Benefits of Biophilia in the Workplace


What is Biophilia? 

It’s no secret that humans have an innate connection with the natural world. This knowledge led to a field of study called biophilia, or biophilic design – design inspired by nature. Nature is essential for the mental and physical well-being of every person.

Let’s take a cue from etymology to break the word apart. “Bio” means “of living beings”—in this case, plants. “Philia” denotes fondness. Put it together and the word means using plants to make spaces more enjoyable. 

Biophilia in the workplace is incredibly powerful as far as what effects it has on individuals. There is growing research popping up everywhere that the spaces that we inhabit have both psychological and physiological impacts on us. Spaces with biophilic designs are more attractive and comfortable to work within.

Bring in the Green

There’s been an explosion in the desire to put plants in homes and offices. People all around the world are discovering how adding some green to their space can be both rejuvenating and refreshing. Additionally, spaces with greenery are proven to be more attractive and mood-boosting for employees, as well as clients.

Globally, biophilic influence is making waves in office design. With many companies taking interest in providing more pragmatic efforts for the wellbeing of their staff (such as meditation, yoga, and healthier food options), it’s no surprise that adding greenery to the office is taking off. 

In essence, biophilia is another method of mindfulness. In the office, it can be easy to be swept away in the stress of the day – biophilic design can encourage us to pause, and appreciate the current moment. 

It’s not just the leaves that provide health benefits. The soil plays a part, as well. This phenomenon is explained in a Piedmont Health article: “Microorganisms in the soil of the plant help clean the air as well,” says Garvey. “These microorganisms have also been found to have antidepressant effects.” There are emerging studies that show these microorganisms act as probiotics in our gut and provide mood-lifting perks. 

When implementing biophilic design, placement is key. Certain designs and placements offer different functions, like stress reduction and cognitive function. One of the most manageable and effective ways to incorporate plants in your workspace is through plant walls. With Pallet Display, there are not only shelving options to place small potted plants, but an option for planter mounts so that you can add even more variety to your personalized wall. 

Bring the Office Outside

What stops most people from spending more time outdoors? Survey respondents say it's their work. If you can't bring the outside into your office, bring your office outside. Access to fresh air and outdoor spaces greatly improves people's experience at work because it taps into our inherent need to be outside.

When thinking about what employees want, it turns out that adding outdoor amenities like balconies, patios, and other meeting and workspaces can have a significant impact on many things. It can increase employee:

  • Attraction and retention—people who work away from their desks are more effective and have a better workplace experience.
  • Freedom to work how they want—people who have a choice in workspaces have a better workplace experience.
  • Health and wellness—simply being outside throughout the workday is enough to boost the happiness and overall health of employees.
  • Focus, productivity, and performance— Attention Restoration Theory (ART) suggests the ability to concentrate may be restored by exposure to natural environments, a theory that is widely cited in academia.

With Ghent's new Preserve outdoor meeting spaces, businesses and building owners can create a place that allows employees to collaborate and work outside of the confines of the office. It's the pinnacle of biophilia in office design; rather than trying to bring nature indoors, you bring the office to nature. These customizable structures provide a "fourth space" outdoors, transforming a notoriously underutilized space into an experiential workplace. Employees can meet, work, and engage with each other in an environment that has shown to improve health, happiness, focus, and productivity.

Make it Mindful

How can you foster mindfulness through biophilia? Let’s take it back to the senses.

  • Smell: Consider the aromas of the plants you incorporate and the environment around your outdoor meeting spaces. Are they pleasant, offering a sense of calm and centeredness?
  • Sight: Plants like bonsai trees, ferns, and bamboo are not only low maintenance but especially pleasing to the eye and can also purify the air. 
  • Sound: Think of incorporating water features, to add peaceful and non-disturbing sounds like rippling or bubbling. Also, try to keep outdoor workspaces in a more serene area, away from loud traffic or machinery.

However you choose to embrace biophilia, it is guaranteed to make your workspace more mindful, centered, and pleasing to the senses.


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