An “out of office” auto-reply email used to signify that the recipient was unavailable or away from their desk. Today, “out of office” is more literal and may signify that the recipient is actually outdoors. Office workers in windowless, sun-starved cubicles are a thing of the past. Organizations are embracing nature by exposing their employees to it on a regular basis. Lower stress and increased creativity are just a few of the health benefits resulting from contact with nature — a trend called biophilia. Employees and employers may not be aware of this trend’s official name, but they are demanding it.
Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk
At the outset of the outdoor trend a couple of years ago, retail giant L.L.Bean launched the brand positioning “Be an Outsider.” This tagline came to life at their corporate office in Freeport, Maine, where they built an outdoor pop-up office space for employees to work outside with access to Wi-Fi and a covered space. However, weather is never a factor for L.L.Bean — Brand Engagement Director Kathryn Pratt says, “We as a brand believe all weather is good weather.” As a final push, they took the pop-up on the road. Central Park in New York City was the first stop on their 2018 tour, reports AdAge.
Up in the Treetops
L.L.Bean might be encouraging workers to embrace nature, but Microsoft is actually building workspace in nature. Redmond, Washington is home to Microsoft corporate offices, with over 47,000 employees and 125 buildings on 500-plus acres. But the real treat is that treehouses are available to employees who wish to take a break from the traditional office environment to get in touch with the outdoors. Treehouse offices offer meeting spaces to encourage collaboration. They even have an elevated space appropriately named “The Crow’s Nest.”
The Office Museum
Outdoor pop-ups and treehouses are exciting and allow employees to enjoy the outdoors while working regardless of the weather. But does your workplace draw tourists? Do people want to visit where you work? If you work at Amazon’s Seattle office, the answer is yes. Amazon has created urban botanical gardens in spheres where employees are immersed in nature as they work. The Seattle Times reports that the spheres have attracted so much attention, that Amazon has allowed tourists to view them and visit the Spheres of Discovery exhibit area, which details the creation of the beautiful spaces. It costs nothing to see, but be prepared to make a reservation.
If You Can Make It Work Here, You Can Make It Work Anywhere!
These ideas may seem unique and reserved for a select number of corporations. However, office developers are incorporating nature into their designs because clients are demanding it. Location is not a factor, as mentioned in a New York Times article about Vornado Realty Trust’s new offices in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, where every floor in the building has an outdoor space.
Execution may differ, but the results are undeniable. People want to be outside because they love it. Digital storage means they no longer have to be concerned with file cabinets — mobility has never been easier. Organizations who embrace this trend will reap the benefits of happier employees. Get out of the office!