Biophilia and the Workplace


Biophilia is the natural attraction people have for nature and living organisms. Studies have shown that people have an innate tendency to affiliate with things that remind us of the outdoors (natural light, water, plants, and animals).

Biologist and researcher E.O. Wilson define 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, revolving around different stages of human evolution and development. Still, the fascinating part is that by embracing our collective biophilia, studies show that organizations can improve their teams’ productivity and overall health.

Not every organization can set up their office amid the greenery. Still, 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 with a cluster of potted plants near their desks showed decreased neuro-physiological symptoms such as fatigue.

Studies also indicate that there are cognitive benefits to greenery and natural scenes at the office. One 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 those working in the same space without plants. 

Researchers have multiple theories as to why natural views may improve cognitive function. Regardless of whether it is reduced mental fatigue or an increase in positive moods, creativity, and focus, the benefits for the organization are quite clear and 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, Ph.D., which provided much of the source material for this post.

Cory Porteous
Marketing Manager
Office Interiors