The workplace has evolved following the Covid pandemic and the pressure is now on employers to take a more wellness and people-focused approach to their office interiors and create more hybrid, agile workplaces.
Employers are increasingly looking for nature-inspired spaces that bring workers into the office and help them engage with each other and their surroundings.
As a result, we are seeing an increase in popularity for the principles of biophilic design.
What is Biophilic Office Design?
The term biophilia was created in 1964 by psychologist Eric Fromm and is based on the human need and desire to connect to nature.
Biophilic design has been described as ‘the inherent human inclination to affiliate with nature that even in the modern world continues to be critical to people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing.’
The same principles apply to biophilic office design, which aims to create workspaces that support social integration and communal well-being. Designers are increasingly starting to view biophilic design as an integral part of any commercial workspace.
Biophilic design increases connectivity to the natural environment through the use of nature, and space and place conditions. It utilises natural materials and patterns and phenomena to incorporate the natural world into a built environment.
It’s not just about adding a few planters but appreciating the connection between humans and the environment.
For years employees have felt the negative effects of spending their working day in an environment with limited natural daylight, fresh air, foliage and views of the outdoors. These environments have been proven to have a detrimental effect on our mental health.
Biophilic design has been found to support our physical health, cognitive functions and psychological well-being.
Why Biophilic Office Design?
Introducing elements of nature into the workplace can have numerous benefits. Plants and greenery enhance our feelings of connectivity and can offset the tech environment which surrounds us.
Biophilic design can reduce stress, improve cognitive function, enhance mood and creativity as well as increase physical health, well-being and productivity.
Studies show that successful biophilic design can increase productivity by up to 20% whilst reducing absenteeism by 15% – figures that are impossible for businesses to ignore.
The Benefits of Biophilia in the workplace
Biophilic design elements can range from the physical natural light, plants and living things to representative pictures of nature and the creation of spaces that replicate the natural world.
There are numerous benefits of incorporating biophilic design into the office environment:
Feelings of wellbeing
Bringing nature into the workplace can boost both physical and mental health. A biophilic office can help you to be more active, improving your mood and making you feel more relaxed.
Biophilic design has been proven to have a positive impact on our connections with each other and with place and nature, boosting productivity, creativity, collaboration and well-being.
Improving the air quality
Incorporating live plants into your workplace environment improves the air quality by using carbon dioxide to produce oxygen. They transpire through their leaves which leaves the air more humid.
Multiple studies have shown that biophilia makes your employees more creative as employees who engage with their surroundings are more productive, efficient and creative.
Our connection with nature can alleviate feelings of stress. In a stressful, dull office environment the body’s sympathetic system is highly engaged.
In contrast, an environment that fosters nature increases sympathetic activity, relieving stress and increasing concentration levels.
Increases employee wellbeing
Biophilic elements increase our mood. Access to nature makes employees happier and healthier. Staff start their day with a positive environment and mindset.
Workspace has a huge impact on employees, biophilic design needs to be prioritised when you are thinking about your office design.
Develops a community
Biophilic design supports the creation of a community, which will create a sense of belonging, of being part of something and working together and in support of each other.
Helps create neighbourhoods in the biophilic office
Neighbourhoods refer to the breakdown of office space into certain areas, which promote a more friendly and inclusive approach to the workplace. Spaces can be separated using living walls, planters and water features instead of the traditional floor coverings and partitions.
This immediately allows for a more natural flow and encourages free movement. Biophilic office design plays a key role in this approach, improving collaboration and integration and creating a stronger bond to the organisation.
Investing in Biophilic design for your workplace
Working in an office no longer means spending your day in a dull, plain environment. Businesses are now starting to view the quality of their office space as a way to attract and maintain the best talent and to achieve this, your space needs to reflect your work values.
There is potential for all office environments and workplaces to embrace biophilic design, regardless of their size or budget. The introduction of living or natural elements to a workspace is an opportunity to remove that static quality and breathe life into the environment, putting us at one with nature and with each other.
What is the best way to bring nature into the workplace, while boosting wellbeing, enhancing space and enabling better interaction?
Living walls, plants and flowers are the simplest addition to your workplace if you don’t have a massive amount of space to play with. Small indoor plants, feature walls with vertical gardens, foliage and biophilic fixtures will brighten up any space.
From improving natural light to bringing the outdoors in, we can all benefit from a better connection with nature during the working day.
The digital world creates physical distance, so the office of the future needs to bring us back together.
Biophilic office interior design solutions can do just that.