Canberra University Associate Professor, Jacki Schirmer, explains the benefits of open-woodland workspace in her research about how wood can help create healthier workplaces.
The workplace is the place where we spend most of our time, usually an office. It is often a four grey-walled room, with a window if one is lucky, and a table, a chair and a personal computer in a non-descript building. People spend approximately 8 to 12 hours a day at the workplace. At times, the workplace can be a depressing environment, however it doesn’t have to be like this.
Offices should be a place that employees like, where they feel good, safe and confident. Offices should also encourage productivity. Studies show that natural materials such as wood could have a significant impact on transforming offices spaces for the better.
“People working in spaces with high proportions of wooden surfaces have a heightened sense of wellbeing and productivity. They’re also more likely to find their workplaces relaxing, inviting and energising,” explains Schirmer.
H&V, one of HWZ International’s suppliers, have completely transformed their workplace. They have opened their working areas, added wood and other natural components to the office. Instead of grey walls and ceilings, there is now timber panelling; they have used cross laminated timber (CLT) boards on interior walls, tables and shelves and NOVATOP acoustic panels on the ceilings. For the floor, they have chosen the ‘feel wood’ solid wood oak flooring. The timber elements combined with bright decorations, an open space with natural light and plants, have created a pleasant environment for employees.
This new and powerful trend in reshaping the workplace is called biophilic design and is based on human needs to connect with nature. The theory behind this is that biophilic design improves both physical and psychological health and even reduces stress. Professor Schirmer writes that, “Nature makes us feel good and relaxed.”
Another benefit of natural materials is that they are mostly sustainable and eco-friendly; they are good not only for workplaces, but for the planet as well.