Busy modern day offices, particularly open-plan and collaborative spaces, are filled with many disruptive noises: phones ringing, machines whirring, photocopiers beeping and other people’s conversations. In fact, research demonstrates that we are distracted once every 11 minutes whilst at work and it can take us 23 minutes to regain our concentration. This can make it extremely difficult to remain focused and work efficiently within a modern office, resulting in reduced productivity and engagement.
One answer may be to practice the art of Mindfulness – a type of meditation, which has been recently tested and proved to help reduce stress and anxiety. It is a technique that helps to increase one’s awareness of the present moment, which is achieved by focusing on and connecting with one’s senses, while avoiding the distractions of other thoughts i.e. What are my plans for later? What’s happening on Facebook?
The primary focus of mindfulness is the individual’s emotional and psychological well-being, but the benefits do not stop there. Excessive or prolonged stress can lead to anxiety, emotional exhaustion and depression. Such negative psychological effects can have an impact on one’s work performance, which can, in the longer term, affect company costs. However, being mindful about our surroundings and current state of being helps to reduce stress levels and boosts our overall mood and well-being. It’s important to be able to maintain a relaxed and positive state of mind in the workplace, to help us be more consistently pro-active and productive.
There are many Biophilic Design principles – easily incorporated into working environments and spaces – which can help to create mindful spaces to engage workers, increase productivity and focus.
Sound – Green walls or timber partitions have the ability to mask or block disruptive noises and therefore prevent any distraction from work. A natural material such as timber absorbs sounds and helps to control the acoustics within a workspace.
Sight – Visual distractions can be blocked by using partitions that include greenery. The worker’s view is replaced with a scene that is more visually interesting, as well as relaxing. Making good use of windows optimises natural light and views onto nature, which helps aid awareness of the present moment.
Scent – Indoor plants produce a subtle scent for the worker to be mindful about. They also improve air quality and increase oxygen levels, which reduces heart rate and stress levels.
Touch – By incorporating a range of contrasting sensual textures that mimic different elements of nature, we can strengthen a worker’s tactile stimulation. Such materials can also create an exciting yet soothing experience.
Thermoception – Good air flow and ventilation can be achieved within a space by making windows and thermostats easily accessible. It’s important to optimise ventilation and thermal control, so that workers can adjust the temperature and air flow according to their needs, thus making them feel more comfortable whilst at work.
Are you easily distracted? Could your workplace be improved by making it more ‘mindful’? Get in contact and find out how Biophilic Design can improve your workspace.
Images: A family workspace designed for Norway’s ‘Tid for Hjem’ by Oliver Heath Design.
The space demonstrates many Biophilic Design principles to create a mindful working space: natural patterns, sensory textures, direct views onto nature and partitions with added greenery.
Image: A family workspace designed for Norway’s ‘Tid for Hjem’ by Oliver Heath Design.