People are changing the way they think about their spaces, both at home and at work. These changes are so profound that it could almost be thought of as a silent revolution. This "revolution" centers around the concept that indoor spaces should mimic outdoors spaces to improve people’s lives–an insight that is backed up with increasing amounts of research. That's what Biophilic design is all about.
There is a growing body of research connecting the way we design our workspaces to the impacts on our well-being. In many of these cases, spaces that integrate biophilic design can actually optimize worker productivity and provide a subsequent return on investment for organizations! But is it a good business decision for you?
Making it Work
"Biophilic design" is a very broad term. Whether by means of natural elements, specified areas for relaxation, etc., biophilic design principles can bring a long list of benefits, with the potential to support an increased quality of life. This can bring with it massive implications for your business.
However, pulling this off successfully isn't usually so straight forward. We believe that the successful implementation of this type of design lies first in a designer's understanding of a space's goals and purpose, while clearly seeing a business' unique situation throughout the design process. Biophilic design should work in harmony with your business goals, and shouldn't be forced into a project just because it's a novel idea.
It is through shared conversation with key stakeholders – often involving workshops and diverse-user engagement – that true understanding of the essence, sense of place, and unified goals of a project can be uncovered and successfully achieved within the framework of biophilic design.
The ROI of Biophilic Design
While antidotal, it's worth noting that in spaces with stark biophilic design characteristics, people have reported reduced illness, as well as increased staff retention! But the benefits of biophilic design extend far beyond the enhancement of wellbeing; biophilic design can reach well within the domain of an organization's finances. For many businesses, up to 90% of a company’s operating costs can be attributed to the individuals within the organization when elements such as salaries, benefits, and absenteeism are considered.
If it is true that people tend to be less stressed and perform better at tasks in spaces with biophilic design aspects, what effect would that have on your ROI? Understanding that there are many variables to consider when researching the impact our built environments have on quality of life, let’s quickly consider this question.
Salaries, benefits, and absenteeism (sick time), all add up to about 60% of the organization’s annual expenses. In this scenario, if biophilic interventions in the built environment only improve a meager 3% of personnel costs for the organization, it could result in tens, if not hundreds of thousands in annual savings. From this process, we can understand the potential impacts biophilic design can have on us as individuals and within organizations.
Enhancing Your Spaces
When executed well, biophilic design will not have a prescribed look. Because of this, it has the potential to be successfully integrated into a wide range of built environments, for a spectrum of specific goals. Ultimately, biophilic design seeks to understand and integrate the deeper essence of a project’s sense of place while enhancing organizational purpose and, at its core, holistic well-being for all of life.