Access to the outdoors and proximity to nature are becoming higher priorities for modern organizations. Employers are increasingly integrating wood settings, open-air office extensions and living walls—like our moss wall at NeoCon last year. Biophilic design, which involves incorporating natural features into the built environment, is often at the forefront of the conversation surrounding nature in the workplace. In this month’s news aggregate, we explore the rising prevalence of biophilic design and its influence on today’s workers.

Natural Benefits

While desktop succulents and living walls instantly enliven the office, the advantages of biophilic design extend far beyond aesthetics. Allwork discusses several benefits of integrating nature at work, including stress reduction, improved productivity and better air quality. Moreover, The Telegraph suggests including greenery as a low-cost way to foster employee happiness and mindfulness and also proposes growing plants as a team to facilitate collaboration in a relaxing atmosphere.

The Urban Green Council offers three common ways to incorporate nature: add organic elements such as plants; integrate natural materials and textures; or create spaces that provide an experience similar to the outdoors, such as a peaceful workplace refuge. The Independent, echoing these ideas, comments that “plants, location and outside areas are key” and explores the use of vegetable and flower gardens as a way to foster team-building.

Outdoor Influences

Forward-thinking companies are applying this trend to their spaces in ways that are unique to employees’ needs. For example, On Office Magazine features the Razorfish office in Berlin, which includes a green wall of plants and wood settings alongside bright colors to bring life to the space and establish the feeling of being outside.

Biophilic design influences are also key for building developments: Curbed highlights plans for a new “creative office hub” with over an acre of outdoor space in Downtown Brooklyn, including several gardened terraces and roof decks. Meanwhile, Fast Company mentions biophilia as playing a significant role in the workplace of the future, with better access to sunlight and greenery noted as essential considerations.

Nature & Workplace Wellbeing

As the health benefits of working outside—and bringing the outdoors inside—become widely recognized, employers are paying greater attention to biophilic design as a thoughtful way to promote employee wellbeing. 

The need for biophilic design and outdoor environments is clear: Workplace Insight explores research stating that more than half of employers reported increases in workplace stress and mental health. However, another report found that “feeling comfortable with the design of their workspace” made a 33 percent difference in employee happiness levels. Progressive employers should take note of this finding as nature and its related health benefits become increasingly influential in workspace design.