By Jackie Cooper, Interior Service Supervisor, Ambius
Any good hotel manager or owner will know the importance of a happy workforce. Happy team members will do their jobs to the best of their abilities, resulting in a better overall experience for your customers. It’s easy for a guest to tell when there is a dissatisfied member of staff, and this can leave a bad impression on guests, especially if the employee is perceived to have a “poor attitude”.
While good management and competitive remuneration go a long way in keeping your employees happy, one factor that often gets overlooked is the design of the working environment? With employee expectation higher than ever before, ensuring your workplace is a positive and pleasant space to be in will not just improve staff morale – it will impact your business’s bottom line, with people likely to work more productively, and take less time off.
One way you can help to improve your working environment is to incorporate “biophilic design”. Biophilia refers to the inherent human need to connect with nature and living organisms, with many workplaces now aiming to “bring the outside in” to improve employee wellbeing. This goes beyond just having indoor plants to make it feel more homely, it’s about stimulating employee’s senses in order to create an environment that feels natural and open.
Of course, introducing more plants is a great start, but you can help encourage a sense-driven connection to nature even further by arranging your plants in a way that reflects how they are seen in the natural environment – i.e. positioning plants of varying heights and textures in a more sporadic order. But your biophilic design journey shouldn’t end there. Here, we discuss several biophilic design trends which will ensure your back of house is a stimulating environment for your employees.
Eye to the Sky:
Ceilings are having their moment in the design spotlight. From hanging plants and skylights, to statement ceiling designs. Exposed wooden ceiling joists are increasingly popular, with the earthy colour and texture subconsciously creating an association with the outdoors. They are also the perfect place for a hanging basket, allowing plants with long leaves to dangle freely, and natural light to flow underneath. Skylights are another option which allow natural light to flood in, even in typically compact spaces like staff rooms or offices.
This next evolution of commercial lighting involves systems that mirror natural sunlight conditions. During winter months, or in buildings with reduced access to natural light, this innovation can help to regulate the human body’s natural circadian rhythm, leading to improved sleep and mood regulation, regardless of your proximity to a window. This may also be an important consideration for the hotel sector, with a proportion of employees whose body clocks may be affected by working night shifts.
Sustainably-sourced and Reclaimed Woods:
Wood is one of the most popular biophilic construction materials and through the use of chairs, tables and room dividers, is an easy material to play with in the back of house space. Rather than relying on the widely-used medium-density fibreboard (MDF), reclaimed wood has started to become a more popular choice thanks to its natural and authentic appearance. The fact that it’s recycled from its original purpose is also important from a sustainability perspective, which your staff should appreciate.
Flooring and Restoring:
The feeling of a surface under foot can be quite a powerful sensation. For example, the feeling of walking barefoot on grass or the sand between your toes on the beach is something that can last in the mind. Innovative designers are beginning to incorporate texture into floors. Materials such as indoor grass, natural stone, moss or elements from forest floors, can be used as unique textures that create a clear link to the outdoors. This isn’t just novelty; with a little imagination, biophilic design integrated into your workplace can help stimulate employee’s senses and contribute to improved satisfaction and wellbeing. Happy staff will result in a more positive customer experience for all.