A guide to biophilic office design


A Guide to Biophilic Office Design

There are big changes happening all the time in the way office spaces are designed and laid out, and how we choose to decorate and appoint those spaces. In recent years, we have moved more and more towards creating comfortable, versatile work environments which staff want to return to every day. One way to create an environment that your clients and staff will love is to introduce elements of biophilic interior design.
Biophilic design helps us to re-establish our connection with the earth, by mimicking the feeling of being out in nature, helping to break up the monotony of day-to-day office life.

Biophilic office design is focused on our desire to connect with nature by bringing the outdoors in. The purpose of this is to create a workspace employees enjoy coming to, with areas where they can work, collaborate, and relax. Many offices are introducing biophilic design because of the improved employee satisfaction, productivity, and creativity.
It’s very simple to start introducing these elements, and you can start with something small, like adding some potted plants. Adding plants will improve air quality and the office’s look and feel.

The Benefits of Biophilic Office Design

Since biophilic office design is based around bringing nature indoors, your employees gain some of the benefits they would get if they were out in nature. Imagine being outside in the golden sunlight, breathing in fresh, clean air, in a wooded clearing, by a river perhaps. If that image made you smile, think of the benefits of bringing that refreshing feeling into the office. It helps improve employee happiness, among many other benefits.

Increased productivity: Workers surrounded by natural elements are more productive than those that aren’t. Improved air quality improves concentration levels, and additional natural lighting reduces stress, headaches, and fatigue.

Creativity: A more stimulating work environment with wall art, graphics, and artwork can boost the creativity of the workforce. Introducing natural light, finishes and colours, this also creates an environment for fostering creativity.

Enhanced wellbeing: Thanks to the benefits of biophilic design, it can help to improve employee wellbeing. When staff are healthy and happy, they produce more and miss work less.

Increased concentration: Plants increase oxygen levels, decreasing mental fatigue. Reduced mental fatigue leads to improved engagement and productivity. The engagement levels of an employee are related to how stimulating a work environment can be created for staff, and biophilic design is a great way to create feel good workspace

Improved retention of staff: Employee retention rates increase with happiness and wellbeing. One of the main concepts of biophilic office design is to provide a workspace people are happy to come to, and so don’t want to leave. The cost of recruitment and training, and lost knowledge from failure to retain good staff, is a major concern, and creating fun, engaging places to work is crucial to minimising this.

Attracting top talent: Your office design influences your company culture. It teaches your employees your company values, and choosing to implement biophilic design elements helps to demonstrate that you value employee health, happiness, and comfort. It also turns your office into an inviting space that will attract top talent in your field.

The Basic Principles of Biophilic Office Design
Biophilic design has six basic principles. These biophilic design principles act as individual design elements that work together to create a positive and harmonious workplace. Most biophilic offices incorporate all the features because once you break it down, you only need to focus on designing your office with a natural feel, so earth tones for the furniture, walls or decor, plants, water elements, realistic artwork and decorative stones.
Environmental Features: One of the most basic principles of biophilic design is to incorporate environmental features — water, fresh air, sunlight, animals, earth tones, natural materials and plants — in your indoor environment. And the reason why people associate biophilic office design with plants is because decorating with plants is a simple way to bring nature inside.
Incorporating environmental features in office design creates a relaxing, welcoming environment that acts as a retreat from the rushed pace of daily life.
Restorative Patterns and Processes: This principle of biophilic design focuses on how our senses — sight, smell, taste, touch and sound — adapt to and flow with changing nature. The world is constantly evolving, but the built environment is static. Biophilic office design incorporates different elements so the environment can change. These elements include colors, textures, outdoor areas, decor and wall art.
Light and Space: Natural light is necessary for our health. It regulates your circadian cycle by controlling the release of melatonin, and it plays a role in the function of the nervous and endocrine systems. Longer hours of daylight exposure prolong the release of melatonin, which decreases end-of-the-day fatigue, headaches and stress. Thus, in biophilic design, you incorporate more natural light or copy the changes of light and shadow throughout the day.
Closer Relationship with Nature: The relationship between humans and nature can be mutually beneficial. We can care for nature and enjoy its benefits, which is why biophilic design focuses on the fact that it’s our responsibility to care for the environment. When we do, nature becomes a safe escape from the rigors of daily life.
One way you can encourage a closer relationship with nature is by utilizing outdoor areas. If your company has outdoor spaces like a roof, garden, lawn or balcony, you could set up tables and chairs so your employees can work outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunlight.
Natural Features: Because biophilic design seeks to bring the outdoors in, it incorporates natural shapes and forms. Designers use natural materials or fake materials and patterns that replicate natural ones. Stone and wood are popular choices for biophilic office design. A great example of incorporating natural features in design is a Zen garden. It contains stones, wood, water and greenery.
Incorporating Different Contexts: Biophilic design considers the spiritual, historical, cultural and ecological contexts. It can incorporate these elements with wall decor or motivational sayings that reflect the company’s values or history. The point of these designs is to inspire the work environment and provide encouragement and support to employees.

Some examples of Biophilic office design

You may not know where to start when it comes to redesigning your office with biophilic design elements. Even though there are six principles, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed about incorporating all of them. Here are some biophilic design examples that include the various principles:
Green walls: Green or living walls are a simple and majestic way to add greenery to your office. It captures everyone’s attention and livens up the workplace. They’re best in high-traffic areas, like reception areas, so everyone can admire them. However, you can also hang planters on walls to create a similar green effect.
Textures: Including various textures, shapes and patterns in your office decor avoids the sterile look that many modern offices have. You can invest in desks with different patterns, textured walls and wall art.
Let in more natural light: Install big windows in your office so you can allow in plenty of natural light and have views of the outside. Then, embrace the natural light you have by removing curtains, blinds and other items, like cabinets and desks, that block it and rearranging your furniture so the light flows throughout your office.
Improve air quality: Good air quality is essential for your health. You can improve your office’s air quality with open windows, filters and live plants.
Water: The sound of flowing water is refreshing and soothing. A water feature, like a fountain or stream, makes the workplace more serene.
Artwork: Artwork conveys various emotions. People interpret pieces differently, but paintings and photography with natural imagery and landscapes can provide an artistic element to your biophilic design.
Plants and greenery: Greenery is the key to biophilic design, and the reason people often associate plants with it is because they are a simple, easy way to introduce greenery. You can use potted plants to decorate throughout the office, like on walls, pathways or islands.
Restorative restroom: Creating a spa-like restroom can revitalize and relax your workers. You can add potted plants, nature-scented hand soaps, reed diffusers, a decorative Zen garden and other elements to make a restorative restroom.
Natural materials: Select natural materials where possible, like real wood over desks. Real wood has unique grain patterns and knots that enhance its natural beauty.
Safe space: Biophilic office design creates an inviting environment where employees feel comfortable and a part of a community. You can create this feeling by offering social gathering spaces with a relaxing ambiance and private work areas. One way to create private work areas is by using plants to section off work areas on a long desk — this way, the work areas will be open, unlike cubicles, but still individualized.

Tips for Incorporating Biophilic Office Design
Incorporating biophilic design in your office is simple. Focus on using plants, water and natural elements — you want to make your modern office feel more like nature. But it’s important not to overdo it. It’s easy to introduce too many natural elements in your office and end up with a cramped environment instead of a relaxing one. Here are some tips to help you incorporate biophilic design in your office:
Don’t use too many plants: Plants are one of the elements of biophilic design, but they aren’t the only element. While it’s important to incorporate plants, make sure you don’t use too many. Too many plants can make the office feel cluttered.
Ensure there’s an abundant amount of natural light: Incorporate windows or skylights so your employees have access to natural light throughout the day.
Try to avoid synthetic materials: Choose natural materials like stone and wood over synthetic ones like plastic. Stones and wood are more aesthetically appealing and create a tranquil atmosphere.
Incorporate water features sparingly: Too many water features close together can be overwhelming because of all the sounds.

How can ABM help?

ABM are an experienced furniture supplier, providing high quality furniture to offices across the region. With extensive experience and many satisfied customers across a diverse field of industries, we are experts in the field, and our suppliers offer a range of products to help you incorporate these design elements into your office refurbishment project. Consider decor items, seating, storage, tables, desks, and lighting.

Biophilic design is a popular design trend in 2024. Many offices want to create a comfortable work environment for their employees to foster their creativity and increase their productivity. Creating a pleasant work environment starts with the design of the office space. Office design is about more than simply painting your walls and installing new flooring — it’s also about the furniture and decor you choose.
One of the best ways to incorporate biophilic office design is with the perfect furniture. And that’s where we come in. ABM has the expertise to get you the right products, and our extensive ranges allow us to offer you a wide selection of designs and styles. Contact us today to get started