Friday, November 19, 2021

Beyond the Workplace Zoo (book review)

Workplace strategist, environmental psychologist, and longstanding friend of Shedworking Nigel Oseland has a new book out, Beyond the Workplace Zoo. While it concentrates on traditional offices, what's wrong with them (essentially, too much like old zoos and too much thoughtless open planning), and how to fix them (make better use of space), it does touch on elements such as third place working which we follow with interest on this site as well as a mention of garden offices (Nigel works in one himself). 

He also looks at issues which are of interest to shedworkers in terms of humanising the workplace, focusing on the psychology of work and practical considerations such as thermal comfort, acoustics, lighting, etc, with particular emphasis on biophilia,the belief that humans work and live better when they are properly connected to nature e.g. putting plants in workplaces, providing views of nature from desks, etc. Even big boys such as Amazon are waking up to the benefits of this – their ‘Spheres’ headquarters in Seattle is essentially an enormous conservatory with more than 40,000 plants and 300 plant species as well as treehouse meeting rooms and major water features. Nigel's solution is what he describes as a 'landscaped office' which has obvious overlaps with garden offices.

It's a very interesting read, extremely well researched and authoritative, but not packed with academicspeak and so is properly accessible to the general reader. And at 188 pages, including photos and other illustrations, it's not a wristbreaker. Strongly recommended, whether you work in a garden office or not. Below, Nigel talks about it all in an interview on a Journal of Biophilic Design podcast.


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