The biophilic office: What it is and how to do it
What is meant by ‘biophilic design’?
Have you ever wondered why people are so fond of decorating their houses with various plants and succulents? Or why, for many people, their garden is their pride and joy? There’s a reason why humans crave the outdoors, and the answer is “biophilia” – the term used to describe an instinctive urge to be closer to other living things. In a world that’s fallen victim to urbanisation, people often feel disconnected from the natural world, especially when heading into a cold, impersonal office with no windows and artificial lighting.
Opting for a biophilic office design is a brilliant way to bring the outside in to fulfill these innate tendencies, and your staff will feel much better for it.
What are the benefits?
Designing an office space in a way that embraces the great outdoors carries several benefits, with one particular study revealing that employees were 15% more productive than those who were in a workplace without any greenery. But that’s not all! Further research has shown that office plants are great stress-busters, relieving symptoms of anxiety whilst boosting cognitive performance. Happy workers are hard workers, so placing your staff’s best interests at heart really is key to a successful business.
As well as improving your staff’s wellbeing, a biophilic office design also shows visitors that your business has a great company culture going on. This is their first impression of your brand and what you have to offer, and they too will feel a sense of calm radiating from the room upon entry.
With a few simple steps, you too can design a workplace that’s centred around the wonders of nature, whether this be through exploring new office furniture options, by changing up your colour scheme or through increasing the natural light that enters through the windows.
It’s predicted that humans spend up to 90% of their life indoors, which naturally has a detrimental impact on both physical and mental health. There are numerous studies that highlight the importance of bringing light into your office space, with evidence demonstrating that darker offices can result in decreased productivity and more staff sickness days.
To inject some energy into your working environment, increasing the number of windows or positioning desks next to them is the easiest solution. However, if your space is still feeling a little dim, opt for subtle, warm office lighting rather than fluorescent to avoid feeling like a rabbit in headlights.
Why does working outside in your garden feel so much more relaxing than being indoors? It’s because you’ve got your leafy green friends to keep you company, of course! When surrounding yourself with flowers and foliage is known to enhance creativity, basing your office design on a countryside getaway could be the way forward.
Replace tacky desk ornaments with succulents, or you could use a crate planter for elevated potted plant storage. There are plenty of other ways to breathe life into your office; utilise the floor and reminisce back to your last peaceful picnic with astroturf or grass mats, or create the illusion of added space with hanging plant pots. Living walls are also becoming increasingly popular, and it’s a great way to bring much needed colour and vibrancy into your office.
Take a look at an office fit out we did for Ascentis, who wanted to create a fun, lively space by incorporating features of biophilic design into their working environment.
Choosing your office colour scheme
Earthy tones are perfect for an office design that’s inspired by natural landscapes, so why not give your walls a fresh lick of paint? This natural palette is thought to evoke feelings of tranquility and calm, and can create the illusion of being closer to the outside world.
If you prefer minimalistic tones, try fresh shades of green in your workspace through cushions and throws that’ll really add to your office furniture.
Speaking of office furniture, biophilic interior design is all about embracing natural shapes and forms (think curved desks and dome chairs), using raw materials such as wood and stone where possible. You could also select fabrics that fit in with the natural colour scheme to add to the full effect.
Creating a working environment that supports social integration is also a key element of biophilia, as humans have an innate instinct to survive in groups. Place team spirit at heart and be sure to include plenty of shared workspaces and collaborative zones.
If you’ve been inspired by biophilic design and need help with choosing the office furniture to match, our team of experts are just a call away.