Improve Wellbeing by Bringing the Outdoors Into the Office

Sourced from Open Access Government

One of the most fundamental ways in which businesses can ensure stress amongst employees doesn’t spiral out of control and become a mental health issue, is by offering a workplace environment that promotes their wellbeing from the get-go.

Creating an office space in which people can flourish will boost overall wellbeing and its links to increased motivation and productivity. After all, if a workspace is designed to promote employee wellbeing, the business will in turn experience greater growth.

The ‘biophilic’ approach is one of the most popular methods of developing a healthy and positive environment in the workplace.

Biophilic stems from the word biophilia, meaning a ‘love of nature’, and was coined by German psychologist Erich Fromm before being popularised by American psychologist Edward O. Wilson in the 1980s. He pointed at how the rapid rise of urbanisation was making us more and more disconnected from nature.

As humans, we have a deep-rooted biological connection to nature, so outdated, cubicle-style office designs can affect our overall health and wellbeing.

It’s no secret stress-related illnesses are a major contributor of disease, but when we think of nature, it provokes thoughts of an environment full of calmness and relaxation. Some businesses have used this to their advantage by bringing the outdoors into the office.

Shifting to a more open, human-centered approach which incorporates features such as large, open window views and natural materials such as wood, stone and water features, can soothe and inspire the mind.

In fact, research into the health benefits of biophilic designs, carried out by Bill Browning, founding member of the US Green Building Council’s Board of Directors, and Sir Cary Cooper, CBE Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University, found an overwhelming increase to employees’ wellbeing.

Incorporating direct or indirect elements of nature into the workplace were found to reduce stress, blood pressure levels and heart rates, whilst increasing productivity and creativity.

Furthermore, research by the Journal of Experimental Psychology, found that by adding just one plant per square mile in an office, employees were 15% more productive than those without plants in their workspace.

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