Green is the New Black

Nature walk (Life of Pix)

City centre business centres and coworking spaces might always command a higher rental value than fringe locations. But where there’s differentiation, there’s a unique selling point.

And in the case of out-of-town office space, green is certainly the new black.

By ‘green’ we mean the literal sense. Green landscapes, trees, fields, woodlands, and nature trails. Yes, city centres have their fair share of parks and manicured gardens. But as we found with this study on biophilic office design, it’s nothing compared to the simple, earthy joy of having the countryside right on your office doorstep.

For rural business centres, that’s a very special selling point with which inner city centres can’t compete. Not only that, but there’s a growing mountain of health and productivity research studies that prove the grass really is greener on the outside.

Let’s start with this study – “Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation” – published by a group of Stanford University researchers. More than 50% of people now live in urban areas, claims the report, which is expected to swell to 70% by 2050. The researchers state that “urbanisation is associated with increased levels of mental illness, but it’s not yet clear why.”

The group set out to establish whether access to natural landscapes could help to lower stress levels. It found that participants who undertook a 90-minute nature walk “showed reduced neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness”.

The group concluded that “accessible natural areas may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world” – suggesting that simply having access to a relaxing nature walk can help to reduce stress levels and improve happiness at work.

Treehouse coworking

If you are confined to a concrete jungle however, don’t despair. It seems trees can offer significant benefits for city centre occupiers even if green spaces are tucked out of reach.

For instance, have you heard the one about the coworking space in a treehouse?

London’s TREExOFFICE, an outdoor pop-up coworking space built around a tree, is real – and according to this study published on, TREExOFFICE could be onto something.

A group of researchers studied the effects of living near trees in Toronto, and their findings – “Neighborhood greenspace and health in a large urban center” – found some quite remarkable trends:

“…people who live in neighborhoods with a higher density of trees on their streets report significantly higher health perception and significantly less cardio-metabolic conditions…”

The report suggested that having 10 more trees in a city block “improves health perception” in ways comparable to knocking 7 years off the age of residents, or increasing their annual personal income. So if you don’t have a handy nature reserve on your business centre doorstep, you could consider planting more trees instead.

These studies – and many more like them – go some way towards demonstrating the value of flexible workspaces in rural or regional out-of-town places. Simply put, the more natural green spaces we see, the better we feel.

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So while your fringe location might not command the equivalent rental value as a city skyscraper, you still have an undisputed advantage that city centres simply can’t match.

And with efforts to reach work-life-balance at an all-time high and flexible working practices becoming mainstream, not to mention the misery of congested city centres and commuting gripes, now is the ideal time to wield the advantages of your rural location. Build it into your marketing messages and tout the benefits of your rural location as a unique selling point. It brings a whole new meaning to ‘green’ office space.

Is the grass greener at your business centre? Let us know.

Image: Life of Pix

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