20 Nov Biophilia: Why Greening Workspaces Matters
Nothing kills creativity and productivity more than a drab office space. That’s why companies invest millions in making their offices a place where employees want to spend their time. While the vast majority of Americans spend at least eight hours each day indoors, usually in an office, it’s unnatural for humans to stay indoors for hours on end. Whether they realize it or not, people crave nature.
Biophilia, according to American biologist Edward Wilson, suggests that we are biologically wired to find connections to nature. Unfortunately, incorporating natural elements – like plants, natural light and water – is often an afterthought in workspace planning. That’s changing, however, because the benefits of “greening-up” a space can add more than just décor. Artificial plants don’t count. No plastic philodendrons! Just say no!
Workplace Health and Wellness
Exposure to nature improves health and wellness by decreasing the stress hormone cortisol. According to a 2019 study published in Frontiers in Psychology, just 20 minutes in a natural setting significantly lowers cortisol. For this reason, companies have started extending their office spaces outside. Whether with a rooftop garden, a balcony with greenspace or a landscaped courtyard, creating outdoor spaces for employees gives them a place to decompress.
Biophilia design increases employee productivity by 15 percent, according to a 2014 study. Other studies have shown that plants can also heighten attention spans, helping people accomplish more in a shorter amount of time. By introducing greenery, companies can also help reduce noise and visual distractions, which can hinder productivity. Plants absorb the sound of chatty colleagues, while a design element like a living green wall can act as a visual barrier, preventing distractions for those who need to concentrate.
Nature has a way of relaxing even the most stressed employee. For instance, consider how the sound of running water or the warmth of sunlight can provide a soothing environment. When people can relax and unwind in a natural setting, they open space in their brains for creative expression. Bringing the outdoors inside can foster an environment in which employees can step away from their computers, move their bodies and recharge.
“Greening” a workplace matters, to employees and to a company’s bottom line. Whatever the reason – be it productivity, creativity or employee happiness – a business that surrounds its employees with nature will see their efforts pay dividends for years to come.