Human Spaces

Spaces designed with the human in mind

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Human Spaces Report

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The impact of biophilia

3. Creativity

New Research Findings

Natural elements linked to increased creativity at work:

  • Spain: Natural materials, such as plants
  • Germany: The presence of greenery inside, along with wood and water
  • Sweden: Window views
  • UK: Purple and green colours
  • UAE: Natural light
  • France: Wood elements and man-made landmarks
  • Netherlands: Yellow, blue and white colours
  • Denmark: Natural elements such as plants, wood, stone and natural light

Some offices offer more creative potential than others. Walk into a low-ceilinged workspace with no natural light and 100% man-made materials and it’s more than likely that your creative capacity will be dampened. This is supported by our findings that sustainable (30%) and minimalist (29%) were the styles of building designs that EMEA office workers found most inspiring.

Research shows that offices differ in terms of their creative potential with varying effects on those who work within them. Offices with low creativity potential are those with: dim lighting, few natural elements, dim colours and complex design. Offices rated as having high creativity potential by contrast are simple in design, brightly lit, with warm, bright colours and natural elements. Our research has supported these differences in office style and EMEA office workers creativity, finding that those who work in a light and spacious environment with greenery had the greatest levels of enthusiasm and creativity across countries.

New Research Findings

Colour and creativity
Colours: For EMEA office employees wanting a creative environment, yellow, blue, green and white would be the chosen workspace colours.

Research into the use of colour in the work environment has shown that the use of colour can elicit positive emotions amongst employees. However, it is less clear which colours specifically have the best impact. Some research has shown that in colourful work environments, employees report higher levels of emotional well-being, in comparison to those in neutral coloured offices. With this said, other studies suggest that the use of strong and vibrant colours in the workplace can elicit objectionable responses. Our findings have furthered the existing research by identifying the specific colours associated with creativity. Specifically, it is the use of bright, natural colours that have the strongest influence on EMEA office workers’ creativity. Our preference for yellows, blues and greens within our workspace is possibly reflective of our biophilic connections with the natural world as these three colours in particular can be associated with the sun (yellow), sea (blue) and land (green).

The elements that combine to make a creative, productive and happy workspaces differ around the world. Our survey results show for example that, Germans have a preference for elements of stone and greenery (or those that mimic greenery) indoors, whereas in France the preference is for wood elements and views of man-made landmarks. These nuances are also present when it comes to the links between natural elements, well-being and productivity – the infographic below summarises an EMEA approach to colour and natural elemments in workplace design.

Human Spaces report exploring Biophilic Design

In addition to surveying employees about the  elements which inspired creativity, we also asked  people to report on their emotional state when  entering the workplace. This enabled us to examine  where the workplace engendered positive or negative  emotions and linked those results to the presence  or lack of natural materials. The results show clearly  (see table below) that where there is internal green  space, employers on average enter the workplace  feeling happier, more creative and more motivated,  and less anxious or bored.

New Research Findings

The table below highlights how  individuals feel when they enter their  workspace. It is important to note  the increases in positive feelings  and decreases in negative feelings  for those with internal green spaces.


Although these findings do not show actual increases  in well-being, productivity or creativity, it is likely that  individuals entering the workplace who feel more  motivated are likely to be more productive. Similarly,  those who enter the workplace feeling creative and  happy are much more likely to be more creative and  feel happy throughout the day.

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