Improve Productivity and Relieve Stress Through Biophilic Design
Oct 19, 2020
Employers are beginning to recognize the importance of focusing on employee health and wellness in order to create the most productive workforce possible. Employees who are healthier and experience less stress have been found to be at least 3 times more productive than their peers. Investments in employee wellness are also dollars well spent, as a study by the University of California revealed that each dollar spent on wellness programs saves $3.27 in health care costs and $2.73 in absenteeism costs.
For years, employers have been instituting health and wellness programs aimed at addressing health initiatives – but at the same time, they are just one small part of a much larger story. Many employers don’t realize how much the environment that people are working contributes to their stress levels, which in turn has a negative effect on their productivity.
This is why concepts like biophilic design are ultimately so important. Bringing the outdoors inside and connecting the interior workspace to daylight and nature can help create the calming environment that people need to do their best.
What is Biophilic Design?
Biophilic design is an interior design trend aimed at transforming an interior space into a collection of natural elements that themselves boost not only moods, but productivity and well-being at the same time. By making design choices that incorporate elements such as natural lighting and unique ventilation solutions, along with natural landscape features and other techniques, employers can create a space that people are more engaged with than ever – making them far more engaged with their jobs as well.
Incorporating biophilic design into your own environment can happen in any number of different ways depending on the space you’re working with. Oftentimes the use of natural materials, textures, patterns and even colors can help create that connection with nature that people crave. Other times it may be as simple as improving natural lighting, or switching to artificial lighting that isn’t quite as harsh and overpowering as we’re used to. Even your office’s HVAC system as it relates to air quality, ventilation and thermal comfort levels can go a long way towards unlocking these benefits.
Why Biophilic Design Matters to Your Environment
According to the experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the best ways to embrace biophilic design in your own environment involves maximizing natural light through an open floor plan, abundant windows, skylights and light wells. Not only has exposure to light been found to naturally boost productivity, but it also increases Vitamin D absorption, helps prevent seasonal depression in employees and more.
The result is healthier, happier and more productive employees with boosted immune systems that require fewer sick days. Biophilic work environments can also reduce employee turnover – saving the estimated $4,129 on average that it costs to hire new talent every time an existing employee leaves for greener pastures (in this case, probably literally).
But the benefits go far beyond that, too. Large expanses of glass can not only help to maximize the look and feel of small spaces, but also provide a deeper sense of connection to outdoor environments. As this itself is a major element of biophilic design, embracing it may be as simple as installing new glass door systems and windows that are more focused in this direction.
Panda’s TS.X0 commercial sliding glass door system is one such solution that can help businesses accomplish precisely that. The system itself incorporates sophisticated glass paneling with an ultra-thin profile, offering a seamless view of the outdoors without making any major modifications to the structure of your building. The panels can be as tall as 16 feet with oversized glass depending on your needs, and a combination of world-class engineering and European hardware creates a weightless feel to their operation.
Another major reason biophilic design is so important is that natural light helps to regulate circadian rhythms – meaning that this design choice will literally help your employees sleep better. People spending long hours in environments without access to daylight tend to experience upset circadian rhythms, which typically results in higher stress levels, higher fatigue, lowered immunity and (of course) decreased productivity.
Of course, depending on the industry you’re operating in, biophilic design brings with it many more advantages than just increased productivity. In terms of hospitality design, research has indicated that hotel guests are literally willing to pay more for rooms with ideal views and biophilic elements. In education, the same research indicated that rates of learning vastly improved in biophilic spaces – including in terms of concentration levels, attendance and even test results. Even in healthcare, post-operative recovery times dramatically decreased and the use of pain medication dropped in people who were able to recover in biophilic spaces. The list goes on and on.
In the end, it’s important to understand that between long commute times and older buildings, we’re spending more time locked off away from the natural world than ever. Yet at the same time, human beings have a deep connection with the world around us.
We want to be outside during the day. We want to be able to feel the sun on our bodies or feel the breeze on a summer afternoon. We’re hardwired to want as much natural light as we can get – yet the modern office environment is often built to shy away from those qualities, rather than embrace it.
Therefore, biophilic design becomes one of the best ways to give your employees that connection with the outside world that they want, all while giving your company the productivity boost that you need to do better and more informed work for your clients on a daily basis, too. When you consider the fact that engaged employees tend to outperform their peers to the point where companies with high employee engagement are literally 21% more profitable than those without it, it’s easy to see why this is one idea that is more than worth paying attention to.
If you’d like to find out even more about how you can improve productivity and relieve stress in your employees through biophilic design, or if you just have any additional questions you’d like to discuss with someone in a bit more detail, please reach out to find your Regional Account Manager or schedule a Virtual Consultation to discuss your project today.