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Home » Blog » Office design » Biophilic Office Design. It’s still a growing trend.
The term biophilia was coined by Edward O Wilson, an American biologist and naturalist who identified the psychology behind biophilia. Wilson describes biophilia as the innate human need to affiliate with life. You may think that biophilia is simply a few plants in the office but, there is more to it than that. Biophilic elements refer to anything that reflects and induces a sense of beauty in the natural world. This can include features such as living walls, water features, natural lighting, or patterns and design styles that mimic nature such as wood effect flooring.
Biophilic elements can bring the calming, inspirational and rejuvenating power of the outdoors into interior spaces. In the post-Covid world, it should be embraced as an integral part of any wellbeing strategy within the workplace.
In this blog, we explore the benefits of biophilia in workspaces and make some suggestions about how to introduce elements of biophilia into working environments.
Before we do explore the benefits, we want to highlight a university study on the topic to prove that biophilia in the workplace does improve employee engagement, well-being, and productivity. So, let’s look at the research and the science:
Dr Craig Knight from Exeter University and his fellow psychologists, who have been studying wellbeing at work for 10 years, carried out the research and concluded that employees were 15% more productive when ‘lean’ workplaces were filled with just a few houseplants. This study simply demonstrated that employees who actively engage with their surroundings are better workers.
Collaborating with academics from four universities in Australia, the UK and the Netherlands, Knight said he had wondered for years why the fashion for spartan offices has been so dominant in the business world, and the obvious benefits of office plants ignored. “If you put an ant into a ‘lean’ jam jar, or a gorilla in a zoo into a ‘lean’ cage – they’re miserable beasties,” he said. People in ‘lean’ offices are no different, he added.
Essentially planting in the workplace makes people more productive because it connects them back to nature, this innate desire that is hardwired into our DNA is called Biophilia. If you take a human out of ‘nature’ and put them in a clinical space devoid of natural elements stress and anxiety levels increase.
With the research and science delivering the results we expected let’s look at some of the benefits of Biophilia in the workplace:
Considering Dr Craig Knight’s study above it’s clear that workers with an exposed level of contact with nature were 15% more productive compared to those with minimal contact. This can be attributed to a variety of factors including but not limited to better air quality, a greater sense of wellbeing, improved concentration levels and a greater choice of work settings, including outdoor areas. Additionally, natural light plays a surprisingly important role in terms of enhancing employee productivity because it boosts the creation of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates people’s sleep-wake cycles and therefore makes a positive material difference to their energy levels.
Today, many businesses are increasingly encouraged to improve the health and wellbeing of their employees. Biophilic office design offers a strategy to support employees’ health and wellbeing by helping with stress reduction rates and increased rates of wellbeing by 13%.
Biophilic office design promotes a healthier habitat for humans where the right environment has positive, physical effects on our bodies.
One study published by the Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research found that those workers who had views of trees generally reported less career-orientated stress in the workplace than those without.
Adding plants to interior work or living spaces can increase oxygen levels which in turn increases air quality. At night, photosynthesis ceases. Plants typically respire like humans, absorbing oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. A few plants – orchids, succulents, and epiphytic bromeliads – do just the opposite, taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
Spending some time outdoors is crucial for our mental health. The problem is that a 9-5 office job can make it difficult to find the time to spend outside and becomes even more difficult on short dark winter days. The way to combat this is to act on the well-known phrase well ‘Bringing the Outside In’.
Adding green spaces and biophilic elements into everyday life can help reduce anger and make people feel calmer, even watering plants can soothe the mind. Having something nature-based will remind them of the outdoors and will help to reduce any feelings of being trapped inside. One study showed that the presence of plants in offices can lower stress and anxiety levels by up to 37% as well as a decrease in tiredness by up to 38%
Incorporating living walls, moss walls, plants, natural light and elements into the workspace makes the office look so much more inviting. Having designed and curated a working environment that has an abundance of natural light and greenery you will perhaps see employees becoming more engaged with their environment. Potential new talent will see that the company cares about their employees’ health and wellbeing which as a result will boost the company's image and brand.
A biophilic workplace that practices sustainability can even encourage new talent to choose to work in a biophilic positive environment over a workplace that has not endorsed nature-based interior solutions.
Having seen the benefits of biophilic design in the workplace it’s clear to see why businesses would be keen to adopt some form of nature into their working day. However, it can be daunting to decide where to start with biophilic design and some elements such as living walls (walls made up of plants) can be expensive to install and maintain. But it doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive. Although not completely embracing the aesthetics of a complete biophilic design, a small plant on the desk can help to bring some sort of stress relief.
Naturemoss is the most authentic, practical and affordable way to access the world of biophilic design. Using a varied selection of preserved mosses and materials, you can create the most natural-looking wall, on a budget. Naturemoss is grown and sustainably harvested in Scandinavia and then fixed to 10mm panels making installation incredibly easy and hassle-free.
The Stave reception desk has feature timber panels offering a natural holistic look and feel to any reception area. Additionally, the Moss reception desk features a unique and nature-based inspired moss frontage which is a talking point for any visitor or client.
The Fearne Planter Collection is made to measure and is designed to fit inside a specific place as a room divider. Fearne also compliments our banquet seating range, Casper, Cedric, Colin, and Connie. Available with three different leg options: plinth, to the floor and metal legs it's a system that works well on many levels. The Fearne planters come in low, medium and high so you can easily plan and landscape each area without having to make any substitutes.
Lift up your mood with the Buzzi Mood Biophilic Acoustic Wall Panels. With its lush, botanical appearance, this graphic acoustic solution promotes a more relaxed and calm atmosphere. It offers a low-maintenance alternative to traditional plants.
This modular shelving unit houses natural-looking wood shelves and planters, ideal for storing books, artefacts, and your favourite plants.
As we find ourselves living in a post pandemic world, a world that would have been inconceivable pre 2020, biophilia and wellbeing in the workplace is no longer a trend or a fad that’s greeted with sceptisium by the sceptics! We really are closer than we think to our primitive desires which are to connect with humans and nature. To be deprived of this daily encounter seems counterproductive to our wellbeing and happiness. Biophilia is something we should all think about and embrace to improve our productivity and reduce stress levels.
Let us know what biophilic changes you will make. Will it be a full scale living wall installation or a simple little cactus placed on your office desk? Whatever the answer...just breathe :)
Thanks for reading...
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