding Biophilic Design principles to our spaces. Over 90% of what our brain processes is done through the subconscious. Our brain recognizes these shapes and patterns as belonging to nature. This results in feeling more relaxed and contributes to the reduction of stress.
Good design is not linear but has many layers. These are a few ways that you can create a more natural environment in a corporate office space. There is a strong connection between our surroundings and our sense of well being. It’s possible to make subtle changes that have a large impact. A subtle change to an environment can alter how we feel, think, behave, and interact.
Over the past 35 years, Linda has worked with Design Firms, Office Furniture Dealerships and Facilities Departments in both public and private sectors. Her involvement redesigning office workplaces during Covid19 has given her a broader perspective of what is needed. As we emerge from the pandemic, we are beginning to see much change in the social fabric and culture of workplaces. The post pandemic office will demand unique solutions to create a successful workplace lifestyle redesign.
Her business focus is on creating meaningful connection with the built environment. Linda combines her knowledge of interior design, biophilia and feng shui to help create balance and harmony in homes and workspaces.
She lives in Halton Hills, Ontario. Learn more about Linda at avalonlanestudio.ca and join her on IG @avalonlanestudio.