Can the flexible space movement break out of its own walls?

Long gone are the days when offices were confined to boring cubicles. Employees are no longer trapped to work in small areas that are separated by these dull partitions and fluorescent LEDs. Realizing that such an office setup can hamper employee enthusiasm and make employees unproductive at work, corporates in India have embraced a new idea that goes beyond the conventional workspaces. What new idea, you ask? Well, the idea was to ditch the old setup and create a multi-functional, collaborative, and innovative work environment for employees. Flexible spaces offer a variety of benefits, ranging from increased employee comfort and job satisfaction to productivity gain and overall wellness. As a result, employers witnessed tremendous success in terms of financial gains and increased sales. And so we know, a co-working space movement helps both, the employers and the employees, alike.

Flexible spaces are the new norm

Unassigned places allow employees to be mobile and find a comfortable place to work at any time. The flexibility to switch places allows employees to interact with their co-workers better. Employees can, consequently, improve their interpersonal and social skills. An interesting workspace will help employees to think creatively and dynamically at work, enabling them to meet deadlines and take up new roles.

Cisco Systems has tapped into the potential of a connected and shared workplace environment. The company recently published a case study on how its redesigned workplace reduced its real estate costs, increased employee productivity, and improved job satisfaction levels. There are many co-working spaces in India that have emerged in the last few years. This reveals that the trend of shared workspaces has gone viral. In fact, India is leading in terms of the growth of flexible office spaces across the Asia-Pacific region. The overall area of co-working spaces across seven key cities of the country has increased to 15 million sq. ft, showed a CBRE South Asia report. Besides, by 2020, over 13 million people in India will work out of co-working spaces. This indicates that the old, standard office cubes will soon become a thing of the past!

However, co-working spaces are restricted to indoors alone. To provide more flexibility to employees, why can’t co-working spaces be brought outdoors, where employees can work in the fresh air and natural lighting?

Going beyond a co-working space environment

No doubt, as discussed, co-working spaces offer numerous benefits to both employers and employees. However, these flexible workspaces promise to offer additional health benefits to employees if planned outdoors.

Eva M. Selhub, a Harvard physician and co-author of Your Brain on Nature, says a drop of nature is like a drop of morphine to the brain. "It stimulates reward neurons in your brain. It turns off the stress response which means you have lower cortisol levels, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and improved immune response."

By tapping into the potential of outdoor space for flexible workplaces, corporates in India can ensure employee wellbeing. The outdoor working setup will allow employees to take short breaks and step into nature, which will keep them boosted for the rest of the day. With the culture of working outdoors coming into the picture, lunch breaks will no longer be limited to cafeterias. Employees can grab the opportunity of sitting in a green space to eat lunch, which will recharge and rejuvenate their mood at work.

In addition, companies can conduct team building activities outdoors. Employees can freely move around, interact with people, share ideas and knowledge with people from different backgrounds and qualifications. Companies aiming for community building around shared office spaces can benefit from outdoor activities.

Furthermore, outdoor workspaces will foster the idea of walking meetings. Rather than conference rooms, corporates can conduct walking meetings in nature. Walking itself offers tons of health benefits, ranging from good blood circulation to increased cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness to improved BMIs to improved life expectancy. Walking meetings in nature will stimulate employee’s creativity levels, improve their decision-making abilities, and better their communication skills and team relationships.

An outdoor work setting will give each employee and team the flexibility to work, roam, and exercise, increasing operational efficiency. As a result, companies can achieve their goals, build a reputation, and gain a competitive edge in the market.

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Technology for Sustainable Outdoor Spaces