Wilderness in the Workplace

Posted by Wild Spaces on

It has been over 12 months since the world’s population was first locked down in response to the emergence of the Covid virus. As we see the vaccine roll out to countries across the globe, we are able to start to envisage what our post-Covid world might look like.

There is no doubt that a return to what was previously considered ‘normality’ is now impossible and in many ways, this may be for the best. However, there will be elements that are gradually reinstated as restrictions are lifted. For a lot of people, working from home will continue as the modus operandi whilst for others a steady transition back to the office is inevitable. In this article, we’re making the case for elements of wilderness (or nature) in the workplace; both as a means of supporting general wellness at work and encouraging a positive mindset.

Humans are biologically encoded to associate with natural features and processes. Rather than being vestigial – or relevant to a world that no longer exists – this need is thought to remain instrumental to people’s physical and mental health, fitness, and wellbeing.

Frederic Demeuse Photography
The vast majority of employers are aware of the fact that returning to the office after 12 months will bring about feelings of anxiety and stress for many employees. This is not necessarily correlated to their general happiness at work but to the change in environment and interaction with clients and colleagues, something many have been deprived of over the past year or so.

In recent years, we’ve seen a surge in architects using the natural world to inform design decisions, especially in relation to places of work. This is no doubt triggered by the growing number of studies nowadays suggesting that workers surrounded by natural elements, either directly or indirectly, are reporting higher levels of job satisfaction and overall happiness.

'The most powerful of all human sensory abilities is vision. The human body has around eleven million sensory receptors. Approximately ten million of those are dedicated to sight. Some experts estimate that half of the brain’s resources are used on vision. Given that we are more dependent on vision than any other sense, it should come as no surprise that visual cues are the greatest catalyst of our behaviour.' (Atomic Habits by James Clear).

Fortunately, there are different ways in which we can be exposed to nature. A direct experience of nature may be light, air, water, plants or animals whilst an indirect experience of nature may be images of nature or natural colours, shapes and materials. The emerging concept of biophilic design uses the latter to satisfy our need to affiliate with nature.

Second Home, Lisbon
An extension of biophilia, biophilic design incorporates natural materials, natural light, vegetation, nature views and other experiences of the natural world into the modern built environment. Recent studies reveal that workers surrounded by natural elements are reporting higher levels of job satisfaction and overall happiness. Just reading about the outdoors or being exposed to natural elements such as plants and greenery on a daily basis can go some way to improving our wellbeing, and the same goes for photography and art related to the natural world.

A great example of biophilic design can be found at Second Home, a growing portfolio of co-working spaces currently found in London, LA and Lisbon. For each of their locations, they have worked with architects Selgas Cano and Estudio Cano Lasso, who are at the forefront of evolutionary psychology and biophilia (“a very scientific term for our innate love of nature, and its innumerable benefits”).

Kingdom by Neil Burnell
As a collective of photography exhibiting places of wilderness from the high mountains to ancient forests and the frozen planet, we believe that photography can play its part in contributing towards working environments that facilitate productivity and a positive mindset. Beautiful images from wild places can inspire positive thinking and creativity in the very same way that comes from direct exposure to nature.

Explore our collection of photography from the world's wild spaces here.