Our quality of life as human beings relies on a sustainable global effort — this includes your modern workspace.

Green workspaces provide measurable benefits across a range of areas, including reduced expenditure, staff engagement, and workforce productivity. Studies have shown that green office environments increase job satisfaction, retain talent, improve productivity, and reduce average sick days and sick leave costs.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of work and office space functionality has rapidly evolved. Reducing your environmental footprint not only saves energy and operational costs — which is especially important for those working from home — but may improve your productivity. Sustainable office spaces are far more comfortable, have better air quality, and use less energy overall, and workers who feel better in their environment do better work.

Looking to create an eco-friendly workspace with a classic, modern look and feel? Get started with these 5 tips:

Tip 1: Energy-Efficient Lighting

When it comes to energy conservation, natural light (as opposed to artificial light) has a positive effect on people’s health and a positive impact on energy usage.

Increasing natural light can be accomplished by introducing an open floor plan, more windows, skylights, or glass walls into your office design. A good balance between natural and artificial light creates a practical, warm, well-lit ambiance without wasting excess electricity. Desk and standing lamps, for instance, are a great way to minimize excessive overhead lighting and can be made of eco-friendly materials, use energy-efficient bulbs, and last longer than plastic lamps found in chain stores.

For a classic, modern aesthetic, there are a number of lighting trends to consider, including rustic and vintage-style geometric shapes, mixed materials that combine glass, metal, and wood, minimalist pendant lights, and black light fixtures that emphasize and shape the light in your space. 

Tip 2: Green Design 

We know plants produce oxygen, but did you know they offset chemicals released into the air from things like furniture and have energizing, restorative properties?

Mother Nature boosts mood, reduces anxiety and stress, improves air quality, and benefits employee health and wellbeing outcomes. One study found that employees reported a 37% drop in tension and anxiety, a 58% drop in depression, a 38% drop in fatigue, and a 15% rise in productivity when plants were introduced to their office environment.

Green design goes one step further by extending to more sustainable elements like living green walls, plant partitions, indoor office gardens, freshwater plant aquariums, or marine ‘gardens’ built into seating or breakout areas. 

Tip 3: Natural Furniture 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that up to 8.5 million tons, or 17 billion pounds, of office furniture ends up in U.S. landfills each year — and, sadly, the cycle doesn’t end there.

To promote sustainability, desks, chairs, storage units, filing cabinets, partition panels, and other office furniture should utilize wood and other materials that come from renewable sources, use minimal chemicals that can pollute the environment, and support local materials and manufacturing to save on transportation.

Bamboo, stone, or porcelain made-furniture are durable options that require less harmful finishes and do not affect our forests.

Tip 4: Think Outside the Box 

Need more inspiration? Sustainable design works to promote a healthy, calm work environment, and since home offices have now become commonplace, you can glean valuable insight from peaceful home decor ideas when approaching layouts, storage, or other workspace design features to boost productivity and focus.

Color, for instance, can be tricky. The versatility of pastel colors pairs well with botanical, geometric, or abstract designs, but for a more sophisticated modern design, colors such as brown, black, beige, grey, silver, white, and blue are the base ingredients.

Color influences perceptions and emotions in people, so understanding the psychology behind them and the impact they have can assist you when making the right selection for your space. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different tones and shades, but try to create a balanced color palette. If you’re looking for inspiration, the following colors can help you get started:

  • Blue is often considered an “intellectual” color. It’s believed to promote trust, logic, communication, and efficiency, and is best used as the primary color in office areas that require a great deal of focus.
  • Red is a physical color representing courage, strength, and excitement. It’s the perfect color to use in areas of your workspace that demand physical exertion.
  • Yellow is a more “emotional” color. It represents creativity, friendliness, optimism, and confidence, and is often used to stimulate positivity, creativity, and happiness in an office setting.
  • Green promotes balance and represents harmony, nature, and restoration. Green brings a sense of calm to an area.
  • Orange blends the physical red with the emotional yellow to create a sense of comfort. It is often associated with warmth and can be fun when used appropriately, making it an option for a casual office lounge.
  • Purple is often associated with spirituality or luxury and can promote deep contemplation, though should be used carefully, as too much (or the wrong tone) can have an opposite effect.
  • Grey often represents neutrality. We commonly see it used in sleek or modern offices, however, when used inappropriately it suggests a lack of confidence and can stimulate a depressing mood, so tread cautiously when incorporating grey in certain spaces. 

Tip 5: Eco All the Way

A variety of office decor can be made from recycled materials without compromising style.

Eco-friendly office supplies and equipment, floor finishes, non-toxic carpeting, and PVC-free wall coverings all contribute towards a sustainable workspace. Also, incorporating technological solutions that reduce resource consumption can improve the sustainability of your internal operations and increase their efficiency.

In 2021, consider innovating with more sustainable materials in your office design and adopt or facilitate activities to encourage greener choices for a cleaner, healthier, and happier workspace.