Humans are animals at the core. That’s why nature is so fascinating to us all. A hot spring in Wyoming, the seasonal migration of bison in Tanzania, a beautiful sunset, the smell of rain…all these things invoke some combination of awe, relaxation and joy in everyone.
The concept of biophilia was first introduced by authors Stephen Kellert, Judith Heerwagen and Martin Mador. Their book Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life is a guide that makes the compelling case for changing the way buildings, houses and all other dwellings are designed. Human needs must be considered every step of the way not only to maximize productivity and profits for business, but also for overall health and well-being.
Biomimicry in the office is good for both your employees and bottom lines. A 2011 study by University of Oregon researchers found that simply placing workers in views of nature (trees, sunshine, bird, etc.) while sitting at their desks decreased absenteeism. A 2018 Harvard study found that both exposure to real nature and virtual reality headsets depicting nature increased productivity and improved workers' health.
The Google office in Tel Aviv has (real or otherwise) orange trees and picnic tables throughout the building. L.L. Bean set up outdoor cubicles for some of its workers in New York. There are several creative ways to bring the outdoors inside without making major renovations.
Synthetic turf technology has advanced to the point that it looks, feels and even smells like real grass. Guys outfit their "man caves" with artificial turf, complete with yard markers and their favorite college or NFL team logos. Synthetic turf is also common on patios, gazebos and other outdoor areas of the home. Office managers can get creative and add artificial turf to their floors.
Artificial turf costs about the same as carpet. But it is far more durable and much easier to install. Synthetic turf is most commonly used for lawns and sports playing surfaces. That's why it usually comes in large rolls. It's designed to withstand heavy traffic, so maintenance is a cinch. You also never have to worry about staining it with spills and other accidents.
Workers will feel like they are sitting in a park while completing their daily tasks.
There's no comparable experience to sitting around a campfire, roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories. It's easy to mimic that effect indoors as fire pits are getting safer and more sophisticated.
Some prefer a simple setup as pictured above. Others splurge on fire pit tables that burn either custom gels or actual wood. Either route adds an excellent touch of the outdoors to your office. Fire pits create a perfect setting for chilly January nights in the Bay Area.
Always have a fire extinguishers within arm's reach of any indoor fire setup.
The sound of naturally-flowing water ranks up there with birds singing and thunder on the list of awe-inspiring natural noise. Office waterfalls are limited only by your imagination.
Rock pond waterfalls are inexpensive and simple to maintain. Floor fountains are a bit more pricey. But the splurge is sure to garner measurable returns. The Huntington Beach Main Library down in Orange County (pictured at the beginning of the article) is a great place to draw inspiration for your indoor water setup. It also an indoor garden and a lot of natural light from all the windows.
Samantha Johnson is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in Sacramento with her husband, daughter, and two cats. Samantha writes for several retailers and mommy bloggers, and runs an e-commerce store.