Have you ever thought about the healing power of nature and how it can energise your mind and body at work? Studies have shown that even images of nature can make you feel happier and more productive. Business Optimizer looks at how to feel the benefit of nature at work.
Over the years, Business Optimizer has explored many techniques for creating a healthy mindset at work, boosting creativity and productivity and reducing stress.
From learning how to switch off at the end of the day, through improved time management, to taking the holiday leave to which you are entitled – one common thread that runs throughout is the need to achieve a better work-life balance.
A healthier mindset is the overriding goal of the movement to green our buildings and working environments that is sweeping through our cities and, especially, in Silicon Valley’s leading tech businesses. The biophilic design movement suggests that one way to achieve a better work-life balance and a healthier mindset at work is to improve our working environments – either by developing environments that are more deeply rooted in nature or by bringing nature into our existing working environments.
Biophilic design and a healthy mindset
Studies have pointed to the benefits of biophilic design: reduced stress, greater creativity, improved productivity, and a healthier mind and body.
New York writer has said, “Clearly, nature calls to something very deep in us. Biophilia, the love of nature and living things, is an essential part of the human condition. Hortophilia, the desire to interact with, manage, and tend nature, is also deeply instilled in us. The role that nature plays in health and healing becomes even more critical for people working long days in windowless offices, for those living in city neighbourhoods without access to green spaces, for children in city schools, or for those in institutional settings such as nursing homes. The effects of nature’s qualities on health are not only spiritual and emotional but physical and neurological.”
How can you introduce biophilic design principles?
Even without the vast resources of Silicon Valley’s tech elite, it is possible for organisations to introduce biophilic design principles into their buildings and working environments.
Increasingly, organisations are introducing green roofs, green facades and green walls, but also images, colours, textures and materials from the natural world. It’s also a relatively low-impact way to enable more people to connect with nature during their day.
This is important because studies have shown that even just 20 minutes of being around nature can have positive effects on our mental and physical wellbeing. In fact, one study showed that simply looking at images of nature can have a calming effect and boost concentration.
The CBRE’s “The Snowball Effects of Healthy Offices” study of people exposed to nature murals and live or artificial plants showed that 76 percent of them felt more energised, 78 percent felt happier and 65 percent said they felt healthier.
Maximising the use and access to available outside space is another easy step to take. Today’s offices and workspaces are moving increasingly towards implementing biophilic design into existing buildings and extending Wi-Fi and other building services into these spaces. Urban Land has said green retrofitting of buildings is one of the most significant development activities being undertaken today.
Greening the local environment and then introducing steps to help employees to work in those newly greened shared spaces can be integrated into existing corporate social responsibility programmes. For example, the support of big business for community gardens through CSR initiatives not only helps to green the area, it can also help the organisation to develop important networks into the local community.
It’s clear: integrating biophilic design principles into the workplace makes a powerful brand statement to visitors and staff alike whilst also having a calming effect that improves the environment and staff wellbeing.
Take a look at some of the most inspiring green spaces to work – how could they help you develop a healthier mindset?