Energize Your Office with Biophilic Design Principles

January 31, 2018

Four tips to bring nature and well-being into your office space

Going green isn’t just about recycling or office sustainability initiatives. Research studies are confirming the link between effective office design, productivity, and employee well-being. That’s why more and more businesses are using biophilic office design principles to connect workers with nature.

What is biophilic office design?

Biophilia means love of life and the living world. The concept of biophilic office design is to incorporate nature into office space—or essentially bring the outdoors indoors. One of the pillars of biophilic theory, “nature in the space,” says that access to actual nature, including live plants or animals, has the strongest positive effect on well-being. The second pillar, “nature of the space,” maintains that the presence of natural landscapes also plays a supporting role.

 

A building designer can use a combination of the following elements to increase worker proximity to nature:

  • Plants and vegetation such as living walls
  • Access to natural light
  • Water features including aquariums
  • Views of the outside landscape


The link between green offices and productivity

As businesses look for new ways to increase employee wellness and engagement, incorporating biophilic design into office spaces can have a measurable impact. According to a recent Harvard study, biophilic office design can improve well-being both at work and at home. The study found a 26% boost in cognition, 30% fewer sickness-related absences, and 6% rise in sleep quality.

Work Design magazine cites a study conducted at a contact centre which found that employees who had views of nature handled telephone interactions 6-7% faster than those with no views. The centre invested about $1,000 per employee to rearrange workstations so each had a view, and in return, averaged nearly $3,000 per employee in annual productivity savings.

 

How to incorporate nature into your office now

 

According to the EPA, Americans spend over 90% of their time indoors where the concentrations of some pollutants can be up to five times higher than outdoors. Though your company may not be able to budget for a big office design project today, you can take these simple steps now to channel the outdoors and improve employee well-being. Consider these four ways to bring the outside in:

 

  1. Green it up. Simply adding a few plants around your office is a great place to start. Add plants to cubicles and use larger groupings of vegetation in common areas throughout the office. More than just aesthetically pleasing, plants can also improve air quality.

  2. Just add water. While it’s not feasible for everyone to have a beautiful view overlooking an ocean or lake, there are other ways to connect employees with the calming effects of water. Consider adding water features such as an aquarium or koi pond to give employees access to nature.

 

  1. Let there be light. Research studies confirm that exposure to natural light is important to improving quality of life. If your office doesn’t provide natural light access for everyone, try setting aside common areas with windows or add natural light lamps to workstations.

  2. Go natural. You can also bring nature into the office by using natural materials such as wood furniture and flooring, textures, and even artwork representing outdoor scenes.

A natural connexion

To create happier, healthier, and more productive employees, consider using biophilic office design principles in your workplace. Employers who deliver that all-important connexion to nature can make a positive, lasting impact that benefits everyone. For more ideas about improving productivity and using space more effectively, turn to Asure Software’s workspace management solutions.