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Biophilic design and office planting: a case study of effects on perceived health, well-being and performance metrics in the workplace

Hähn, N., Essah, E. ORCID: and Blanusa, T. (2021) Biophilic design and office planting: a case study of effects on perceived health, well-being and performance metrics in the workplace. Intelligent Buildings International, 13 (4). pp. 241-260. ISSN 1750-8975

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/17508975.2020.1732859


The philosophy of building ‘lean’ workplaces, to maximise occupant performance, has seen an increase in the stripping away of nature within the built environment. However, the biophilia hypothesis indicates that a severance in human connection with nature can lead to significant reductions in human health, well-being and performance. The aim of this study was to determine to what extent introducing and removing living potted plants within an office environment can affect occupants’ perceived health, well-being and performance metrics. The experiment was set up in a modern office building in Reading, UK, where 40 occupants took part across 19 offices within the premises and planting was introduced (on average 2 potted plants per person in offices, and 8 in break-out spaces). Changes in occupants’ perceived health, well-being and performance-related metrics were tested using qualitative and quantitative questionnaires. Whether the location of planting (office or break-out spaces) impacted measured parameters as well as office occupants’ satisfaction with the work environment was also investigated. The introduction of plants into individual offices had a significant positive effect on occupants’ perceived attention, creativity and productivity; plants’ removal elicited a significant negative effect in perceived attention, productivity, stress and efficiency. Introducing plants in offices or break-out spaces had no significant effect on perceived health, tiredness, motivation or well-being. Furthermore, interactions with plants during break times had no significant effect on perceived performance metrics. Results showed occupants wanted an increase in visual and physical access to living plants within their offices. A positive relationship was observed between plant introduction into offices (but not break-out spaces) and overall satisfaction with office design. This study showed occupants to have improved satisfaction with their overall workplace environment when they have physical and visual access to plants within their individual offices and break-out spaces.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Crop Science
Science > School of the Built Environment > Energy and Environmental Engineering group
ID Code:89347
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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