What is Biophilia?
One of the most popular office design trends of recent years, biophilia is often thought of as only office plants. However, biophilic office design is far more than this and can have a significant impact on the health and productivity of your team.
The literal meaning of biophilia is “the love of life”. In office design, it is the use of natural designs and materials; along with plants, to connect us with nature. It can even extend to anything that demonstrates the natural beauty in the world around us, from soothing fish tanks to herringbone desk layouts.
Studies have shown that as humans, we have an instinctive bond with nature and natural surroundings. When denied this, surrounded by harsh and engineered workplace design, creativity and productivity are slowly eroded. This leads to reduced engagement as well as physical and mental health.
3 benefits of Biophilia
Biophilic design has a huge impact on employee wellbeing and performance. Here, we’ve broken down 3 of the most significant benefits of biophilic office design:
1) Increased Productivity
Studies from Exeter University found office workers were 15% more productive when plain workplaces were filled with a few houseplants. One company found that when incorporating as much natural light as possible into their buildings to save costs, productivity had doubled within 5 years. The results were attributed to the benefits of the natural light on the performance of their employees.
Biophilic office design can mean anything from a few stray desk plants to extravagant and eye-catching ‘living walls’, but they all have one central benefit: oxygen levels are improved, which decreases mental fatigue and increases concentration, leading to improved productivity.
2) Improved Wellbeing
Unsurprisingly, biophilia can help employees achieve a more positive frame of mind. Positive people have a positive impact on others, take better care of themselves and are healthier. One study showed improved biophilic design to result in a 13% increase in wellbeing. Research has also shown that the presence of plants in offices can lower stress and anxiety levels by up to 37%, along with decreasing tiredness by up to 38%!
As staff wellbeing levels increases, staff retention increases as a direct result and productivity damaging absenteeism drops significantly. It costs around 6-9 months’ salary to replace an employee, including recruiting and training, so retention is a worthwhile investment. Biophilic office design can help to engage staff and to provide them with a workplace where they enjoy being, creating a healthy and happy workforce.
3) Boosted Creativity
Biophilia creates a more engaging workspace, allowing creativity to flourish. This can be nurtured through natural light & finishes (and access to the outdoors where possible). Access to nature stimulates the brain. Making natural views, or artwork, available near their desks allows employees to relax and feel less stress, which subsequently allows creativity to flow more effectively.
Nature in office design also creates a positive and peaceful mindset. This leads to your people spending more time in your workspace, where they’ll interact and connect more with colleagues – leading to improved collaboration and innovation.
Biophilia in Your Workspace
The concept of biophilic design is often thought of as simply including a few plants, but it also extends to natural light, as well as finishes in your workspace. The simplest solution, introducing plants, can increase oxygen levels and air quality, with all the benefits that arise from improved concentration and creativity, as well as being more visually appealing.
You can also go beyond increasing greenery within your workspace. As well as maximising natural light, you can also increase connection to nature through the use of natural finishes, such as wood and stone. For companies that have access to balconies, courtyards, or roof spaces, giving staff the facilities to work outside can take biophilia to the next level.
At a time when the need for productive, healthy, and creative workforces has never been greater, successful biophilic design will enable your teams to achieve their full potential and create amazing results for your business.
The future of the workspace is going to be hugely different, with a greater emphasis on health and wellbeing and many companies embracing the opportunities that the future brings. Talk to one of our experts today to find out how you can incorporate biophilic furniture design into your office.