Legal workplaces are spaces synonymous with green banker lamps, leather-bound books and rich mahogany.
With many workplaces integrating biophilic design into their interior and exterior spaces, focus is shifting toward creating environments that boost wellbeing. Biophilic design is an approach that incorporates natural materials and elements to create spaces that improve overall wellness and productivity.
While not all of us can work in purposefully built spaces, there are simple ways to incorporate biophilic elements into your workspace. Small elements can have big impacts on your wellbeing. Here are five tips for introducing biophilic elements to your place of work.
1. Take a breather
Many workplaces have limited airflow, and air conditioning can negatively impact our focus and clarity. To combat this, simply add an air purifier or humidifier to your space to assist with feeling more alert and motivated throughout the day. You can also try natural essential oils for an added boost to your emotional and mental wellbeing.
2. Get physical
While it’s great to get out and take a walk during the day, it can also be helpful to bring activities into the workplace. Many workplaces are introducing a foosball or ping pong table into communal areas, encouraging teams to get active and have fun during the working day.
3. Start growing
It has become common knowledge that integrating live plants into your space boosts relaxation, enhances wellbeing and improves air quality. Live plants, however, are not always practical in a workspace.
Luckily, studies have shown that integrating fake plants are just as beneficial to your wellbeing (Hahn et al., 2020; Lee and Park, 2019). Similarly, desktop Zen gardens, plant-inspired wall art and leafy decorative pieces can have the similar positive impact on our mood and mental clarity.
4. Light up with colour
Harsh spaces with ghostly white walls, fluoro lighting and gloomy grey carpets are design choices we now know do not inspire wellbeing or productivity. Integrating natural colours and materials into our offices is a quick way to bring the outdoors inside. Colours we find in our natural world such as light fresh sand, natural stone, deep blues, moody greens and warm citrines are ideal for boosting our wellbeing.
Similarly, integrating natural woods and fibres with wooden desks and tables can be a great way to biophilically enhance our minds. In addition to the colour and tones in your space, it is important to be bathed in as much natural light as possible. If fluoro lighting is unavoidable, adding a desk or salt lamp may support your mind and eyes from tiring.
5. Get creative
Getting creative with the concept of integrating the natural world into your space can also be really beneficial for your wellbeing. For example, changing your screen saver to a natural landscape, listening to natural sounds while you work, and maintaining a desk water feature are easy ways to stay connected with the natural world. Try to take lunchtime walks through parks and get creative with the concept of biophilic design when it comes to your surrounds.
By incorporating small biophilic elements and making minor changes to your workspace, you can make big improvements to your wellbeing (without overhauling the chesterfield lounge). Try thinking about ways you can biophilically enhance your workplace to boost your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Mishelle Zara is a lawyer and registered mediator with a background in psychology, based in Queensland. Mishelle is currently a Strategic Partnerships Manager for Converge International, offering innovative solutions for workplaces.
Converge International is available to help you and your family. Via LawCare, as a Queensland Law Society member, you have access to seven EAP streams: EAP Assist, Money Assist, Career Assist, Conflict Assist, Lifestyle Assist and Manager Assist. Your family members also have access to Family Assist. You and your family members have access to six sessions per stream per annum. To access these services, please call LawCare on 1800 177 743 or go to LawCare – Queensland Law Society.
1. Lee, E.K., and Park, S.J. (2020). A Framework of smart-home service for eldery’s biophilic experience. Sustainability. 12. 8572.
2. Hahn, N., Essah E., and Blanusa, T. (2020). Biophilic Design and Office Planting: a case study of effects on perceived health, wellbeing and performance metrics in the workplace. Intelligent Buildings International, 12(4). 151-220.