The term ‘biophilia’ was coined by Edward O Wilson, who was one of the founding fathers of the psychology behind biophilia. Biophilic elements refer to anything that induces the sense of beauty of the natural world. This can include features such as plants, water features, natural lighting, or patterns and design styles that mimic nature like flooring with a wood effect.

Did you know that The Global Human Spaces report found that 33% of office workers say that the design of an office affects their decision whether to work for a company or not? This shows how important an office design is for current employees as well as for attracting future talent. Workers were also asked what their top 5 most wanted elements within a workplace were and 44% said natural light was important to them and 20% opted for plants around the office.

Additionally, a separate university study showed that adding pot plants to an office increases productivity by 15%! If by adding a few plants achieves that, just imagine the benefits of a complete office fit out inspired by nature.

In this article, we will be exploring the 4 benefits of biophilic design and how they can change a working environment for the better.


Office chairs
1. Biophilic elements in an office can improve the physical health of employees

Did you know adding greenery into the office can significantly improve the air quality? Research by Norway’s Agricultural University in Oslo found that plants remove harmful volatile organic compounds, such as formaldehyde and benzene that is found in paint, carpet, and furniture of most buildings. In fact, plants are said to improve the air quality by up to 75%!

These harmful compounds can result in employees more likely to get sick as breathing in dry air can irritate sensitive membranes in the nose and throat, making staff more likely to catch viruses and allergens. It has even been revealed that 40% of all sickness absence can be traced back to indoor pollution or poor air quality. However, placing plenty of plants around the office will help release water vapour back into the air and reduce the chances of employees getting sick and having to take time off work.

Green certified offices lead to a 26% boost in cognition and 30% fewer sickness related absences amongst workers, so adding biophilic elements is definitely worth thinking about for the sake of your employees health and wellbeing.

2. Biophilic elements in an office space improves mental health and wellbeing 

So, we have discussed how biophilic elements can improve physical health of employees, but it’s important to note that plants in the office are also known to really improve health and wellbeing.

Spending some time outdoors is crucial for our mental health. The problem is that a 9-5 office job can make it difficult to find the time to spend outside – especially in the dark winter days. Luckily, there is a way around this, by bringing the outdoor world inside. Incorporating plants into the workspace will result in employees reconnecting with nature and this is proven to alleviate feelings of stress according to many studies, including one conducted by Harvard.

Having green spaces and bringing nature into everyday life can reduce anger and make people feel calmer as they will have something to look at that will remind them of the outdoors and will help to reduce any feelings of being trapped inside. One study showed that the presence of plants in offices can lower stress and anxiety levels by up to 37%, as well as decreasing tiredness by up to 38%.

Reducing stress and anxiety levels is beneficial for any company as it will improve worker productivity, and this will result in happier employees and greater company success. By introducing natural elements into the office, such as an indoor water feature, plants, or wooden furniture, can provide people with access to natural light and beautiful views which will also help to create a more positive and harmonious working ambience.


biophilic element
3. Biophilic elements improve creativity and productivity in the workplace

As previously mentioned, a series of studies from Exeter University revealed that employees were 15% more productive when workplaces were filled with just a few houseplants. This is because biophilic design can improve key cognitive functions and encourages creative and innovative thinking in workers.

In fact, a Human Spaces research report on the Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Interface Workplace showed that productivity and creativity levels increase by 6% and 15%. There is no wonder that this is the case when nature is known to stimulate the brain and so allows for creativity to flow more effectively. Nature in an office design can also create a positive and peaceful mindset which will lead to more interactions in the workplace amongst colleagues, improving both collaboration and innovation.

While open plan workplaces are becoming the most common office layout, there is a danger that they will become too basic and sterile with not enough visual elements to help to boost inspiration. Working in a visually stimulating environment decorated with plants and lots of natural light will help workers feel more productive, less tired, and will help foster creativity. This means employees will much more likely look forward to coming into the office as they know they will be surrounded by a pleasant and aesthetically pleasing environment that will help to inspire them rather than invoke stressful feelings, anxiety, and boredom

4. Biophilic elements attract talent and improves company image through aesthetics

Not only does nature have a positive impact on health and wellbeing as well as employee productivity, but it’s important to not forget that it also will make the office look much more inviting than one that is plain, has lack of natural light, and no aesthetically pleasing greenery to look at.

Having a thoughtfully designed workspace that is full of natural light and greenery not only looks good for current employees and attracts them into the office, but it will also attract new talent and will make them want to work for you.

Through seeing the biophilic elements, potential new talent will see that the company cares about their employees’ health and wellbeing, which will result in improving the business’s image. An improved business image may even influence new talent to choose to work for you over another company with an office that is looking more tired, bland, with a lack of biophilic elements to improve working outlook.

Biophilic office design from Haiken

At Haiken, we know how important it is that your office design is inviting and ensures that your workers are happy and healthy.

Why not try out our Zorla planter by Zilenzio to attract employees back into the office? Zorla is a mobile floor screen where the top of the wooden box can be filled with natural or fake plants to make a decorative piece of furniture. For an added bonus, the Zorla also has sound absorbing effects that is perfect for open room constellations. This can be combined with Dezibel Print, which can be used to create a photographic image of nature, or an inspiring photo of the outdoors, to place around the office and further evoke those feelings of freedom and relaxation.

zorla planter office furniture

If you need help on an office re-design with new furniture built to inspire, contact us today and we will be happy to help.