1. Fluidity and flexibility
Many businesses are turning away from the one desk per employee approach, which means they have more space to play with. With clever design, a large open plan space can serve many functions. Light catering facilities can make it a staff cafeteria during the day that can easily be converted into a smart entertaining space in the evening. Soft furnishings, partitions and mobile biophilic displays can be used to break down a larger space to create chill-out zones, breakfast bars for stand-up meetings or one-on-one social spaces – easily moved aside whenever required. With fluidity and flexibility built in, it’s possible to create a truly multi-functional space.
Well, of course we were going to talk about this! We are busier than ever at Vantage because most organisations are now recognising the power of planting. As humans, we are undeniably drawn to nature– it is uplifting, and we get a kick from having it around us. Employers love biophilia because it has been proven to foster a feeling of physical and mental wellbeing and increase productivity (as well as improving office air quality!). Designers love it because it is incredibly versatile –it can be used to create a striking focal point, to provide a subtle privacy screen, or to soften hard lines and make somewhere feel more welcoming and tranquil.
Office plants needn’t be fussy or overbearing – a green wall doesn’t take up any space, neither do trailing plants above a breakfast bar. As such, it is becoming almost expected that some greenery will be included in any workspace design as employers go the extra mile to make their space as attractive as possible. And for those who have reservations about the upkeep required, lower maintenance options such as moss walls and preserved foliage provide the best of both worlds.
3. Natural light
With employee wellbeing front of mind for progressive employers, architects and designers alike are always looking to incorporate maximum natural light. A recent study atCornell showed workers exposed to natural light experienced an 84% drop in issues such as headaches, eyestrain, and blurred vision. Whilst natural light used to be largely the preserve of the ‘corner office’, office space has become more equitable these days with open plan schemes affording everyone the benefit of natural light. Opaque screening is replaced with glass and where subtle screening is required, planting is used instead, allowing natural light to flood a whole space. We’ve worked with clever designers who have enhanced environments by incorporating skylights, borrowing light from central atriums and reflecting natural light with mirrors.
4. Soft light
No-one wants to turn the office into the home, but in some spheres, homely accents are replacing traditional office décor – think more ‘café’ than ‘corporate’. Employers are embracing natural, sustainable materials and organic textures and shapes. Some might call it hospitality-inspired décor – a space that encourages you to dwell – comfy low seating, somewhere to have an informal chat and a complete break from the desk.
A diverse workforce requires a diverse environment – we are all different and we work in different ways. For example, someone who is neurodivergent (and it is estimated that 10-15% of us may be) might find a noisy open plan office quite challenging to work in. Neurodiversity is the idea that human brains don’t come in a one-size-fits-all “normal” package. Let’s face it, we all have different work temperaments, and providing a variety of spaces and experiences in the work environment enables each of us to work to our full potential. This could be a ‘library area’ for quiet focused activity, and another area equipped for more energetic group work. It could be acoustic privacy booths for those moments of extreme focus when delivering on a deadline, or different types of soft seating for those who prefer a more relaxed vibe.
6. Wellness space
Wellbeing is far more than having a token quiet room somewhere. Yes, a wellness space can be somewhere to be alone and have quiet time – a tranquil space with low lighting, neutral palette, soft seating and low music. But it can equally be somewhere to connect with colleagues, play a game or feel transported. Wellness options can also be built into a larger space – evening choir sessions and meditation or yoga classes can easily be catered for.
7. Collaboration space
What much of the above equates to is that space is now required to work harder to accommodate new working practices and optimise ‘together time’ when people do come into the office. Employees must feel empowered to meet, collaborate and create. Appetite for office time remains strong, but it needs to count more than ever. Going into the office can’t afford to be humdrum anymore – we need to celebrate having colleagues and being part of something. A space that is designed to facilitate human interaction is critical to this.
If you want to learn more about incorporating biophilic design into your office space, get in touch today.