There’s no doubt that technology in the office has helped increase efficiency, eased collaboration, and enabled better remote access. And the workplace of the future promises to look like something out of The Jetsons, with technological advances set to bring yet more gadgets into the work space.
There are, of course, some downsides to the increasingly digital world in which we live, with many of us regularly glued to a screen. And this rise in connectivity can make it difficult for workers to switch off and find a true work/life balance.
To combat the rapid rise in workplace technology, it is perhaps unsurprising, then, that there has also been a growing trend for biophilic design in recent years. As a result, modern offices are now seeing a battle between technology and and increasing desire for the outdoors.
It is clear that employees are keen to reap the rewards of new tech. For example, research discussed by smallbusiness.co.uk found that two thirds (66%) of UK workers want to use AI in the office to help them with their everyday tasks.
But it seems the desire to have innovative tech may have put other office aspects on the back burner. The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace report by Human Spaces found that, while natural light was the most requested element in the workplace, nearly half (47%) of respondents said they had no natural light in their work environment.
Other sought-after aspects were representative of the natural world, such as indoor plants and natural colours. The report noted, however, that 58% have no greenery in the form of plants in their office.
As environmental psychologist Judith Heerwagen mused: “More time and creativity has gone into designing natural habitats for zoo animals than in creating comfortable office spaces for humans.”
As the New York Times recently discussed, enclosed spaces, like office cubicles, can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and poor ventilation can impact cognitive performance and moods. But even simply adding plants to the workspace can help, with workers in offices with leafy green plants seeing increased concentration and a 15% rise in productivity, according to the newspaper.
While we might not yet be able to quantify the effects of biophilic design, we already understand the positive impact nature can have on workers. This research should mean that workers can now experience an office where technology and nature co-exist to help boost productivity, creativity and wellbeing, instead of working in a place that prioritises tech above all else.