Sitting at a desk from 9 to 5 for most days of the week can hinder our performance at the office. Furthermore, urbanization has caused most of us to lose our connection to green spaces. But, there’s a for solution for that!
Research has proven that Biophilic Design reduces stress, helps increase productivity and creativity along with improving our overall well-being. This means that within an urbanized environment, bringing in elements that allow a direct nature connection can help us to mentally recover from our day-to-day activities and maintain positive well-being.
Biophilic design is a method of designing the places that satisfies our deep need to be connected with nature.
Nature can help people to be less affected by day-to-day pressure at work. It has the power to reduce the negative effects of stress.
Designing spaces that inspire, energize and support the people who use them is so important. That is why at Ambience we believe in supporting the meaningful practice of biophilic design.
We’ve put together a few simple tips to add the powerful effect of nature into your office space:
1) Natural light
Natural light has emerged as a particularly important element of biophilic design.
“Our reseach shows that natural light hits the top of the list for the most wanted element within the workplace. However, a huge 47% of workers say that they have no natural light within their work environment.” –Human Spaces Global Report
Such findings emphasize the need for organizations to provide access to natural light through either office redesign where more open spaces are created, or through the design of social areas within the workplace that provide people with access to natural light and a place for respite.
Those who reported working in environments that were light and spacious had higher levels of well-being, motivation, productivity and creativity.
Keeping shades open during the day allows daylight to fill the space and gives the user a relaxing view to look at, which in turn improves their well-being. If the office does not have a window then choose a light source that mimics natural daylight.
The health benefits afforded by natural lighting and a connection with nature are taken as the explanation for the lower levels of sick leave reported among those with windows within their workspace. -source
2) Nature views
Having no window with a view of nature was significantly related to greater levels of reported stress. In contrast, window views of greenery and water were linked with lower levels of stress in the workplace. –Human Spaces Global Report
It is the variation in patterns, textures and colors of nature that brings us pleasure. We can take this knowledge and think about how we might re-create this within the indoor environment when access to a window is not feasible.
“Workers entering environments that welcome them with natural greenery are much happier and inspired. They are 6% more productive and 15% more creative.” – source
A survey in the US found 40% of people agreeing that natural greenery within their indoor environment made them feel calmer and more relaxed. –American Housing Survey for the United States. US Department of Housing and Urban Development and US Department of Commerce.
Workplaces can be improved by incorporating elements of nature such as offering views of green spaces through windows, and the presence of potted plants. Adding a variety of plants with different colours has been linked to greater levels of creativity. Certain colours in plants produce different responses: dark green helps with relaxation, green yellow has been linked with excitement and red helps with concentration.
Other effective ways of creating symbolic nature connections indoors include:
• water features with free flowing water
• the use of natural elements, such as wood and stone
• providing natural ventilation (for example, operable windows and breezeways)
• using highly textured fabrics that mimic the textures of natural materials
3) Natural colors
There is evidence that different colors are tied to specific outcomes. For instance, viewing dark to medium greens can lower the heart rate and blood pressure to alleviate stress, whereas orangey, weakly yellowed, or brownish greens, which are typically found in stressed or dying vegetation, are the least desired. –Human Spaces Global Report
Yellow is associated with higher levels of productivity. The use of green and blue within the office color scheme may be beneficial in contributing to higher levels of creativity.
The color red can support mental engagement and the color blue and some medium greens can support mental capacity for creative tasks. It was also found that the use of gray colors within the workspace had a significant negative impact on employees’ levels of stress.
Choosing colours that mimic the colours of nature such as green, blue and brown has been linked to employee well-being. Painting the walls in vibrant colours or adding decor and art items with different colours or pictures of nature can also improve the overall ambience of the workplace.
“Well-being is made tangible through the workspace – this isn’t simply about work environments with better ergonomics or more comfort. We believe that the workplace can be a place where people actually leave healthier than when they arrive in the morning.” – Nancy Hickey (Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Steelcase, leading office furniture manufacturer)
The research shows that when people enter a workplace that incorporates nature, they are more likely to feel happy and motivated for the day ahead.
Check out this video that shows the dramatic way that nature was brought into an indoor space using digital technology!
“Considering the simple changes that can be made (increasing access to natural light through office layout or bringing greenery and plants into the office), there are plenty of (‘low hanging fruit’) options for organizations wanting to inspire creativity in their workforce.” –Human Spaces Global Report
It is clear that biophilic design in the workplace has a strong, measurable impact on key outcomes such as well-being, productivity and creativity. Check out the findings…
Global Key Findings:
33% of office workers say that the design of an office would affect their decision to work at a company.
47% of all respondents agree that they have felt stressed in their workplace within the last three months.
28% of respondents report that they do not have a quiet space to work in their office.
19% of respondents report that there are no natural elements present in their office.
67% of respondents report feeling happy when walking into bright office environments accented with green, yellow or blue colors.
24% of respondents say that their workplace does not provide them with a sense of light and space.
• Those who work in environments with natural elements, such as greenery and sunlight, report a 15% higher level of well-being than those who work in environments devoid of nature.
• Those who work in environments with natural elements, such as greenery and sunlight, report a 6% higher level of productivity than those who do not have the same connection to nature within their workspace.
• Those who work in environments with natural elements, such as greenery and sunlight, report a 15% higher level of creativity than those with no connection to natural elements in the workplace.
–Human Spaces Global Report
It is our duty as designers to ensure that the work environment we create is optimal for high-performing, happy and healthy people.
We hope this blog inspired you to think differently about your own unique workplace and how it can best support your people to thrive!
Would you consider a nature-inspired design for your organization? Let us your thoughts in the comments below!