It is reported that in 2022 and 2021, 914,000 UK workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety. The HSE also states that 17 million working days were lost due to these issues.¹ But, is there a way employers can incorporate nature or “biophilic design” into their environments, to support mental health in the workplace?
Biophilia, the connection between humans and the natural world, is a powerful element in helping to improve mental health. Our subconscious craves elements of nature in our lives, and we feel more connected through plants, flowers or even fresh air. The incorporation of biophilia in workplaces can not only help connect people to nature, but also these feelings can improve overall productivity.
We will explore three biophilic design principles that can help businesses and their employees to have a better working environment in supporting mental health & wellbeing.
Include Natural Light In the Workplace:
In today’s world, where companies compete with the comforts of home working, it’s crucial to create workplaces, that includes natural sunlight.
Surprisingly, despite the overwhelming evidence that being connected to nature boosts our wellbeing 47% of office workers worldwide feel deprived of natural light. Also, 58% feel deprived of natural greenery in their surroundings according to a Human Spaces Report.² This means that we’re missing out on a simple yet powerful way to enhance our workspaces and promote overall happiness through adding greenery.
Natural light is a mood booster and can help with anxiety and depression. No one likes being confined to a windowless office. A study at Brigham Young University found that sunlight had a direct effect on people’s mental health and wellbeing.³
Natural light can also help with people’s immune systems as it’s a natural source of Vitamin D. In fact individuals who had access to natural light witnessed a remarkable 84% decrease in problems such as headaches, eyestrain, and blurred vision. In contrast, those who had limited exposure to natural light, were found to be more prone to various health issues.⁴
Bringing Nature Indoors:
Transform your workspace with the addition of plants, trees and flowers. These not only provide visual appeal and a host of health and wellbeing benefits, but they also improve air quality. Studies have shown that cleaner indoor air quality can help boost productivity, increase concentration and improve health⁵. A recent study by Rentokil Initial suggests not everyone has access to clean indoor air as 68% of people believe businesses and employers should do more to ensure they provide clean air in their premises.⁶
Plants not only enhance air quality but also look great and turn lean offices into safe and creative spaces for people to work in. If floor space is limited, modern advances allow us to add planting as wall features. This is so companies can still enjoy the beauty of nature.
Use Varied and Random planting:
By mirroring the outside world we should use a variety of plant species and display them in clusters, as you would see in nature. This principle in biophilic design would play a key role in connecting employees with nature and the health benefits they would get from spending time outdoors.
Studies have shown that creativity can surge by up to 15% when individuals are surrounded in a nature-infused workspaces ². Also, having stimulation of senses also triggers our imagination and enables individuals to approach challenges with fresh perspectives. Whether it’s the vibrant colours of flowers or the intricate patterns found in nature, these elements unlock our inner creativity. By having this in the workplace it can enhance our overall work experience.
How Ambius Can Help:
Ambius specialise in bringing nature or “biophilic design” into businesses throughout the UK. Our creative team work with you to design the best designs for your workplace light levels and layouts. We have a range of content on our website that offers more information. Get in touch to see how we can help you create a healthy environment for your employees!
1- Estimates of work-related stress, depression or anxiety
based on self-reports from the Labour Force Survey
Health and Safety Executive 2022 report. https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/
3 – Brigham Young University; Sunshine on my shoulders: Weather, pollution, and emotional distress, (Beecher, Egget, et al) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27449556/
4 – Cornell University
5- Clements Croome 2008, Work Performance, Productivity and Indoor Air. (Scandinavian Journal of Work Environment & Health)
6 – Rentokil Initial 2020 Air Quality Survey