February 5, 2019

Biophilic Office Design

As the workplace evolves, bringing nature into a work environment has become a trendy approach to improve employee wellbeing and experience. It is scientifically proven that human beings have an intuitive connection with nature. This strong bond shared between humans and nature is called biophilia. Biophilic design is much more than just adding plants into an interior environment. This design approach is much deeper. By looking at the essence of nature, we can begin to embrace biophilic design. We asked your thoughts on the topic. Here’s what you had to say.

What is your office doing to connect you with nature?

About one-third of respondents said their office is not doing anything to connect them to nature. The remaining two-thirds are experiencing natural light, views of the outdoors, natural elements like wood, office plants, and outdoor spaces at their office.

What is your office doing to disconnect you from nature?

The biggest complaints were a lack of light penetrating their space and not having a view of the outside. Other disconnects were because of tall cubicle workstation furniture, a lack of company recycling efforts, and no outside area.

If you could redesign your office, what would you want to incorporate into your new space?

The top design elements were the use of natural materials, having an outdoor space, natural light, and views of the outdoors. Other desires were the additions of a green wall, indoor plants, skylights, and organic shapes and patterns.

How important is it to you to work in an office that embraces biophilic design?

All survey respondents rated biophilic office design as important. On a scale 1 to 5, it was rated as a 4 from every participant.

Why is it important or unimportant to you to work in an office that embraces biophilic design?

Since it was agreed that biophilic design was important, each participant noted its value. The top three reasons were that nature is calming (especially in a busy or stressful work environment), nature improves mental health, and it boosts energy levels and productivity.

Biophilic design can be obvious like access to natural light and views of the outdoors, having photos or graphics of nature, or the application of natural materials like wood or stone. It can also be more ambiguous to a user, but intentional by a designer to successfully create the illusion of bringing the outdoors in. A designer can introduce biophilic design through the use of earthy colors and textures, design elements with organic shapes, and by creating organic paths and circulation much like a park. While this is a small study on biophilia and its relationship within the built environment, countless research and studies have proven that biophilic design directly enhances wellbeing, lowers stress levels, improves mood and happiness, and is healthy for us. As it relates to the workplace, a healthy mind boosts creativity, productivity, and innovation! This evolution of bringing the outdoors into our workplace is probably here to stay with these benefits. If your office does not currently embrace biophilia, you can always start with an office plant! Just don’t forget to water it and give it some TLC.

Chelsea Connolly | SKG Workplace Strategist | IIDA Associate, IIDA Austin City Center Sustainability Chair, WELL AP

SKG is a Knoll furniture dealer in Austin, Texas and San Antonio. We specialize in workplace design and furniture. Chelsea Connolly, our Workplace Strategist, sends out monthly surveys to our clients, design firms, followers, and the community to gauge current perspectives on workplace design. Each month has a different theme. After gathering data, we summarize our findings and share it out on social media. Please enjoy our first article in our 2018 ‘Survey & Summary’ series. If you’d like to be a part of these monthly surveys, please email Chelsea at cconnolly@skgtexas.com. All graphics provided by Danielle Zayas.

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