Despite our natural affinity with the natural world, we now spend around 90% of our time indoors. Moreover, a study of 1,000 UK office workers found that almost 40% spend a maximum of just 15 minutes outside every day.
Connecting with nature is important for our wellbeing and we are often drawn to spaces that give us the opportunity to feel at one with the natural world. However, many of us spend our days sitting in an office with minimal outdoor connections, leaving us feeling out of touch with mother nature.
What are the benefits of biophilic office design?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the term biophilia means ‘love of living things and nature, which some people believe humans are born with.’
Bringing natural elements into the workplace environment has been demonstrated to reduce stress, reduce blood pressure and lower heart rates, while increasing productivity, creativity and self-reported wellbeing.
So, if this sounds good, here are six quick and easy ways to get started:
1. Make it a sensory experience
Consider all your senses when introducing design elements centre around biophilia into to your office. While the obvious may be sight, don’t forget the other senses including smell, hearing and touch and how your space makes you feel.
2. Let in the daylight
Ensuring you have enough daylight is a simple but effective way to connect with nature. Access to natural light can benefit employees in many ways, from helping to control body temperature, to improving accuracy and alertness. Check out our tips to increase natural light within your space.
3. Bring the outside in
Indoor planting provides an immediate visual connection to nature, but with a thoughtful choice of plants, it can also stimulate the sense of smell and touch. A relaxing lavender plant or an uplifting citrus tree will pique your senses while also improving air quality.
4. Wake up and smell the coffee
Of course, it is pleasant to have a nice smelling office. Humidifiers and diffusers can be a nice touch, if you can find a scent that you all enjoy. But more than just adding a pleasant and natural aroma, essential oils such basil, rosemary and lavender have been found to aid concentration, alertness and stamina.
5. Listen while you work
Bringing natural sounds into your workplace can help boost your mood and enhance your productivity. Finding a work-friendly nature playlist could be more beneficial than you might think. Research has shown that whilst playing the sound of flowing water, employees felt happier in their work environment and subsequently produced a higher standard of work.
6. Keep materials natural
Using natural materials such as timber, stone and granite within office interior design adds more than a visual link to nature, they also stimulate our key senses of sight, touch and smell. A report by Planet Ark found that using wood in the interior of a building provides clear physical and emotional benefits similar to the effect of spending time in nature. The reason wood has such a positive effect on human health is because it lowers the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activation. SNS causes the stress response; increasing blood pressure and heart rate. When surrounded by nature and timber products, these symptoms decrease.
Make a start to reap the rewards
By taking these six simple steps, you’ll be well on the way to making biophilia a key part of your office environment. And you should quickly start to see improvements in mental and physical health, wellbeing and productivity.
And if this article has inspired you to find out more, look out for our next blog in the series to learn how to take biophilia to the next stage, by following the natural patterns and rhythms found in nature.