If you’re anything like me, you’ll have daydreamed on more than one occasion of having the luxury of being able to work from home. Oh, the thought of not having to deal with the daily commute, of being able to put your laundry on before the weekend rolls around and being able to spend your lunch break in the luxury of your own home…
For some of us this daydream has become a grim reality, and as we (horrifyingly) spend around 90% of our lives indoors, creating and maintaining a healthy working environment and office space is now more important than ever before.
How do you create a naturally healthy home office? Biophilic Interior Design
Biophilic Interior Design focuses on creating a calming space using sustainable materials such as FSC wood and other natural materials, as well as incorporating natural patterns and textures to enhance well-being, health and productivity.
Research has shown that incorporating direct or indirect elements of nature into the built environment can reduce stress, blood pressure levels and heart rates, while increasing productivity and self-reported perception level of well-being.
Whether you are able to have an entire room dedicated as your office or whether you’re coping with a makeshift desk in the corner of your living room, you have numerous ways to build biophilic design into your everyday life and office. Read on to find out how…
Natural light and fresh air help healthy homes
This is a big one. Natural light and fresh air improve immune system function and your mood. We’ve all been guilty of not wanting to go outside on occasion if it’s cold or raining, and before you know it an entire day (or two) can go by and you’ve not even stepped foot outside. Considering that natural light is super important for our mood, well-being and those all-important Vitamin D levels, we suggest that you open curtains and blinds, and move any furniture that could be blocking the full potential of sunlight.
Next, ensure that Interior Air Quality (IAQ) is as good as it can be by making certain that ventilation is optimized and that only healthy building materials and interior furnishings are used in the home office space.
Incorporate greenery in your home office
Having some sort of connection to nature will offer a calming influence. While it is a common misconception that plants can act as indoor air filters, that simply isn’t the case as you would need a veritable jungle in your living room to have such an effect. So, keep plants for the aesthetic and mood enhancing aspects, but don’t count on it to clean air. Read more here to find out if plants clean indoor air quality.
Growing food plants indoors
The plants you choose for your home don’t have to only be for aesthetics, they can be edible. Staring at a kale plant in your living room can be just as nice, if not nicer, knowing that you get to eat it, as staring at a geranium. See here about growing food indoors in bottle gardens, or even just starting seeds growing that can be transplanted outside in the spring. Eating food you grew yourself is good for the soul. Read here about growing food in containers and small spaces.
The sounds of water and colors of nature
It’s a known fact that the sound and sight of water creates a soothing atmosphere and encourages our bodies and minds to go into relaxation mode. This is why you usually find water fountains and tranquil, natural music playing in spas. Relaxing spa music is easy to find on any music app; as for the sounds of water, a small table fountain is not very expensive and can offer tremendous value with its southing sounds, as well as offer a bit of white noise if you happen to be forced to work at home with kids or a working partner.
Standing desks and ergonomic chairs
One of the downsides of the stuffier office environments is the impact a sedentary life has on physical health. Sitting staring at a computer screen without moving, in the same position or 7-8 hours a day, is terrible for your core body strength and posture. (Even while reading this, go on, shift your position...)
A healthy body needs movement, and if you are busting a dance move while you work at home since no one is watching, you may actually get more done. Dancing or movement associated with music is also associated with a lift in moods, and let's face it, preserving our mental health has been a key element over the last year.
Anything you can do to mix up your body position will be helpful. Even before we moved into the pandemic home office environment, the use of more ergonomically designed office furniture as well as keyboards and even mouse pads, was already gaining popularity quickly. Working from home in the zoom workplace not only allows us to dress ‘business on the top, jammies on the bottom’, but we can mix up our work stations for better concentration.
How to focus while working in a home office
Another missing element from the home office is the presence of other humans. Loneliness can set in pretty quick and negatively affect your ability to focus and produce. The key to solving that, while still remaining productive, is to invite sounds that provide company but aren't overly distracting.
Perhaps what resonates with you is the sound of water as mentioned above, but maybe music, or podcasts.
The key is to choose things that are perhaps less interesting, so you don’t lose concentration on your work. YouTube offers an endless supply of ‘ virtual company’ in the form of ‘coffee shop sounds’ or ‘office sounds’ that will give you some sense of an active environment without stealing your focus. Instrumental music is easy to find if you search words like ‘ambient, music, concentration, focus, study’.
Music is nice, but it’s tough to get a report done if you are singing along with your favorite artist, so choose wisely. What is also a nice twist on that is listening to live music since the sounds of concert crowds will likely make you feel less alone!
Include art in your biophilic home office design
Our last nugget of advice for creating the perfect and healthily Zen biophilic home office is this - create a wall gallery with framed prints of some of your favorite snaps of the outdoors. Whether it’s one you’ve taken yourself while exploring that takes you back to that moment or one that you’ve stumbled across and love, we say - get them framed and up on display. As they say, “Art speaks where words are unable to explain”.
Overall, the goal is to embrace nature and the shapes that come with it. Implementing Biophilic design into our homes and workplaces has profound health and economic benefits. Not to mention (again) it gives us an amazing sense of calmness, mental restoration, and improved productivity.
While these have been testing times, we would suggest making these positive changes in your working (and home) environment by incorporating biophilic office design and see for yourself just how much a difference it makes. Picture this - it’s the start of a new working week, you open the door to your home office, see your desk made from sustainable or upcycled wood, the bamboo shelves that are housing your plants, and the framed prints along the wall staring kindly back at you. And to top it off there is a big window letting in the warm morning sunlight.
Believe us when we say you will thank us later – and if the mind wanders a little to when we could all roam outside without a second thought, that’s probably a good thing, right?
Now you know about Biophilic Interior Design for creating a healthy and productive home office space, learn more about sustainable construction for healthy and durable homes in the Ecohome Building Guide pages
Find more pages about sustainable and resilient green building techniques here :
Find more about green home construction in the Ecohome Green Building Guide pages - Also, learn more about the benefits of a free Ecohome Network Membership here.