The Future for the Standard Office Looks Very Green

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With successful concepts such as the Action Office and Living Office, recently Herman Miller has been researching and collecting information about incorporating nature-mimicking spaces that satisfy the human necessity for a connection to the natural world. Studies have confirmed that natural spaces enhance a meditative state of mind while simultaneously assisting in reducing stress. This research also showed that connecting with nature helps to rejuvenate the brain completely. But how could trees, grass, sunshine, and a little fresh air rejuvenate our brains?

Attention Restoration Theory (ART) helps to explain why nature can work wonders in rejuvenating our brains. Researchers from the University of Michigan explain that our attention comes in two ‘flavors’: involuntary and voluntary. Involuntary attention is when something interesting captures our attention, while voluntary attention is when we focus to complete a task. As described by the researchers of the University of Michigan, nature is filled with vibrant stimuli which captures our attention in a bottom-up fashion, or a way that first examines the finer details and then the big picture. The striking, involuntary attention capturing effects of nature can give our brains a chance to replenish when it comes to a top-down approach, or looking at the big picture first and then working out the finer details. However, designs implementing nature aren’t simply beneficial to the individual office worker– it can be a sound economic investment, too. An exercise that applied biophilic (nature oriented) work spaces found that if incorporated into many New York City offices $470 million would be regained in productivity value.

Rosalyn Cama, president of Cama, Inc., an interior planning and design firm, describes her passion for finding work place solutions that implement nature-mimicking spaces. Cama explained an experiment she uses on groups at a national convention in New York. Cama asks the group, “‘Imagine a stressful time in your recent past. If you could escape anywhere in the world to help reduce your anxiety, where would you go?’ For thirteen years, Cama has continued to ask the same question and she finds that 95% or more usually select an outdoor space. She then proposes another question asking why they chose the space they did. Many reply explaining their destination as calming, stress-free and serene.

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A combination of both Herman Miller’s Living Office and a biophilic environment could create this leisurely space that over 95% of individuals desire. The combination could implement a space where office workers enjoy the space and look forward to work that harmoniously mixes a calm, functional, stress-relieving, collaborative and productive environment. The Living Office alone creates a natural physical environment that exposes a generous amount of natural light and brings a communal sense to the everyday office. Herman Miller’s Living Office combined with even more biophilic elements could enhance productivity by rejuvenating brains and creating a space that each person looks forward to working in. The future for both Herman Miller and the standard, everyday office is starting to look very green!

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