24. April 2024

Why is everyone talking about… the biophilic office?

Personio Pulse: This Week in HR - 2

Welcome to Personio Pulse: This Week in HR, where each week we take a look at the latest trends in the world of work, what you need to know about them and what they mean for you as an HR professional. 

This week we’re covering the idea of a biophilic office, why it may benefit your employees and what that might mean for your HR team and your business.

What you need to know

Ever notice your energy, productivity and creativity dip on days when you don’t spend any time outdoors? It could be down to how biophilic your office is — an office design trend that looks to bring the great outdoors inside. It’s an element that tech giants such as Intuit, Amazon, Meta and Microsoft are heavily investing in, HR Brew pointed out this week. Think plants, natural light and use of more organic materials such as wood.

And like all smart business decisions, it’s something that not only makes for happier employees, but boosts productivity too. But how? Harvard Business Review points to multiple studies that have found that even small exposures to nature at work resulted in higher task performance, increased helpfulness and enhanced creativity. Green spaces have also been scientifically proven to improve sleep, reduce stress, increase happiness, reduce negative emotions and promote positive social interactions.

What others are saying about it 

“Studies, including one from the Journal of Environmental Psychology show that environments with natural features can significantly boost well-being by 15% and productivity by 6% compared to nature-absent spaces. These findings highlight the profound impact of biophilic design on employee satisfaction and efficiency” says London-based Samantha-Jane Agbontaen, Founder and CEO of House Designer. 

Samantha-Jane acknowledges that not every company will have huge budgets available however: “While the case for biophilic design is compelling, practical challenges exist, especially for established offices or those with tight budgets. Initiating small, incremental changes can, however, yield significant benefits.”

What that means for you

The good news is that creating a biophilic office does not necessarily require you to do any building work, make expensive furniture purchases or indeed hire part-time gardeners. Here’s what we would advise to bring nature into the office:

  • Include it in office strategy: Are there areas within the office or directly outside that you can dedicate to plantlife? When selecting a new office, is there green space such as a park nearby for your employees to enjoy?

  • Showcase these spaces: Show off and normalise working in these spaces. When hosting a company event, why not host it in an outdoor workspace? Can you supply seating so employees can meet or eat lunch outside?

  • Ditch the boardroom: Can you introduce the practice of walking, outdoor meetings when the weather allows for it? These can be on-site or in a nearby green space such as a quiet park if its contents aren’t confidential.

  • Use biophilia to grow your culture: Can you use nature in company days? For example, we hosted a company-wide tree planting day and two impact days a year that can be taken to do similar work such as rewilding.

As we gain more data on nature’s impact on employee wellbeing, productivity and ultimately business success, making our work spaces more biophilic is likely to become more and more important as time goes on. It’s worth considering right now what you can do as a HR team to bring it into your business. 

What else should I read? 

That's all for this week's edition of Personio Pulse: This Week in HR. Check back next week as we continue to dissect the latest trends impacting the ways we work. 

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Hannah Popham

Hannah Popham

Hannah is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Personio. She loves writing about the ever-changing ways that we work and how they intersect with our lives outside work.

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