Beauty & Biophilia - The Economics

Microsoft's Treehouse Office was built to help enhance creativity & productivity (Photo credits : Archinect)

It's no surprise that Biophilic designs are being incorporated into many buildings, office spaces and homes around the world, because of the many tangible benefits they bring. Major companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Airbnb & Etsy have all utilized various elements of Biophilic designs in their offices. More research is now available, exploring the relationship between psychological well-being, work environments and productivity on a global scale! This is exciting news because now there is data to support what we already knew intuitively - humans function best when exposed to nature or natural systems.

This important practice is gaining popularity due to the rapid urbanization that's occurring globally. According to the Human Spaces Report for Biophilic Design - "Globally, it is clear that people are moving away from rural areas to towns and cities. In fact, the United Nations predicts that by 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in urban environments. Therefore, it is imperative that we consider how the human-nature connection can still be provided to those residing in towns and cities. The answer to this challenge is biophilic design." More people now work in offices as opposed to outdoors, and while it's an indicator of progress, some may say, if we continue to house people and employees in spaces that disconnect them from the natural world, we may be doing more harm than good.

Here in Trinidad & Tobago, over the past decade alone we've seen hundreds of Commercial buildings popping up everywhere. I've personally experienced both the positive and negative impacts an office environment can have on your health and productivity. From moving to one office space where there was a tonne of natural light, large windows with views of nature and the surroundings, good indoor air quality and comfortable air temperature, to the complete opposite - an office space that had very little views of the outside world, frigid and completely uncomfortable with air that was filled with mold.

One of the studies detailed in the Human Spaces Report for Biophilic Design, found that employees who worked in environments with Biophilic design elements were 15% more productive in comparison to groups with no greenery or natural environments. Nearly nine (9) in ten (10) workers in offices that incorporate Biophilic design also reported improved sense of well-being following the change. If we take this into account and observe the information provided in the diagram above, we can clearly see that if we are able to improve employee productivity even by a small fraction (as low as 10-15%), this can lead to great improvements in profits as most costs endured by employers go towards salaries and benefits. Whether it's a small company or large corporation, the benefits of Biophilic designs are obvious and can hugely outweigh the capital cost to improve an office environment or work space.

In the next blog, we will continue to explore research and data surrounding the economics of Biophilic Designs, and share some simple low-cost tips on how one can achieve this in their existing homes or buildings.

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