I’ve worked in some pretty grim office spaces over the years. And some that were okay. Even when I worked in an architect designed office, the best rooms were reserved for the public facing areas, or the rooms that would host clients. Never the offices that were for the staff. But there is a movement afoot called Biophilic design, that has been shown to offer a wealth of benefits for productivity and the well-being of the workers. In short, Biophilic design is about revitalising once drab office spaces by bringing the outside in. Nothing new there you might say, but it’s good news for anyone who spends 8+ hours a day in a corporate office, and there are lots of principles we can adopt if we work from home too.
How to Incorporate Biophilic Design into The Workplace
The nature inspired office is not a recent trend but it’s not just about the odd desk plant. It’s about creating an environment that mixes a variety of elements from nature to invigorate the senses. The three main principles should address the visible, the material, and the sensory. This is according to Diamond Interiors who have looked further into the psychological benefits of creating a natural working space, and how easily it can be incorporated. So how do we do this in our home office?
Image: Ligne Roset
Natural light does two important things, beyond brightening up a room and making it feel alive. I think we all know this instinctively and it’s why there are so many fights in the office about who sits near the window. Firstly, it reduces the contrast between the dim artificial lighting and the harsh blue light emanating from our computer screens. This will help to reduce headaches and feelings of fatigue. Secondly, the intensity of natural light changes throughout the day as the sun moves. This helps with your circadian rhythm, meaning you feel fresher in the morning and get better sleep at night.
So, make the most of the windows in your space. Put your desk under the window if you can, so that you get the most of the sunlight during the day. Skylights are also a good source of light as it is less direct but you still get the benefits. Sunlamps and UV lights are a fantastic way to inject natural light into spaces where there isn’t any present. If you want to go a step further you can even get dynamic lighting that mimics the movement of the sun throughout the day, helping you get back that natural rhythm that’s often lacking.
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Incoporating green accents in offices has been found to boost motivation and productivity as well as a sense of well-being. Apparently humans are attuned to seek out colours used in nature, so adding accents that mimic fruits and flowers can be beneficial too. Violet, fushia, amber and orange are all fantastic options to use in small doses.
A Distant View
It’s been found that humans feel safer when they are at a vantage point to survey objects in the distance. It goes back to our prehistorical days, and helps account for why people might pay more for a room if it has a view of the sea. This feeling of security reduces anxiety and helps to increase focus. Now we don’t all have the privilege of a fantastic view but just opening the curtains and windows during the day will help keep a view in our peripheral vision. And it’s not cheating to hang paintings and photographs of landscapes. They have a positive effect on our mental wellbeing particularly if they are large prints.
Image: Dear Designer
Plants are perhaps the most life-giving of the natural elements available to us, which means they have a central role in bringing the outside in. As a bonus, living potted plants oxygenate the air keeping us more awake, alert and engaged. Plus those vibrant greens bring plenty of life to your workspace palette without breaking the bank. Make sure you get a variety of species to mimic a diverse, thriving ecosystem.
Patterns, Textures and Furniture
Patterns and textures that mimic those outside can also be beneficial to us. A great way to introduce those textures is with natural furnishings like different types of wood, stone and marble. There are also some fantastic wallpapers and wallcoverings that portray nature and scenes from the great outdoors. Again, when choosing furniture incorporate natural, tactile materials that will not only be visually striking but will be filled with little quirks that we all love. Rattan, wicker and warm wood all spring to mind. Plus cushions and throws in earthy tones.
Image: Dear Designer
Sound is important too. Silence makes us overly alert to our surroundings, while too much noise leaves us overloaded with information. This is a personal one for me as I can’t stand music while I work while others, I know, will work with headphones all the time. But done correctly, sound can be energising or even calming, helping focus. You’ll have to work this one out for yourselves.
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