It might be an unfamiliar scientific word, but if you’ve recently moved into a new office or joined an organization that boasts a contemporary fit-out, biophilia should have made a meaningful contribution to the ideas, philosophies, and aesthetics underpinning the final design.
Biophilia is best explained, literally, as meaning love of nature or a love of life or living systems. In the early 1980s, American biologist Edward Osborne Wilson created a philosophy and resulting book called The Biophilia Hypothesis, an ingrained affinity between humans and our natural world. Many of the world’s leading universities have also conducted numerous studies into biophilia but, as studies have moved into the biological including psychology, we’ve learned more about how it can impact workplace productivity and satisfaction.
A report explains that the relationship between workplace design and biophilia as “an innovative way to harness this affinity to create natural environments for us to live, work, and learn. By consciously including nature in interior or architectural design, we are unconsciously reconnecting; bringing the great outdoors into our constructed world.”
In layperson’s terms, workplaces incorporating natural plant life are likely to be happier, more productive workplaces.
It’s important to note that popping a couple of African violets or philodendrons randomly around your office is not a happiness cure-all or a productivity silver bullet. However, some studies show that increasing the amount and diversity of plant life in your office is an easy and cost-effective way to help contribute to a more harmonious and productive workspace.
A 2010 study found that introducing plants into a workplace can reduce stress by more than 30 percent. The same report also recorded a 44 percent drop in workplace anger and hostility, and an almost 38 percent drop in fatigue among respondents.
As well as research demonstrating ways in which biophilia can assist productivity, biophilic design also has a role to play in making the workspace look more attractive to potential employees. Various studies have also shown that biophilic design principles can contribute to reducing distracting noise in the workplace. If you have a workplace that requires quiet spaces for concentration or de-stressing and group discussion space in equal measure, plants have proven to be a low cost way to help satisfy these competing demands.
As part of a holistic approach to contemporary office design – incorporating natural light, energy consumption, IT infrastructure and the like – biophilia is an important element to take into consideration when collaborating with a designer to make your vision of a happy and productive workplace a reality.
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