Helping small business owners incorporate nature into their company, David Peck, managing director at Markwell Peck, explains how to create a biophilic office environment that can boost employee wellbeing.
From unconventional murals to open plan spaces, 2018 has been an interesting year for office design. However, tearing down walls and using bean bags for chairs can be unrealistic and impractical for many businesses. One trend that is both easily achievable and effective is creating a biophilic environment.
Employers spend a lot of time and money trying to boost their workers’ productivity and reduce their stress. However, you can stop searching because the answer is simple, plants. It has been found that adding some greenery to your office can have many benefits for both your employees and your business.
We know how important employee wellbeing is to your business and how the office environment can have a huge effect on this. Here are our thoughts on the best ways to create a biophilic office environment and the benefits adding a touch of nature to the workplace can have.
Benefits of a biophilic office environment
When you think of being at one with nature, you think of being calm and tranquil, it has been found that adding some nature to your office can reduce tension and anxiety by nearly 40%.
The colour green represents growth, harmony and freshness, which will reflect into your workforce. It instantly boosts an individual’s mood and it has been found that connecting with nature can have positive effects of mental health.
In the long run, these factors will benefit your business by reducing sick absences because they are less stressed and their mental wellbeing is improved.
The office tends to be a breeding ground for bacteria that causes employees to be ill, however some plants are known for filtering these. Aloe vera, English ivy and peace lilies are all air purifying plants that can help your employees breathe easy and you can too knowing there may be less employee sick days.
Another benefit office plants have is they increase employee concentration and productivity by 12%. This is partly due to their calming effects but also because they have been found to reduce noise pollution in an office. Nature absorbs sound and changes the acoustics in an office by reducing the reverberation time.
If nothing else, they look good. Greenery adds a burst of colour that many professional offices are lacking. They mix up the feel and atmosphere of the workplace by adding new elements to the design, which encourages creative thinking amongst employees.
Greenery makes your office aesthetically pleasing for potential clients and also shows them you are an eco-friendly business who are conscious of environmental issues. Lastly, the natural design also gives homely feel for workers who spend the majority of their day in the office.
Incorporating nature at your workplace
There are many different ways of incorporating plants into your office décor, from extreme “living walls” to smaller pot plants. It just depends on how far you want to take this trend and what is practical for your office.
If you want something more low maintenance then choose potted plants that may not need watering too often, for example cacti thrive on neglect, so would be perfect for a busier, or forgetful office.
However, something to consider is the amount of sunlight there is coming into your office. Make sure you select plants that don’t need a lot of direct light, if there is no space to position greenery next to a window. The positioning of these plants is vital. They could even be used as a practical part of the office plan, for example taller plants such as the Kentia palm are a great way to separate work stations instead of putting solid barriers in place.
There are also alternative ways of incorporating greenery to the office if there isn’t enough floor space.
An increasing number of businesses are using draping vines and living walls, which are out of the way but just as effective. They add a quirky feel to the design and break up the harsh, concrete look of the building. This can also be achieved by using natural materials such as wood and stone, that are durable but still add a touch of nature.
David Peck is managing director at Markwell Peck
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