BIOPHILIC DESIGN AT WORK: WHY WE NEED GREENER OFFICES

Improve the way you work with the help of plants. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, plants contribute to happier, healthier and more productive work environments.

Long gone are the days of the sparse, isolating office cubicle. To inspire staff and accommodate the changing nature of work, more companies are designing stimulating office spaces. Communal meeting areas now stand where walls once segregated staff. Floor-to-ceiling windows flood spaces with sunlight. And plants are no longer confined to a small pot at reception.

This way of designing offices puts people first and, by doing so, creates a number of benefits, including higher levels of productivity, increased happiness and a more engaged workforce. It’s the next step in the evolution of office design and nature is playing a central role.

Biophilic design in the workplace

Whether at work or play, humans experience a profound shift in wellbeing simply from the presence of plants. Biophilic design responds to this innate need to connect with nature by integrating greenery into built environments.

In offices, there are several ways plants enhance overall wellbeing and job satisfaction. A study conducted by the University of Queensland found a connection between plants and the happiness of staff. This is good news for employers, because happier team members do not only work harder (15 percent harder in fact), but they also remain in their roles for longer, improving staff retention rates. 

Lowered stress levels are one of the key reasons why plants improve productivity. When people have a view of plants, they are distracted from dwelling on issues and pressures, effectively improving concentration and relieving stress. Interestingly, researchers also found that staff who work in green office environments feel that their employers care more about them, which increases their levels of job satisfaction.

Hayden Place - CUNINGHAM GROUP The Cuningham Group office in California was designed to encourage interactivity between employees. The open-plan design includes an indoor garden watered by staff, as well as an outdoor vegetable garden. 

Hayden Place - CUNINGHAM GROUP

The Cuningham Group office in California was designed to encourage interactivity between employees. The open-plan design includes an indoor garden watered by staff, as well as an outdoor vegetable garden. 

Choosing office plants

Incorporating plants into the workplace can be done inside and outside the building. Ways to incorporate plants into an office include:

  • Pot plants

  • Vertical gardens (inside and outside)

  • Rooftop gardens

  • Hanging plants

  • Green atriums and foyers

Outdoor green spaces such as rooftop gardens provide staff with a place to gather on breaks and they also act as a source of natural insulation. This reduces your building’s cooling expenses, increases local biodiversity and helps to alleviate the urban heat island effect being experienced in our cities.

Related reading: A GUIDE TO ROOFTOP GARDENING

For outdoor areas, look for low-maintenance plants that can tolerate the conditions of your climate. Inside, plants that are suited to office environments include spider plants, monstera, succulents, rubber plants, peace lilies and devil’s ivy. Another benefit of indoor plants is improved air quality, as they filter chemicals and toxins.

L to R: Paul de Ruiter Architects and KKCG Building - VRTISKAZAK Use height and scale to create a sense of abundance in large atriums and open office spaces.

L to R: Paul de Ruiter Architects and KKCG Building - VRTISKAZAK

Use height and scale to create a sense of abundance in large atriums and open office spaces.

Case study: Medibank

Designed by HASSELL, Medibank’s new head office in Melbourne is described as a “living, breathing building”. It contains 2,300 plants inside the building, 520 plants on the facade and two 25-metre exterior green walls.

The use of these plants is part of an overarching aim to create a healthier place to work. Within four months of moving in, 66 percent of employees felt as though they were more productive and the call centre saw a five percent reduction in staff absences.

Medibank Place - HASSELL STUDIO In Melbourne, the Medibank head office features a number of green spaces, including an outdoor communal area that is accessible to the public as well as staff.

Medibank Place - HASSELL STUDIO

In Melbourne, the Medibank head office features a number of green spaces, including an outdoor communal area that is accessible to the public as well as staff.

Other ways to improve office design

If you are interested in enhancing the design of your office space, you need not stop at plants. Communal areas, art, more natural sunlight and even images of nature have all been found to elevate the mindset of employees.

RELATED READING: WHY WE NEED GREENER CITIES

Enhance the appeal of your space or event with a custom green installation.

We work alongside industry leaders, businesses and event organisers to create a sense of connection between people and spaces. Our solutions are creative, functional and inspired by your objectives.   Contact us today to find out more.