Creating an office space that incorporates enough of nature to make you feel relaxed and at your most productive is the balance we should all be aiming for. Biophilia is a term used to describe a deep love of life and living things – which is no bad thing in a world of technology. It refers to the connection humans feel to nature concerning our biological need to be close to it. The word is now closely linked with interior design and is seen as a great way to improve a person’s productivity, mood and health. All great news if you’re working from home and can create your office environment. Before we dive into things you can bring into the space, let’s talk a bit more about the impact that something as simple as a plant has. Bringing plants into the office can lower feelings of tension and anxiety by around 37%, which isn’t insignificant. In classrooms, plants improve performance, and in the hospital, they enhance recovery times – both of which can be translated into an office space. Urban living and working, has meant that a lot of natural light is missing from our daily lives unless we head out into the world to find it. Interior designers are now bringing in plants, natural materials and as much natural light as possible. The bottom line is all the research is supporting a shift from the sterile to the natural – and you should too.
So how can you make this work?
Take a look at where your natural sources of light are coming from. If you have blinds up, or curtains, it might be time to swap those heavy fabrics out for something lighter like an aluminium venetian blind. While it might be essential to have some artificial lights for late nights and dark days, studies show that workers who are exposed to artificial light all day end up more tired than those who enjoy natural light all day. Ensure that you are either facing the window or are sitting next to it, this just makes sure you are really getting the most from this free productivity boost.
Swap out some furniture. While a flat pack desk seemed like a good idea at the time, you might want to consider a sturdy wooden desk. The wooden scent it holds will last for a while, bringing even more of the outdoors inside. The texture and grain of the wood are brilliant for sensory engagement, and it is just about as earthy as you can get. If you aren’t keen on a desk, then consider swapping your current chair. Order from somewhere with outstanding ratings and quality like www.oakfurnitureuk.co.
Use natural colours and shapes. Unsurprisingly this means earthy tones, greens, browns, golds, tans, blues and whites. If you look out of a window, you are likely to see quite the colour display, and you can bring all of that inside. Interestingly enough, humans are attuned to look for fruits and vegetables out in the wild, which means when you catch sight of a lush green tone or something associated with veggies suddenly your enthusiasm, productivity and motivation get a big boost. Great if you’re working for yourself and need to get through some serious work. Shapes might sound a bit tricky, but what you’ll find is that while geometric shapes and edges are beautiful, you’re more likely to find irregular shapes organically. Meaning wooden furniture with the mother-nature made grain is perfect.
Bring in the fakes, bring in the reals. The easiest way for that bold injection of the great outdoors is some excellent greens. Plants reduce some nasty things that are prone to making office workers ill. They reduce dust, mould and the CO2 levels in the room. While you might feel like getting real plants is giving you extra things to take care of, they take care of you too. Succulents and cactus need very little in the way of care, and if you manage to pay minimal attention to them, they’ll flower year on year. If you just can’t make it work, invest in some great fakes. Although they won’t come with all the air cleaning properties of the real deal, they will bring all the other great bonuses.
If you chose to go for real plants here are some suggestions:
Ivy – pretty much any small pot will work
Ficus – looks like a small tree and easy to care for
Bromeliads – a bright pop of colour
Peace Lily – easy to care for, and can fill a space really well.
Bring in the natural materials. While wood has been championed a few times in the article, and with good reason, you might also consider bringing in some complimentary pieces. Stone, granite, cork, marble and shells are all valid options. Stone bookends, something weighted and textures would work brilliantly, a cork board hanging on the wall, with your daily to-do list pinned on there. Marble plant pots on your wooden desk are bringing the whole design together.
Finds some artwork or photography that you love and frame it. Place it around the room in the locations you tend to drift off and stare at naturally. Simply meaning even while you are daydreaming you are getting the benefit of all your hard work. Not only that but they are stunning, and you can make a crafting moment out of it.
Biophilia is what you make of it. Taking the elements of the great outdoors that you adore and making them work for you and your tech in the office space. You can think outside the box a little, add reed diffusers with woody scents like Oakmoss, Bamboo, or the less subtle – Woodland. Frame your window with fake ivy vines or wisteria, or even draped across shelves or cupboards.
While no one is expecting you to turn into an interior designer/lover of all things nature-based overnight, it is always worth thinking about how these simple changes can benefit you and your clients on the long term. Plus once you have given your office space the initial makeover, you won’t need to do it again for some time.