Wood is not only a classic building material. It’s a reflection of nature. And it makes people very, very happy.
In a sense, a wooden structure is a biophilic structure; one that actually can result in lower cortisol levels, blood pressure, anxiety rate, and pulse rate. What heightens, by contrast, is creativity and focus, sleep time, happiness, pain tolerance, and surgical recovery.
Biophilia is a term created in the last century by psychologist and philosopher Erich Fromm, and made popular by renowned biologist E.O. Wilson in his 1984 book, “Biophilia.” The term translates to mean “love of life,” referencing humans’ love for people, plants and animals.
…and wood. According to an Australian survey completed in 2018, Workplaces: Wellness + Wood = Productivity, which examined the effect of wood in the workplace (a survey completed by Andrew Knox and Howard Parry-Husbands of market research agency Pollinate on behalf of Forest and Wood Products Australia), this precious material does make a difference in indoor work environments.
According to the survey, wood evokes positive feelings about wood, particularly when compared to steel or concrete.
Workplace contentment by quantity of biophilic design elements.
The survey assessed the quantity of “natural-looking wooden items” that could be viewed from workstations, objects such as desks, tables, doors, beams, panels, and found:
Satisfaction with work life and the workplace rises steadily with the percentage of natural-appearing wooden surfaces. Employees in workplaces with less than 20% naturalistic wood surfaces are less happy with their work life and physical workplace as compared to those with a high percentage of wood in the workplace.
The surveyed employees were requested to rate their productivity and subjective traits.
Productivity, concentration and mood by amount of naturalistic wood surfaces.
Those in workspaces with more visible wood rate their personal productivity, ability to focus, and mood in a more positive manner. These employees are more likely to rate their stress levels as good when compared to those with little to no visible wood surfaces.
The authors conclude:
- Workers in wood-encased workplaces are more satisfied
- Biophilic design characteristics, e.g. plants, natural light are also correlated with enhanced workplace satisfaction
- Workers in workspaces with exposed wood feel interconnected to nature and relate more positively to the workplace
- Those in wooden work environments have escalated levels of wellbeing and have fewer sick days
- Wood is associated with escalated levels of concentration, enhanced mood and personal productivity
And contented productive workers are more successful—and that always makes for good business!