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Why incorporate biophilia into office design?

  • Sarah Bartley, CEO  Posted by Sarah Bartley, CEO
  • On December 5, 2017

CMIW, a bespoke design and workplace consultancy shares their view on why Biophilic design is becoming an essential consideration for current workplace design teams.

Improving employee experiences, wellbeing and performance are three of the biggest trends being addressed within the workplace today. Forward-thinking organisations understand that to attract and retain first class talent, they must ensure they are not only providing an inspiring and pleasant place of work but are demonstrating they truly care about the happiness and wellbeing of their employees. This also compliments business objectives of improving employee productivity and reducing employee absenteeism due to illness and stress.
The physical workspace plays a crucial role in how organisations can achieve these aspirations. There are many factors to consider here, one of them being how we can design biophilia or nature into the workspace.

With stress accounting for 37% of all work related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health in 2015/16. many organisations are looking for ways to address this. There is an increasing body of research that suggests that by incorporating nature and natural elements into the physical workspace, health and wellbeing factors such as stress, anxiety and depression are improved.

The benefits of biophilic design in the workplace
Taking this research into account, the simple essence that by surrounding ourselves with nature, be it living, artificial or even imagery, can improve our connection with our environment and our overall sense of wellbeing is important when it comes to how we design workplaces.

So, what are the benefits of biophilic design?

• Improved air quality leads to improve focus and productivity – 8% improvement in productivity
• Improves overall sense of wellbeing and lifts mood by 15%
Improves productivity by 6%
Improves creativity by 15%
• Reduces feelings of anxiety and stress
• Balances hormones and regulates sleep patterns

How to design biophilia into the workplace
Making sure that there is a wide range of natural elements throughout your entire office space is important and pairing the right type of biophilia with the purpose or use of the space is equally important. For example, in areas where employees will be working for extended amounts of time, an abundance of natural light and real life plants that can improve overall air quality and provide a visual affinity with the natural world would work exceptionally well as these would help to improve employee concentration and output. Likewise, in areas dedicated to rest, relaxation and refreshments, the presence of water features induces a feeling of relaxation and calmness as does large windows and access to the outdoors.

A visual connection to nature can and should be represented throughout your entire office space and this can be achieved through utilising a range of real and artificial natural visual cues. If possible, it’s also important to provide these visual cues outside of the office space too, so good views outside of lakes, parks, trees, and landscapes are ideal to compliment the installation of green walls, flowers and imagery throughout the interior of the office.

In areas dedicated to innovation, inspiration and creativity, visual cues of open spaces will help to unblock and free the mind. These can be in the form of real life landscapes but can just as easily take the shape of large wall coverings or even imagery as screen savers on the technology that may be used in these spaces. Even the smallest of cues can have a positive impact.

It’s advantageous to incorporate non-visual cues such as sound, smell, touch and taste where possible. This could take the form of sounds of birds or other animals, music and water in communal areas, emitting fresh smells of nature throughout the office and incorporating a sense of natural movement through open windows, soft blasts of fresh air or kinetic facades.

Bringing these elements together to work seamlessly as you move through and use the entire workspace is important on creating that overall sense of cohesion and calm for your employees.

To conclude…
By designing offices with biophilia in mind, we can create inspiring and healthier environments that positive impact on employee wellbeing, happiness, and presentism whilst at the same time effect employee retention and reduce absenteeism due to illness/stress and productivity.

CMI Workplace specialises in creating smart and efficient office environments that drive organisational performance as well as inspire productivity and collaboration.



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