Did you know that employees are 15% more productive when lean workplaces are filled with just a few houseplants?
Biophilia is defined as the innate human instinct to connect with nature and other living beings. This is the foundation of biophilic design, which uses natural materials and patterns, to maintain a connection to nature within the built environment.
This topic escalated in recent years with digital transformation. Together with its benefits, technology also decreased human interaction with and respect for the natural world. This has also been one of the factors that contribute to environmental deterioration.
The biophilic design includes three categories:
- Nature in the Space – the direct presence of nature in a space in the form of plants, animals, water, wind, scents, light, shadows, and other natural elements.
- Natural Analogues – representations of natural materials, patterns, objects, colours, and shapes incorporated into building design, facade, decorations, and furniture.
- Nature of the Space – the incorporation of spatial elements commonly found in nature such as expansive views, places of sensory refuge (such as a quiet and dark room that simulates a cave), and a mild sense of risk (like stepping stones over a shallow pond).
The beauty of the biophilic design is that its elements can be mixed and matched to create a personalized ecosystem for your unique organisation.
While the UK work-related stress results in £29 billion a year cost for organisations and accounts for 35% of ill health and 43% of absenteeism, biophilic elements can reduce those statistics. from Human Spaces showed that workers in offices with natural elements, such as greenery and sunlight:
- are 6% more productive
- report a 15% higher level of well-being
- are 15% more creative
What we are seeing is not only how a reduction in ill health and lack of well-being converts to saving, but also an increase in operational productivity. In addition to that in organisations that adopted those practices learning rates rose by 20-25%, test results improved, concentration levels increased, and ADHD effects were reduced.
Tech giants like Google, Microsoft and Amazon are already bringing the outdoors inside. In Google’s Chicago office, for example, employees can adjust the colour temperature of the lighting to access light that simulates daylight. Microsoft built “treehouse meeting spaces,” while Amazon’s glass-panelled “Spheres” feature large living walls with hundreds of plant species.
Here are some examples you can adopt this into your organisation:
- Maximize natural light through an open floor plan, abundant windows, skylights, and light wells.
- Include foliage and nature-themed artwork in the form of climbing gardens, honeycomb-shaped wall tiles covered in moss, and potted plants.
- Use natural materials, such as poplar and bamboo, in furniture and panelling.
However, the biophilic design does not always require a large budget or big space. There are many simple ways:
- Open curtains and windows so that employees can have the movement of light and fresh air flow
- If living in an area with high levels of air pollution, add an air purifier to the room to maintain healthy air quality.
- Place easy-to-care for indoor plants.
- Add a nature sounds playlist or diffuse essential oils.
As the world becomes more digitalised, the population increases and access to nature becomes limited, introducing nature into the office environment becomes crucial. Being in contact with natural elements is beneficial not only for organisation efficiency but also supports longevity and ensures that our future generations maintain an affinity with nature.