Introducing Awestruck Biophilic Design - bringing the outdoors indoors through the exploration of wellbeing

How Biophilic is your Office?

Biophilia office design has grown to become a massive trend in recent years. But what are the benefits of having a biophilic office and embracing the biophilic principles into your workplace. Keep on reading to find out our advice and top tips on all things Biophilic in your workplace.

The term Biophilia means love of life or love of nature (bio=life/nature + philia=love). This focuses on our innate attraction to nature, its natural processes and environments.

Credit, Design Milk - Space10: IKEA’s New External Innovation Lab

Credit - Space 10, Photos by Alastair Philip Wiper

However, despite our innate desire to be close to nature and the outdoors, the way we live our working life is jarring to the number of hours that we spend in a confined office space all day.

That’s where Biophilia office design comes into hand, in order to bridge the gap between outdoor space and the office workplace. The display of green living walls, preserved moss and natural wood are helping people reconnect with nature in the workplace environment.

However, Biophilic office design emerges far beyond adding a few plants to the office area. There’s an increase in evidence emerging, which suggests that biophilic design in the workplace can improve productivity, workplace ethos, reduce absenteeism and also boost concentration levels. These are all factors that can help a company to develop and progress.

In this blog, we will discover Biophilic office design, explaining why it's relevant today, its benefits and how Biophilic elements are employed in the office space.

Credit, Australian Design Review - Cox Architecture’s community focused workplace design

Credit - Photography by Toby Scott

Why is biophilic office design relevant?

In the years that humans have walked this earth, we’ve enjoyed an inherant connection with the outside world. But this has gradually disintegrated over time, in particular over the last 40 years. With more and more of us spending time at home or in the office. (On average, we will spend 72% of our lives working, sleeping or watching tv.)

Credit - NYC Habitat

Credit - @our_habitas

This is why biophilic office design is more relevant now than ever before, as it is helping us combat our disconnection with the outside world. Whilst, there are a small number of businesses opting to test the four day a week- reducing work hours to improve productivity-most UK workers do their contracted work hours as a bare minimum. Although, workplace designers have acknowledged that in order to keep employees engaged with work, we need to reconnect them with the feeling we get when we are outside, in the open.

Although, did you know that a common misconception of biophilic design is that it literally translates to adding lots of plant life and shrubby to your life, but that’s not the case, there is a lot more to it!

Credit ,  Alexandra Kehayoglou

Credit - visual artist Alexandra Kehayoglou

Office spaces are now being designed around the idea to bring the outside in.Designers are reconnecting us with nature through plants, water features, artificial lighting and natural finishes to the walls, roof and floors. Desks are now being designed to be closer to windows where people can be exposed to exterior views of nature and natural light.

Increasingly, as we are opting to spend more time indoors and away from the natural world, exposure to nature and its aesthetic environment has never been more important than it is today.

Credit,  Herman Miller

Credit  - A Herman Miller Group Company

Key Benefits of Biophilic Office Design

In our attempts to reconnect people with nature and change how we experience that space around us, biophilic office design portrays a variety of benefits that impact both the employer and employee.

 Back by increasing amount of research, let’s explore the key benefits of biophilic design to understand why lots more organisations are adopting the human need to connect with life.

Credit, Coalesse - Workplace trends

Credit - Coalesse  

Reduce Stress

The World Health Organisationpredicts stress- related illness, mental health disorders and cardiovascular disease to be the two largest contributors to disease by 2020. Predictably, with our diminishing connection to nature and increased technological presence, we have less time to improve our mental and physical energy.

Many businesses are now increasingly focused and making it their key priority on improving the health and wellbeing of their employees. Biophilic office design offers an approach to support employee’s health and wellbeing by helping with reduction of stress levels and rates of well-being on an increase of 13%. Biophilic office design promotes a healthier habitat for humans where the environment that they surround themselves in actually has both a positive and physical effects on our bodies.

Credit - Vision Australia Offices by Hot Black, Melbourne – Australia

Credit - Vision Australia’s Melbourne Office Designer:Hot Black
Photography: Nicole Reed

Although, busy offices can lead to stressful and chaotic environments for employees this often causes human bodies to occupy in a fight or flight mindset. Humans engagement with nature provides an increase in sympathetic activity which can result in low levels of stress.

An example of this was published by the Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research “found that those employees who had views of trees generally resulted in less career-orientated stress in the workplace than those without”.

Credit, Indoor vertical garden By SUNDAR ITALIA

Credit - Indoor vertical garden Design by Sundar Italia

Increased Productivity

Biophilic office design increases productivity by 8% with increased rates of learning up to 20/25%. This increased productivity has proven to improve test results and concentration levels in employees.

Credit, Dezeen- Plant-filled spheres open at Amazon headquarters in Seattle

Credit - Amazon Headquaters in Seattle photography is by Amazon.

Global companies such as Amazon have started to embrace the concept of biophilic office design by adding features such as glass-domed greenhouses and live large potted plants, and smaller plotted plants in their company’s headquarters to improve air quality and ventilation. Their head Office is home to 40,000 plants from 300 species.

Credit, Dezeen- Plant-filled spheres open at Amazon headquarters in Seattle

Credit - Amazon Headquaters in Seattle photography is by Amazon.

The presence of vegetation and landscaping has been proved to increase average rental rates in retail spaces with customers demonstrating they were willing to pay 8-12% more for goods and services.

An attractive workspace, one that has been considerately designed, can attract and retain the best employees. It can show a powerful message about your office’s social conscience and green- credibility. Natured-inspired materials and elements can help create a more positive working environment. Studies from Exeter Universityfound that workspaces filled with just a few house plants improved employee productivity by 15%.

Credit - Dezeen, Plant-filled spheres open at Amazon headquarters in Seattle

Credit - Amazon Headquaters in Seattle photography is by Amazon.

Enhanced Mood and Creativity

Alongside productivity, biophilic office design can promote enhanced moods in employees and stimulate creativity throughout the workday.

Plant-rich environments have lots of positive qualities that are not commonly found in a normal office environment. Green certified office reduces employee sick days by 30%.

Credit - Australian design awards 2020

Credit - MACPHERSON KELLEY LAWYERS, by GroupGSA + artillery, PhotographyNicole England

A company that follows this ethos is Innerspace Cheshire, who are committed to finding solutions that are good for people and the planet, are experts in bringing together designers with authentic, easy use, materials for design.

Credit, Pintrest

Credit - Rosy Brown

Compromise of the outdoors

Despite biophilic design being a key component in the office space, it is important that people don’t use it as an excuse from actually being outside and surrounded in nature.

As Ambius undertook a recent survey of 1,00 office worker, which found that 35% of office workers don’t get more than 15 minutes of outdoor time during in a typical workday, with only an extra 13% able to stretch their daily time in the outdoor environments to 30 minutes.

While 87% of indoor workers consider themselves to be someone that enjoys the outdoors, 75% never take the time to work outside.

Credit, Stantec

Credit - Biophilic design in practice at the BP Lower 48 new office in Denver, Colorado. Plants in the living wall provide a direct experience of nature. (Photo: David Lauer Photography)

Credit, OnOffice - WeWork pilot WeGrow: a tactile, interactive school in New York City

Credit - OnOffice Architect & Design Work 

Businesses have opportunities to implement external space available to them such as courtyards, central atriums or even car parks where 3-4 spaces can be sacrificed and transformed into social spaces. This gives employees an area to relax with downtime from their day at work.

So, the true meaning of biophilia doesn’t simply involve bringing the outside in. It’s all about immersing your employees in the natural environment, which often means taking them outside.

The introduction of natural elements to the office workspace presents unique opportunities for employers to benefit from healthier environments considered vital to both our physical and mental health and overall wellbeing.

This trend will continue to grow and inspire innovatively designed biophilic office spaces that will reside both a physiological and physiological impact on employees. Potentially biophilic office design could be the best kept secret of a great workplace.

Credit- The Spheres: Exploring Biophilia in the Modern Workplace

Credit - The design Files

Credit -  The Boroughs, A Creative Hub In Camperdown, Photography  – Jacqui Turk.

 

At Harleen McLean Interiors, we are passionate about Biophilia design, with a love for nature, passion for healing, and deep understanding of human behaviour, we are rooted in designing from Biophilia that combines all of these elements.

We work with individuals and companies interested in interiors to enhance overall wellbeing, improve sleep quality, reduce stress, and boost productivity and effectiveness.

Get in contact with us for any Biophilic design inquiries at harleen@harleenmclean.com.