The Future of the Workplace and Biophilic Design

The Pandemic – A Catalyst for Positive Change

So much has changed in the workplace since the start of 2020.

Driven by the work-from-home rule and national lockdown, companies could no longer argue against flexible home-working, in fact in some cases it actually increased productivity, and profitability. On the flip side, many of us discovered that working from home can be isolating, demotivating, and downright difficult, all depending on personal circumstances, and individual preferences.

Throughout 2020 and 2021, as Covid swept through all our lives, it brought with it drastic changes to how we lived and worked has.  The constant narrative across media platforms and our collective experience, emphasised the fragility of our planet and made us stop and consider our core values.

For most of us, those priorities are looking after our physical and mental health and our families, and concern for the environment.

trough planting of dracaena compacta

During the long months of the pandemic, millions of us turned to nature for support, in 2021 the Mental Health Foundation took the theme of ‘Nature’ for Mental Health Awareness Week. Working with the University of Cambridge, Swansea University, the University of Strathclyde, and Queen’s University Belfast, The Mental Health Foundation is leading an ongoing, UK-wide, cross-sectional study of how the pandemic is affecting people’s mental health.

Their research showed going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies, with 45% of us reporting that being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health. Websites that showed footage from webcams of wildlife, saw hits increase by over 2000%. Wider studies also found that during lockdowns, people not only spent more time in nature but were noticing it more.

Biophilic Design – The Connection Between People and Nature

Nature is a powerful antidote to stress.  If you think about how different you feel when you are in a city centre location, compared with how you feel when you are in a rural, natural setting, for example walking through a field or sitting in your garden, you’ll already begin to understand the concept of biophilia and the positive emotional and physical impact it has on you.

Being in nature helps us to feel calm, peaceful, and happier. This mental state, in turn, improves our health, directly affecting heart rate and blood pressure and positively impacting the healthy functioning of our autonomic nervous system, the operating system that keeps us in a state of balance and runs all major functions in our body.

The word biophilia means love of life and living things bio = life and philia = the love of something, the opposite of phobia, the concept that we as humans have an innate desire to be connected to nature.

living wall

In the UK we spend around 90% or more of our time indoors, so it is important that we are creating the best possible indoor environments, bringing the outdoors inside, or at least the sense that we are enriching our surroundings to feel more connected with nature. This does not have to be difficult.

It’s about including all your senses and making the most of plenty of natural elements; natural light, plants, water features, natural colour palettes for décor, and rich variation in textures and styles for soft furnishings, echoing nature. For example, natural woodgrain and artwork depicting nature.

Views from windows are also very important. In urban areas, we can help create better views by making spaces greener with living walls and green roofs or by creating pocket parks. Adding more planting to terraces and balconies is another simple and effective strategy. In built-up areas every space is important and by selecting natural native UK species of flowering plants, we can also improve biodiversity and support pollinators like bees and butterflies.

Supporting ESG Brings Competitive Advantage

Sustainability and wellbeing are now at the front of the mind for individuals and organisations. We now have the opportunity to build the future we want rather than stay on the track we were on before the pandemic hit.

The majority of the companies we are working with, have a strong commitment to an ESG strategy. They are also facing a situation where there is competition for talent and a need to attract and retain staff. As a result, office design is more important than ever in creating the right environment to support the companies’ goals, in outwardly displaying their green credentials, and in creating attractive environments that people will want to work in and that will support their wellbeing.

In many ways the events of the last 2 years have been a catalyst for change, making change happen faster more drastically. Companies have been able to completely re-think their office space and their working practices in a way that would have been unimaginable pre-2019.

The savviest companies have been quick to use the forced change of home working to look at their empty offices with fresh eyes. Perhaps they were considering an office move, or a refurbishment anyway, and they have gone ahead and used this as an opportunity, whilst all the staff were working from home, to do this work.

It has also meant that the usual ‘rule book’ of office design has been ripped up and thrown away allowing for much more creativity and the time and space to think about what kind of working culture and environment the company wants to create.

The organisations that are getting out ahead of the curve and designing people-centric offices with a focus on wellbeing are the ones who will reap the rewards, attracting and retaining the best talent and supporting their people to be creative and productive. These companies are the ones who look at investing in great office design because it will ultimately work for them, creating a positive ROI.

As well as looking great, offices incorporating biophilic design reduce absenteeism, improve staff engagement and productivity.

moss and air plants terrarium

Over the past decade or so many studies have been done on the positive impacts of biophilic design in the workplace, Elzeyadi’s study at the University of Oregon found that 10% of employee absences could be attributed to architectural elements that did not connect with nature and that a person’s view was the primary predictor of absenteeism.

A 2014 study found enriching a ‘lean’ office with plants could increase productivity by 15%. The research team examined the impact of ‘lean’ and ‘green’ offices on staff’s perceptions of air quality, concentration, and workplace satisfaction, and monitored productivity levels over subsequent months in two large commercial offices in the UK and The Netherlands.

The research showed plants in the office significantly increased workplace satisfaction, self-reported levels of concentration, and perceived air quality. Analyses into the reasons why plants are beneficial suggest that a green office increases employees’ work engagement by making them more physically, cognitively, and emotionally involved in their work.

The research showed plants in the office significantly increased workplace satisfaction, self-reported levels of concentration, and perceived air quality.

As K Freeman, biophilic design consultant says: “We know from previous studies that plants can lower physiological stress, increase attention span and improve well-being. But this is the first long-term experiment carried out in a real-life situation which shows that bringing plants into offices can improve well-being and make people feel happier at work. Businesses should rethink their lean processes, not only for the health of the employees but for the financial health of the organisation.

It’s very encouraging that something good will come out of the pandemic, and that the future of the workplace really will be greener and happier for the people occupying it, and have a wider impact that is beneficial for society as a whole.

breakout plants

Planteria Group is the leading expert in plants for business helping you with biophilic design to improve staff wellbeing and achieving your sustainability and CSR goals. We design, install and maintain planting across the UK. Get in touch with us today and let us help you too.


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Christmas Gifts for Work Colleagues: 10 Reasons to Choose Plants!

planteria home indoor plants

Well, here we are, finally nearing the end of 2021 and as Christmas trees start to go up in offices all over the UK and further afield, we can certainly reflect on another unusual year!

Businesses are looking to increase their engagement and support of staff as the year draws to a close, and we are here to help. Now more than ever it’s so important to reach out and engage with your staff and clients, especially as many of them will have been working from home for quite some time over the last few years without the usual social interaction, focus and support from the office environment.

As a result, many businesses will be spending part of their usual Christmas party budget on thoughtful and symbolic gifts, such as houseplants, to let staff and clients know they are supported, valued, and most certainly not forgotten.

Given that Christmas celebrations can finally start to feel a bit more normal this year, why not consider a staff or client gift that lasts and keeps on giving?

planteria home indoor plants decor

10 Reasons to Gift Plants for Christmas:

  1. Make life as easy as possible. Planteria are offering organisations a chunky 20% discount code to purchase plant gifts for your staff or clients. You choose and we will deliver the plants direct to their doorstep. Just get in touch to set up your unique code.
  2. Indoor plants are meaningful, treasured gifts from socially conscious companies looking to give something positive back to their employees after an unusual few years.
  3. Plants are symbolic and represent tranquillity, peace, and wellbeing – something we could all use! They can also represent emotions, ideas, and actions so, by gifting a plant this Christmas season, you are sending the message that you care.
  4. Office parties as we know them will look vastly different this year and, in most cases will not happen at all. Many companies have saved money this year on business expenses and facilities costs. Plants are a lower-priced gift compared to traditional corporate gifts and they can last for years to come.
  5. The perfect way for companies to engage with staff who are working from home by providing a beautiful indoor plant and pot for their desk or living space.
  6. Plants are the ideal gift because they are eco-friendly, healthy, and not gender-specific.
  7. Indoor plants are suitable even for those with food allergies that can be triggered by ingredients in hampers or edible gifts, non-drinkers who can’t make use of that bottle of wine and others who are normally a bit more tricky to buy for.
  8. Houseplants last longer than seasonal Christmas poinsettias or freshly-cut flowers
  9. You can include a message of support and suggest the plant be placed on their desk at home to support wellness, creativity, focus and inspiration.
  10. Your staff and clients will appreciate the thoughtful gesture of something different this year!

indoor plants from planteria home

Introducing Foli8. We can provide your staff with plants perfect for the home as part of your budget. Get in touch with us today to ask for your company-wide discount so we can help you with your staff and client Christmas gifts.


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Christmas Tree Trends 2021

All the signs point to Christmas 2021 being a big event in the calendar for most people. Many households plan to go all-out on festivities, decorating and celebrating throughout December. And with more people back to the office, companies are keen to engage with their workforce and create a welcoming atmosphere.

In the retail sector, trade media company Retail Week, and analysts PWC predict consumer sentiment is much more positive than it has been since 2019. Retailers including John Lewis, Waitrose, and Hobbycraft have already reported record online searches for Christmas as the nation is planning earlier than ever for the festive season.

christmas decorations

Christmas 2020, as I am sure you will remember, was a disappointing and subdued affair for many, due to tier restrictions. This year more people expect to host or visit extended family, making up for lost time and cancelled events.

With this in mind, we help you prepare for Christmas in your office or venue by looking at some of the key Christmas Tree Decoration trends for 2021.

Sustainability

Sustainability is a trending theme, and understandably so. There is a real interest in ethically and sustainably sourced trees, and decorations to match. Real trees, grown on UK Christmas tree farms, are replanted to ensure a continuous supply, providing a habitat for birds whilst they are growing and can be chipped and use for grounds maintenance once Christmas is over, making them a good sustainable choice.

Close Up Of Woman Making Eco Friendly Eco Christmas Decorations From Orange Peel

Expect to see more decorations made from recycled materials. Some of the trendiest pieces will be made from wood, feathers, pinecones and even dried fruit! At home embrace those treasures you have collected over the years, and add to your collection of decorations choosing long-lasting, reusable decorations and décor that you can cherish and use again for many more years.

Nostalgia

Notalgic décor is also tipped as a popular pick for Christmas. Whimsical themes that evoke memories of Christmases past, and childhood. Fairies, toys, gingerbread men, and candy canes abound.

Close-up of candy cane hanging on christmas tree

Our Candy Cane tree is a good example of this trend which takes you back down memory lane and right to Santa’s grotto!

Tradition

When you think about Christmas, the traditional colours that come to mind are red, green, and gold. These colours and combinations of them, are set to be very popular again for 2021. Go all out for the wow factor by ordering matching garlands for maximum impact!

Glamour

Christmas décor often follows fashion, and after many months of track pants and slippers, most of us are ready for sequins and glitz. Rose gold and copper are both hot right now mixed with gunmetal grey, this combination looks both ultra-modern and glamorous.

christmas decor above fireplace

Check out our full range of Christmas Trees for your business. With our complete service of delivering, decorating and collecting, we do all the hard work, and you take all the glory!

I don’t care if it’s too soon to say it! Happy Christmas!


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Workplace Biodiversity Champion Inspires Us All to Do More

I recently had the opportunity to meet Vicky Cotton, ESG Director at Workman, and client of Planteria, to talk to her about her role and her passion for Biodiversity.

Vicky’s background: With 25 years of experience in Real Estate, including 13 in property management, Vicky is extremely experienced and well-educated in ESG (environmental social, and governance) in the built environment. Across the full asset spectrum, Vicky’s expertise extends from issues around wellbeing in the workplace to increasing biodiversity on site. 

Passionate about the environment and sustainable management processes, in 2020, Vicky created the Net Zero Asset Plan, to lead clients through the process of achieving zero carbon emissions, in line with government targets for 2050, or sooner. A year later, Vicky created the Building Biodiversity Toolkit, designed to encourage property managers, on-site teams, and clients to increase the level of biodiversity in the built environment, however concrete or hostile it may seem.

Vicky Cotton

Q: How has your role at Workman developed, especially now that everyone seems to be talking about ESG? 

A: My role has developed and expanded over the years as ESG has gained prominence, covering issues as wide-ranging as climate change, employee wellbeing, and diversity of the board, which is considered by most as an increasingly important marker in how a company fares, both in terms of financial performance and how it is perceived.

ESG threads through so many aspects of the property management business, linking together issues such as air quality, intelligent building systems, and occupier engagement, as well as the drive towards Net Zero Carbon for each and every building.

But people still need prompting of the urgency of the situation we face. I like to remind clients and property managers that there is a huge collective responsibility ahead, within a limited timeframe and only one refurbishment cycle away – miss it now and we risk missing it entirely.

Q: We have been approached by a number of your property managers about increasing biodiversity across Workman properties – where has this push come from? 

A: We launched our Net Zero Asset plan in 2020 as a way to help clients achieve their Net Zero goals on properties from the largest to the smallest. This was also the year that our partnership with the Natural History Museum’s Urban Nature Project began. Home | Workman Building Biodiversity (workman-building-biodiversity.co.uk)

We know that the value of nature in the built environment cannot be underestimated. According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Nature and Business Report, a focus on biodiversity in the built environment could create more than $3 trillion in business opportunities and 117 million jobs globally by 2030.

Humans rely on trees and shrubs to absorb air pollution in urban areas; not only do plants and trees produce oxygen; they also store carbon by literally sucking it out of the atmosphere. Indeed, the UN Environment Programme discovered that nature can deliver carbon reductions of at least 30% by 2030 if biodiversity is protected and enhanced. It is an easy win in my opinion.

Q: What role has lockdown played in all of this – has it helped or hindered? 

A: Having spent a year working from home due to the pandemic, urban dwellers have fallen in love with nature on their doorsteps, with many keen to replicate a natural environment in their wider urban environment.

The pandemic has meant that environmental challenges such as halting biodiversity loss in urban areas have taken on new meaning.

There is a drive for people to be outside and a greater appreciation for outside spaces and making the most of those.

For example, at Central Retail Park in Falkirk, Workman has established an urban garden, which has produced fruit and flowers for occupiers, as well as providing a quiet, restful place for break times. Building the social value of an urban garden | Workman was achieved at a very low cost and has had a huge impact on the local community and the team. We created a garden with raised beds, planting from seed.

Bought the team together and gave them something to do in lockdown. I had a letter from one of the security guards who was involved in the project to say that it had saved his life by giving him purpose during such a bleak time.

The garden was awarded a GOLD Scottish Green Apple Award for Environmental Best Practice 2021.

beautiful garden

Q: Tell me about the toolkit – how do you intend this to be used and how can we help? 

A: The toolkit came out of the Building Biodiversity Challenge. There is an opportunity for everybody across any asset we manage to make a difference. It is to give our property managers ideas of what they can do, that they can take it and run with it. We have had a great response from our site staff who have embraced it.

Inspired by the Falkirk project, as well as our partnership with the Natural History Museum’s Urban Nature Project, we developed the Building Biodiversity Toolkit for property managers.

launched in Spring 2021, the aim of the Building Biodiversity Toolkit is to provide a practical checklist for property managers and all our gardeners and landscapers so that they can select biodiversity initiatives that are best suited to their properties and their clients’ needs.

It’s often simple to increase biodiversity at leafy business park locations, but at properties where there is little outside space, we need to be more creative, which is where Planteria can help, with more creative initiatives such as green walls.

Here is a flavour of projects we are already working on 10 ways to Build Biodiversity | Workman Building Biodiversity (workman-building-biodiversity.co.uk)

This initiative has been met with great enthusiasm and passion by our team. The clients appreciate it too and the fact that it makes a big difference for a minimal cost. One client told us that for them ESG is as important as the return on the asset.

Q: What are the next steps – where do you want to go with this in the longer term? 

A: Next steps we want to see how far we can go. Ideally, we want to include as much biodiversity as possible across our managed portfolio, which covers 4,300 properties across the UK, providing services to more than 20,000 occupiers across all sectors of commercial property.

We are currently running a competition for our property managers to encourage and incentivise them to step up their biodiversity planning. This feeds into net-zero goals and boosts occupier wellbeing strategies.

It also means that our clients are ahead of the curve when it comes to urban greening legislation, such as Biodiversity Net Gain and other upcoming new rules, as outlined here: The Building Biodiversity Rules: What exactly are they? | Workman (workman-building-biodiversity.co.uk)

beautiful garden rooftop

Q: Who needs to get involved and how? 

A: Everyone needs to get involved, anyone can make an impact at home. It’s a piece of the big jigsaw to get to net-zero and make an improvement to biodiversity.

In the UK, 80% of the population lives in urban areas, and this is projected to rise to 92% by 2030, leading to larger cities and more challenges for wildlife. This means towns and cities are rapidly becoming where most people will experience nature. Therefore, these are key places to protect the UK’s biodiversity, and this means everyone needs to get involved, from property managers and onsite teams to landscapers and clients themselves.

Technology will catch up with this work and we will be able to measure how adding planting improves air quality.

With the collaboration of everyone involved in the property industry, we can make a real difference. Building Biodiversity for a better world | Workman Building Biodiversity (workman-building-biodiversity.co.uk)


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What Comes Next? The Future of the Workspace

An Interview with Leeson Medhurst, Head of Strategy, Peldon Rose

The whole subject of the Workplace has been put under the spotlight, as organisations navigate a new chapter, and look at new ways of working. The pandemic and sudden shift to homeworking have meant that for many it is time to take stock and reflect on what comes next for them and weigh up options and make changes that will potentially improve their success and at the same time attract and retain the best talent. It is an exciting time, but for some overwhelming, with so many aspects to consider.

I met up with Leeson Medhurst, Head of Strategy, for workplace design expert Peldon Rose, to ask him his informed views and thoughts on this hot topic and find out how he has been helping clients and what his clients are experiencing. Leeson has been in the industry for over 20 years, with a particular focus on the area of agile and flexible working… 

Leeson Medhurst

Q: How have the events of the past year shifted our working style and blurred the lines further between our work and home lives?

A: The reality is that our working lives have changed dramatically and quickly since March last year, most of us were sent home and had to work from there with no notice. For some this was easy, for those that already had the facilities to work from home and were already working from home some of the time, they were able to make this transition successfully, but for others, this was a lot more difficult. The reaction time for most businesses was dramatic they managed to mobilise this aspect quickly.

In the past we had 3 defined parts to our day; work, social time, and sleep, during lockdown this was no longer the case. For many there was also a sense of anxiety and a fear that they needed to prove their worth to their boss, to show that they were being effective and productive. Many people started to work longer hours which is not healthy in the long term.

This is not something you would do in a traditional office setting, where your day would be more structured, and you would leave the office a set time, probably commute and switch off before arriving home. In lockdown, this structure disappeared, and people started to not switch off, it was too easy to go back to the computer again later in the evening blurring the lines of work and home.

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Q: For some working from home has harmed their wellbeing and mental health yet for others it has been a blessing in disguise. How can we now strike a balance between the two when considering the return to the workplace?

A: One benefit of working from home is having more control over our lives, more time in the morning and at the end of the day. This was a novelty factor for many of us at first, we suddenly had some extra time to do other things, like having breakfast with our family, running, or exercising when we wanted to. People have enjoyed the choice and flexibility, for example being able to do the school run, run errands, and attend appointments, which is much easier to fit in when you are working from home and has made work-life balance easier to manage. People want choice and flexibility.

I do believe that home life should be sacred and respected. Work has its place and home has its place, and we need to have downtime and need to relax, it is essential for our wellbeing. Richard Branson once famously said “happy employees = happy clients = happy shareholders” and it is very true.

If we are happy, we are our performance is going to be better.

hermes2

Q: How will what we’ve gone through shape office design?

A: Well, in terms of space, it’s not going to change office design all that much. One question that has come up is that clients will ask – ‘can we now have less office space now?’. The answer to this is that you are still going to need your office space, but you might now want to use it differently. If you are looking at a simple linear layout with desks, it is easy to fit that in.

But, if you want to use your office space for more collaborative work, which is likely to be a preference and a requirement now, you need the space to do this. For example, to give the flexibility for a and 2/3, 3/2 model we need arenas to be designed to allow for this new way of working, offering a different typology.

With areas to catch up and generate ideas, blended spaces with phone booths, high and low tables, and seating spaces. To do this, you need more space. The real estate conversation is not to go into decline, but rather to evolve into a more hospitality-led type of space. This kind of working energises people and improves the experience of work, elevating it to improve communication and results. It’s also important that it works for all personality types and working styles, introvert, extrovert, quiet critical work, and creative work.

The two biggest costs to an organisation are your staff and your property but equally, they are your biggest assets so you need to address how you get the best out of them and support them.

hermes9

Q: We know that many people are anxious about returning to the workplace. Can we improve wellbeing, and help to alleviate anxiety through Workplace Design?

A: By designing spaces that are attractive and include elements that are proven to boost mood and relaxation, for example, by adding biophilic elements into your design, like green plants and nature-based colour palettes. Opt for a “resi-mmercial” style with more soft furnishings, some sofa seating, and by providing some private working options to allow people to experience some of the quiet time they found easy to get at home, and by offering flexibility to work from or the office and home some of the time.

If you want to begin encouraging people back to the office, you need to think about what the benefits are for them. People can work easily from home, so why do they want to go back? I am working on helping organisations with this by creating better and more enticing environments to welcome people back to the office space.

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Q: How has the pandemic affected the client brief? How do you help clients to assess what they need next and design the right space for their organisation?

A: You need to start at the beginning. I ask the Senior Leadership Team – what do you want from your business. Much of the commentary of the past few months has been through the optic of the user. But what does the company need? If a company has evolved over say 100 years as a brand and a culture, this cannot and may not want to change overnight. We will have those deep conversations; where are you now? Where do you want to get to? And then discover what the process is that is going to help you get there.

When we know what level of flexibility is right for the business, the space becomes the enabler to support the organisation. The right space, designed to fit the need, will support that business, its culture and vision.

Some businesses have made the decision that they want to be a place-based organisation, we help them navigate that, with the understanding that the decision means they cannot be everybody’s friend. They will need to help to think through those conversations about which teams need to be in at the same time, and ensuring it is thought through in detail, for example, have an IT infrastructure in place to support that.

A lot of data needs to be gathered and the right questions asked first before we can arrive at the best solution, typically it takes 8 weeks to complete this process. If you are looking to move, you should start thinking about your real estate strategy around one year ahead of your lease break.

My overarching advice to organisations is not to be afraid of agility flexibility. It is not new; we have been talking about this for a long time and we have a lot of experience and we can help you with this. We have many case studies which we can draw on from our existing clients. It is something that is 20 years old – we can absolutely help you harness a remote workforce and design a workplace that works for your organisation.


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Sustainability, Biodiversity, Biophilia and Building a Better Future

The pandemic has heightened environmental awareness.  As COVID-19 swept through all our lives and made huge changes to the way we have had to live, this has given us time for introspection and reflection on the fragility of our planet and our core values. What is important to us?   That is the question that we have asked ourselves.  The answer?  Looking after our physical and mental health as well as the planet that we live on.

In an article published in June 2019, the Guardian wrote that Briton’s are more worried about the climate crisis than the economy, crime, or any other issues.

 

Sustainability, biodiversity, and wellbeing issues are complex interconnected subjects. Everything we do and how we live impacts the planet, our health, and our wellbeing.  It’s very clear that we need to make better choices and decisions to improve our situation in all these areas, it requires a holistic approach.

The mental health foundation, who chose nature as their theme for Mental Health Awareness week this year, published the results from recent research which shows that one of our top coping strategies during lockdown was to go for walks outside and that 45% of us reported that being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health.  Another example of our yearning for nature to help us cope during this period was that websites showing footage from Webcams of wildlife saw hits increased by over 2000%.

It is no wonder then that sustainability, biodiversity, and other green issues are at the top of the agenda for most people. Organisations understand the importance of this and of their own corporate social responsibility to ingrain this into their values.  It is wonderful to see that most leading organisations now have appointed a Head of Sustainability role.   This is a senior leadership position that takes an overarching responsibility for ensuring that sustainability and corporate social responsibility are considered in all areas of operations within the business.

Over the past year, the majority of us have had our lives turned upside down. Working from home, schooling from home, cut off from physical contact with friends and family.   With everything from holidays to weddings cancelled, we had a lot more time on our hands.  As well as giving us time and space to think about the important things, we have proved that it is possible to work and learn from home, spend more time in nature and in relative comfort, less time commuting, and have less impact on the planet as a result. We now have the opportunity to reassess, re-evaluate and build back in a better way, that suits us as individuals.  The most innovative and successful companies are adapting to this by offering their staff a hybrid model and flexibility to support their work life balance.

How can we create a better future? This is the question, and it is also the opportunity, that is being facilitated by designers, architects, and leaders in the property management sector.

“The future will belong to the nature smart – those individuals, families, businesses and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real”.  Richard Louv – ‘The Nature Principle’.

The co-working sector, in particular, looks set for a boom as they specifically offer flexibility and attractive collaborative working spaces.  Innovative companies like our client Fora Space feature impressive, biophilic-design led spaces, linked to nature, and are leading from the front in this sector.

The importance of good design linking us to nature is better understood now, especially since we have spent the past year being able to access our gardens and local parks more frequently. The truth is that in this country we spend more than 90% of our time indoors and we have changeable unreliable weather. So, we have a real need to bring nature inside if we are to benefit from it year-round, and as we make the transition back to working from an office.  Working in spaces that feel more natural and include planting gives us the boost that we yearn for. In turn, it also boosts our health and well-being, helping us to cope with stressful situations.

We can, and should make better use of outside spaces to create gardens and pocket parks in cities.  This will increase the amount of greenery, and by selecting plants that attract nature and provide a natural habitat for wildlife, we are supporting biodiversity.  We need to maximise opportunities here,  joining up the green spaces between London’s parks, improving the views for the local community, and improving the environment. Planting additional trees wherever that is possible, helps absorb carbon, provides shade cover, and produces additional oxygen, cleaning the air.  Every small improvement adds up to make a significant difference.

At Planteria we work with a wide variety of clients including property management companies, designers and architects, collaborating on projects that improve the environment and enhance people’s well-being.

As a company, we are committed to sustainability ourselves, and an ongoing effort to improving our practices and operations in this area.

We are working to reduce plastics from our supply chain; our online plant shop – Foli8, uses coir hair pots instead of plastic.  These pots are 100% natural and made from coconut fibres. We are moving to a green company fleet and have just switched over half the fleet to electric vans.  At our head office, we keep sheep instead of mowing the lawns! We recycle and we compost all our green waste.  We also harvest rainwater as our first choice for watering our plant stocks.

 

Can we help you achieve your sustainability and corporate social responsibility goals? Please get in touch so we can discuss your ambitions.


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Wellbeing Programmes: What are They, and Why Do They Matter?

Special guest blog by John Walters, Co-founder & Director of Questae Collective.

Businesses have many differing objectives. They have different visions, and goals. They have different internal cultures, societal belief systems, habits, traditions. Things are done in a certain way because that is how they do them! They have hierarchy, roles, responsibilities, and structures. They also have many different departments, all with their own differing cultures, personalities, and communication processes.

But the one thing they do all have in common, is that they all have PEOPLE!

workplace wellbeing

Studies have found that 1 in 5 people take a day off due to stress, yet 90% of these people cited a different reason for their absence. Source MHFA England

And when we look at the statistics, it’s even more concerning. Data from the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) 2019 report has found that “17.5 million working days were lost last year due to mental health-related sickness absence.” Source ONS Labour Force Survey

The report further found that stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 44% of all work-related ill health cases and 54% of all working days lost due to ill health.” Source MHFA England

The workplace is certainly shifting, and the past 10 months have accelerated this incredibly, irreversibly maybe (I hope so).

Culture within the workplace, whether that be at home, in the office, in transit, co-working space, or wherever it is, is now more than ever changing how we work, how we interact, how we communicate.

So how do we ensure that this shift takes us towards a culture of health and wellbeing?

How can businesses embrace this shift to help their people nourish, thrive, and expand?

planteria plants

The first question we often get asked is “what is wellness?”

Our take on this is that wellness is an active process of becoming aware of, and making choices toward, a healthy and fulfilling life. It is more than just being free from illness; it is a dynamic process of change and growth. Wellness is a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

“Physical and mental health are inextricably connected; without one, the other cannot thrive.” An interview with Rex Millar www.rexmillar.com

Businesses that have already engaged in programmes, or implemented strategies or shifts in their culture to embrace, promote, and live by the pillars of wellness, they really are making a difference, but not only to their people, to themselves as well.

By treating their people as individuals, by empowering them and creating a culture that has a focus on offering, and expanding ideas, knowledge, techniques, and skills to enhance wellness and wellbeing, they have shifted their culture in a way that supports, guides, and encourages individuals with the aim of enhancing physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

So, what’s in it for the business?

Vitality Health’s ‘Britain’s Healthiest Workplace’ initiative has proven that businesses that embrace wellness as a fundamental part of their culture do thrive and succeed and expand in many more ways that just bottom line. In fact, in an open letter to business leaders in the 2019 2019 Health at Work Report, Neville Koopowitz, CEO of Vitality UK writes, “when employers embark on promoting better health among their employees, there are no losers. Employees are healthier, happier, and more engaged with their work: employers benefit from a more productive and motivated workforce, with lower levels of sickness absence.”

These benefits include:

  • Greater employee engagement
  • Enhanced productivity
  • Reduced employee burnout
  • Reduced sick days
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Enhanced positive communication
  • Less stress
  • Increased profitability
  • Attraction and retention of staff
  • Happier healthier people
  • Enhanced communication
  • Resilience

On top of these benefits, the people, the staff, and I mean all of them all the way up to the executive leadership teams, will benefit from a greater understanding of wellness, and will have a better understanding of themselves, their emotions and those of their colleagues.

But what really makes the change is the tool kit that they will all have within their own personal armoury. They will have the knowledge, the skills, and the confidence to manage many situations and scenarios that currently they would not. Situations that may cause them, and those around them, distress, stress, anxiety, panic, mood changes and many more.

They will know what they need to do for themselves, and how to encourage others.

So, what are some of the simple, and easy to achieve tools, tips or activities that we can take part in?

Get out and into nature, embrace the sunshine and fresh air or, when indoors, whether in the home or workspace, bring nature with you by introducing biophilia, which literally means ‘love of life’. This can improve productivity, lower stress levels, enhance learning comprehension, and increase recovery rates from illness.

Researchers have found that more than 90% of people would imagine themselves in a natural setting when asked to think of a place where they felt relaxed and calm. Being in or around nature makes us feel good, our physical and mental wellbeing depends on us spending time in a natural environment and this affects our productivity and general wellbeing too. Source Biophilia – What is it and why is it important? | PlanteriaSimilar benefits can be received in the work place from the installation of corporate plants in commercial spaces.

Exercise, no matter how simple (or intense), as well as eating nutritious food, maintaining good gut health, and keeping energy levels up, can help too.

Relax at work concept. Yoga mat in an office desk

Finding time and space for ourselves, whether this is meditation or reading a good book it important as well, as is laughter – watch a good old comedy (or a new one, of course).

Keep a check on finances, on your vocational ambitions, and recognise how you are feeling in your mind… how is your emotional wellbeing and what are you doing to maintain healthy, positive mindfulness?

By implementing and creating such inclusive, open and caring cultures, conversations that would normally be considered ‘unspeakable’ or ‘not for the office’ will be normalised. People will feel listened to, valued, appreciated, welcome, safe. They will have the tools to understand, be compassionate, caring, and be inclusive to all.

And there you have it, in simplistic terms, to enjoy the journey that wellness takes us on, we need to understand and implement the strategies that work for us, that bring us an overall feeling of wellbeing, and we can now see, and understand, in very simplistic terms, the many benefits to enjoy.

The key now is to get businesses to see, understand, value, and implement strategies within the workplace to complete the circle.

If you have read this, and you would like to know more, or if you would like to find out how we can assist, guide and implement programmes tailored for you, then please do get in touch on:


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How to Combat WFH Fatigue

Special guest blog by Katie Henry, Director and Founder of Art in Offices.

Are you still working from home (WFH)? Us too and, to be honest, we’re getting a little tired of it. There are positives, of course; we don’t have to commute and shove ourselves into tin cans for a 30min+ journey into the city, it’s convenient for dropping the kids off at school (when we’re not in lockdown and home-schooling), and yes, we probably see more of our families and other halves (if we’re lucky enough to live with them). We can also raid the fridge for whatever we want and go for walks whenever we want; but there are negatives too.

Office plants

Without the stimulus of group chats, collaborative conversations, and a dedicated working space which separates life from home (not to mention our favourite coffee shop and some lunchtime shopping), we might find our mental health suffering and WFH fatigue setting in.

So what can we do? You’ll be pleased to know there is actually a very simple solution which applies not just to working from home, but to the office environment too. Here’s the simple formula:

Plants + Art = more productive and happier you.

Home Office 1 - Blue Riad

Yep, it really is that simple. As you will have read in previous blogs I’ve written, Dr Craig Knight of the University of Exeter has studied workspaces (in this case offices) and, in his study of 2010, he compared offices which are unenriched (meaning they have no plants or decoration) to those which were.

The results were staggering. Simply adding plants and art increased productivity in the staff by up to 35% and staff wellness increased by 42%. And when we say wellness, we mean people noted less stress, less mental anguish, less anxiety, there were fewer sick days and everyone felt happier. When people were allowed to curate their own space and choose what they had in the office, these figures went up even more.

Bedroom setup with art and plants

So, lucky you, working from home, you have the opportunity now to curate your own workspace and choose which plants and art you have up on the wall! It’s for just this reason that Art in Offices is collaborating with Planteria to provide you with the solution to having both of these things in your home workspace.

Art In Offices have launched a 3-month rental service specifically for your homes, and Planteria has just launched Planteria Homes. Art in Offices offering includes a new range of super affordable prints (which can be rented from just £25 per month) as well as the massive array of paintings they would usually hang in offices.

dreamer art print

And Foli8 is our online shop supplying a selection of quality plants ideal for the home, which can be delivered to your home or the home of your employees anywhere in the UK.

We are both offering discount codes to our loyal follower and clients, which can be found on our social media and newsletters or get in touch to organise.

But why does this work? What is it about plants and art that increase our productivity and our wellness?

In the case of art, the reason it makes us more productive is because it creates an atmosphere we enjoy working in. There are stimulating things to look at, our brains are constantly stimulated and when we get screen fatigue there is something enjoyable to look at and get lost in, until your brain feels ready to start again.

In the case of plants, the greenery gets us back to nature and the outdoors (the natural habitat for humans who have been farming and living in the landscape for millennia), they purify the air, add texture and interest and something to nurture (even for those of us who aren’t green-fingered – we might still say hello to them).

Phlebodium Aureum

It’s all about creating an atmosphere that’s conducive to making you feel happy, which is why those figures shoot up when people get to decide themselves what they see (we all have different tastes after all).

Right now, we all need to be doing things that make us happy, so add some plants and art to your space, and feel the difference it makes to your day.


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5 Ways to Make Your Home Workspace a More Inspirational Place to Work

Special guest blog by Nadia Themistocleous, Designer at Trifle* Creative.

An inspiring workspace will help you focus, be more productive and more enthused about sitting down to work. If you’re drawing a blank when you sit down to work or simply don’t even fancy taking a seat then perhaps consider a few of these tips to help you feel a little more energised, ready and want to work…

plants in office

Tip 1 – Get some plants and plan some outdoor breaks

Critical for good air, mental breaks and overall wellbeing; outdoor breaks are scientifically proven to increase productivity, creativity and attention span. Connecting to nature is a basic need and that’s why surrounding yourself with plants has such a good impact too. Planteria Home was born to support staff working from home and you can arrange to gift, or buy at a discount for your organisation.

Tip 2 – A desk and chair that really works

Sitting at the kitchen table might be alright for a few hours but it’s really not conducive to productivity or any good for your posture. The reality is that working from home will be part of the future so invest in some proper kit. Workplace designers Trifle* offer a great collection. The Homework Bureau package is part of their HomeWork collection and is the in-house favourite.

Planteria home desk and plant

Tip 3 – Curate your space

Have items around you that inspire and uplift (books, reference, imagery, art, objects, photos). It’s good to let your mind wander occasionally as it triggers your subconscious which lets you come up with great ideas. Fine art dealer Art in Offices has diversified from its corporate client base with its art rental for homes offering and a selection of affordable prints to buy.

wall art

Tip 4 – Crack out a great playlist

“Music is the strongest form of magic.” – Marilyn Manson. Music can have an incredibly powerful influence on our mood. If you need to get yourself out of a rut, concentrate or just feel a little happier about things, get a good playlist on the go, it can really help.

Tip 5 – Scent your space

Think about all your senses. Smell isn’t considered that much at the workplace (apart from when it’s bad) but it can also help you in the same way music can. Creating a calm or even feeling energised can be impacted by the scent in your space. It’s definitely a good excuse to justify yourself a nice candle.


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We LOVE The Urban Jungle Trend

Having just a solitary plant by the window is no longer the norm – offices across the nation are creating their own little patches of green and incorporating plants into their interior décor.

The benefits of a green office space are many, from mental wellbeing to lower levels of stress. Green Plants for Green Buildings say that a productive office includes biophilic design or bringing the outside in. The urban jungle trend can help you accomplish this goal – and it’s a trend that we love here at Planteria.

Planteria Urban Jungle

Why Do We Love the Urban Jungle Trend So Much?

By adding planters, plant stands, indoor plants, hanging plants and more to the office, you can create a ‘jungle’ in the building or workspace (and even at home!) that boosts people’s wellbeing and productivity.

And, at Planteria, we believe this interior trend is here to stay.

For a start, this is not a new concept, as people have been trying to create ‘jungle vibes’ in their home and place of work for a long time. If you look at the popularity of hashtags such as #urbanjungle, #junglestyle and #junglehome on Instagram, it’s clear this trend is not just a fad.

For example, there are almost 5 million posts just with the #urbanjungle tag!

Instagram

Also, with a growing number of people living in cities (it’s estimated that, by 2050, there will be 2.4 billion more people in cities), bringing the jungle indoors is an increasingly attractive option.

It’s difficult for us to imagine life without greenery, so it’s no wonder that the urban jungle trend appeals so much to us. Plants can create a soothing atmosphere and are a brilliant addition to commercial spaces in general, including offices.

Urban Jungle

After all, an office full of bright colours and vivid greens will make people feel at ease (since it meets their biophilic needs) and reduces employees’ stress levels. We also believe an indoor jungle can improve air quality, boost people’s moods and create a happier workplace, which is why we love this trend so much.

How Easy Is It to Reproduce the Trend at Work?

The short answer is that it’s incredibly easy to bring the jungle indoors.

You don’t have to go as far as Amazon, who really took the jungle look to the next level by building the Spheres. These giant biodomes in their Seattle headquarters allow staff to escape the office and work surrounded by nature:

If you’re considering rewilding your interior, there are two things you must take into account:

  • That, besides the aesthetic, the space has to maintain its functionality as well.
  • And that you need to pick the right plants for your office.

So, with this in mind, make sure that the layout of your workplace still makes sense. The visual appeal and impact of the plants are undeniable, but you also want your employees and visitors to be able to easily navigate the office without obstacles in the way, for instance.

The urban jungle look is all about more plants and more coverage, so don’t skip the walls either – living walls or potted plants on walls can add to the jungle effect and maximise your floor space at the same time.

Planteria's Urban Jungle

Choosing the right plants for the office is also important because you want something that is easy to maintain. Plants require TLC to look their best and offices are usually busy places so, in order to keep up the jungle look, low effort plants and flowers should be top choice.  You can however leave that to us at Planteria Group and we can help pick the best ones for your space, and look after them for you too!

What’s So Fun About the Urban Jungle Trend?

Plants are a source of inspiration and this trend can help people to reconnect with nature and unleash their creativity. What’s more, plants bring life into interiors as well – if you remove all plants from a space, it’s easy to see how empty and boring it can look.

The urban jungle trend also allows people to have fun taking care of something living and to contribute to the aesthetic of their own home workspace, which appeals to many home jungle fans who prefer plants to pets, they are both cheaper and easier to care for and don’t require walking!

Urban Jungle Planteria

How Can Planteria Help?

Our expert plant technicians create solutions tailored to your workspace. We always take the building design and restrictions into consideration, which includes humidity levels, lighting and heat; this allows us to create a bespoke design that matches your unique requirements.

Our knowledge of office plants is unrivalled and we make sure to match your corporate image and select the right plants for your environment as well.

We have a wide range of plants to choose from, so you’ll be spoilt for choice with Planteria. From Dracaena Lemon Limes and Anthuriums to Sansevieria and Aglaonema Stripes, we provide beautiful plants for any type of office and sector, including hotels, restaurants and offices of every shape and size!

Planteria Urban

We offer many options for corporate plants at Planteria, so get in touch today to learn more about them and how we can help create an urban jungle in your office.


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The Hottest Plant Trends Right Now – Green Plants Are Good For You

Where are you right now?  Whilst some are working from the office, others are working from home.  Where ever you are, you’ll likely agree that your environment is very important, perhaps now more than ever.  That’s not surprising when you consider that your environment plays a big part in impacting your frame of mind.

The World Happiness Report 2020 concludes that globally, there is evidence suggesting that being exposed to green natural environments improves mental well-being, reducing stress, increasing positive emotions and cognitive restoration.

The report goes on to say that “The health benefits of green, natural environments may also have an indirect positive impact by encouraging certain behaviours, for example, physical health and longevity, and thereby happiness”.   Given that most of us spend around 90% of our time indoors and with restrictions on socialising because of Covid19, and the winter coming, this is not likely to reduce, we seriously need to think about how to include some nature into our indoor environments both at home and in the office (which may be the same place!).

One of the easiest ways to add some greenery to your life is with houseplants.  We take a look at our TOP FIVE plants, those that are most loved and coveted by our Corporate Clients.  The great news in that these plants work just as well in the home as they do in the office!

 

Ficus Lyrata

This is a beautifully tall, majestic plant with large oval deep green leaves, also called a Fiddle Leaf Fig.  Could it be the ‘INNEST’ plant of 2020?  This is the plant featured in every interior design magazine.

Don’t be put off owning one of these as they only require a moderate amount of attention.  Allow the top 2 inches of soil to dry out between water applications, and go easy, don’t let the plant to sit in water as they are susceptible to root rot if they stay to wet. Originating from the tropics, misting the leaves every couple of days will provide a good amount of humidity for this plant to thrive.

A beautiful Ficus Lyrata in the home

Monstera Deliciosa

Another stunner with an equally wonderful name!  This plant originates from the rainforests of Southern Mexico and is most commonly known as a ‘Cheese Plant’ due to the holes in its distinctive green leaves.  This is a favourite with our clients for providing real impact and is often used in a cluster of 3 mixed plants in a corner of a board room or reception.

Easy to care for, water every week or so allowing the top soil to dry out before watering, and mist regularly to create a humid environment.

Monstera deliciosaRhipsalis

This pretty, frondy plant, looks great hanging up or on a desk or coffee table.  It has become a real favourite with our clients as the trend for accessory planting has grown.  This trend is all about using planting as an integral part of the design scheme, using a large amount of planting arranged in racking or on shelving, featuring containers that pick out the accent shades of soft furnishings.

Also known as ‘Mistletoe Cactus’, Rhipsalis has fast-growing bright green tendrils. Originating from the rainforests of central and south America, this plant will add a tropical feel to your home, and as an added benefit, it’s a great air purifier.

Rhipsalis is easy going and needs a light touch on the watering.  Don’t over-water and always check soil moisture levels first. The top 2 inches of soil should be dry before any additional water is applied, usually once every 1.5 weeks depending on light and room temperature levels.

rhipsalis in an orange hanging potFicus Benjamina Tree

Ficus ‘Benjamina’ is one of over 800 species of Ficus, this evergreen plant is relatively easy to care for if positioned in the right location. Commonly nicknamed ‘Weeping Fig’ for its long drooping branches and clusters of small oval shaped leaves, this plant will add a jungle feel to any home.

Benjaminia needs a little more t.l.c, give her regular watering, again a good rule to follow is to check the top 2 inches of soil before watering, allow this to dry out between water applications, but do not allow your plant to sit in water as she is susceptible to root rot.  Mist once a week with filtered water to replicate a humid environment and do not allow to dry out completely.

Ficus benjamina in the home
Calathea Medalion

Calathea ‘Medallion’ is another favourite of our clients.  We often plant this with other mixed plants of a similar size to provide a real jungle feel in cabinet top planters or troughs.  It is equally as lovely on its own, with its large, oval shaped leaves and distinctive green purple and pink variegation, this plant is a real showstopper. The common saying “to turn over a new leaf” is thought to originate from the Calathea, as their leaves close up at night and re-open in the morning.

Calathea is fairly easy to keep, make sure the soil is evenly moist and do not allow to completely dry out, water once a week after checking the moisture levels. The top 1 inch of soil should be dry before adding water, mist leaves once a week and never use leaf shine.

Calathea 'Medallion' at home

We hope we have inspired you to think about hiring some office plants, or even enjoying a bit of greenery by getting some plants for your home office!

Don’t forget to follow us on our socials, or sign up for our emails, for all the latest tips and news.


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Return To The Office – How Plants Can Help

In March, people from all over the UK found themselves in a unique situation. Most were not used to working from home but, suddenly, had to adapt to a new situation. Remote working quickly became the norm and many people have truly enjoyed the experience; however, there is no denying that this type of work also has several drawbacks.

Below, we’re taking a look at the good and bad of working from home – and how plants can help to prepare for a return to the office.

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

Pros

Apart from self-employed individuals, such as freelancers, remote working was new for the vast majority of people. Most have adapted very well to the circumstances and have reported an increase in their productivity and efficiency. In fact, in a recent survey, 43% of bosses surveyed found that remote work had a positive impact on productivity since lockdown started.

After all, working from home allows you to have more flexibility when it comes to work hours, since you are able to create or adapt your schedule to fit your lifestyle. This means more time with family too.

It might also be your case that working in an office means having to deal with distractions that bring down your productivity levels; so, you may find that working from home allows you to focus on work and makes it easier to take a break.

Another benefit is not having to commute. Not only is commuting time-consuming and, therefore, an interference on work-life balance, but it can also be expensive. Due to this, you probably appreciate being able to save money on fuel or train fares; working from home also means you’re not spending money on coffee runs and eating out.

Cons

However, while there is no doubt that working from home offers a host of benefits, it can also have several downsides, which make people keen to return to the office.

A big issue with remote working is isolation. If you’re used to chatting with colleagues on a daily basis, you probably miss the face-to-face interactions and might end up feeling lonely. Loneliness is not conducive to productivity or creativity. On the contrary, if you feel lonely, you will likely feel less motivated and without energy as well.

Another disadvantage of remote working is how boring the experience can quickly become. Before the COVID-19 pandemic and world-wide lockdown measures, you may have dreamed of working from home. However, it’s clear that looking at the same four walls every day without a change of scenery can be harmful to your mental health. This means cabin fever, stress or depression.

Working from home blurs the lines between professional and personal lives, as you may have been forced to work from your kitchen, bedroom or living room. Not every home environment is appropriate for remote work either, be it because of children in the room or simply lack of space, which can have a negative impact on work.

Something else to consider is how out of touch people have felt with their wider business community and with their clients. In the office, it’s easier for you to communicate with your peers, partners and customers but, when working from home, these connections are not as strong.

Returning to the Office

A lot of people are still working remotely but a return to the office is now imminent.

Of course, it’s not expected that businesses demand everyone returns to the office at once. This will likely be a phased-in return in line with current government guidance, which will see the slow re-introduction of the office to the many individuals working from home or on furlough.

It’s crucial that workplaces ensure the safety and comfort of their staff, and you’ll be surprised at the key role plants can play in this process.

Plant Barriers

For example, office plants can be used to delineate areas and teams. They allow you to implement social distancing measures easily and, because you’re using plants instead of tape to mark spaces, your employees can benefit from a green and aesthetically pleasing office.

A 2016 study found that cognition can be boosted by 26% in green workspaces, and that people’s wellbeing and productivity improve with plants around them as well. This makes adding green barriers to the office a great argument.

Replacing Desks with Plants

If, because of social distancing, you have to remove desks, you don’t want the office to look sparse and empty. Adding plants to the newly vacated spots is a great solution because it makes the office look attractive and vibrant.

Plants Help with Anxiety

A fantastic benefit of plants in the office is that they ease anxiety and stress levels, perfect to help with the current circumstances.

Plants reduce stress at work, as they help people feel calmer and more positive. Both having visual access to plants and being allowed to care for them (passive and active involvement) can have a calming effect. So, by adding plants to the workplace, you can help your staff fight anxiety and stay relaxed.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you to prepare for a return to the office with our plants and to create a peaceful environment that your employees will love.

 

 


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