Biophilia in the Workplace, What’s Next?

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Benjamin DeanCOO at Square Mile Farms

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The biophilic workplace isn’t just a trend or a gimmick – it’s a growing form of office design with clear benefits for employees and companies.

Article 3 Minutes
Biophilia in the Workplace, What’s Next?

Biophilia refers to the innate affinity of human beings with the natural world and thankfully more and more businesses are recognizing the value of implementing biophilic design in their offices.

What this means is bringing nature into the man-made environment, and it’s been proven to positively impact productivity, absenteeism and engagement in the workplace.

What does incorporating biophilia in office design look like in practice?

Ten years ago this might have involved simply using plants to soften harsh aesthetics in offices more concerned with cost and perceived practicality.

More recently we’re seeing an uptake in modern offices using natural materials like wood, designs that maximize natural light and impressive features such as waterfalls and living walls. It would be impossible to not find plants within the explosion of contemporary co-working spaces.

A picture of a biophilic office space with plants, wildlife and atmospheric lighting

One of Square Mile Farms Office Farms in action

Some of our favorite examples of biophilic design include Amazon’s Spheres building in Seattle, which houses some 40,000 plants. In London, British Land is putting biophilia front and center. Their soon to open building, 100 Liverpool St, included a biophilia plan in its design, which has become twenty square feet of outdoor landscaped terraces to bring people together and support bees, butterflies and birds!

Why should you make your office biophilic?

There are lots of reasons to prioritize biophilic principles when designing an office. Research shows that natural environments can help us to feel calmer, reduce stress and anxiety and even increase productivity. Logic tells us this could have a positive impact on the £26 million lost yearly due to mental-ill health (this includes associated sick days, ‘presenteeism’ and staff turnover).

As we’re coming out of lockdown and seeing teams gradually returning to their offices, there’s a renewed sense of the importance of wellbeing and creating the sorts of workplaces that employees want to come back to.

A worker attending to plant life in a biophilic office space

One of Square Mile Farms Office Farms in action

New attitudes to homeworking mean we need to rethink our offices. Many of us don’t need to be there every day (and don’t plan to be: nine out of ten workers say they’d like to continue to work from home in some form).

This means our offices should offer something more than a desk to work at: they should be centers of innovation and engagement, supporting collaboration and providing opportunities to interact with our colleagues in new and inspiring ways.

Is biophilia the future of office design?

Office design is essential to achieving a space that does all of these things, so as many businesses are already asking, what’s next? We think it’s about making biophilic design features as engaging as possible and aligning them with ESG and people strategies.

We recently worked with a client who had sustainability and a positive work culture at the forefront when it came to fitting out their new office. We were happy to be able to help with this by installing an Office Farm, which will grow fresh produce for employees and act as a platform for engagement and wellbeing activities around the food system, nutrition and growing at home.

Biophilic design has an important role to play in urban design, to create the sustainable future our planet needs and the living and working environments city dwellers need to thrive.

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Benjamin Dean

COO at Square Mile Farms

https://www.squaremilefarms.com/

Benjamin is the COO at Square Mile Farms and manages the day to day business operations. He is passionate about helping businesses create sustainable and engaging working environments for their employees. He believes urban farming is a perfect way to achieve this. Ben has worked in a wide range of roles for both large corporates and start-ups and understands the importance of creating an inspiring workplace. 

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