Tim Hanwell at Officeworks looks at the how the use of nature in a biophilic office can help to reduce stress and maximise productivity in Part 2 of an article recently published in Connect Magazine from Cardinus Risk Management.
Biophilic design is more than a ‘nice to have’. The use of nature to harness employees full potential is becoming an essential aspect of modern, progressive office space. Businesses investing heavily in the approach include Apple with Campus 2 and Google’s Dublin Campus.
As well as good natural light levels, an office design that incorporates elements of the natural world might also have views onto nature, natural textures, organic materials and naturalistic colours plus recuperation spaces to restore mental and physical energy.
How do you actually utilise biophilic design for your office? Here are the three main principles, with some examples for each.
Nature in the space
This is about bringing actual nature into the building. For example:
- Pot plants on desks
- Living green walls
- Water features
- Fresh air circulation
- Natural light
- Window views to trees, landscapes or water
- Sound of birdsong or water
- Fish in aquariums
Nature of the space
This is about the configuration of the workspace. For example:
- Cosy, private workspaces like small rooms or sheltered nooks
- Open-plan collaboration spaces
- Balconies and atriums with views from a height
This is about using human-manufactured elements that mimic natural forms in some way. For example:
- Wood, stone or slate finishes
- Artwork depicting plants, animals, landscapes
- Shades of green, blue, yellow and brown
- Floral patterns
- Circular shapes and curved lines
If you have the opportunity to design your ideal office from scratch or undergo a major renovation, you’ll be able to utilise all of these ideas. But we know most business people are working within a more limited environment.
Even if you’re just renting a small office within a commercial unit you can’t control, you can still employ some biophilic design. For example, you could add a potted plant on every desk, put up prints of nature photography on the walls and arrange the furniture in a way that creates partially enclosed private workstations in the corners and a collaborative ‘break-out’ area in the centre.