Biophilia, Latin for “love of nature”, refers to the instinctive human bond with nature and the need to be in natural surroundings in order to maintain a healthy mind and body.

In the current urbanised world, people are often relocating to built-up cities for work, where exposure to nature is usually seen as an escape from stressful work lives, rather than a necessity that should be integrated into workspaces. Research shows that on average, people spend 90% of their lives in buildings, and in a typical office environment in the UK, up to 60% of staff don’t have sufficient access to daylight, affecting their mood and efficiency.

 Introducing biophilic office design. Biophilic office design takes the human need for a connection with nature and applies it to the workplace to boost productivity and wellbeing.

“Architects, interior designers and even office managers have begun incorporating elements of Biophilia to alleviate the disparity between our urban lives and our born need to be close to nature, making our office environments more palatable.”

Amanda Lim, Head of Knight Frank's Flexible Office Solutions

What are the principles of biophilic office design?

As the workplace evolves and a more people-focused approach to office design is adopted, offices are increasingly turning to biophilic design principles. There are six main design principles of biophilic office design which are often used simultaneously for maximum effect.

Environmental features 

Adding natural features such as plants into office spaces is one of the best ways to enhance human-nature connections within the workplace. The presence of plant life not only reduces stress, and adds texture and colour to a space, but will also act as an air purifier – essential for cognitive health.

Natural shapes and forms 

Including office furniture that mimics the shapes and textures of the natural world will provide comfort, flexibility and most importantly, a connection to the outdoors. Our flexure desk is a great solution to introducing organic shapes into the workplace.

Light and space 

The integration of abundant natural light is an element of biophilic office design that focuses on creating dynamic and stimulating spaces. Being intentional with lighting and its placement within a space will have biological and physical effects that will impact the health and wellbeing of employees.

Natural patterns and processes 

Adding interactive features that connect the sensory experiences of sight, smell, hearing and touch will keep employees stimulated and alert. This can be achieved using varying lighting settings that change to suit the time of day or adding a gentle flowing water feature to mimic the sounds of a stream.

Evolved human-nature relationships 

Incorporating areas that provide refuge for people such as areas with soft seating and dividers will create a safe and peaceful space for employees to gather thoughts and recharge their mental batteries.

Place-based relationships

Office spaces should be designed to reflect the local environment in order to create a symbiosis between natural and man-made. This can be achieved by drawing inspiration from ecological features such as mountains or deserts, in the use of design elements like colour, texture and materials. 

Why biophilic office design?

Biophilic design supports the development of workplace communities

The art of creating a community in an office is to create a sense of belonging; of being part of a group of likeminded individuals. By bringing biophilic elements into community centric spaces such as offices, people will feel more relaxed and safer in the space, and in turn will be more likely to cooperate with each other.

Biophilic office design allows flexibility

The natural world provides a plethora of resources for humans to use, interact with and modify to suit needs. Therefore, creating an office space that reflects this, will provide people with a flexible, multi-purpose working environment that is tailored to their needs. This will improve productivity, stimulate the mind and encourage movement within the office. 

Biophilic design helps create a sense of identity

Bringing biophilic design elements into the office that reflect local environments and landscapes will create a familiar space that people can identify with. Culturally relevant designs will promote a connection between people and places, providing a feeling of belonging that will allow people to feel comfortable and safe within the space. These cultural and ecological attachments to place often motivate people to integrate with co-workers and work collaboratively.

Biophilic office spaces improve employee wellbeing

Bringing the outdoors into office spaces will most importantly, improve the mental and physical wellbeing of employees. Research suggests that 40% of all sickness absence can be tracked back to indoor air pollution and poor air quality due to the lack of natural air purifiers such as plants. In addition to this, it has been proven that spending time in nature and green spaces releases serotonin to the brain and reduces feelings of anger or stress. Adding simple biophilic design elements will reduce sickness and improve the morale of employees, making the workplace a happier, more productive place.

Create a biophilic office space with Haiken and reap the benefits

Haiken’s range includes a range of stylish and ergonomic chairs, height adjustable desks, soft seating as well as acoustic and smart storage solutions for all your biophilic office needs. Focusing on more than just looks, our office furniture range is designed to make your workspace truly flexible and uses quality where it matters to provide cost-effective solutions for all budgets. We love to work closely with our clients to recommend furniture that suits their business, or their clients’ business best.

So, if you’re interested in learning more about the Haiken furniture range and want to turn your office into a biophilic workspace, contact our expert team today – we’re always happy to help.