A Study on the Effects of Plant-Focused Biophilic Design

As described in the previous section, biophilic design is the theory, science and practice of creating buildings inspired by nature, with the aim to continue the individual’s connection with nature in the environments in which we live and work every day.

Biophilic design has shown to increase productivity in the workplace, forming more creative, less stressful environments which have significant effect on individual behaviour and organisational outcomes. In research conducted across 16 countries around the world with 7,600 employees, the findings revealed that creativity levels were increased by 15%, productivity increased by 6%, and general wellbeing and health increased by 15%.

In this section, we will be focusing on effects of planting and greenery at the workplace. Previous environmental psychology research tells us that being connected to nature is an adaptive human function that allows for, and assists with, psychological restoration. Therefore, within urban environments, bringing in elements that allow for a direct nature connection such as parks, or indirect connections (nature-resembling colours and patterns, indoor plants and views of greenery) can help us to mentally recover and provide peace and calm from our day-to-day activities to maintain positive well-being.

According to Sir Cary Cooper; CBE, Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University, and leading expert on well-being and stress at work “One of the most crucial findings to emerge from the analysis is that a third (33%) of all respondents in the global study say that the design of an office would affect their decision to work for a company”. For organizations with ambitions to lead in their market and compete for the most valuable employees, biophilic design can create a clear point of difference, alongside other elements of branding.

Our recent work with a British broadcast organisation has gone above and beyond even our more extensive designs for corporate offices. In order to respond to the brief of breaking away from the corporate feel in the office, we have looked at using plants that are both aesthetically pleasing and have been proven to considerably increase indoor air quality. Research conducted by NASA, in association with Associated Landscape Contractors of America, revealed 18 indoor plants including Bamboo Palm, English Ivy and Peace Lily, were the most effective common indoor plants for filtering harmful toxins and pollutants from the air. Working closely with our client and the landscape designer on the project, we are currently in the process of reviewing a selection of plants we made from this list.

In further research conducted by Cooper, the results show that workers entering environments that welcome people with natural greenery on average are 15% happier and 32% more inspired. This places emphasis on the importance of creating as natural a work environment as possible in order to evoke positive feelings among employees.

The research report (Global Impact of Biophilic Design Study) mentioned in the text above was conducted by Professor Sir Cary Cooper; CBE, Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University, and leading expert on well-being and stress at work.