The importance of biophilic design in the workplace
26th February 2020
Our natural affinity for life, known as biophilia, is the very essence of our humanity and binds us to all other living things. Those are the beliefs of evolutionary biologist Edward O. Wilson, who popularised the term in his memoir, Biophilia, first published in 1984, describing it as “the innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike process”.
However, it was two decades earlier in 1964 that the term was said to have been coined, by social psychologist Eric Fromm, who described biophilia as “love for humanity and nature, and independence and freedom”.
In recent years biophilic design has had a huge influence on architecture and interior design.
The word biophilia literally means a love of life or living things, coming from the Greek opposite of phobia, with philia meaning love of.
A 2018 study by the University of East Anglia found that living close to nature and spending time outside has significant and wide-ranging health benefits. According to the findings, exposure to greenspace is said to reduce the risk of type two diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress and high blood pressure.
With so many of us stuck in an office working long hours, biophilic design is a way to ensure you stay connected with nature whilst inside. It’s not surprising that many people struggle to feel creative and energised inside a boring office space with a lack of natural light or air. So, what can you do to bring biophilic design into your workspace, to enable staff to benefit from nature?
Introduce plants into the work place
It is a common misconception that biophilia simply means placing a few plants around the office. It’s far more complicated than that, and instead is the process of incorporating nature into a workspace.
Of course, adding in some plants is a start. However, to really transform a workspace to use biophilic design, other aspects need to also be considered.
If you’re looking to make small changes towards a biophilic design for your workplace, then plants would be the obvious start. Lush green plants dotted around the office is an easy way to bring the natural world inside. However, in order to really embrace biophilia, you might consider dedicating an entire wall to plants, have large indoor planters or even trees. There really is no limit, and the benefits could be huge in terms of increasing oxygen levels and calm and decreasing fatigue and stress.
Change the colours
Colour is an important factor of biophilia, and could make a huge difference to how staff feel about coming into work, and the way they work once there. The colours used in an office can be important to aiding staff to work more productively, be creative and feel energised.
According to the psychology of colour theory, colours can have an influence over our behaviour and how we feel. For example, green represents balance and growth, while making us feel connected to nature. Painting the walls of an office green might be overpowering, however it can be introduced in the form of plants, of soft furnishings.
Read more about the importance of colour in the office in another MovePlan blog here.
Make the best of the space
Considering the space available in your place of work, and adapting it to make the most of what you have is something that should be considered when it comes to biophilic design. A cramped office with little natural light is unlikely to make staff feel inspired and creative. Worse, it could have a detrimental affect and make people feel tired and miserable.
A good office design will have a variety of spaces for different activities, for example quiet spaces for staff to concentrate, communal spaces for socialising, and private areas for meetings. Making the most of the space you have, while maximising natural light, will ensure staff feel comfortable in the work place, which is vital for health and wellbeing.
At MovePlan, our experts provide resources and knowledge to assist organisations through a workplace transition, from the early stages of planning to the final implementation. If you are considering adapting your workspace, taking into account a biophilic design, we can ensure it goes smoothly, eliminating the risks involved with change, as well as maintaining business operations throughout.