Can our work lives be made better by regular exposure to nature? More research is suggesting that this is so, and the biophilic branch of design thought is gaining traction. The Good Life Project has been established to dig into the possibilities for happier – and thus, more productive – workplaces through a variety of ‘interventions’.
The programme will be unique in that companies apply to take part in the study and appoint an ambassador who will receive training in implementing the interventions and gathering data from the studied cohort within the company. The ambassador will have support and resources from Good Life researchers, including psychologists and behavioural scientists.
The most concentrated research into biophilia for offices is being sponsored by Human Spaces, an online publication devoted to the topic of interaction between humans and nature in built environments. In 2015, it published the first large-scale survey on the employee experiences of nature (or lack thereof) in the workplace. The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace report found that those “who worked in environments with natural elements” reported a 15% higher level of well-being, a 6% higher level of productivity and a 15% higher level of creativity”. The study was led by well-known workplace and organisational psychologist Sir Cary Cooper and had 7,600 respondents in 16 countries throughout the EU, Asia, and the Middle East.
The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace report found that those “who worked in environments with natural elements” reported a 15% higher level of well-being, a 6% higher level of productivity and a 15% higher level of creativity”.
Although a majority (67 percent) said that the design of an office would not affect their decision to work for a company, other answers revealed the positive impact that nature has on staff morale. For instance, the top five elements that workers reported as desirable were: natural light (44 percent), indoor plants (20 percent), quiet working space (19 percent), an ocean view (17 percent), and bright colours (14 percent). And yet, 47 percent report having no natural light and 58 percent report having no live plants.
We know that not everyone can have a sea view, but smart companies can still find ways to provide more natural light and live plants in their offices. Now that the benefits of natural elements in the workplace are starting to become obvious, we’ll be watching for the biophilic trend to become a mainstay in office design.