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Reimagining the Future Workplace with Living Walls

From dramatic occurrences come dramatic changes. They force us and our culture to break out of comfort zones and ruts and adapt. We see this in many ways, but one of the most dramatic from the COVID-19 pandemic has been the changes rapidly occurring in the workplace. For example, remote work wasn't on most employer's radars. Now, it has become the typical mode of work across many industries.

The future design and structure of the workplace must change to adapt to new demands and health studies. Employees have been in control of their workspaces for the last year or two. Going back into a small, confined, darkly lit space is not desirable for many people and is one reason we have seen so many opting to work from home when given a choice.

However, many benefits remote working can offer, it is simply not the best choice for everyone. With that, our reflection returns once again towards the health of office spaces.

How can future workplaces adapt to be more flexible surrounding the global health crisis? There is more pressure than ever on employees to create spaces that foster the health of their employees. Some of the trends that offices followed before the pandemic have also been re-examined, such as open floor spaces. Let's take a look at the future of the workspace may appear and how living walls and biophilic design will have a big hand in it all.

Awareness of Our Environment

A large part of the changes seen during and following the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have come from a greater awareness of the spaces we live in. For example, studies and research from Gettysburg College show that the average person spends 1/3 of their life at work. Another approximate 1/3 of our lives is spent sleeping. We prioritize our homes and tailor our personal spaces better to meet our physical, emotional and mental needs but haven't prioritized the workplace's health impact until now.

Design studios such as Fyra have been looking closely into the positive aspects of biophilic design or incorporating connectivity between nature and employees. Although this might not have seemed "worth it" to employers years ago, the renewed focus on public health has made us all more aware of the impact of our environments.

Heightened Need for Connection with Nature

One of the most significant ways we have seen offices changing is in people's connection to nature. The health benefits of plants, increased sunlight, natural materials, and larger windows with natural views are incredible. The perspective is shifting from nature only being used and explored on the weekend and a sterile work environment on the weekdays. When businesses prioritize health, it is now considered a competitive advantage, aiding in attracting and holding onto talent.

Creates a Stress-Reducing Environment

Working in places with large nature-integrated pieces, such as living walls, help to create a stress-reducing environment. Spending time in and around nature is often one of the best things you can do to decrease symptoms of stress and anxiety. It can increase happiness exponentially and also serves to make a space feel more comfortable.

Increases Employee Health and Satisfaction

The truth is that humans were made to have more of a connection with nature. The dramatic increase in industrialization and technology in the modern world has skewed our perspective away from the natural environment. However, places that lack natural elements can actually be stress-inducing for our brains, which negatively impacts the human immune system.

Since designing with nature has been shown to greatly increase employee satisfaction with a workplace, using biophilic design helps enhance company desirability. In addition, it often cuts down on the number of days people won't come into the office and even decreases sick days.

Biophilic Design and Health

One of the definitions of biophilic design is an architectural framework that incorporates patterns and forms from nature into the built environment. It doesn't strictly mean bringing plants into a building, although that is one of the more clearcut ways to do so. It also means creating pleasing soundscapes, water-based natural features, expansive outdoor views, natural materials in the office and built features that mimic natural forms.

Certifications Ensuring Workplace Health and Well-Being

Do you look around a typical office space and feel as though you are starting from ground zero? There is always something to be done to increase the potential health impact of a space on your employees. If you are interested in a framework that better helps you tie in all of these features and aspects of biophilic design, you can use a certification process to get there.

WELL v2 Certification

The WELL v2 certification process is one of the most vigorously tested and globally accepted building standards based on health and well-being. The certification process takes you on a journey towards graduation, helping employers and building owners to create thoughtful spaces focused on human health and well-being. Of course, biophilic design isn't the only architectural and design framework the certification uses, but it can help dramatically.

Fitwel Certification

The Fitwel certification system is another one of the world's leading building standards committed to health for everyone. Since its launch in September 2020, the Fitwel Viral Response Module (VRM) has been used in more than 40 countries, includes more than 830 projects and has positively impacted more than 100 million square feet of real estate.

These certification processes are constantly being adapted for the continued changes in legislation and research regarding public health in the work environment. As a result, they both have slightly different focuses or can better apply to various companies and building types.

Creating Your Healthy Environment

Considering the health and wellness of your employees has never mattered more in today's climate. You can poll your employees for what they would like to see happen in the workplace, work to get certified by an industry standard or hire someone knowledgable regarding biophilic interior design to use pieces like living walls to enhance spaces. It is time for people to start looking outward to get a better idea of designing interior spaces.


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