Whether or not we’d agree with all of the business practices of megalith companies like Google, Amazon and Etsy, one aspect they are forging ahead in as employers is biophilia. All three have redesigned their head offices using biophilic design in order to increase the connectivity of their employees to nature.
If you haven’t heard of biophilic design it’s definitely worth checking out, because experts predict it’s going to be huge over the next decade, as companies seek to increase productivity through worker satisfaction and contentment, rather than through traditional methods of incentives and bonuses.
So what is it? Biophilia was a principle first put forward by Edward O Wilson in 1984 and it simply means ‘love of life or living things’. The theory proposes that humans have developed a close affiliation to the natural world in over 200,000 years of evolution – most of which were not spent in steel and concrete office blocks. Wilson suggested that it is instinctual for us to be drawn towards the living world around us and its natural materials, sensory experiences and geometric patterns.
Designers and architects are now bringing biophilia to the workplace, with things like living green walls using plants like moss and ferns, locally sourced wood and stone, lighting that mimics daylight’s slow rise and fall, organic patterns and shapes, natural geometric fabric patterns, calming colours, natural scents, the use of water as a feature (either inside, or as a view), areas of shelter and privacy, temperate conditions, recuperative spaces, acoustic comfort and sensory textiles and experiences.
If you’re thinking this all sounds a bit hippy-dippy and wondering how biophilic design can improve employee productivity, then it’s worth taking a look at the wealth of research already conducted in biophilic urban and office spaces. Empirical reviews of the research in this field show a strong correlation between spending time in the natural environment and increased attention, productivity and wellbeing.
We are simply not designed to spend large amounts of our time in bland office spaces with no windows and uniform dull colour schemes. Environmental psychologists have long championed the replication of nature in urban, workplace and medical settings to appeal to our innate human connectivity with our evolutionary history and the natural world. Businesses are now catching up with this thinking, and more and more of them are incorporating biophilia into the designs of office spaces and buildings.
The environment – our treatment of it and relationship to it – is now of fundamental importance, with the UK government being the first in the world to declare a climate emergency. It is increasingly unacceptable to use cheap, unsustainable resources when locally sourced materials reduce the carbon impact of exports from around the world.
At Koala, working towards a sustainable future is at the heart of what we do, and we can help our clients to achieve this through smart marketing packages. Biophilia is something we feel helps employees to achieve optimum productivity while feeling relaxed, calm and knowing that their wellbeing is at the heart of their employer’s business strategy.