The demand for biophilic elements such as green walls is soaring in New Zealand as employers strive to make working from the office better than home-particularly as companies downsize physical office spaces or accommodate a more remote workforce.
Simon Chamberlain, Director of GreenAir, a leading Auckland-based Green Design company, specialising in delivering nature to indoor spaces, atrium, laneways and attached to the building envelope, said companies need ‘culture’, which is hard to build when most of the staff are working from home. This is particularly true at a time when company culture-shared values, belief systems and attitudes-is so important to achieving the organisation’s strategic objectives.
“In today’s dynamic work environment, companies are cutting down on office space by 25 per cent or more, renegotiating leases to accommodate smaller teams, and seeking ways to improve the quality of the workspace. The goal is to create an environment that attracts staff back into the office and fosters a sense of well-being and productivity,” he said.
The result is a post-COVID biophilic boom.
Chamberlain said the trend towards biophilic design is a response to the significant shift in work patterns witnessed in recent years.
“The pre-COVID era saw good occupancy with staff predominantly working from the office. However, the current trend is a hybrid model where employees work from home most of the week. “These new normal challenges have businesses striving to maintain a strong company culture. The office needs to offer something unique that can’t be replicated at home,” Chamberlain said.
GreenAir, with its 20 years of expertise in transforming spaces through innovative landscapes and green walls, green office plant hires and creating living walls of greenery, is finding massive demand for vibrant, attractive, and healthy workspaces through the connection of nature.
“Plants provide a sanctuary of calmness, allowing staff to relax, feel safe, and be more productive. In our busy lives, having a space to pause and regather oneself is invaluable,” Chamberlain said.
Far beyond the dusty plastic plant in the corner, biophilic elements that incorporate plants into the office go beyond aesthetics. Research has shown that plants contribute significantly to mental health and wellness, leading to better staff retention.
Biophilic office design connects people with nature and is far more than just placing a plant in a pot. It’s about creating diverse, living ecosystems within commercial spaces.
Increasingly, biophilic design is seen as integrating natural elements, like light, green walls, and sustainable materials, to create a healthier, more inspiring, and more productive workspace, benefiting employee well-being and fostering creativity.
In that context, how do companies incorporate biophilic elements in the office?
1. Choose the Right Plant Hire Company
When deciding to incorporate biophilic elements into your office, it’s crucial to do your research and select a plantscaping company that aligns with your vision and values. A comprehensive service incorporating everything from design to maintenance is important to ensure your plantscapes remain vibrant and healthy.
2. Understand Your Space
Take the time to understand the environmental conditions of your space.
“Consider factors such as natural light, air conditioning, and available space. This will ensure that the plants selected are suited to the conditions, leading to a thriving biophilic design.
“Supplementary lighting and greenery can transform low-light areas into vibrant and inviting spaces. With the aid of supplementary lighting, you can ensure the thriving growth of plants even in low-light environments. This transformation turns underutilised and unproductive spaces into thriving areas that draw people in and yield positive results,” Chamberlain said.
3. Consult the Experts
“It may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at how many companies spend money on greenery, which does little aesthetically and misses the opportunity of increasing productivity and attracting the best talent.
“Experts employ horticulturists and lighting consultants who can provide valuable insights into the types of plants that would best suit your unique space and how to integrate them seamlessly into the design.”
Research indicates that 33% of office workers say that office design affects their decision to work for a company. More than 44% of office workers want more natural light, while it has been shown that adding plants to the office setting increases productivity levels by at least 15 per cent and helps retain the best talent.
“In our recent research, we have found that people feel safe around plants, calm and relaxed, and the ability to think clearly, all while being more creative,” Chamberlain said.