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Biophilia in the Workplace

What is Biophilia?

Biophilic design is a concept used within the architectural sphere to increase connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions. The biophilia hypothesis (also called BET) was first popularized by Edward O. Wilson in 1984 and suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. 

There are numerous benefits associated with the increased use of biophilic styling techniques, including for building occupants and the wider environment. A study by Kaitlyn Gillis and Birgitta Gatersleben found the inclusion of plants in an interior environment reduces stress and increases pain tolerance. Similarly, in cities where natural resources were abundant, a study by Andrew Dannenberg, et al. indicated that there are higher levels of social connectivity and better capability to handle life crises. This resulted in a lower crime rate and reduced levels of violence and aggression. The study also revealed the use of vegetation, walking paths and outdoor exercise facilities is strongly associated with building social capital, increased physical activity, better mental health and increased quality of life. 

With this in mind, let’s take a look at how implementing biophilic design techniques in the office and can increase productivity, relaxation inspiration and one’s ability to thrive. 

Benefits for Workplace

In over 50 empirical studies, it was found that an environment that lacked nature can have negative impacts on health and wellbeing. This included a reduced ability for psychological restoration. By increasing the presence of nature through the use of elements such as natural colors and patterns, plants, water features and views of the outdoors, employees will be able to maintain mental awareness and increase feelings of calmness, positivity, happiness and inspiration. 

The above findings on an employee’s emotional wellbeing directly correlate with productivity. In fact, a UK study involving three field experiments demonstrated a 15% rise in productivity and output in offices where natural greenery was present. Imagine what a 15% increase would do for your business! 

Styling Tips

There are a number of simple ways to increase biophilic design in the workplace. Adding potted plants to common areas, as well as smaller greenery to desks, filing cabinets and dining tables can instantly provide a lift of colour to a space. However, higher-level biophilia goes beyond this, which is why consulting a professional designer is recommended.  

The main goal of biophilic design is to truly emulate the outdoors in a way that doesn’t compromise space or create feelings of confinement. This may involve plants of varying heights and textures that are both scattered through the workplace or clumped together to mimic the random selection of nature. Hanging plants may also be useful where space is more limited. Office structure can also benefit, through incorporating green walls that are covered with fake grass, or contain living, hanging baskets. While divisions in the office are necessary, this can make the space appear more open and abundant as well as reduce distracting background noises. 

Some other techniques include choosing nature-inspired artwork, natural lighting or the creative use of artificial lighting, or even subtle sound effects to calm the central nervous system. While plants are known to filter the air, taking this a step further and incorporating air filter systems can also have positive effects on employee health and wellbeing.   

If you are interested in incorporating natural decor into your office space or wish to take the biophilic design technique a step further, speak to Krystal and the team and Interior Flow today! We combine theories of Feng Shui and Intuitive Design to create a space that encourages employees to feel supported to thrive. Fill out the contact form to find out more. 

Krystal Sagona

With over 10 years experience as a residential & commercial Interior Designer, Krystal has built a strong reputation in the design industry. Award winning designer and highly intuitively creative, Krystal has the innate ability to understand and deliver your creative brief. Krystal is a registered Draftsperson with the Victorian Building Board and a qualified Feng Shui consultant with the AFSC (Association of Feng Shui Consultants) International.