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In the agrarian days of the pre-industrial world, just about everyone worked outdoors. We’ve come a long way since then. Today, the majority of people work indoors in an office environment. Although this has its advantages — protection from the elements, comfort, etc. — it has the side effect of leaving most people somewhat disconnected from the natural world. By spending so much time in a climate-controlled, indoor environment surrounded by artificial lighting and recycled air, the amount of time most people spend in the fresh air and sunshine is minimal.

That might not seem like a problem to many people, but the truth is that keeping a connection to nature can be highly beneficial. Human beings aren’t machines — we need to maintain at least a small connection to nature in order to feel our best. Research has shown that offices featuring more connections to nature had a more positive impact on workers’ well-being than offices without those connections to nature. For property owners or employers interested in creating a more hospitable office environment, adding a touch of the outdoors can be a highly effective way to do so. Workers who feel more comfortable and happier at work also tend to be more productive, so a hint of nature indoors can be a great way to boost productivity in an unobtrusive way.

The benefits of connecting an indoor office space to nature are numerous. From small decorating choices to major landscaping projects, there are plenty of ways that offices can be brought closer to nature. For example, simply choosing a color scheme for the office that reflects natural elements such as earth tones and greens can help create a subtle connection to nature. Many offices choose to add a natural touch by using indoor planters, where plants and trees can bring some life to indoor spaces. A living green wall made of hanging plants can introduce some natural touches to a lobby or meeting room. A water feature such as a fountain or waterfall brings a literal splash of nature into the office, along with its calming visual effect and soothing soundscape.

Some of the methods offices can use to bring nature indoors also have the bonus of making the office more energy efficient. For example, lowering cubicle walls and using glass partitions permits more natural daylight, which not only improves an office’s connection to nature but also reduces the amount of energy used for artificial lighting. LED lighting is more natural-feeling and energy efficient than harsh fluorescent lights.

As a business owner there are tangible benefits to bringing this kind of program into your office. Along with a energy bill that’ll thank you, this kind of program can be linked back to employee retention, driving office engagement, and reducing staff turnover rate. The indirect benefits should not be discounted. Unhappy employees’ effect on retention rates can materialized in an embarrassing fashion when apparent to existing and new clients, no doubt casting a perception of the sustainability of your business.

It is even more important that business owners look at this as a means of creating better systems within their business. While the goal of going into business isn’t for the enjoyment of your employee’s, per se, it’s without a doubt imperative to the life of the business that employees carry a level of satisfaction and enjoyment of their work.

Creating a stronger connection to nature within an office environment is a great way to improve the atmosphere of the workplace as well as boost workers’ productivity by making them feel better and more relaxed. The accompanying checklist contains numerous suggestions for bringing nature indoors, so review it and find some ideas you can use in your workplace.

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Author Bio:

Michael Burnett is the Vice President–Sales and Marketing for Midwest Tropical. Midwest Tropical creates indoor waterfalls, water walls, bubble walls, fountains, rain curtains, and other water features in their advanced design and manufacturing facility near Chicago, Illinois – allowing for complete customization in order to design and build the highest quality water features in the world.

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