Biophilia – getting back in touch with nature at work

Biophilia is the inclusion of direct or indirect elements of nature into the built environment and this inclusion has been shown to reduce stress, reduce blood pressure and heart rate, increase productivity, creativity and well-being.

While this is still a fairly new trend it is not brand new with many large companies already conforming. Examples of this can be seen in Amazon’s new Seattle HQ which has 40,000 plants in it. It is not just Amazon though, in Samsung’s San Jose office every other floor is a garden.

The term biophilia, which means love of nature, was coined by Edward O. Wilson in the 1980s who observed that the increasing rates of urbanisation was leading to disconnection with the natural world.

Why biophilia?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) conducted research and expects that stress related illness (mental health & cardiovascular) will be the two largest contributors to disease by 2020. This, coupled with research into productivity and efficiency, has led to companies investing more and more into the health and well-being of their employees, as happy and healthy employees are more productive employees.

This ties into the biophilic design trend which focuses on providing workers with a comfortable and enjoyable working environment that allows people to achieve greater productivity, efficiency and ultimately profit for the company.

Incorporating biophilic design into the workplace

Biophilia can be incorporated into a working environment in several different ways. There are a number of different aspects to biophilic design and these are:

  • Natural light
  • Outdoor areas
  • Bright colours
  • Natural features like wood and stone
  • Plant life in the workplace
  • Giving staff space and choice of work area
  • Quiet working spaces
  • Views of the outdoors

Benefits of biophilia in the workplace

There are many benefits to biophilic design within a working environment but for a company there are none more important that the positive impact biophilia has on employees. The inclusion of biophilic elements into the design of an office has shown an increase to both the productivity and creativity of the people who work in that environment.

However it is not just mental benefits that biophilia has. There are also several physical benefits to having a more nature infused workspace, such as the increase in oxygen in the air leading to better concentration and a reduction in mental fatigue. A study titled “Relative benefits of green vs lean office space” showed that workers who were exposed to nature were 15% more productive (Journal of Experimental Psychology Applied, 2014).

Beyond the workplace

The benefits of biophilia go way beyond an office environment though. The benefits can be seen throughout life with nature having a positive impact on a number of different aspects. For example, in the hospitality industry, guests are willing to pay up to 23% more for room a with biophilic designs or views of biophilic elements.

In the retail industry, the presence of biophilia can lead to a willingness to pay increased rental rates on retail spaces with customers paying between 8-12% more for spaces with biophilic elements.

Biophilic design benefits even go as far as in the home with biophilia having calming and restorative effects on people and it can potentially increase property value by around 4-5% (The Economics of Biophilia).

To find out more

If you would like to find out more about how we can help develop your dream office space, give us a ring on 020 8405 0555 or send us a message.