Human Spaces

Spaces designed with the human in mind

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Human Spaces Report

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The impact of biophilia

Biomimicry

The human need to be connected to nature can be satisfied through biophilic design in two ways: either a direct connection to nature or a symbolic connection. Direct connections are sought through natural elements being incorporated into the workplace. But if these are not available individuals can have symbolic connections with nature that differ in that they are mimicries of the natural environment. When design mimics the patterns, forms and textures of nature, this can provide these symbolic connections.

The importance of nature contact in the workplace is evident, yet, if organisations are not equipped to provide this contact directly, then it seems that symbolic connections are the ideal and necessary substitute. The findings of our study have identified a common deficiency of nature in the workplace. Of the 3600 EMEA office workers investigated in this research study, 42% reported having no natural light, 55% reported no natural elements being present and 7% said they had no view of the outdoor world. Therefore, ways of mimicking the effect of nature indoors have been explored in order to identify if it poses the same benefits as true nature contact. Indeed, findings show that effectively re-creating the natural environment indoors can have the same impact in reducing stress and increasing energy levels as the real thing.

Ultimately, the research in this area is indicating that bringing elements of nature into the workplace, whether real or artificial, is beneficial in terms of employee outcomes. As such, when thinking about office design and its impact on employees, we should take serious consideration of the amount of nature contact provided in the workspace in order to both maintain positive levels of well-being amongst employees but to also keep employee performance at an optimal level.

Summary of Findings across EMEA

Impact of Office Colours

  • Colours with a significant impact on workers’ MOTIVATION: blue and white
  • Colours with a significant impact on workers’ PRODUCTIVITY: blue, purple, yellow, grey and white
  • Colours with a significant impact on INSPIRING workers: yellow, purple and white
  • Colours with a significant impact on HAPPINESS in the workplace: green, blue and white
  • Colours that significantly impacted workers’ CREATIVITY: yellow, blue, green and white
  • Colours that significantly impacted workers’ ENTHUSIASM: orange, green, blue and white
  • Colours that significantly impacted feelings of STRESS: grey only

Impact of Window Views

  • People who had no window view or had a view of a construction site spent significantly fewer hours per weekat the office. In contrast, those with window views of trees, lakes or ponds spent significantly more hours per week in the office
  • Viewing nature regularly through a window in the office significantly impacted levels of worker productivity
  • Window views of construction sites were related to lower reported levels of happiness at work. In contrast views of natural trees significantly predicted happiness in workers
  • Construction site views significantly predicted high levels of stress
  • Those with no window views reported significantly lower levels of creativity

Impact of Natural Elements within the Office

  • Those who worked in offices that provided natural light, live plants and water features had significantly higher levels of productivity
  • Outdoor green space and indoor live plants were associated with higher reported levels of happiness, creativity and motivation at work
  • An absence of outdoor green space and indoor plants was in fact associated with greater levels of stress
  • The absence of water, live plants and natural light was associated with greater absence from work due to illness

Impact of a Light and Spacious Work Environment

  • Those who reported working in environments that were light and spacious had higher levels of productivity, enthusiasm, motivation and creativityroach to colour and natural elemments in workplace design.

Specific Findings across Countries

Spain

Happiness: Workers’ levels of happiness were positively impacted by external green space and natural light
Creativity: Live plants had a positive impact on workers’ creativity
Productivity: Blue colours within the office had a significant positive impact on levels of productivity

Germany

Happiness: Having no window view in the office had a negative impact on levels of happiness
Creativity: Internal green space, water and wood elements positively impacted levels of creativity
Productivity: Natural light and elements of natural stone predicted greater productivity and regular views of nature outside also positively impacted productivity

Sweden

Happiness: Natural light had a positive impact on levels of happiness at work. The use of grey colours in the office was significantly related to greater levels of stress amongst workers
Creativity: Window views of the countryside had a positive impact on creativity
Productivity: Natural light and views of nature positively impacted productivity

UK

Happiness: Natural elements of light, wood and stone had a positive impact on levels of happiness. Plain white offices, were also associated with happiness at work
Creativity: The use of purple and green colours within the office, was associated with higher levels of creativity
Productivity: Live plants and natural light within the office space positively impacted creativity

UAE

Happiness: Natural light and window views of closed water, such as lakes, were positively associated with levels of happiness at work
Creativity: Natural light was also positively associated with creativity
Productivity: Neither office colour or the presence of natural elements had a direct impact on productivity

France

Happiness: Views that portray wildlife and open water (e.g. sea) were associated with greater levels of happiness. In contrast, window views of roads were associated with lower levels of happiness at work
Creativity: The use of wood within the office design was positively associated with creativity. Also, views of man-made landmarks were positively linked to creativity
Productivity: The use of orange colours within the office significantly predicted higher levels of productivity

Netherlands

Happiness: Natural light and external green space were associated with higher levels of staff happiness. Also, views of trees had a positive impact on reported happiness at work
Creativity: Yellow, blue and white office colours were associated with greater levels of creativity. Also, a nonnatural window view (e.g construction site) had a negative impact on workers’ levels of creativity
Productivity: Natural light and living indoor plants had a positive impact on productivity

Denmark

Happiness: The availability of natural light and green space within the office environment was associated with greater levels of happiness amongst staff
Creativity: Natural elements within the individuals’ work space were associated with greater creativity. In addition, window views of nature and the colour blue in particular were also associated with high creativity
Productivity: The use of the colour blue within the office was predictive of greater levels of productivity

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