Attracting Top, Young Talent With Biophilia in Houston, Texas
by Marcus Dodson, editor & publisher
Competition for employees is fierce. As the labor market tightens toward full employment, companies continue to develop new and innovative ways to attract and retain top talent. Two major tools are branding, the values and aesthetics that set companies apart from their competitors, and employee experience, the day-to-day amenities and aesthetics of the workplace. Interior designers for some companies are adopting a solution that boosts workplace allure on both counts and energizes spaces: living green walls.
For many organizations, adapting to the demands of the information economy is a priority, and the talent pool skews younger for digitally savvy professionals. As a result, many companies are updating branding and experience to satisfy millennial tastes. Recent studies show that 76% of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments before deciding where to work. In a word, millennial taste is green.
Interior designers and architects for major companies are taking notice and installing sustainable design elements in high-profile locations at their properties. One of these design elements is a Versa Wall® designed by GSky® Plant Systems, Inc. These walls have cropped up in such diverse settings as healthcare centers, law firms, and the corporate offices of global car manufacturers, not to mention their high popularity in the hospitality and retail sectors.
Other companies look to beautify the exterior of their corporate campuses. The Versa Wall XT outside the Briar Park office building at Lockton Place in Houston, Texas, exemplifies biophilic design that embraces the outdoors as a setting as well as an inspiration. The modern, eight-story office building welcomes employees and guests with a breath of plant-freshened air, with a 550 sq.ft. living green wall installation leading to the front door. Beautifully stocked with a bevy of local plant varieties, the walls feature an undulating design brought to life by the juxtaposition of lighter and darker foliage. The wall performs the key act of any biophilic element; it muddies the line between the natural and built environment and encourages passersby to enjoy flora as a part of their workday.
Green design is not simply a question of appearance. Plastic plants would be a cheaper investment, but fake green walls miss the point for employees. Ultimately, while young people today may be more interested in green design than past generations, there is a growing body of evidence that all of us are inclined to be around live plants. Research suggests that exposure to nature can induce positive shifts in emotion, facilitate high-order cognitive functioning, and even increase creativity and productivity.
As a result, living green walls are not only for hip new office layouts or companies looking to exude a start-up energy. Even a staid company can get more out of their employees with a touch of biophilic design. Walls offer psychological benefits, and the calming colors of a vertical garden can reduce stress on an individual level, with obvious positives from an organizational perspective. Additionally, a major benefit of living green walls is its effect on health. Plants in living walls remove toxins from the air to improve workplace wellbeing. Fewer colds and headaches might result in fewer sick days, and could enable greater efficiency as the slowing effects of poor health are mitigated. Clearly, living green walls can improve employee experience of the workplace, and while health factors may be difficult to describe in hiring material, the overall effect of biophilic design can influence healthier, happier, and more productive employees to stay with a company.
Office architecture and design earns a reputation for drab repetition, and even sleek new offices are in danger of seeming sterile. Biophilic design and corporate branding may seem at odds at first, but millennial fondness for flora means that both can help hire young professionals and get the most out of them. GSky’s Versa Wall system provides architects and interior designers a canvas for creating living art that helps people breathe and boosts their productivity. When designing a space to advance the objectives of a corporate client, living green walls are a sustainable option with the flexibility to meet the specific demands of any indoor space or corporate imagination.