Biophilic Office Designs Drive Productivity and Creativity

Sourced from Green Roofs Australia

A desk, a computer and four grey walls. For some employees, this is pretty much all they have to look at from nine to five, five days a week. In soul-crushing environments like these, it should come as no surprise that a trip to the kitchen can serve as a daily highlight, particularly if it provides some natural light and a fleeting glimpse of the outside world.

Work doesn’t have to be like this, however, and for some employees, it isn’t. Increasingly, workplaces are incorporating green spaces and organic materials into their office designs. This new approach to the workplace doesn’t only have aesthetic benefits, however. Biophilic offices can boost productivity, increase staff creativity and improve workers’ mental health.

It’s not easy being green

According to the 2018 Work and the Outdoors Survey conducted by clothing retailer L L Bean, 87 percent of indoor workers consider themselves to be someone that enjoys the outdoors, but 75 percent rarely or never take the time to work outside. Often there simply isn’t time; on other occasions, it just isn’t practical.

For decades, psychologists and social theorists have explored mankind’s innate desire to connect with the natural world. This relationship has been termed ‘biophilia’ and has been hypothesised as being the result of millions of years of biological evolution. Recently, however, the rapid urbanisation that has gripped the world has made it more difficult for humans to connect with nature as frequently as they would like.

To fill this gap, employers are using biophilic office design to bring the outside world into the workplace. Chris Alldred, a design director at K2 Space, a London-based office design company, told European CEO that a number of different approaches are being explored in order to bring the working and natural worlds closer together.

“A common misconception is that biophilic design translates to adding lots of plant life and shrubbery; it is far more complex than that,” Alldred noted. “There is a multitude of possibilities including maximising natural light, using colour and incorporating a mix of natural materials such as wood, metal and stone within the workplace and, of course, introducing plants and features like green or living walls.”

The trend for embracing biophilic design has captured the imagination – and budget – of some of the world’s largest companies. At the start of 2018, Amazon’s Seattle HQ formally opened the Spheres, three huge glass domes that contain 4,000sq ft of space and more than 40,000 plants. The biodomes feature a diverse range of flora from more than 30 countries.

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