Bringing nature indoors: the benefits of a biophilic office design
Now more than ever, investing in your office space is vital. The pandemic has changed the way people want to work, and it will continue to change in the coming years. Employees have discovered the benefits and comfort of working from home. In turn, employers are struggling to encourage their employees to return to the office. One way to make a ‘home away from home’ workplace is to create a biophilic work environment.
A biophilic work environment is not ‘just adding a few plants here and there’. A biophilic work environment brings nature indoors, creating a comfortable, collaborate, work promoting space. We can bring nature indoors by incorporating natural light, colour, natural features such as wood and stone, plant life, utilising any available outdoor spaces such as balconies or courtyards, and allows staff space and choice of quiet areas and communal work areas. Not only will your office look more aesthetically pleasing, but it is also proven that biophilic workspaces have an influence on productivity, morale and wellbeing.
The benefits of a biophilic office include:
- Improved productivity – up to an 11% improvement in productivity with good air quality.
- Increased concentration levels – 6% reported improved productivity in offices with natural elements such as greenery and sunlight and nature in the office can reduce fatigue by up to 38%.
- Improved creativity and collaboration – 15% of staff experience improved creativity in offices with natural elements such as greenery and sunlight.
- Enhanced wellbeing – 35% lower short term sick leave in offices ventilated by an outdoor air supply and 15% higher level of overall wellbeing in offices with natural elements such as greenery and sunlight.
- Greater staff retention – up to 33% of workers say that the design of an office would affect their decision to work at a company.
Biophilic office design principles
As we have said, creating a biophilic work environment is not ‘just putting a few plants here and there’. It is much more complex. There are six key characteristics of a biophilic work environment.
The first principle of creating a biophilic office environment is to incorporate environmental features. This is bringing characteristics of the natural world into the build environment. This includes elements such as : colour, water, fire, air, sunlight, plants, animals, natural materials, views, Façade greenery and habitats and ecosystems.
Light and Space
The second element of a biophilic work environment is light and space. This utilises qualities of light and spatial relationships. This can include artificial natural light. Elements of light and space include: natural light, filtered and diffused light, light and shadow, reflected light, light pools, warm light, light as shape and form, spaciousness, spatial variability, space as shape and form, spatial harmony and inside-outside spaces. By utilising certain light features, you can make a room feel more or less spacious.
Natural patterns and processes
The third principle of a biophilic work environment is natural patterns and processes. This is incorporating natural properties into the built environment. Natural properties includes: variety of sensory systems, central focal points, transitional spaces, complementary contrasts, dynamic balance and growth and patterned wholes. This is all about connecting to our environment through our senses, through bringing natural elements into the built environment of the office.
Natural shapes and forms
The fourth principle is natural shapes and forms. This is the process of creating shapes and forms which represent or simulate natural elements. Creating shapes such as: tree and columnar supports, shells and spirals, arches and domes helps to bring natural shapes and forms into your space.
The fifth principle is human-nature relationships. This involves including aspects of the inherent human relationship to nature. This means including features which showcase how humans have been shaped by nature creating feelings of curiosity, refuge, attachment and exploration. This can make your office feel very comfortable and homely.
Finally, the sixth principle of a biophilic office design is place-based relationships. This involves connecting your office to its location historically, culturally, geographically or spiritually. This can include using colours to simulate local mountains and rivers.