Against nature

October 2, 2014

Some offices are good – but all work spaces need a natural angle, says report

Image: Shuttertsock


There’s some pretty impressive workplace design in UK law firms, and a handful of features that can clearly be put in a bracket marked ‘making an effort’. Off the top of one’s head, one might mention Olswang and its bee hives, KWMSJB’s half-acre roof garden, Slaughter’s in-house water feature or Eversheds’ daylight-milking ‘studio’ layout.

But firms that don’t make an effort with office environments can be significantly harming wellbeing and productivity, claims a new report.

The report, by the World Green Building Council, claims that health, satisfaction and job performance are influenced by factors such as air quality, lighting, layout and views of nature. The Council also offers suggestions as to how to build a business case for environmental improvement, based on a number of quantifiable measures.

The content is pretty interesting when it comes to numbers – ‘thermal comfort can return single digit improvements in productivity,’ apparently – and the concept that views of nature aid wellbeing is striking. (‘Several studies have estimated productivity gains as a result of proximity to windows, with experts now thinking that views from windows are probably the more significant factor, particularly where the view offers a connection to nature.’)

So good news for those at Olswang within striking distance of the bees – the stings seem to be worth it when it comes to increasing quantity of output.

But it’s probably the suggestions regarding the business case of investment that will have most of us reading. Download the full report for details on metrics that are financial, perceptual and physical. (Absenteeism, self-reported attitudes and temperature, for example.)

And don’t forget to rope in some nature somewhere. If there isn’t any handily located by your window, here’s a great place to hire some taxidermy. AB

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