As humans we are highly responsive to the experience of nature. In fact, experiencing nature is profoundly important for our functioning, health and well-being. A study, conducted by the University of Washington shows that both visual access and being within nature helps the mind focus and can help reduce mental stress and illness. To boost well-being and productivity in the workplace people need access to daylight, a pleasant view, spaces that contain natural elements or even access to the outdoors.
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Multiple studies confirm that workers who get sunlight are likely to be more active, sleep well and are generally of better mental and physical health. In turn artificial lighting, including office lighting and light from electric devices can be disruptive to our system and can result in poor sleeping quality. Poorly designed lighting can also result in eyestrain, headaches or can affect our vision. Big windows that allow plenty of daylight are key to a well-designed workspace.
Another study has found that workers with a better view, judged by size and vegetation content, were consistently associated with a better work performance. The presence of natural vegetation, seen through a window or placed inside the office, also reduces stress and supports workers’ ability to focus their attention. According to the Human Spaces global study, the ideal biophilic space in the UK would include:
Placing plants throughout the office is a good way to integrate nature into the workplace. Studies have found that having a plant on your desk increases productivity and cognitive attention, as well as acting as an air filter. Beyond plants some companies install “green walls”, “indoor forests” or “vertical gardens” to integrate more nature into the workplace. Even posters or high definitions screens displaying images of nature can help to improve the work environment.
The use of natural materials like wool, wood and stone connects the build environment to nature. Colour and textures that mimic nature or can be found in nature create a sense of warmth, familiarity and comfort into the office environment.