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Biophilic Offices: How Green Walls and Plants Lend to Wellbeing in the Workplace

hybrid Biophilic Office

What is a Biophilic Office?

Simply put, a biophilic office is a workplace that incorporates outdoor features indoors. Grass walls, vines cascading from the ceilings, and water features bring a fresh feeling into the office. Something as simple as making use of or enhancing natural light in the workplace can make a big difference. A biophilic office provides an environment that has the potential to improve workers’ moods and limit stress.

A biophilic office brings nature closer to us. Biophilic designs create a sense of tranquility and peace while promoting health and well-being. These designs help make use of blank space. Corners that are too small to use for desks or storage might be perfect for a potted plant. Do you have a large entryway? This is the perfect space for a water feature surrounded by plants. This is just one of many ways to incorporate greenery into the office. The right location depends on the desired impact.

Incorporating plants into the office might not seem like it would make that big of a difference. However, studies have shown how well just a few plants can positively impact workers and their lives. What some office designs set out to accomplish with special furniture or layouts, biophilic offices accomplish with greenery. The impact plants have on an entire office makes the decision to incorporate them into the design an obvious choice.

The Science behind a Biophilic Design

plants in the executive office

Biophilia is the human desire and need to connect with nature. Natural patterns, colors, and the connection people have to nature can create positive experiences. The need and attraction to these elements found in nature and design shouldn’t go away when we walk into a building. A biophilic office design fulfills our need to connect and be close to those things. Bringing plants, water features, and other outdoor elements into areas where we spend a large amount of our time can have a profound impact on our performance and mood.

A biophilic office design has many benefits. A journal publication featured on Science Direct discusses the effects green spaces have on workers. The recovery from stressful experiences, improved cognitive function, and reduced fatigue are all positive effects of biophilic designs. These results are achieved by incorporating natural, green visuals into the workplace.

Workplace Stress

contemporary office with biophilic design

Stressful situations are inevitable in the workplace. While some of these situations are avoidable or can be easily worked through, it’s the recovery process that can have the greatest effect. Aesthetically pleasing, naturally occurring features in an office can help mediate the lasting effects of stress and lead to a quicker recovery time.

In the featured study a biophilic office proved to reduce fatigue and maintain worker’s focus. In addition, they found that a biophilic office easily captured and maintained workers’ attention. Resulting in allowing them to remain attentive to the task at hand. This was a direct result of visual exposure to nature.

The benefits of incorporating greenery in the office extend beyond just an enjoyable atmosphere for workers.

Biophilic offices also had an impact on cognitive function. Just like stress recovery and minimized fatigue, exposure to nature, or greenery. The study found that this working environment led to better memory and problem-solving abilities.

The benefits of green spaces lead to increased performance as well as worker fulfillment. The impact that greenery has on workers also has implications for individual satisfaction. As well as improved productivity and efficiency of workers.

The Atmosphere of a Biophilic Office Design

biophilic designs in open office

Biophilic office designs create an aesthetic and environment that can’t be achieved by anything else. While green and other natural colors can evoke similar responses as plants in the office, there’s no substitution for a truly biophilic office. The benefits of incorporating greenery in the office extend beyond just an enjoyable atmosphere for workers.

Office visitors experience the same tranquility and benefits when stepping foot into the office.

Since every office has a different layout, a different number of workers, and different accessibility there’s no standard way to design a biophilic office. The only thing that remains the same is the idea that plants in the office have a positive impact on workers. One of the markers of a biophilic design is greenery. Like in nature, plant life can come in all different shapes and sizes and it’s no different when talking about nature in the workplace. Flowers, plants, vines, and even trees are all used to build a creative and supportive environment, and they can all have the same impact.

Office visitors experience the same tranquility and benefits when stepping foot into the office. This is why it is common to see large trees and water features incorporated into entryways. A building can welcome its guests with stunning visuals and sounds. Being greeted by impressive natural scenes can set the tone for a person’s experience in the building. A biophilic design can have the same positive impact on all who visit or work in the office.

Designing a Biophilic Office

greenery in partitions

A potted plant on a shelf may benefit a single employee, but the placement and proper use of space will increase the overall impact of green spaces. Essentially, the more workers that can see the greenery the more workers it will impact. Grass walls and canopies strung with vines are both examples of greenery that can be seen by many in the office. Some offices might choose to use plants as the main focal point of the office or they might choose to line the walls with smaller plants.

A biophilic office design will give workers a more positive work experience while having the same positive impact on a business.

In addition, the integration of biophilic office design is now being adopted across various styles, including modern, futuristic, and minimalist layouts. Regardless of the design, the positive impact of greenery on workers remains consistent. Furthermore, greenery is also becoming a functional part of the office. Along with the benefits that a biophilic space has for workers, plants are being used as partitions to create different sections of an office. Office designers are beginning to replace traditional partitions with bright, vibrant greenery that serves the same purpose.

Creating a Custom Space

There’s no one size fits all solution to introducing plants into the office. It might benefit an office to use plants throughout the office. Other companies might find plants have a greater impact in highly collaborative spaces. Where plants are used depends greatly on the space and the nature of the work. Creating a peaceful, supportive environment is the main goal for designing a biophilic office and that might look different for everyone.

Whether an office decides to use greenery as decoration, incorporate into its architecture, or use it as a functional piece, the benefits extend beyond the aesthetics. Regardless of the size of the office and the number of employees, working among nature is aesthetically pleasing, beneficial to employees, and even functional.

Is a Biophilic Office Worth it?

trees in a modern office space

Using plants in the office seems like it can take a lot of work. Because plants are living things and they add one more thing that needs to be taken care of. It might seem like this is a lot of work and capital just to improve a worker’s environment. But the extra effort can lead to an increase in productivity. In addition, the cognitive and stress-reducing benefits of a biophilic office don’t just improve a worker’s well-being. It also improves how well they perform their work.

Introducing greenery into the office is proven to have a positive impact on workers and their productivity.

There are studies that prove a biophilic office design increases productivity. Hiaken reports a study conducted by Exeter University discovered there was a 15% increase in production by only introducing a few plants in the office. Human Spaces published a research report about biophilic designs in the workplace that showed a 6% and 15% increase in creativity and productivity respectively.

Introducing greenery into the office has a positive impact on workers and their productivity. This means that a biophilic office design will give workers a more positive work experience while having the same positive impact on a business.

Is a Biophilic Office Design for You?

biophilic office breakroom and storage space

Biophilic offices can also have a positive impact on a company’s image. The office environment and aesthetics can say a lot about a company. Biophilic offices can give visitors a glimpse of what it’s like to work for the company and the atmosphere of the office.

When deciding whether or not a biophilic office is the right decision for you it is important to remember the benefits. The benefits to the workers, as well as the company, are huge. Keeping workers happy is necessary for maintaining a positive working environment. Aside from the day-to-day operations, a biophilic office can create and add to a positive environment.

What degree you choose to incorporate plants and other greenery into the office depends largely on how much you want to invest. However, it’s worth noting that even introducing one plant can make a significant difference. Even if an office might not have the space to house a large tree or a canopy covered in vines, plants can still be strategically placed around the office. Ultimately, the results are the same. Biophilic designs create an environment where workers are more creative and focused, with a bright, fresh setting.

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