Posted on August 08, 2017

Biophilic Office Design: How to Bring the Outside in

Biophilic office design is based on the theory of biophilia, which states that humans need to have a connection with nature. And it seems to be true. A study by Human Spaces looked into the effects of biophilic design and found that when employees work in an environment with natural elements their wellbeing increases a whopping 13% and their productivity goes up 8%. Biophilic office design has also been shown to reduce stress and ‘presenteeism’ (when people are at work but they shouldn’t be because they’re ill and unproductive), which costs UK businesses £1 billion a year – 1.3 times as much as absenteeism. The study also revealed that 30% of workers don’t work in an environment with light and space.

If you want your employees to be happier, healthier and more productive, how can you bring nature into your office design?

 There are lots of ways of bringing the outside in when you’re designing or updating your office space. It’s even better if your employees can actually go outside, so our number one recommendation is to make sure that staff have access to the great outdoors. That could be a courtyard with potted plants, a park across the street or a rooftop garden depending on where your office is. But having access to fresh air will greatly improve their health and wellbeing.

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Bringing the outside in

 We incorporate biophilic design when we work with clients and there are numerous ways of including it in your fit out, such as ensuring that there’s plenty of (ideally) natural light anywhere that employees spend a lot of time. If you’re totally re-designing your office, consider building any closed offices in the centre of the space with glass walls so that light can travel through them. And place open spaces on the outside nearest to the windows – ideally with a view of nature. You could also have a living wall but if that’s too much just make sure that there are lots of plants throughout the space.

Plants absorb carbon dioxide and give out oxygen so you might notice that people are more alert with some greenery on their desks, especially during that post-lunch slump. Fresh air is really important too so make sure that the air circulates well around your office, and open windows if you can.

Use natural materials, colours and patterns

Natural materials also add to the feeling of being connected to nature, and we recommend using wood and stone in your designs, as well as colours and patterns taken from nature – nothing too bold or regulated. Water features and the sound of water provide a strong link to nature too. But if they’re impractical you could incorporate images of landscapes and beautiful outdoor scenes instead. One of our favourite design elements at the moment is fake grass (it looks great these days, trust us!). If you’re brave enough, you could have your own indoor oasis where employees can kick off their shoes and sink into a small, manicured lawn. Lastly, try to bring animals into your office design. We don’t supply office dogs unfortunately but we can help you source an aquarium!

Now it’s over to you…

We love to talk design so feel free to leave us a comment below or contact us if you’d like to find out how we can help you re-design your office space.