Editorial Posted by Naava on June 13, 2022
Biophilia: the Gateway to Happy and Productive Workers
Boost happiness and productivity by integrating more nature into the office!
A recent Gensler report confirms the vision we at Naava have been working towards for years now: the future of cities and buildings must be rooted in human health and wellness. As we slowly return to office environments, the quality of indoor air should be a priority both for developers that build office buildings and companies that inhabit them.
The key to solving poor indoor air quality is to embrace biophilia. For some reason, we have been taught to accept the notion that indoor air quality is always, by default, poor. Just think of all those times your parents told you to go outside and play in the fresh air.
But what’s stopping us from creating indoor conditions that are equal to outdoors? Or in other words, how do we bring nature indoors?
The biophilia hypothesis tells us that humans have an insatiable need for nature. It’s been only since the Industrial Revolution that people have spent more time inside than outside, which is in direct opposition to our genetic programming. In reality, being linked to nature is a practical application of our physiology and psychology, helping us to replenish our creativity, attention, and engagement with our environment and interests while we are out in the fresh air.
Is it any surprise, therefore, that contemporary office design that incorporates plants, natural light, and other components from Mother Nature's playbook has been shown to be more conducive to a successful and motivated workforce?
Plants are Responsible for Bringing Life to our Environment
Air quality is important, and as little as one plant for every three workers may cut CO2 levels by as much as 20 percent. Freshening our air enhances the quality of life for allergy and asthma patients, as well as results in increased performance and productivity among workers. When surrounded by vegetation, humans experience a sense of peace and vigor at the same time.
For one reason, many corporate leadership retreats are hosted in natural settings such as forests, mountains, or lakes: the environment helps us think more clearly, connect with our inner ideas more deeply, and get a perspective that is impossible to obtain in a contemporary office building. By introducing the outdoors into our homes and businesses, we may get a fraction of the amount of mental centeredness that we would achieve on a full-fledged vacation or overnight retreat. Not only is the aesthetic appeal of bringing plants into the workplace, but they also provide health benefits. It's in the way plants and nature make us feel, to be honest. We do better when we are in a more natural atmosphere. That is all there is to it.
Plant curation is also becoming more popular among younger generations. According to the results of a National Gardening Survey done in 2016, 6 million individuals discovered gardening as a pastime that year, with 4.8 million of those people being between the ages of 18 and 34. When it comes to a city-dwelling generation that is no stranger to tension and worry, having plants in their homes is considered a stress-relieving measure.
Because of the burden of student debt, the difficulty of obtaining excellent employment, and the ever-increasing expenses of living, many young people are returning to their origins, both metaphorically and practically. Plants may provide an oasis of peace and provide a breath of fresh air in a world that can be overpowering at times. Adding plants to a high-octane workplace such as an office should provide equal degrees of comfort and beauty, if this is the method by which people are equipping their most comfortable places.
A Spectacular Experience for the Senses
Biophilia has a positive impact on our environment in more ways than one. Human beings are also affected by noises and odors in addition to sight. Biophilic design that engages several senses, such as water trickling or flowers perfuming the air, adds to our feeling of being immersed in a natural, creative setting. To avoid an afternoon slump, we may take advantage of natural breezes via open windows or cross-breezes to feel the fresh air on our skin. This will help us to maintain our attention and concentrate better. Due to the huge improvement in our reactions as a result of these factors, hospitals are starting to guarantee that patients recuperating from surgery have at least visual access to outside life, since it improves healing periods and health outcomes.
It has been shown that the more time we spend in nature, the better we react, both unconsciously and consciously. In addition, our blood flow and heart rates improve, and our problem-solving abilities improve. Walking, according to pioneering research undertaken by Stanford University, may be used to solve issues and produce new ideas. In fact, individuals who exercised on a treadmill inside showed a 60% boost in creative output and a significant rise in their ability to brainstorm effectively. When participants did their walking exercise outside, their creative output increased by a staggering 81 percent, resulting in better quality ideas and inventions than in any other location tested in the study, the researchers found.
Bringing the Outdoors and the Workplace Together
There are unquestionably practical concerns to consider when providing workers with frequent access to the outdoors as a working choice. When it comes to heat, cold, rain, and wind, technology does not perform well. However, while designing areas that allow people to work outdoors, there are several considerations that should be taken into account. Using sunshades, ceiling fans to circulate air, space heaters and outdoor fires to provide warmth, as well as shaded patios with views of nature, businesses may create an outdoor workstation to replace suffocating conference rooms and interminable meetings looking at a monitor. The advantage is that productivity will skyrocket as a result of the use of these spaces, minimizing the time required to generate new and exciting ideas, eliminating the tiredness that protracted meetings may cause, and stimulating your whole team at the same time.
Even the most beautiful outside setting, on the other hand, will not make an employee happy if they are unable to do their tasks. Comfortable seating, easy access to power outlets, and strong WiFi connection are all essential for achieving optimum efficiency when working outdoors. When it takes an average of 25 minutes to restore attention and focus after an interruption, it is vital to invest in good design in order to be successful in having an outside workstation.
Nature may not Always seem to be Green
Biophilia is not limited to the study of plant life alone. There's so much more to the natural beauty of our planet than just rock, sand, water, and wood, to name a few examples. When any of these materials are included in the furnishings and layout of your office space, the natural mood of the place may be enhanced. They are quite adaptable in terms of functionality - particularly wood - and the possibilities for transforming a stuffy workplace atmosphere are almost limitless.
Even introducing natural hues into your design plan might have a positive impact on how workers perceive their working environment. Blues and greens are naturally calming colors, and some shades of blue might help workers stay attentive when their mental energy has been depleted, according to research. Blues and greens are known to alleviate tension while also being easy on the eyes, which may help to reduce strained vision as well as weariness. Yellow is often regarded as the color of sunlight, and it adds a degree of cheerfulness to the workplace that few other colors can match or surpass. Browns and grays provide a beautiful background for more brilliant hues and are suggestive of natural elements such as wood, pebbles, dirt, and even water.
In order to motivate and invigorate your staff, not everything in the contemporary workplace must be about pool tables and gaming rooms, but it should be. Bringing in biophilia and integrating the outdoors into your workplace design - or, even better, including the outdoors into your office design - really provides workers with a taste of nature that they wouldn't otherwise receive in a typical office environment.
This may reduce absenteeism, enhance employee satisfaction and retention, and ultimately raise your bottom line because of the enjoyment and productivity it can bring to the workplace. More significantly, it will create an atmosphere that everyone, including you, will want to be a part of.