Biophilic design: can nature improve the modern office?

Biophilic design: can nature improve the modern office?

In the UK in 2022-23, 17.1 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety, according to figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), accounting for 54% of working days lost due to work-related ill health.

One of the big office trends for 2019, biophilic design brings natural elements into the workplace in order to reduce stress and enhance wellbeing. According to a Human Spaces Global Impact Report, people whose workplaces featured natural elements reported a 15% increase in wellbeing and creativity as well as a 6% increase in productivity ².

Biophilia is a term popularised by biologist and naturalist Edward O. Wilson that describes the innate affinity that humans have with nature and the living world. There are many simple and small ways to incorporate nature-inspired changes into your office to have a positive effect on employee mental health.

Natural light

According to the Human Spaces Global Impact Report, 66% of workers in the UK report that their work environment has no natural light. Natural daylight (and a view of outdoor space) can be a huge boost to employee wellbeing and will also help the business to save on lighting costs. It is important to think about lighting when choosing an office space, but you may be able to achieve the same effect simply by repositioning desks in a new layout; try to position the most work intensive areas of the office nearest the windows.


One of the easiest ways to bring elements of nature into your office is by adding plants and greenery. Green walls are an increasingly popular feature in larger office spaces looking to be on the cutting-edge of biophilic design but the more common way to achieve this is by adding pot plants and hanging plants throughout the office space. Living plants will help to improve air quality but artificial plants can also have a positive effect. Decorative plants make the workplace greener without aggravating allergies, require far less maintenance and will be a more cost-effective option over time.

Natural materials and design elements

Successful biophilic design doesn’t have to recreate natural settings indoors, instead it can simply mean incorporating specific features and qualities. Using materials such as stone and raw wood in the office creates a more relaxing atmosphere by reminding employees of the natural world. Nature-inspired art and the use of colours found in nature, such as calming green tones, can also have a positive effect.

Biophilic design can be adapted to any budget so don’t let cost stand in the way of creating a more nature-inspired office space: many of the changes you can make are easy and inexpensive to implement but will have a significant impact on employee wellbeing.

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