Whilst the outdoors has many mental and physical health benefits, it can be difficult to integrate this into your workspace. However, there is a solution by incorporating Biophilia within your office. It may sound philosophical, but its so much more than this as its been proven to support cognitive function, and both psychological well-being and physical health. As the pandemic continues to make WFH a more favorable position, making small changes in your space to include the biophilic concept could help to encourage your employees to come back into the office.
Biophilia focuses on bringing experiences of nature to us in the office of the urban environment; this can include living plants, natural light and natural materials. Developing research shows that spaces we spend a lot of time in have a direct and distinct physical and psychological impact on us. Those that contain elements of biophilic design are more attractive and have found to increase the use of the space.
It may seem obvious but including natural products and other sustainable resources in your office will help improve your carbon footprint. For example, live plants can help improve the air-quality in your office. As they take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen, they help improve the air you breathe and can help combat the problem of dry-air - a repeatedly reported issue in air conditioned offices, through the water that transpires from the leaves.
Plants can also absorb volatile organic compounds, such as chemicals widely use in domestic cleaning products, contained within some chemicals and emitted from electronics.
As mentioned earlier, biophilia can support cognitive function and psychological well-being. Studies show that plants can help to reduce depression by nearly 50%, and they can aid in reducing anxiety by almost 40%. Being well-connected with nature in the office can help significantly reduce the stress levels, as it helps provide greater emotional restoration, with lower instances of tension, anxiety, anger and fatigue. It helps to put us in a positive frame of mind, ready to take on new challenges and look at difficulties in new perspectives. This positive mindset can have spread to others in the office which in turn impacts the team as a whole, allowing each to take better care of themselves and generally be healthier.
Physiological responses triggered by connections with nature include relaxation of muscles, as well as lowering blood pressure and stress levels in the blood stream. This allows for a well-balanced reaction to unknown circumstances that may come up in the ever-changing work environment and a generally calmer atmosphere within the space. Fatigue can also be combatted with biophilia as studies have shown that biophilic design and nature can stimulate the mind and restore calm which in turn reduces fatigue and allows for the mind to refocus.
Future in the office
As the future of office working continues to change at a rapid pace, with features such as hybrid and agile working becoming the 'new normal', the space needs to be able to facilitate these changes. Biophilic design can deliver and provide what's needed as it helps to increase the attraction and appeal of working in the office, and the wide scope of different natural materials that can be used help it to be adaptable for any office space.