Biophilic Design in the Workplace

 

One of the latest trends in office design, said to improve well-being and productivity, is biophilic design.

We spend a large portion of our waking lives in our places of work, and many of us have little power over the feel or appearance of that space. This is unfortunate because the places we inhabit exert a strong hold over our psychology and our overall well-being. Increasingly, employers are sensitive to the fact that the design of our workspaces impacts not only individual well-being but consequently the productivity of the workforce as a whole.

The Love of Nature
Human beings are instinctively drawn to the natural world, an attraction for which there is a name – biophilia – meaning ‘love of nature’. This affinity reminds us that for the vast majority of our history, human beings interacted with nature on a daily basis. In evolutionary terms, our transition from country, to city, to brightly lit offices has all been in a relative blink of the eye, meaning our living habits have changed, but our longing for the natural world hasn’t.

 

Biophilic design satisfies this desire by bringing the outdoors in, and by cultivating a natural atmosphere in spaces where nature isn’t usually to be found, such as the modern office. In these spaces, there is an increasing need for biophilic design as our workspaces are often detrimental to the health and happiness for the employees who inhabit them.

 

A recent study found that as many as 47 percent of workers have no natural light in their work environment, and 55 percent reported no natural greenery such as plants. Significantly, the same study found that employees in workspaces which incorporated biophilic design were six percent more productive, reported 15 percent higher levels of well-being than average, and were 15 percent more creative.

 

Biophilic Design and Well-Being
One of the most important elements in fostering individual well-being is the reduction of stress levels. Scientific research has demonstrated that interaction with nature can reduce an individual’s stress level, and, crucially for advocates of biophilic design, symbolic representations of nature can produce almost as significant an impact on an employee as the real thing.

 

Clearly, nature, and symbols of nature exert a restorative effect on human-beings, and, when incorporated in the workspace, allow employees to better deal with the day to day stresses of work life.

 

Bringing the Outside Into Your Office 
Biophilic design can be incorporated into the workspace in a number of ways, some more obvious than others. Some examples include choosing green walls, timber cladding, and patterns, colours and textures which are evocative of the natural world. Our team recently created a haven of nature in Cablecraft’s workspace to encourage a sense of well-being and team collaboration.

 

 

Elsewhere, it’s important to be conscious of the positive effects of natural light can have on employee well-being, and allow views to the outside world where possible.  If there is little or no natural landscape for you to incorporate into your workspace, then consider creating quiet spaces for your employees to work which mimic the sound and feel of nature in the form of design elements such as living walls.

 

 

Finally, you can quite literally bring the natural world into your office by introducing real and artificial plants. Aside from the biophilic benefits plants can bring, they also provide real health benefits by reducing dust and CO2 levels.

If you would like to explore the possibility of redesigning your office in-line with the principles of biophilic design, then please get in touch with the team at Accent on 08456 595911 or email interiors@accentoffice.co.uk, we’d be more than happy to help.

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