Companies want to increase their employee productivity and creativity to gain that all-important advantage over competitors. Many businesses are looking at ways to make the office space more productive and creative by improving the mental health and overall well being of their employees.
Studies have shown that people have an innate desire to be part of nature in some way. Whether it’s being able to view nature scenes out a window, access to live office plants inside their office, or access to natural light, our bodies and minds crave a sense of oneness with nature. This is an area of study known as biophilia.
One of the leading organizations in promoting biophilic living is nature-minded carpet tile designer and maker, Interface. Interface recently launched a website dedicated to biophilic designer called Human Spaces. They study offices, companies and workers from around the world and compile evidence that bringing nature into the built environment has many benefits.
Human Spaces’ most recent study showed that employees want five key things in order to enjoy their workplace. They all indicated that having these things improved their overall sense of well being and, thus, improved their mental health. These included:
- Bright colors – especially those that remind them of nature such as blue, green and white.
- View of the sea – or a view of nature, or green spaces, in general for more landlocked areas.
- Quiet work space – people prefer to have some privacy like an office. When that is not possible, setting aside space that people can use for privacy and quiet work, too.
- Indoor plants – if you can’t bring an outdoor view to everyone then you can bring a bit of the outdoors inside.
- Natural light – Studies have shown people with only interior light and no natural light can suffer more illness and are more frequently absent, less productive and less creative.
The evidence seems to show that people want that connection to nature, but that they often do not get that access to natural light or nature in their work environment. In fact, the Human Spaces study states that 33% of people interviewed said the interior design of an office space would be a determining factor for someone deciding where to work.
An office space with increased access to nature, natural colors and natural light sees benefits such as:
We all want the people who work for us to be more productive. The Human Spaces study showed that there was as much as a 15% increase in productivity if employees had access to things like natural light, nature scenes, interior plants and colors reminiscent of nature.
A healthy mind lends itself to increased creative function. Access to natural light, in particular, has been shown to lead to increased creativity. Also, access to nature stimulates the brain by triggering a reward response in the mind. Placing employees near a window with exterior landscape visible form their desk allows employees to relax and feel less stress which allows creativity to flow more effectively.
Better Overall Health
Mental health is intrinsically linked to overall health. By providing employees to have access to indoor plants, nature, water, and natural light can improve their mental well-being which also leads to improved overall health.
These days, there is an increased concern over a phenomenon known as “presenteeism.” Presenteeism is used to describe the phenomenon of employees showing up and putting in “face time” at their place of employment without doing anything productive. Estimates are that this costs U.S. companies upwards of $200 billion a year.
With that kind of cost, perhaps installing a few more windows, allowing employees access to views of nature, or adding plant life to your office seems like a small price to pay.
Ambius can help you with your biophilic needs. If you’d like more information about nature-inspired design, we invite you to view our interactive Biophilia website.