As our work becomes more creative, biophilia, the principle that we have a innate desire to connect with nature, helps us thrive in the workplace by reducing stress and offering respite.
Building on a previous post discussing how biophilic design impacts our workplace wellbeing, research by Steelcase shows that nature and the outdoors do have a positive impact on our cognitive, emotional and physical wellbeing in work environments. But here’s a staggering fact: over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, yet according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average American spends close to 90% of their time inside. Further to that, 42% of office workers have no access to natural light, 55% have no greenery and 7% lack a window within their environment.
According to environmental psychologist Stephen Kaplan, nature powerfully engages the mind with “involuntary fascination,” which helps to restore directed attention and focus. The result is an effortless mindfulness that promotes stress reduction and renewal while also stimulating curiosity and imagination. Kaplan further holds that people can concentrate better after spending time in nature. The Human Spaces Report confirms that people with views of natural elements, like trees, water or countryside, report greater levels of workplace wellbeing than those with views of urban settings like buildings, roads or construction sites.
Through biophilic design, we can interpret nature in ways to help activate the parts of our brain that reduce stress, help recharge us and inspire us. While benefiting our wellbeing, incorporating natural and multisensory elements in the workplace that alleviate many modern stressors and improve employee perceptions can also help organizations attract and retain talent. Biophilic design helps people feel like they have spaces in which to settle, explore, adapt and be creative. These benefits build stronger connections and foster better collaboration, as well as trust in the ability to rejuvenate at work.