Bring the outdoors in to your Office

Bring the outdoors in to your Office

If your spirits are in need of a boost, there's nothing like a long walk by the sea, a stomp through the woods or a stroll in the park to make you feel better. There are times when we all need to 'get back to nature'.  In fact recent research has suggested that it would do us all good to connect with the natural world a bit more in our everyday lives.

Introducing Biophilia...

You've probably never heard of it.  It's a term that means 'love of nature' and it's currently big news in the design world.  In simple terms, it's our innate need to be part of the natural world and the effect it has on us. The thinking is, that after living in a natural environment for hundreds of thousands of years, we're genetically programmed to want this connection. Indeed it's hugely beneficial to us, reducing stress, enhancing wellbeing and making us more creative and productive.


Where it all began

The term Biophilia was first coined back in the 1980's by American psychologist Edward O Wilson. With a passion for preserving and protecting the biodiversity of our planet, he was actively involved in research throughout his life. In 1984 he published a book entitled 'Biophilia' and introduced us to the idea that we might be losing touch with nature. He realised that as we became more urbanised we were less connected to the things that were beneficial to our health and state of mind - and that couldn't be good.

Biophilic design

Since Edward's book was published it's become clear that this is a model we can all follow in life. If we take care to design the spaces we live and work in to reflect our natural environment and let nature back in to our lives, we'll all feel much better for it. This feel good factor can be achieved in many ways; by using more natural light, by using green walls or noise absorbing materials, by using indoor plants to clean the air or just by using natural colours or sounds.

The benefits of biophilic design

Over the years there have been many studies into the benefits of using nature to enhance our environment and wellbeing. Research has shown that it can reduce stress, blood pressure levels and heart rates, while increasing productivity and creativity. One study looked at patients recovering from surgery to see whether having a room with a natural view made any difference to their recovery. Remarkably it found that patients recovered 8.5% faster than those without a view, felt less pain and needed 22% less medication.

Schools can benefit too when biophilic features are thrown into the mix.  Another study found that children learn 20 to 25% faster when natural light is present and that in classrooms with plants, spelling, mathematics and science subjects saw a 10 to 14% performance boost.

Biophilic design for the office

The figures continue to stack up when you look at the benefits of biophilic design in the workplace. A report called the Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace, looked at 7600 office workers in over 16 countries. Those who worked in a space which benefited from biophilic elements were 6% more productive, 15% more creative and had 15% higher levels of wellbeing.

One man who knows the benefits first hand is architectural and interior designer Oliver Heath. He's worked on a number of biophilic design projects and says that more people are opening up to the idea. He says it's about 'creating workspaces that make employees feel happy and valued at work, as well as making them more creative and productive - it's a human centred approach.''

Perhaps then it's no wonder that big organisations like Apple, Google and Amazon have already jumped onto the biophilic bandwagon.

In good company

Some of the biggest global players are so convinced of the benefits, they're investing heavily in biophilic design for their offices. Take Amazon's HQ which is set within vast bio-domes, Apple's offices which features an extensive orchard or Google's HQ complete with roof top garden and balcony.  They know that by investing in their environment, they'll see a financial return through attracting and retaining the best people and then getting the most out of them. If it didn't make financial sense, they probably wouldn't do it!

Get biophilic with your workspace

We can't all be like the Googles and Apples of this world but even in the most modest office environment it's possible to embrace biophilia and take small steps towards improving our environment and our wellbeing. Go green with your colour scheme, introduce some plants, or look at ways you can get more natural light into your space - they will all make a positive difference.

We're here to help

If you work in an office that has biophilic design elements, we'd love to hear about your experience and how it affects your working day.  If you're planning a whole new look for your office, take a look at our full range of office furniture and accessories at or call us on 0800 092 1985 and one of our team will be happy to help you.

Posted by Paul Randall
24th March 2016