What is biophilic design within office interior design?

Taking office design by storm is workspace biophilic interior design. Biophilic design incorporates natural elements to unite us with nature. Interior designers concentrate on crafting winding, natural shapes, streaming natural light, and indoor plants.

Alongside gorgeous natural wooden furniture and large windows, biophilic design has a unique focus on greenery. And as you can imagine, as a biophilia service and consulting company, this is where we shine!

Is there a difference between biophilic design, biophilia and office plants?

The terms ‘biophilic design’, ‘biophilia’ and even ‘office plants’ are often used interchangeably. Biophilia’s literal meaning is ‘love of life’; it is our innate love for the natural world. When paired with interior design, biophilic design is born. Biophilic design is focused on ‘bringing the outside in’ using our love of life to make the best out of our interiors.

So, where do office plants come into this? With the focus on open plan workspaces within modern office designs, the push toward biophilic design is growing. A core element of biophilia is being surrounded by nature and all things green. This is why there are so many benefits of introducing plants to your workplace design – they bring you close to nature and the benefits of biophilia.

The benefits of plants in the office environment

An office is no longer the only place we work. In 2022, office interior designers are searching for new and cost-effective ways to entice us back to the workspace. Even before the pandemic, the focus on our mental health and general well-being was the topic of choice at the water cooler. So it’s good we’ve found the answer to our problems.

Reducing air pollution and improving air quality

Before we go into the “how”, let us address the elephant in the room and shine a light on some negativity around office plants and air quality.

There has been much discussion about the benefits of plants in the workplace and if they have any ability to reduce indoor air pollution. As a biophilic design, installation, and maintenance service, you might argue we are a little biased. So let’s hear from NASA and RHS.

From NASA: In 1970, workers complained of poorer air quality. To combat this, NASA conducted a study on the benefits of having plants in the workplace. Their study discovered that office plants removed chemicals such as benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde from the air, alongside absorbing excess carbon dioxide. Worried it’s a little out of date?

From RHS: More recently, the Royal Horticultural Society research suggests similar findings that having “five small plants in a modestly sized office could reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a common pollutant linked to respiratory disease, by as much as 20 per cent.”

By reducing air pollution levels, you can reduce your employees’ risk of strokes, heart diseases, lung cancers (and more). Not bad for a few indoor plants.

Open-plan culture and office soundproofing

Open-plan workspaces have many benefits: better communication between employees, cost-effectiveness, and better aesthetics. But what do you do about sound outside soundproofing the walls? (Which, by the way, we recommend you speak to Muffle for.) There are three ways that plants can soundproof your shared indoor space:

Office soundproofing through sound absorption
Office plant parts – such as leaves, branches, and bark – can absorb excess noise in your office environment. This is why a few plants like ferns are a great cost-effective way to soundproof!

Using leaves to transform sound particles into different forms of energy
Unlike solid walls that bounce the sound right back into the workspace, plants are textured. The various plant parts allow sound particles to vibrate and transform into another form of energy, reducing the noise in the office.

Office soundproofing through deflection
Plants also deflect sound by bouncing the vibrations to a different area – not just straight back to the workspace it has come from! Open-plan offices can have a significant positive change on employee wellbeing. Don’t let noisy office environments increase stress levels. Think about putting some green walls around your busiest shared office space to reduce the noise.

The benefits of biophilic design and having plants in the office on employee wellbeing

Organisations have always questioned how workplaces can positively impact staff wellbeing. I.e. What is the positive effect of investing in employee well-being? How can they increase resilience, employee engagement and reduce sickness absence?

Businesses are putting employee well-being at the forefront of their workspace design. By asking us designers for a considerable return on investment, companies are focusing on our designs to help their staff become more creative and perform better.

A study by Human Spaces in 2015 found that using your workspace design can positively impact your employees’ well-being. Research suggests that when designers integrate plants, employees score higher well-being by 15%. Office plants can increase cognitive performance and create a more focused workforce.

Reducing stress and sickness absence

Despite knowing the psychological engagement of biophilia, we are spending more time indoors – 90% of our time!

At least 1 in 6 workers experience mental health problems like anxiety and depression in modern society. Why? Research by MIND found that work is often the most significant cause of stress – even more than having money problems.

Office plants have been seen to reduce absenteeism and stress by up to 50%. Plants in the workplace benefit our mood, sleep and reduce stress levels.

As we start to design the offices of the future, it’s more important than ever that we consider the positive impact of biophilic design.

Benefits of office plants and increasing productivity

Our final benefit of office plants comes with improving employee productivity. Did you know that a study by Exeter University found that a nature-filled work environment was 15% more productive? Oh, and had a 26% boost in cognition?

Researchers found that employee engagement also increased when around office plants. Staff were physically, cognitively, and emotionally more involved in their work. This research changed our thinking about workplace design – against the ‘clean and lean’ desk trend to a more ‘home from home’ space.

How to decorate your office with plants following the latest trends

We could talk to you all day about how to decorate your office with plants. Actually, Russell could last a week about plant dividers alone! It is clear to see that the office of the future is filled with gorgeous greenery, but here are our top three suggestions to get the maximum impact in your biophilic design:

Consider using plants as a natural divider
Concrete dividers aren’t ideal – they add a physical barrier between employees, reducing their ability to communicate and collaborate. Consider using natural elements like plant troughs or ParaVert to add natural zoning to your workspace.

Improved wellbeing and soundproofing
Our moss walls help create lush interiors and can be custom-designed. Consider our office green walls if you’re looking for a different way to decorate your office with plants. Living green walls count towards WELL certification, reduce noise and increase employee wellbeing. Plus, they don’t take up much space!

Keep it simple with potted plants and trees
Sometimes, keeping things simple is best. You can choose to decorate your office with EnviroGrid, or position large plant pots in the corners of your meeting room. However you decorate, you and your employees will enjoy being surrounded by nature when working in a considerately designed biophilic space.

How Vantage Spaces can help you

We believe that the simplest things can make a real difference. We truly appreciate the benefits of plants in offices.

As biophilic interior designers, we offer a complete bespoke biophilic design service. Our in-house team of designers will work with you and your designers to create a relaxing and welcoming environment.

With our specialist advice, you can be confident that you will get the right biophilia to suit your space. Our biophilic interior designers will ensure you get the benefits of plants in the office. Plus, our design will match the aesthetics and requirements of your project.

When you’re ready to go, we have an ample supply of gorgeous greenery. We can design, build and install your custom designs with a fast turnaround time. Finally, we can take the stress out of ongoing care with our in-house maintenance team.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of office biophilic design or simply discuss your next project’s requirements, be free to get in touch today.