The green wall gains popularity in the workplace

Green wall inside Slack's Vancouver offices

As the green wall becomes more and more present in the workplace, we take a look at some of the most inspiring offices that feature living walls.

Last month, we discussed the benefits of green walls in your workplace. Today, we take a look at 15 offices that have used greenery to their advantage.

Whether it be a creative studio, a co-working space or a law firm, green walls are a surefire way to give your tired office a new lease of life. 

They make for great room dividers in large open plan offices, they can act as a refreshing backdrop in your meeting area or waiting room, and if you lack the space (or budget), you can always replace a poster or two with bright green, wall-mounted planters.

Don't know where to start? Here are four ways to use living walls in the workplace.

1. Uplift the reception area

Office reception area with a living wall
Fuschia pink and natural green blend in inside Microsoft's Building 44 office reception area. By  ZGF Architects
Etsy Brooklin office by Gensler
Etsy's office in Brooklyn, New York features green walls and colourful ceiling decorations. By Gensler
Large green wall in Boston office
The Sonos offices in Boston feature a large green wall in a double-height space. By IA Interior Architects
Waiting area with green wall
Eclectic waiting area with industrial elements and a lush green wall inside Maritime data analytics firm Windward's Tel Aviv office by Roy David Studio

2. Freshen up the office lobby

Large atrium with living wall
Large living wall inside Yoga clothing retailer Lululemon Athletica's office atrium in Vancouver, British Columbia. By Gustavson Wylie Architects
Insurance law firm office with living walls
Sculptural staircase and mini green walls punctuate the waiting area at insurance law firm Wotton + Kearney. By futurespace
Green wall inside Slack's Vancouver offices
Exposed brick walls, contemporary lighting and a bright living wall inside Slack's office Vancouver, British Columbia. By Leckie Studio

3. Infuse character into the breakout area

vistaprint office with a living wall
Contemporary breakout area with a green wall at Cimpress and Vistaprint. By Margulies Perruzzi Architects
Breakout area with green wall inside coworking office Hong Kong
Coworking office The Work Project in Hong Kong boasts an eye-catching green wall. By Bean Buro
Breakout area with green wall
Collaborative space with a green wall divider inside Multinational food and beverage company Mondelez International Madrid office. By Areazero 2.0
Skyscanner Budapest office
Skyscanner's Budapest office is bursting with greenery. By Madilancos Studio

4. Spruce up the common areas

breakout area with a green wall
Colourful furniture and well-lit green walls at Facebook's Tel Aviv headquarters. By Setter Architects
Green walls at BKM headquarters
Green accents add personality inside BKM headquarters by Hollander Design Group
Yandex office replete with living walls
Living walls inside tech company Yandex in Moscow. By Atrium

Cycling facilities at work: 5 factors to consider

in-office bike storage facilities

Cycling facilities at work are becoming increasingly necessary. Here are 5 factors to help landlords and developers cater for a sustainable, profitable future.

Together with company culture, office standards are changing, and with incentives like the Cycle To Work Scheme in place, tenants are now turning to office landlords and developers for cycle provision in the workplace

So, what are the factors to consider when developing a bike-friendly office? 

1. Indoor cycling facilities

in-office bike storage facilities

According to the  BREEAM UK New Construction 2018 manual, "cycling facilities may be located anywhere on site. However, the total route that cyclists must take to access the nearest cycle storage, cyclists' facilities and building entrances must be no greater than 500m via a safe and convenient route." 

Including cycle provision at the shell and core stages of office development, of course, much easier than retrofitting an existing office building. If, however, you fall into the second category and find yourself with restricted space for indoor cycling facilities, think about moving internal refuse stores outside the office building. This will free up some space for your much-wanted in-office bike storage. 

2. Number of cycle spaces

London areas where higher cycle parking standards apply. Source: Transport for London (TFL) 2017

The New London Plan plans aims to increase the minimum standards for cycle parking in B1 offices developments from 1 space per 90 sqm to 1 space per 75 sqm. This applies to areas with higher cycle parking standards (highlighted in red in the map above).

It goes without saying that these figures are only a minimum requirement, but let's put this into context. An office building like The Leandenhall Building, aka. The Cheesegrater, totals 56.671 m2 of office space and includes parking spaces for 400 bicycles and 129 motorcycles.  

Now, The Leadenhall Building is home to 24 companies, one of which is AON with its 500+ employees spread over 10 floors. Following the 1 space per 90 sqm. rule, it should offer 630 parking spaces; but still, compared to its City neighbours, The Cheesgrater scores considerably above average. 

“compared to five years ago, cycling provision is increasingly becoming accepted as an integral component of Grade A office specification”,

Richard Kauntze, Chief Executive of the British Council for Offices

Of course, not every single occupant is a cyclist, but let's turn to leading sustainability assessment method BREEAM and make predictions a little more realistic. BREEAM ‘Tra 03 Cyclist facilities’ states that landlords and developers should provide 1 bicycle parking space for every 10 occupants. 

Forward-looking companies may also want to think about opportunities for expansion, should more employees opt for a two-wheel commute in the future.

3. Lockers & storage units

office washrooms fitted with ample locker space

Providing bicycle parking is only half the battle of developing a bike-friendly office. Cycle provision also includes convenient storage units and lockers designed to help create a better working environment. 

Anyone who has ever ridden a bike through peak-time London can imagine the challenges of storing wet clothes in an office that does not have appropriate storage facilities. Together with bike parking, lockers are an advantage for tenants and can, therefore, raise the leasing potential of your office development. 

4. Showers

Taking a line from our much-loved BREEAM UK New Construction 2018 manual: 

Compliant cyclist facilities (showers, changing areas etc.) can be provided in shell and core areas of the building as part of the base build. Alternatively, compliance can be demonstrated where the shell and core building is designed to facilitate future installation of the compliant number and type of cyclist facilities by the tenant/owner-occupier through the provision of an appropriately sized and dedicated space in the base building, including either the installation of the appropriate services (for showers) or infrastructure to allow the future installation of the relevant services e.g. capped water supply, service or ventilation ducts, drainage etc.

Shower facilities should be located near the bike parking and ideally, profit from naturally ventilation. Direct access to the core lobby should also be provided. In order for your office development to be BREEAM-compliant, it should include one shower for every 10 cycle storage spaces. Also worth noting that any building comprising eight showers or more is considered compliant, regardless of the number of parking spaces provided.

5. Specifications

Your office can be fit for cyclists as early as the shell & core stage. There is, therefore, no requirement for office cycling facilities to be finished to a high standard. However, here are a few tips to take away with you. 

  • Keep it well-lit.
  • Use slip-resistant flooring.
  • Keep room heights equal or higher than 2.2m. 

What will the office of the future look like?

Ljubljana chamber of commerce boasts biophilic design

From energy-saving to family-conscious, the office of the future will be greener, smarter, and undoubtedly more high-tech.

Office design is changing fast. Designed to adapt to the workers' needs, the office today wants to be open yet flexible. But what about tomorrow? What trends are bound to shape the office of the future? 

Hot-desking

Hot desking inside Air bnb's Tokyo office
Hot-desking area inside Airbnb's Tokyo Office. Suppose Design Office

A recent CBRE report has found that, of the 400 multinationals surveyed, two-thirds plan on embracing the shared-desk concept by 2020.  As versatility becomes the new status quo in the workplace, traditional open-plan offices are already giving way to activity-based working solutions where flexibility is key and the price of a desk has to be justified. 

Energy-saving buildings

bloomberg hq in London is billed the most sustainable office in the world
European Headquarters for Bloomberg, London. Foster + Partners'

With concerns over climate change growing stronger every day, sustainable design is becoming a key practice for developers, architects and engineers alike. 

Anecdotally, Foster + Partners' recently completed European Headquarters for Bloomberg in London was recently voted as the most sustainable building in the world, and it serves as a great example for the future of commercial properties and green building. 

With a BREEAM score of 98.5, the office building features bronze louvres that adapt to changing weather conditions, sensors that adjust airflow according to occupancy, rainwater and water from basins and showers harvesting technologies, and of course, an indoor green wall. Combined with that, Bloomberg's employees will profit from sit-stand workstations, two on-site cycle centres as well as a wellness centre, accentuating the importance of wellbeing in the workplace

Wearables for office workers

don't slouch wearable for work
Anti-slouch wearable by Upright

From activity-trackers, through real-time translation devices, to posture-correcting wearables, high technology is creeping up in the workplace, whether you like it or not. As staff wellbeing becomes increasingly important for productivity and business, will the employer be responsible for providing health-tracking wearables at the office? 

Some American companies like IBM, Time Warner and Target have already partnered with activity-trackers like Fitbit and implemented their own corporate wellness initiatives.

Health insurance giant Vitality has set in place incentives for their employees: hit your step goal and get a discounted Apple Watch!

On-site nurseries

Office nursery visualisation for Second Home in London
On-site nursery proposal, inside London's Second Home Spitalfields. José Selgas and Lucía Cano

In 2003, Goldman Sachs London office opened the first (and to this date only) on-site nursery in the Square Mile.

According to the latest figures from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Goldman Sachs is one of only 5% of businesses in the UK to offer childcare in the workplace.

Unsurprisingly, that 5 % is exclusively made up of large organisations with funds that match the financial requirements for an on-site creche in the workplace, but the benefits for companies are not insignificant. 

For starters, companies get tax breaks and relief for the day-to-day running and capital costs such as lighting, heating and the premise. On-site nurseries also have an impact on staff retention, making for an easier transition from maternity leave to work.

on-site nursery inside Goldman Sachs London
On-site nursery inside Goldman Sachs London office on Fleet Street

Despite their evident appeal, on-site nurseries at the office still pose significant challenges, as pointed out by Rohan Silva, former government adviser who now runs creative workspace Second Home in East London. These include a costly Ofsted accreditation process and frequent inspections, a chronic shortage of trained staff, strict regulations around designing and building childcare facilities and the need to shift the property developer's mindset. 

All things considered, on-site nurseries in the workplace are a profitable market for landlords and property agents to tap into. 

Biophilic design

Ljubljana chamber of commerce boasts biophilic design
The Ljubljana Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Slovenia. Sadar+Vuga Architects

In line with a more sustainable environment, the office of the future is set to embrace biophilic design. From planting living walls to maximising natural light and improving air quality, offices will pay more importance to staff wellbeing, health and productivity. 

3D printing

3D-printed office in Dubai
The world's first 3D-printed office in Dubai

The use of 3D printing in architecture has yet to reach its full potential and yet, Dubai has already unveiled a proof of concept set to redefine our expectations. 

The world's first 3D-printed office was built in 17 days and cost £110,000. It took a team effort of eighteen people only to oversee the process from start to finish. 

Technology research company Gartner expects 75% of companies to use 3D printing to increase manufacturing by 2020

Remote working

husk coffee and creative space in East London
Husk Coffee And Creative Space, East London

Having said all that, the office of the future might not be an office after all. Ever since the internet infiltrated the workplace in the late 1990s, remote working has been gaining momentum. Industry experts have even started to question the need for an office space

Coffee shops and hotel lobbies already double as informal office spaces, highlighting the possibility of an altogether barrier-free office.

So, how important is the need for an office space? Have we missed a crucial trend? Tweet us your thoughts - we love to be challenged. 

Opening image: Ljubljana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Slovenia. Sadar+Vuga Architects