Biologist and researcher, E.O. Wilson, defines Biophilia as an “innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms. Innate means hereditary and hence part of ultimate human nature”. In other words, people are subconsciously attracted to living things; we are naturally drawn to plants, animals, and other people. There are multiple scientific theories for this, all revolving around different stages of human evolution and development, but the part I find most fascinating is that by embracing our collective biophilia studies are showing that organisations can improve the productivity and overall health of their teams.
Not every organisation is able to set up their office in the midst of greenery but research indicates that, while the best results are found when people have direct contact with nature, there are still many benefits to merely being able to see out a window (if the view contains more natural than man made elements), view potted plants, or even pictures and posters of nature scenes. In fact, researchers in Norway found that office workers who had a cluster of potted plants near their desk showed a decreased in neuro-physiological symptoms such as fatigue.
Studies also indicate that there are cognitive benefits to greenery and natural scenes at the office. One particular study found that subjects working in a windowless room with plants completed a series of computerized tasks faster, had lower blood pressure readings, and felt more attentive than subjects working in the same room without plants. Researchers have multiple theories as to why natural views may improve cognitive function but at the end of the day regardless whether it is reduced mental fatigue or an increase in positive moods that does it, the benefits for the organisation are quite clear and possibly far reaching.
If you are interested in Biophilia and how it can improve the productivity and health of your team I strongly recommend reading this article by Haworth and Judith Heerwagen, PhD which provided much of the source material for this post.