Design trends come and go, but biophilia looks here to stay. Biophilic design has been around for several decades, with the core concept hinging on our innate connection with nature. It can be readily applied to interior design and is becoming increasingly popular as the design concept of choice for office spaces.
By making use of natural elements and innovative lighting, biophilic design can improve mental well-being and boost productivity.
Below, we outline the main ways biophilic design can benefit any office space.
1. Invest in innovative lighting to boost productivity levels
Productivity is important when it comes to office design. One of the principles of biophilic office design is ensuring sufficient levels of natural light penetrate your interiors. Regular exposure to natural light encourages the production of natural hormones like melatonin.
This hormone is crucial for establishing a healthy sleep behavior, which in turn ensures boosted energy levels.
Sadly, many workspaces have limited access to natural light. Light will struggle to penetrate the interior of a large office, even if it has plenty of windows lining its walls.
Skylights are an effective option for those looking to flood offices with UV rays, but they’re costly to install and only suitable for single-story workspaces or offices based on the highest floor of a building.
If you’re putting together an office from scratch, you’ll want to prioritize office furniture essentials. However, circadian lighting should be your next point of focus. These systems won’t produce any UV light, but they will provide subtle color temperature variations throughout the working day that will help office workers remain feeling energized and alert.
Another way to boost productivity in your office is to make effective use of space. Make sure workstations are set apart from communal areas to minimize distractions. If desk partitions aren’t an option, focus on creating one or two quiet zones that employees can retire to when they need to focus.
2. Improved physical health and air quality
Plants are a key element of biophilic design. You probably already have a few ferns or succulent plants scattered around your office space, but if you want to enjoy the biggest benefits, you’ll need to start embracing greenery in a major way.
Plants not only provide gloomy interiors with color and texture but also help improve air quality. There’s a lot of conjecture surrounding the role of plants in purifying air within the average office.
Generally speaking, you’re better off opening a window to ensure you’re working in an oxygen-rich environment. However, office plants provide several other important functions that can benefit the health of you and your workers.
In addition to absorbing excess carbon dioxide from your surroundings, plants will also soak up harmful volatile compounds and chemicals.
Everyday electronics and commonly used cleaning products are known to emit toxins that are harmful to human health if inhaled. A sufficient number of plants can lock away these hazardous toxins, preventing them from being breathed in.
Plants can also be used to combat the dry-air conditions faced by many office environments. Dry air can agitate throat and nasal membranes, wreaking havoc on allergy sufferers and making us more susceptible to cold and flu viruses. When plants transpire, they release water vapor into their surroundings, alleviating the issue of dry air considerably.
If your office is short on square footage and you’re struggling to place potted plants, consider installing a green wall feature. These vertical structures are not only eye-catching, but they also allow you to introduce considerably more plants into a tiny space.
3. Promote a sense of well-being
Embracing biophilic design principles will promote a sense of well-being in your workforce. By weaving natural elements throughout your workspace, you can ensure employees are adopting a more positive outlook. This not only drives productivity but also helps combat depression and negates the impact of stress factors.
The morning commute can be stressful for the average employee, so make sure they have a calming sanctuary to start the working day in. Many contemporary office trends are incorporating biophilic fundamentals without realizing it.
When choosing furniture, opt for wood instead of metal to evoke a sense of nature. When choosing colors, ditch garish hues and pick a plant-based palette instead. If the views outside of your office windows aren’t exactly inspiring, you can easily compromise with nature-inspired wallpaper and feature walls.
4. An eco-friendly and sustainable design choice
If you want to minimize the carbon footprint of your organization, embracing biophilic design is the way to go.
Reclaimed natural materials will provide a good fit with any biophilic office. They’re also inexpensive, meaning a modest budget doesn’t need to hold you back.
If you’re planning on purchasing new furniture and fixtures for your office, stick to sustainable materials like bamboo, cork, and recycled upholstery. Green design credentials can also form part of your branding and company identity, making it easier to secure new business with eco-conscious clients.
5. Hold on to the best talent
Biophilic office design won’t just improve productivity in the short term, it will also foster a sense of loyalty within your workforce. Although many businesses are likely to adopt biophilic design to bolster their brand identify and boost productivity, even the most cynical of employees will enjoy the desirable benefits it provides them.
A biophilic office overhaul is also likely to improve recruitment prospects if you’re eager to secure top-tier talent in the future.
Putting your biophilic design plants into practice
Biophilic design is no longer the preserve of big businesses with million-dollar renovation budgets. Even the most modest operation can utilize biophilic design principles with a little creative thinking.
If you’re transforming an existing space, focus on simple changes like adopting a lusher palette and incorporating plants and greenery into your space. If can afford to make more significant changes, consider replacing office furniture with new pieces made from reclaimed materials.
Whatever the scope of your project, ensure you’re placing a keen emphasis on sustainability, embracing natural elements, and promoting mental well-being.
Greg Tuohy is the managing director of Docutec, a business printer provider in Ireland. Over the years Greg’s team has noticed the increase in biophilic design in many offices around the country.