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We spend roughly 1/3 of our lives at work, which translates to 90,000 hours during our lifespan. Your job, and more importantly where you work, has a huge impact on the quality of your life, which is why employee wellbeing is at the forefront of the modern office. These days, people are transitioning from the traditional office space to one that improves happiness and incorporates biophilic design (natural lighting, fresh air, more plants in the office). And we’re taking larger strides to ensure that our offices are eco-friendly. From sustainable furniture to LED lighting, the modern working world is making more of an effort to join the conversation on environmental preservation.
Put simply, biophilic design is the architecture of life. Incorporating natural materials, lighting and vegetation, this design style brings the outside world in to increase health and productivity. Last year was a popular year for biophilic design, and the trend is only on the rise with more businesses bringing nature into the workplace. Research shows that plants, natural lighting and views of nature positively effect employees, increasing creativity and mental health. Biophilic design makes people feel more comfortable and homely in the office, which is important for keeping stress levels low.
Feeling a connection to the environment effects our bodies and our brains, as well as our conscious and unconscious psychological processes. Natural light makes people feel less depressed and more satisfied in their jobs. According to the Human Spaces Report by Interface, offices with natural elements can boost productivity by 8% and wellbeing by 13%.
Sustainable office furniture is furniture that has been designed with the environment in mind. 10.5 million tonnes of furniture is consumed by the EU each year, but what happens to this furniture at the end of its lifespan? The reality is that the majority is destined for either landfills or incineration. According to the European Federation of Furniture Manufacturers, furniture waste in the EU accounts for more than 4% of the total waste. So, what can we do to limit the environmental impact of furniture in modern offices?
In an effort to address this impact, some furniture companies have started using recycled materials during manufacturing that can be re-recycled at the end of their life. This creates a closed-loop cycle, where materials and products are recycled again and again to avoid ending up in landfills. The environmental footprint of a refreshed item can be 90% lower than an item built from new materials.
Peldon Rose works with companies like Orangebox, who have adopted sustainability as a foundation of their business. By incorporating a zero-landfill policy, they’re making sure all their waste is sorted and sent down the correct recycling streams. Their use of second chance furniture also increases the commercial lifespan of a product, allowing it to be restored to ‘good as new’ condition and sold with the same warranty as a new product.
The first step is working with a design company that has the environment in mind. You need to consider the impact of your office refurbishment. How do you want your office design to affect the wellbeing of your staff? And what happens to your furniture once it’s lived out its life span?
While working with Friends of the Earth, we created a beautiful office space that use natural elements as a framework. Our workplace analysis of their old office showed that their space was disjointed and didn’t reflect their brand. Once we found them a new space, we designed a concept that divided the office along the earth’s latitude and created geographical regions, providing each section of the office with its own unique lighting and temperature. Sustainability was a big factor for them, so almost all the materials used were recycled, reclaimed or recyclable. This resulted in a more comfortable and efficient work space and accented their company culture and values.
You can read more about the initiatives we took with Friends of the Earth here.