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Designing for wellness: how biophilic elements can promote health in the workplace
08 Aug 2023
Biophilia - how to combine nature and workplaces to enhance wellbeing.
Biophilia is the natural love humans have for nature and living things. Coined by biologist Edward O. Wilson, the concept suggests that humans have an instinctive connection to nature and a desire to be close to it.
Biophilic design aims to bring elements of nature into a built environment, including workplaces, to enhance well-being, productivity, and overall satisfaction. It’s likely that you’re working in a workplace that has deliberately included some of these features without you realising it.
Biophilic design elements commonly used in workplaces can include:
Getting the most use of natural light through large windows, skylights, or light wells can create a connection to the outside world, provide a sense of openness, and improve mood and circadian rhythms.
Adding live plants or green walls can introduce nature into the workspace, improve air quality, and create a calming and visually appealing environment.
Views of nature
Including views of greenery, gardens, or natural landscapes from work areas or communal spaces can help reduce stress, increase focus, and provide a sense of tranquillity.
Including elements like fountains, aquariums, or indoor waterfalls can mimic the soothing sounds and visual aspects of water, promoting relaxation and reducing stress.
Using materials like wood, stone, or bamboo in furnishings, flooring, or wall coverings can bring a sense of warmth and connection to nature.
Displaying artwork or murals that depict natural scenes, landscapes, or wildlife can evoke feelings of tranquillity and connection to the outdoors.
Biophilic colour schemes
Using earthy tones, shades of green, and other colours found in nature can create a soothing and harmonious atmosphere.
Biomorphic forms and patterns
Introducing organic shapes, curves, or patterns resembling natural forms can create a sense of comfort and familiarity.
Engaging multiple senses by incorporating elements like natural scents, sounds of nature, or tactile materials can enhance the biophilic experience.
Access to outdoor spaces
Providing outdoor areas, such as rooftop gardens, courtyards, or terraces, where employees can take breaks or work can offer direct contact with nature and opportunities for relaxation.
These biophilic design elements often used by interior designers, help create a workplace environment that nurtures well-being, boosts creativity, reduces stress, and increases overall job satisfaction and productivity.
Workplace wellness is essential for organisations to promote employee health, enhance productivity and engagement, reduce healthcare costs, improve retention and recruitment, foster a positive culture, and strengthen the company’s brand and reputation. By prioritising wellness, organisations can create a thriving work environment that benefits both employees and the organisation as a whole.
Workplace wellness is crucial for organisations as it directly impacts the overall well-being and performance of employees, as well as the success of the company itself. Benefits of doing so include,
Demonstrating that the organisation values its employees’ health and well-being
If your team is healthy and well, they are more likely to be engaged and productive
By investing in workplace wellness initiatives, organisations can reduce sick days
Employees value companies that care about their well-being and are more likely to stay with an organisation that provides a supportive and healthy work environment
By promoting preventive measures and providing resources for healthy lifestyles, organisations can reduce healthcare costs associated with chronic illnesses, injuries, and absenteeism
Employees feel valued and supported when their organisation prioritises their well-being, leading to higher morale, job satisfaction, and team cohesion
The intersection between biophilia and wellness in the workplace is significant and can greatly contribute to enhancing feelings of wellness among employees.
By incorporating natural elements in the workplace, organisations can create environments that promote wellness, reduce stress, enhance productivity, and improve employee satisfaction. This holistic approach to design acknowledges can create huge positive effects including:
Exposure to nature and biophilic elements has been found to reduce stress levels. The presence of natural light, indoor plants, or views of nature can create a calming and soothing environment, helping to lower stress and promote relaxation. Studies have shown that interactions with the natural world, even in indoor settings, can lead to improved mood, reduced anxiety, love of life and increased overall well-being.
Increased productivity and focus
Biophilic design elements have been shown to improve cognitive function, creativity, and productivity. Natural light and views of nature can enhance concentration and focus, while indoor plants and greenery have a positive impact on attention restoration, memory retention, and problem-solving abilities. These factors contribute to a more productive and efficient workforce.
Improved air quality
Indoor air quality can significantly impact the health and well-being of employees. By incorporating indoor plants, biophilic design can help improve air quality by reducing pollutants and increasing oxygen levels. Cleaner air leads to better respiratory health, reduced illness, and increased overall wellness.
Connection to nature
Humans have an inherent connection to nature, and biophilic design brings elements of nature into the workplace, fulfilling this need for connection. This connection can evoke positive emotions, reduce feelings of isolation, and foster a sense of well-being and belonging. Employees who feel connected to nature are more likely to experience improved mental health and overall satisfaction with their work environment.
Enhanced creativity and problem-solving
Exposure to nature has been linked to increased creativity and improved problem-solving abilities. Biophilic elements, such as natural materials, organic shapes, or nature-inspired artwork, can stimulate the imagination and encourage innovative thinking. This creative boost contributes to a more engaging and fulfilling work experience.
Biophilic design can support physical wellness in the workplace. Access to outdoor spaces, such as rooftop gardens or green courtyards, encourages physical activity, breaks from sedentary work, and opportunities for relaxation. This promotes a healthier lifestyle, reduces the risk of chronic diseases, and improves overall physical well-being.
Positive mood and job satisfaction
Biophilic elements have been shown to improve mood, increase job satisfaction, and reduce feelings of burnout. By creating a visually pleasing and nature-inspired workspace, employees experience a more positive emotional state, which in turn enhances their overall well-being and job satisfaction.
If you’re thinking of changing up the design of your office to improve the wellbeing of your team, or if you’re moving to a new office space, have a chat to one of our Workplace Design Consultants about your options. Why not optimise the way you work?
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