Did you know that the secret of happy and healthy workplaces is as simple as Biophilic design?
And, if you haven’t heard of it yet, Biophilic design lets us experience nature in built environments in pursuit of improving our physical and mental health.
We, humans, have an innate need to connect with nature and other life forms. Unfortunately, we spend almost 90% of our time indoors in this increasingly urbanized world. Most hours are spent working. That being said, it is important to look for opportunities to enhance our connection with nature in the workplace.
This is why Biophilic design elements like natural light, indoor plants, nature views, and water features are increasingly used and holistically integrated into the modern built environment. It’s the biggest focus in architecture today because the world sees it a way to reduce fatigue and stress.
Designing of a Biophilic Workplace
There is no single blueprint for all biophilic offices, but there are key ingredients that the workplace must have.
Here are the ingredients:
- Natural light. Strategically place windows to let daylight in your workplace. Grab every opportunity to have large windows, skylights, and clerestory openings. Instead of solid walls, consider glazed dividers so light flows through the entire space. Only use full-spectrum artificial light sources for it is the one that closely mimics daylight.
- Exterior views. Take advantage of the distant view that you can see from your window. This is the best opportunity to connect to nature.
- Water features. Make room for indoor fountains or ponds that you can see, hear, and touch. Station them in collaborative areas or in your office garden.
- Indoor plants. Simply putting plants in a building has great benefits. It provides a rich sensory stimulus that closely links to nature. Grow scented and seasonal plants. Place them along the breezeways.
- Tactile decor. Adorn your office using materials made of natural fibers, leather, stone, timber, and other handmade objects.
- Organic shapes. We’re talking about shapes that are associated with things from the natural world (e.g. pear-shaped, cow prints). These shapes have an irregular or asymmetrical appearance and tend to have a curvy flow to them. You can also use geometric shapes that are rarely found in nature (e.g. snowflakes, crystals).
- Earthy color schemes. These are the colors derived from nature — tones from vegetation, bodies of water, and the skies.
- Images of nature. It can be realistic like photographs or derivative like art, murals, sculptures, and floral or vegetal patterns.
What’s in it for businesses?
For decades, scholars conducted studies exploring the relationship between a person’s exposure to nature’s elements and his/her wellbeing. Most of the published research tells us that Biophilic office design increases the worker satisfaction, productivity, and well-being.
To prove that this is still real, Pollinate Australia surveyed 1000 ‘typical’ indoor Australian workers. These are the highlights of their research:
- Workers who are satisfied with their physical working environment have fewer sick days and are less likely to take unplanned leaves.
- Of all the Biophilic design elements, lots of exposure to wood results to higher levels of workplace satisfaction.
- Employees that are exposed to wood feel more connected to nature and have more positive associations with their workplace.
- Wood correlates with higher levels of concentration, improved mood, and personal productivity.
They found out that simply increasing the use of wood in the workplace will benefit both the employees and the whole organization. The happier the worker the more effective they will be in their role. Later on, the booming businesses will have a direct, positive effect on the country’s economy.
This is huge, considering that wood is easy to incorporate into your office design. Wood is natural building material. It’s timeless and versatile.
Of course, the other Biophilic design elements like plants and natural light are also correlated with increased workplace satisfaction. But, those in workplaces with more visible wood feel more connected to nature. Employees feel the warmth and comfort which is why they’re more positive towards work.
Charlene Gonzales is a design writer from Superdraft, the largest team of architects and home designers in Adelaide, Australia, who offer end-to-end design services. She’s an interior geek and an advocate of a healthy and sustainable workplace.