Winter is fast approaching. For many that means dealing with the prospect of being confined indoors. Whether at home or at work, the stress of lacking a bright, lively coworking space can manifest itself in a multitude of forms.
So how do we combat the stress of the indoors at the workplace? Not with a maze of cubicles or concrete jungle of the prototypical, traditional offices most are accustomed to. Rather than boxing in, try a move to open spaces that implement a biophilic design. It canbegin with the simple addition of natural light to the office, and become as elaborate as turning the office walls into your own living garden.
Biophilia- an innate connection between humans and nature. Which is shown to have positive effects on health, well-being, and performance.(Britanica)
Natural elements like these have been shown improve worker well-being in addition to significantly stimulating the productivity of the office. Founder of BCNewt Gustavo Franco saw the potential in this and wanted to implement a similar eco-spirit that emphasized elements of biophilia. Sustainability has always been an integral part of Gustavo’s philosophy but to him eco-spirit is more than furniture from discarded pallets, or a multi-stream recycling system.
“The community is definitely the most important element. A great space is nothing without the people with a community vibe. Then is the efficiency of the materials and resources,” Franco says.
A true “biophilic workspace” goes beyond natural light and a few plants, an office that truly embraces the concept of biophilia incorporates a multitude of natural elements to form a joint community. But still in today’s offices one natural element is more than most offices can offer. As discovered by a HumanSpaces survey, in which 7,600 employees worldwide were asked about their work conditions, 47% of workers indicated they have no natural light in the office and 58% lack any natural elements all together.
At BCNewt we allow natural light to illuminate the office, an important feature for many as highlighted through an office survey in which every respondent said the biophilic feature best utilized at BCNewt was the natural light.
“I like that there is always enough light in the office… It feels nicely lit and spacey in the office,” Martina Mendelova SAP consultant at Datavard said in the office survey.
As we like to let light filter freely through the office, we enjoy the same with all ideas and conversations. We feel that an open office plan better replicates the wide open spaces that humans desire from a natural setting. Our open plan office allows air and ideas to flow freely, uninterrupted by the walls of a cubicle or stress of confinement.
With evidence continuing to mount that biophilia has immensely positive impacts, why are we not seeing more offices take advantage of something so simple and obvious?
The answer is not clear, but we are seeing more companies in Barcelona, like Growin Pallet emerge to allow offices to take advantage of biophilia. BCNewt recently discovered first hand how their service can help improve a greenspace (adding more natural life is never a bad thing.) The goal of Growin Pallet is to help create sustainability and continue maintaining people’s relationship with the natural world through urban gardens and green spaces.
“By the nature of the initiative (urban garden), a green image is projected that the company is committed to the environment, its employees and stakeholders through a social project.”
The relationship between workers and green spaces in the office was another subject examined in the HumanSpaces survey. 15% of those surveyed said they felt a higher sense of well-being when these spaces are present in the office. Creativity also saw a 15% rise when workers were exposed to these biophilic elements. The natural setting is the key to getting the most out of an office, not an environment that feels artificial.
Working somewhere that is reminiscent of apoorly lit box will not only impact productivity, but also overall health. Humans daily exposure to a natural light-dark schedule impacts their circadian rhythm, which dictates sleep schedules, and mental and physical well being. So if you struggle to make it through the day without a nap, or find yourself struggling to fall asleep at night, your office may be to blame. Our connection to nature through our circadian rhythm drives the need for natural light among other natural elements, and if there is no exposure physical and mental strain will follow.
The continued strain is where we begin to see increased absenteeism, which can cost businesses large amounts in lost labor. A recent study at the University of Oregon tested the impact of an biophilic office view on worker performance/behavior compared to one that lacked a view. The results showed convincingly that workers with views of nature and greenery not only behaved differently, but were present at work much more often. Taking roughly 10% less sick days per year than those with an urban view, or no view at all.
The detriment done to an office that ignores human’s connection to nature is clear. Think of an animal being caged at the zoo. No one goes to the zoo and thinks this is natural. They’d have to be obtuse to think such a thing. Similarly, in an office it is foolish to deprive humans of what is natural to them. And it makes even less sense to do so when you need humans to come and be their most productive selves. Biophilia in the workplace satisfies the need, it is just a matter of time before it is embraced on a wider scale.