Is your office already biophilic? Between architecture and nature

The word "work-life balance" contains what many people feel: Life takes place outside of work.

One reason is that we feel cut off from the outside world in barren offices. According to research for the Human Spaces Report, 47% of employees surveyed have no natural light in their office. 58 % reported that there were no plants in their office. And 19 % said that there were no natural elements at all in their workplace.

The reality for many people is that they spend most of their day in a room that has neither natural light nor fresh air, where they may be looking at roads and construction sites or have no view of the outside at all, and where they have no opportunities for regeneration. No wonder it doesn't feel good ...

Since the 1960s, many researchers have been convinced that we have an inherent "biophilia", the "love of life". What is meant is that it is good for us to be in nature. Trends like the Japanese "forest bathing" show our longing for nature, for vastness and diversity, for light and air, for stimulation of our senses and natural colours and shapes. This need has been followed for some years by the concept of biophilic design.

What is biophilic design?

The interior design stimulates different senses. For example, different floor coverings change the feeling of walking or soft music or nature sounds can be heard in certain areas.

Biophilic design means bringing nature into buildings and blurring the boundaries between architecture and nature to some extent. Plants in the office are an important element of this, but by no means everything. If the rest of the office furnishings are barren and dreary, a half-dried rubber tree won't make much difference either.

Biophilic design starts much deeper and takes into account very different elements: If possible, employees should have access to daylight and natural air and be able to look outside. If this is not possible, at least the light colour and temperature change to correspond to the natural conditions in the course of the day and year. In this way, they create a connection to everyday rhythms.

Biophilic office

Plants, water and other elements bring nature into the buildings. Natural colours, materials and prints set "nature analogies". The rooms have different areas that are very different from each other. Thus, there are places where the gaze can wander and others that invite retreat.

Why biophilic design will prevail

In addition to the advantages already mentioned, a green office fits in perfectly with the changing realities of work: creativity, personal responsibility and networking are becoming increasingly important. At the same time, not every employee needs a fixed workplace anymore; in times of hybrid work, working hours and locations have become much more flexible. Biophilia in interior design offers exactly the right solutions for modern workplaces:

There are areas where employees can work in a concentrated manner and others where they can exchange ideas effectively and in a pleasant atmosphere with colleagues and the boss. Still other areas provide the necessary regeneration and help to let the mind wander in order to stimulate creative processes.
Biophilic office design thus fits perfectly with flatter hierarchies, decentralised structures and creative work processes.

10 tips for more biophilia in your own office

It is ideal if the idea of biophilia is already taken into account in the architecture of a building. With a little creativity, however, many biophilic aspects can also be realised subsequently:

  1. Choose natural colours like green or earth tones for the office design.
  2. Use natural materials such as wood or natural stone.
  3. Place a variety of plants. Ideally, there are areas where the eye can literally get lost in the greenery.
  4. When designing the room, go for curved, organic shapes instead of right angles and straight edges.
  5. Create opportunities to go outside, for example through balconies or landscaped courtyards.
  6. If possible, provide daylight and fresh air in the offices. Light-flooded rooms (with adequate glare protection) contribute a lot to well-being.
  7. Consider water elements, such as a calming water wall, in your office planning.
  8. Create spaces that serve as a retreat and in which your employees and managers can regenerate.
  9. Use a variety of materials and structures to stimulate the senses and create variety.
  10. At the same time, the rooms should not appear cluttered. Therefore, work with different areas.

When living and working spaces become blurred

Biophilia means "love of life" and is also very good for the workspace.
This design concept brings nature so much into the interior that the boundaries become blurred. Biophilic elements ensure that colleagues feel better on the job, are healthier and can work more productively. Individual elements can be implemented with manageable effort, even in your own home.