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How Biophilic Design Can Benefit Offices

January 16, 2020
With more & more time being spent stressed out at work, biophilic design is becoming a much more beneficial addition to offices. But what is biophilic design?

The benefits of biophilic design in offices

Recent studies have shown that humans spend over 90% of their lives indoors. Whether it’s in an office or their home, that’s a lot of time to spend away from plants, fresh air and nature. This can have a huge impact on mental health and wellbeing - especially if long periods of time are spent in a stressful environment, such as an office. However, biophilia can help to alleviate the negative impact of long periods of time spent indoors by allowing people to connect with nature, helping to reduce stress, encourage creativity and maximise concentration levels. But what exactly is biophilic design and how can it be beneficial to those working in an office?

What is biophilic design?

Biophilic design is an important concept which is used to connect people back to nature. From including communal gardens in high-rise residential buildings, to adding plants to indoor spaces such as offices - incorporating elements of nature to otherwise urban environments can have a hugely beneficial impact on human health and wellbeing.

The term ‘biophilic design’ was coined by American biologist, Edward O. Wilson in the 1980’s when he noticed how the increased rates of urbanisation were affecting people’s health and wellbeing, as people were becoming disconnected with nature. Whether this was due to moving to more urban areas, or increased time spent working in large office blocks - Wilson introduced the concept of biophilic design in order to help people reconnect with nature without having to drastically change their lifestyle.

How can biophilic design benefit offices?

Studies have shown that humans have an innate need to be surrounded by elements of nature, which is why those who work and live in cities often report much higher levels of stress than those who have easy access to the natural world, but this is where biophilic design comes in. 

Some of the biggest benefits of biophilic design in offices include:

  • Reduced stress levels in employees 
  • Increased staff retention
  • Maximised creativity 
  • Increased concentration
  • Boosted cognitive function
  • Huge rise in productivity

Even huge businesses such as Apple, Google and Amazon recognise the benefits of biophilic design, incorporating elements into their offices to help increase concentration, creativity and mental wellbeing in their employees. 

In fact, research has shown that incorporating plants and elements of nature into an office environment can help to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and tiredness, which is why productivity can be hugely increased. 

In addition to this, real plants also inspire a physical response from the human body due to the lowered levels of CO2 and increased levels of melatonin, increasing the health benefits of biophilic design even further.

How to incorporate biophilic design in an office

Although it might sound daunting, biophilic design can be easily incorporated into offices without having too much of a financial or spatial impact. Real potted plants are one of the easiest biophilic elements to add to an office. From placing a few plants at the end of a row of desks, to one in the corner of a meeting room - a few green plants can have a huge impact. Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, real plants help to reduce the levels of CO2 and dust in the air, making the office a much more healthy place to be.

But it’s not just plants that can help you to reap all of the benefits of biophilic design, wooden desks and natural materials can also be hugely beneficial for employee wellbeing too. From simple water features to flower walls - there’s no limit to what can be incorporated when it comes to biophilic design.

Where possible, water features are one of the best elements of biophilia to incorporate into an office - especially if there’s limited access to windows and outdoor space. Not only has the sound of running water been proven to be one of the most therapeutic sources of white noise, it also helps to improve air quality by adding negative ions to the air, thus, increasing the flow of oxygen to the brain. In turn, this helps to reduce stress and increase concentration and productivity.

Here at THIS Workspace, we recognise the health and wellbeing benefits of biophilic design in offices, which is why we incorporate elements of nature in our offices, such as natural light, potted plants and wooden furniture - allowing you to reap all of the benefits while you work.

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