5 Ways And Reasons To Add An Outdoor Space To Your Office
Anyone who’s been house-hunting has heard the phrase “indoor/outdoor flow” internally, on repeat, every night at 4am. But if you’re looking for a new office? It may never come up. Well, maybe you should bring it up. Because the most in-demand staff have “indoor/outdoor flow” on their office wish-list even if you don’t. And, because writing an important work email in a nice, Wi-Fi-capable, sun-dappled spot makes for a bloody good email.
Why spend the money?
Outdoor office spaces aren’t for every company. If you’re looking at moving into a vertical office block and don’t have access to the top floor, it might not even be feasible (in which case see Tip #5 Faking it). But. If you do have scope in your new office search, or are currently in a space surrounded by an area ripe for conversion, interior architect Kelly Holland has one thing to say to you: “There are just so many benefits”. Chief among them? Productivity. Seventy-six percent of people polled in a recent survey say they get more done outside the traditional office environment. And there’s little wonder why. Spending eight hours under artificial lighting has been proven to sap cortisol, leaving fatigue and anxiety in its place. And last time we checked fatigue and anxiety aren’t very productive spaces to work in. But these, our friends, are…
1. Interior courtyards
When you have a big office footprint many people are going to end up sitting a long way away from a natural source of light… unless you create an interior courtyard. And these spaces provide so much more than just light. “They give you a natural source of ventilation and circulation,” Kelly Holland says, “so they’re cheaper to heat and cool. They’re also very cool socially, as everyone congregates there, like a giant water filter.”
2. Decks and conservatories
“Decks can make really good meeting rooms,” Kelly says. “They make for a much more relaxed setting, but if you have a big table you can still get everything done that you would inside.” With one condition. “It’s a good idea to add a clear roof, pergola structure or a deep eave to sit under so you don’t have to wipe everything and apply sunscreen every time you use it,” Kelly says.
3. Rooftop gardens
Unlike Melbourne – which has a bar, deck or cinema perched on every rooftop – an omnipotent glance down at Auckland’s roofs finds most of them barren. Just waiting for an office swimming pool. We jest – though Kelly says a pool is both an amazing staff perk and use of space if you can afford it. But, she says that creating a simple rooftop garden is also fantastic for providing an oasis where staff can “get away”, without having to go anywhere. “Adding a rooftop garden with turf also helps to insulate the building,” she says.
4. Ready-to-go pods
If you have an outdoor space adjacent to your office, but can’t think how to fit it out, wheeling something in may be the way to go. Well Design’s Work-Away Outdoor Pods are cubes with cut-out centres that you can dot around your outdoor area. Featuring a built-in seat, work surface and shade, they also come equipped with all-important Wi-Fi capabilities. Too much of a high-tech investment? What about going the Kiwi way and rolling a caravan into the grounds for a fun breakaway workspace instead? Westpac recently did this in their Lower Queen Street Auckland branch, but we think your staff would be even happier if they get a bit of sun shining through their caravan windows.
5. Faking it
But what if you’re in a vertical building – the kind with no outdoor space anywhere you look for it? Bring it inside. “Living walls are very big – and make a big difference to the healthy feel of an office,” Kelly says. “They can be as simple as a polystyrene wall that you kind of ‘plug’ your plants into. You can hire people to install and maintain them to keep them completely fuss-free.” Kelly also recommends replacing fluorescent lights with LED ones. “ These lights emulate natural daylight as the light is more diffused . Plus, they’re cheap to run, as they don’t use much power.” A cost-saving measure that keeps workers happy? Let’s start there, eh?