Quite simply, biophilic design is bringing nature into the workplace. The term biophilia was introduced by the biologist and researcher Edward O. Wilson as a way of describing the human attraction to nature and natural processes, however rather than being surrounded by nature, the average office worker spends most of their time indoors surrounded by screens and concrete. Interior designers have attempted to reconnect office workers to nature in recent years, designing nature into office spaces in a variety of ways which has delivered several unexpected benefits.
Bringing the outdoors into the office space can have significant impacts in terms of improving productivity, reducing stress and enhancing employee health and wellbeing. Let’s explore some of the ways biophilics can be designed into your workspace.
Perhaps the most common way of bringing nature into the workplace is through the use of potted plants which can easily be located on desks and throughout the office. Plants can play a role in cleaning the air in your office, taking harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) often found in paints and cleaning products out of the air, replacing these with clean oxygen.
Popular office plants include Snake Plants, Peace Lilies and English Ivy, chosen for their ability to thrive in office environments which often lack natural light and regular access to water.
Living walls have been increasingly in popularity in recent years and are quickly on their way to becoming a fundamental element of commercial interior design. Living walls can be found within offices, bars, restaurants and residential apartment buildings across the UK, with many architects designing outdoor living walls onto their new building projects.
The benefits of a living wall extend beyond cleaning the air, but rather they convey a feeling of good health throughout your workforce which can positively impact an employee’s job satisfaction. Furthermore, biophilics like living walls can leave a striking impression on employees and visitors alike, allowing you to leave your potential clients suitably impressed.
It no secret that poor lighting can have a detrimental impact on your workforce, with issues such as headaches, irritability and poor concentration all possible consequences of lighting which is either too dim or too bright. To combat these issues. Studies suggest that increasing the amount of natural light in your office can combat these problems, even boosting the productivity and health of employees.
To maximise the benefits of natural light, office designers are encouraged to locate desks no further than 20 to 25 feet away from the nearest window. Glass partition walls are also a great way to open up a space and allow natural light to flow throughout your office.
Providing your workers with scenic views of nature can play a part in reducing employee stress and improving wellbeing throughout an office. These views don’t necessarily have to be large stunning landscapes as researchers suggest that a simple courtyard or a rooftop garden could provide just as much of a benefit to your employees.
Natural scenery can also be designed into the office environment using natural colour schemes, patterns and materials. Natural colours such as earthy greens, browns and blue tones can boost employee motivation and productivity. Natural materials like wood and stone are brilliant materials for use within your office design as they both look fantastic but also bring your employees that bit closer to nature.
Surprisingly, technology can be used in cases where bringing nature into the workplace isn’t feasible, delivering many of the same benefits in terms of improving employee wellbeing and productivity.
The Wells Fargo Centre in Denver uses floor to ceiling LED displays which show several different scenes from nature, including waterfalls and a flock of computer generate birds which are programmed to never follow the same route twice.
Even if you can’t afford floor to ceiling screens for your office, installing a few screens which display scenes from nature may be just as effective at boosting your employee’s connection to nature.