In recent times, traditional offices have faced increasing spatial competition, as work is becoming more and more disassociated from its traditional locations. Many of us are working from our own homes, in coworking spaces, in branch offices of our own companies, or in so-called third locations, such as hotels, bars, squares, stations, parks, etc. Certainly, this is good because the concept of competition often challenges the status quo and pushes for progress.
This is exactly what is happening in the world of work, accelerated also by the recent pandemic that has highlighted the criticality of physical environments: we have started to look at our offices of the past in a more critical way, and more and more people are questioning the functions they should fulfil in times of hybrid work.
In this article:
Before the pandemic, our 'workspaces' were the places where we spent most of our days. In the last three years, we have seen a great leap towards new scenarios, especially in management and more agile ways of working.
The office today must offer something more than just a place to perform our tasks. Increasingly, we speak in terms of places for learning and experience, but also for socialisation and teamwork. The office should support rituals and team building, while also enhancing our productivity. For these and many other reasons, workspaces deserve special attention.
Through the study of our biophilia, we now know that there are basic human needs that characterise our species that must be met to ensure the well-being and good performance of each person. In many pre-pandemic offices, these needs were neglected or even ignored. There were many reasons for this, such as an incomplete knowledge of who we are, or the reduction of space to maximum efficiency in economic terms.
Space planners, together with top managers, human resources managers and employees, should seize this opportunity to reflect on possible successful office strategies of the future.
In this context, the discipline of 'Biophilic Design' is gaining increasing relevance in the fields of architecture and office space design.
Since its origins in the early 2000s, Biophilic Design, transforming from a philosophy into a true applied science with an ever-increasing body of scientific evidence, has been based on the fundamental idea that all human beings have an innate connection to Nature (=biophilia) and that the integration of natural elements into the built environment has a significant positive impact on people's well-being, psychophysical health, productivity and creativity.
We have several ways and strategies at our disposal to bring workers closer to Nature.
As we have already reported in other articles, there are several evidence-based protocols that give valuable insights into possible strategies.
The one that is certainly the most simple, immediate and also effective concerns the inclusion of greenery in both indoor and outdoor environments. Experiments have shown that views of rich vegetation, both indoors and outdoors, help to regenerate our concentration better and faster after mental effort. Even immersing oneself in an urban park close to one's office, or a garden outside, reduces our stress levels and relaxes us.
There are numerous other possibilities for improving office environments, such as with the help of a clever use of natural light that keeps our circadian rhythm of sleeping and waking in balance. Ensuring a good level of privacy for every worker, which lately tends to be underestimated in favour of spaces for socialising or teamwork, as well as the use of soft colours present in nature, are among the many ways and strategies we have at our disposal to improve and make our work environments more pleasant, healthy and in line with what we have in common as a species.
Sometimes very little is needed.
At Verde Profilo, we believe there is a growing need to share a greater awareness of the correlation that exists between physical space, quality of work and the well-being and health of users.
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Bettina Bolten, Biophilic design consultant