The office environment is ever-changing from the evolving work patterns to the competition for top talent with the rise in employment. Over a packed three days at the Future Offices conference in San Francisco, Ambius leaders convened alongside workplace executives to discuss the future of office design – the challenges, successes, and strategies that influence the way we work.
Director of Marketing, Cathy Hoffman, took part in a panel discussion about biophilic design, which incorporates our innate need to connect with nature into a built space.
Speaking at the session “A Biophilia Approach: Bringing Nature Into the Design of Your Office” with Nona Gross, Director of Workplace Transformation and Change Management at Verizon and Laylee Asgari, Workplace Operations Manager at Segment, Hoffman noted that it was encouraging to see so many attendees interested in how biophilic design can make a measurable impact in the workplace and the ways in which they can put it into practice.
“While it should come as no surprise that business leaders are investing in the health and wellness of their employees, as they typically make up the greatest portion of an annual operating cost, it is truly exciting to see the industry so focused on taking a holistic approach to positively impacting the people inside the built environment from design, behaviors, operations, and technology,” Hoffman says. “You can feel the energy around the conversations all centered around truly understanding the people using each space to design for the biggest potential.”
Top 5 Future Offices takeaways
Future Offices brings together executives from Fortune 500 companies to discuss and learn about current office trends and gain insights into forward-thinking workplace strategies for design and architecture, change management, and employee engagement. According to the event wrap-up report, Future Offices identified 5 key takeaways for workplace enhancement:
- Create an office environment that encourages community.
It is important today to design offices that offer a variety of spaces that support various needs from quiet to creative spaces as well as collaboration centers and areas that support interaction at varying levels. Flexibility in culture and space design should not be overlooked.
- Boost human interactions at work.
People are our most valuable asset. Companies and brands need to continuously review the ways they encourage interactions. From technology enhancements to the removal of walls, there are many items that can be implemented depending on the priorities.
- Office design should go hand-in-hand with your particular business.
When you engage the people that will use the space in the design of their workspace you will find a measurable difference. Simply replicating a good office design, does not have the same effect. This day and age you need to take the values written on the walls to the next level and build them into the physical surroundings to encourage your core values to come to life.
- Technology has an increasingly large influence.
Data and the internet of things are impacting every decision that is made in the modern-day office. Technology enables communication and data-driven strategies. This data is only as good as it’s entered and technology will only be as effective as often as it’s used. It is important to review the user experience from design, roll out, and ongoing use to ensure that you get what you want out of the technology you choose.
- Health and wellness should be considered in real estate actions decisions.
Ensure you put people at the center of your initiatives. The company culture and identity that is reinforced through an engaged design process can make many impacts including boosting employee productivity. This takes more than just defining goals – it takes activities that engage the people in the process of devising the strategies to achieve the goals. Today’s top talent are looking for health, wellness and happiness in every aspect of their lives including their workspace.
In keeping with point five, biophilic design can provide long-term benefits for employee wellness when applied strategically in workspaces. But what is biophilic design, and how can you apply it to your office? This is just what Hoffman discussed at Future Offices.
What is biophilic design?
Biophilia is humans’ innate desire to seek connections with nature and the natural world. Hoffman explains that when you are bringing aspects of biophilia into your space you want to essentially mirror elements of nature from your environment in your design, such as lighting, places to take refuge, and the patterns found in the lines of a tree.
While plants play an important role in biophilic design, plants alone do not equate to a biophilically designed space. There’s more to it. You must look at each element, how it interacts with the people in your space and how it captures aspects of nature and the natural world. Biophilic design, done properly, should provoke a similar response in your office as it would during a walk in nature. Incorporating elements of light, water, stone, wood, and natural scents could be implemented in your workplace with great results.
This kind of design impacts cognitive function (e.g. memory and focus), psychological well-being – like mood – and physiological well-being, said Hoffman. In fact, the concept of biophilia is not just a topic of interest for offices, but also for other industry segments and entire cities that we inhabit looking to create sustainable and thriving communities.
Ambius projects at Future Offices
Future Offices gave Ambius the opportunity to discuss biophilic design, and highlighted Ambius designs throughout the city of San Francisco – from large tree installations and to beautiful living exterior green walls outside the event venue, to interior landscapes and biophilic scenting throughout the event and various site tours, Ambius was seemingly everywhere during the event.
With Ambius’ panel being ranked by attendees in the top three sessions of Future Offices, we are excited to be involved again this winter. Ambius Head of Innovation, Kenneth Freeman will be speaking at the winter Future Offices Conference January 23-25 in New York City.
Ambius designers are experts in biophilic design and apply elements of biophilia into our projects, allowing your business to make a wise investment in employee health. We are committed to fostering an atmosphere that connects people with nature, with the goal of improving wellness. We will find out the needs of your individual business and work with you to ensure we use the ideal combination of natural elements to maximize impact for the long term.
Thanks to Cathy Hoffman, Director of Marketing, who contributed content to this post.