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Volume 1, Issue 1
Why Not Go Outdoors?
What trend watchers call "the big secret" and "the next frontier" is actually a well-established phenomenon that has been understood for as long as we've had indoor habitats. The big secret? People are drawn to the outdoors. That next frontier? Outdoor spaces within the work environment. These spaces matter because people like to be outdoors.
GO OutdoorTable
Photo: The GO OutdoorTable enables people to stay connected outdoors where they live, learn, work, care, play, and travel
Much has been written over the past decades on biophilia, the evolutionary connection between people and nature and the benefits of bringing natural elements into the outdoor environments. Measurable proof that biophilia-based design has positive benefits on people has been provided by a number of studies, including Roger Ulrich's 1984 research on the effect of natural elements on rates of patient healing and Rachel Kaplan's 1993 study on the relationship between window views and office workers' well-being.
GO OutdoorTable Canopy
Photo: The GO canopy provides a sense of shelter, glare reduction for better visibility on mobile devices, and capability for lighting, display mounting, and solar power.
But why only bring natural elements into the indoor environment when we know people's well-being improves when they are connected to nature? We propose that organizations offer people the real thing: the outdoors.
In their race to attract and retain top talent, organizations are recognizing the value that people place on getting outdoors and are addressing it in the design of their corporate campuses. Google, known for innovative design approaches to its workplaces, is applying principles of biophilia at its Mountain View, California, campus to foster greater connection between people and nature. In a round-table session led by Landscape Forms, facility management leaders from Google, landscape designers, and educators discussed the natural environment's influence on people's cognitive, psychological, and physiological well-being. Connecting with nature is good for employees, which, Google recognizes, is good for business, too.
If outdoor space is a conduit for connecting people, will greater productivity and innovation be the result? "In the absence of statistics, I think the measure [of productivity] is how much interaction you have," says round table participant David Walker, FASLA and partner at PWP Landscape Architecture. When people interact, ideas are shared, thoughts are developed, and work progesses.
A break from controlled air and office lighting can help people de-stress, think with a fresh perspective, relax, and experience happiness. Purposefully designed outdoor spaces within corporate campuses are now understood as a contributor to achieving business objectives such as improved attraction and retention and building an organizations' image and brand. Productive, focused, and inspires employees affect the bottom line and the creative output of an organization.
GO OutdoorTable Supports a variety of activities
Photo: Challenge expectations of outdoor space by supporting a variety of activities in corporate, learning, healthcare, transit, and hospitality environments.
In the interior work environment, people tend to be organized by functional roles. Teams sit with teams, and the bulk of the interaction is within the team. But the outdoor environment belongs to everyone—there are no team boundaries or hierarchical seating assignments. Greater interaction and cross-fertilization among all employees seem a logical result.
GO OutdoorTable
"
Outdoor spaces are where people have their incidental encounters with others like themselves or, more importantly, not like themselves. Chance encounters take place there. Outdoor spaces build a sense of familiarity and belonging to a larger community. They are neutral places where people are welcome."
- Terry Clements, professor and chair of the Landscape Architecture Program,
School of Architecture + Design, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Tables are joinable
Photo: Long rectangular tables are comfortably "joinable" by both individuals and groups.
The rectangular shape of the GO OutdoorTable creates such a neutral place. It welcomes individuals and groups to comfortably share the same surface while serving as a spatial anchor for a variety of activities in corporate, learning, healthcare, transit, and hospitality environments. Standing-height tables define a casual gathering spot that encourages social interaction. Dining-height tables support planned interactions, such as team meetings or friends sharing a meal. The canopied table's LED lights (powered on or off the grid) create a cozy evening glow and warm invitation to stop and experience the outdoors-24 hours a day-and recharge and reconnect digitally and face-to-face.
Ask yourself: Where would you prefer to be working on a pleasant afternoon? If you're trying to solve a problem, does a 20-minute walk outdoors help you sort your thoughts? How does sitting outdoors with a cup of coffee and colleagues after delivering a high-stakes presentation sound? There is something to be said for giving people natural enviroments in which to work, think, relax, and connect.
GO OutdoorTable, as its name suggests, is a preferred destination where people can power devices as well as their minds and spirits. So why not go outdoors?