Embracing the Outdoors, Inside


A walk in the woods, a stroll along a beach, or paddling a canoe across a tranquil lake can do wonders for a person’s heart rate allowing for a break from life’s frantic pace.  It can also inspire creativity – opening eyes to new visions and widened thoughts, as well as offering the chance to practice patience to look deeper at the world.

Bringing touches of the natural world into an office, operates in much the same way as venturing out in to the world.  Taking the cue from Mother Nature and allowing some of her gifts to come inside is proven to make employees happier, enhance creativity, increase energy, and consequently, productivity.

“The sterile workplaces of the past are being replaced by offices which allow all employees to relate to nature throughout the day.”

“For instance, in modern office design, there are seldom private offices along the perimeter of the space. Instead of only allowing executives to enjoy those windows, in today’s office designs, everyone can enjoy the outdoor views and the natural light provided by those windows.”       

“Whenever possible, great office design harvests natural light for the whole office to enjoy.  Creating a connection between the workplace and the world of living things produces tangible results in employee health and productivity.”

Mike Warren
                                                            Workplace Culture Consultant
Rieke Office Interiors

Some companies are choosing their office buildings based on views. These firms like their employees to be able to get inspired by enjoying views of forest preserves and unique landscaped areas. In fact, outdoor patios, decks and eating areas are more common as innovative firms use the spaces around their building to create areas where employees can go outside for lunch or a short break.

Other companies, that cannot access beautiful outdoor views, are creating nature-centric interiors using large green plants, “living walls”, or walls of potted plants that climb chicken wire or trellises.

“Green plants are not only easy on the eyes, but they also filter impurities from the air while adding oxygen,” added Mike Warren.

Adding plants and window views to the workplace are not the only ways companies are able to bring the outside inside, as well as boost employee creativity/productivity.

Natural light is very important to productivity. So, windows, as well as skylights and atriums wherever possible, are important, but so is better artificial lighting in the workplace.  Since the color spectrum of LED lighting can mimic sunlight (unlike the harsher fluorescent and incandescent lighting), it has become the new standard in general office lighting.

“LED lighting has become a big deal in office lighting,” Warren said. “It is healthier and friendlier for employees. Unlike fluorescent lights, LED lights don’t flicker or hum and the intensity of the light does not dim over time, causing employees to become more tired and aggravated because they cannot see properly when they are working.”

The use of more natural materials within design and to create statements, are hugely popular.  For example, create a featured wall using reclaimed wood or exposed brick.  Keep a space’s existing materials natural; leave columns untreated and concrete floors plain.  These ideas bring touches of nature, as well as interesting textures and a modern look to an office. Framed landscapes and nature-themed murals can mentally transport employees to a fresh locale during a long work day. Similarly, gazing into a large fish tank can provide the same escape.

Although many offices cannot adopt this idea, the best cure for the 9-5 workday blues is having a mellow-natured “office dog” that is able to wander from employee to employee at will. Furry friends are great stress-relievers and they create a fun, playful work environment.  An office pet allows employees to look away from a computer screen and into the compassionate eyes of an animal – allowing a respite to eyes and blood pressure. Another less permanent option, allow staff a day to “Bring Your Dog to Work” – sure to offer the positive workplace boost you’re looking for.

“Today, it is all about keeping employees happy and satisfied in order to increase company productivity. Happy, engaged employees are more creative and that translates to increased profitability,” Warren added.

Jean Murphy, Daily Herald
Kelli Keyzers
Mike Warren




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