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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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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Outside Spaces and How to Make the Most of Them

Outside spaces at the workplace can often be forgotten about, but we’re looking to change that.  An outside space can be a place for relaxation, re-energising, and creativity.  We strive to encourage more businesses to incorporate popular biophilic trends by blurring the lines between indoors and out – and we love to discuss the benefits of doing so.

Here, you can learn about some of the best ways to use your outdoors spaces, as well as how to bring a piece of the outdoors into your establishment with indoor office plants.

Flexible Meeting Spaces

If you’re working in close proximity to a park or garden, using this space to hold meetings could prove to be great for morale – especially during warm weather.  Of course, we wouldn’t recommend hosting any meetings that will include information that is confidential to your clients, but taking a break from the office to discuss internal changes, processes or brainstorming will maintain efficiency with time, and may even help your workers to stay productive later into the working day.

 

Informal Lunch Area

Many offices have difficulty keeping their indoor air quality at healthy levels, so encouraging staff to take a break in the outdoors can improve  health and concentration. Particle pollution is known to poorly affect physical and mental health, and indoor spaces are typically ten times worse for this pollution than outdoors. Taking a break from particle pollution can do wonders for the help and headspace of your staff, so if it’s a nice day – why not suggest a picnic? Ideally, if you do have some viable outdoor space at your office, providing table and chairs to create an alfresco area which can be used for eating, taking a coffee break or having an informal meeting is an excellent idea.

Breakout!

Help to boost health and wellbeing, by turning your outdoor space into a useable attractive area for a quick spell outside for formalised lunchtimes. When under duress a break outside can help staff to reset and return with a fresh can-do attitude, whether they’ve just struggled with an intense call with a client or business partner, or a busy morning with back-to-back activity. Plants and nature have plenty of restorative qualities. Your business could easily be enjoying these benefits with minimal cost.  The added benefit of topping up vitamin D levels in the sunshine and taking in the view of green plants will also help to improve immune systems to work optimally and keep your workforce healthier and happier.

Bringing the Outdoors IN

In many cases, a green attractive outdoor space may not be within a lunchtime walking distance of the office.  And you may not be lucky enough to have accessible outdoor space of your own.  In this case, you may be looking to bring aspects of the outdoors into your workspace so that staff and guests can still reap some of the benefits of natural elements and plants.

Looking around your office, you may find some areas that can easily be converted into a green space. Think about you dining area, or communal areas such as locker tops, or break out rooms.  Here are some popular methods that modern businesses use to bring biophilic benefits into their place of work:

Entrances

Often overlooked but integral to the first impressions of your business, the entrance can be a fabulous place to start adding some greenery.  Not only important for your guests, a green entrance will suggest positivity to your workers as they enter and leave your establishment.

There are a number of methods for increasing your kerb-appeal, including window boxes and external green walls, but you might also choose to add an internal moss wall to your lobby area, large and unique planting options by the door, and table posies in waiting areas.

If you’re interested about installing a moss wall or green living wall for your business, we recommend reading our blogs on this topic:

Can I have a Living Wall?

It’s Alive! Buildings with Living Walls

Moss Walls: Q & A

 

Roof

Green roofing is a brilliant idea – looking out for your office window, a green roof nearby brings brilliant rural landscapes a little closer to city-orientated businesses. Our brains respond very positively to colour, and views to nature so the sight of a verdant green roof could prove to be quite inspiring, boosting productivity and creativity.

There may be a group near you that you can help to get involved with green initiatives. A BID (Business Improvement District) will typically group neighbouring businesses in an effort to improve their local working area together, and sometimes, this might include making their views greener by collaboratively installing green roofs.

Balcony and Terraces

Balconies and terraces can be a great place for workers to enjoy a brief respite in the fresh air, but you can bring nature even closer by installing some beautiful window boxes or planters to add to the relaxing vibe and make them visually beautiful.

Could your business be making more of outside spaces, or is it more feasible for you to create some green spaces inside your own office area?  We love all things biophilic and can help you with any green design queries that you might have, so speak to one of our friendly team about your ideas soon.

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Can I have a Living Wall?  And What ‘Green Wall’ alternatives are there?

Without a doubt, living walls look stunning and provide large swathes of real planting from floor to ceiling, creating a real impact…

A living wall can have numerous benefits in business environments; they can help to make staff more productive in the workplace and are equally important in improving the perception of your brand. In this article, you can find out the main points to consider when thinking about a living wall for your space, and why it could be important for your staff or guests.

Green Wall for CTA

Can I have a living wall?

Almost definitely yes! Or at least, the effect that a living wall can give. We create bespoke walls for your requirements, though there will be some spaces more suited to live living walls than others.

A living wall works best in a well-lit space with plenty of room and fresh air circulating. For example, entrance atriums and large reception areas with hard or concrete floors. It is ideal to install them when a building is being constructed so that the irrigation system can be put in and the living wall placed on top. This can also off-set some of the cost, as the wall won’t need plastering and painting.

If you have a carpeted area or a space with lower light levels, such as a restaurant or traditional carpeted office reception, you could consider an artificial living wall instead. These look beautiful and give a very similar effect, creating the same kind of wow factor. For office spaces, moss walls also make an excellent option for giving a high impact finish, they are easy to retrofit and require minimal ongoing maintenance.

Another option to include real, live planting without the commitment and expense of a full living wall, is to opt for live dividers or panels. These are self-contained green modular products and give a great effect. These can be replanted on a regular basis to give a different look and so can be treated like art installations. You can also use them to give seasonal variation to your location…

tall green wall in a clean white entry space

Where is the best location for different types of green walls?

The best type of wall for you will depend on your location and the requirements of the plants you select. For example, some plants need more light than others so if you are planning to place your living wall in a bright and airy reception, you will have lots of options for the type of plants you can use.  For dark areas, you may need a growing light. You can also opt for moss walls or artificial living walls as these are perfect options for many spaces. Moss walls look exquisite when executed by professional plant technicians like Planteria. With lots of colour options and three different types of moss to choose from; bun moss, flat moss or reindeer moss, there are lots of variations to make your wall unique. You can also include your logo or a message and have something bespoke and specific to your company.

Here’s some more reading material on living walls to get you inspired for your new project:

It’s Alive! Buildings with Living Walls

Moss Walls: Q & A

 

What is A living picture and what types of living walls are there?

A living picture is a self-contained piece of art with a frame and a central section of planting. Living pictures look beautiful and can be hung singularly or in groups.  Also available in this type of product are living panels and dividers. These are easy to maintain and a cheaper option than a full-scale living wall. There are lots of options for different types of planting and it can be regularly changed to give different effects throughout the year. If you move offices, you can even take these with you which you can’t do with a traditional built-in living wall.

When would I opt for Moss wall?

We supply sixteen different colours of preserved moss which can be used to beautifully create bespoke walls and even replicate your logo. Most moss is not recommended for use in exterior positions, but for interiors it is easy to manage and control. It is lightweight and fairly straightforward to install, making it ideal for most office environment.

Why would I choose an artificial living wall?

An artificial living wall brings many of the design benefits of a real living wall, with far less maintenance or ongoing costs associated with a real living wall. Obviously, an artificial plant does not grow, and you won’t reap the benefits of the air cleansing and CO2 absorption that you get with real planting. You also need to consider that artificial planting, made from plastics, is not as environmentally friendly as the real deal. However, just like interior furnishings, they last a long time and can be moved with you if you are moving offices, so this should be weighed up in your considerations.

moss wall plants living wall broccoli and cauliflower

Which are best and why?

There is no right answer to this question as whether you opt for a traditional built in living wall with its own Irrigation system, an artificial living wall, a living picture,  panel, divider, or moss wall, will largely depend on your vision for your premises and the constraints of your environment and budget.

When planning in your green wall, you need to ask your plant provider questions like:

  • Is this right for my space?
  • How much will it cost to install?
  • What will the monthly cost of ongoing maintenance be?
  • What possible issues might occur that I need to keep in mind for the future?

Big living wall in reception area biophillia biophilia

If you would like to discuss your location and options to help you decide which is best for you, please get in touch with Planteria group today for a free consultation and quotation service.


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Biophilia & other Reasons to Have Plants in the Workplace

If you’ve been reading about the buzzword Biophilia but have yet to understand what the buzz is about, then we’ve made a helpful infographic for you, designed to show you the amazing relationships that can occur between workers and plants in the modern office.

Plants truly are amazing. If you’re looking to improve your office space with some smart greenery, why not enhance your office with our office plants for hire service. Impress your workers and guests with an outstanding boardroom, ensure that they remember you as an innovative and forward-thinking company by transforming your spaces into greener, healthier, places to enjoy working in.

planteria group infographic

And if you’re interested in reading more about the joys of biophilia and the many benefits of plants, we have plenty of blogs to keep you up-to-date on the latest hints, tips and news:

   Biophilia – What is It and Why is it Important

   Indoor Air Quality: Facts & How to Improve

   The Best Plants for Your Office Environment

   Biophilic Design in the Workplace


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The Benefits of Biophilic Design in the Workplace

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Anyone with a keen eye for design will have spotted the rise of the ‘Biophilia’ design trend. Plants; they are everywhere at the moment.

Planters of succulents, shelves of spider plants and ferns, indoor hanging plants in every room, even printed wallpaper with banana leaf or palm leaf patterns. However, there is much more to this trend than just aesthetics.

plants on shelves in office

The Rise of Biophilia

The whole concept of Biophilia (The love of nature and living things) connects us to the wider world and our innate desire to protect and nurture that which feeds us and does us good, both physically and also emotionally.

One of the ‘founding fathers’ of the psychology behind biophilia was Edward O Wilson. He coined the term Biophilia and wrote the book of the same name, first published in 1984 and still widely available if you want a more in-depth read on the topic.

A synopsis of the subject and some of the research that has come out of it can be found here:  Biophilia white paper.  Another great source of information and brilliant blogs is the Human Spaces blog, and you can subscribe for free. In addition, a recent blog post of ours looked at The Three Pillars of Biophilic Design.

office wall art

 

The Benefits of Biophilia

There are many benefits to having plant displays and other biophilic elements in your work or home interior. Biophilic elements refer to anything that evokes the sense of the beauty of the natural world, such as water features, fish tanks or plants.

You can also add natural analogues which are patterns and design styles that mimic nature – think honeycomb patterns, furnishings with curved edges even artificial planting or wood-effect flooring. It’s not so much about the what, it’s more about how the inclusion of biophilic elements make people feel.

white and black office planters

 

Here are 5 benefits of Biophilic Design in the Workplace:

1. Live plants improve air-quality.

They do this by using carbon dioxide (bad for us) to produce oxygen (good for us). They also transpire through their leaves, making the air more humid, which is excellent for combating the problem of dry-air, a widely reported problem in air-conditioned offices.

Additionally, plants absorb VOCs (volatile organic compounds) such as chemicals that are widely used in domestic cleaning products, contained within some carpets and emitted from electronics. More about improving air-quality here.

 

   2. Make you more creative and (as much as 15% more) productive.

A series of studies from Exeter University concluded that employees were 15% more productive when “lean” workplaces were filled with just a few houseplants, as employees who actively engage with their surroundings are more efficient and more creative workers.

office plants in white planter

 

3. Helps relieve stress and improve mental well-being.

Stress is a known cause of both mental health disorders and cardiovascular diseases. According to the World Health Organisation mental health and cardiovascular diseases are expected to the be the two prime contributing factors to illnesses worldwide by 2020.

Studies also show that our ability to directly access nature can alleviate feelings of stress. The millions of neural channels in our brain link to the human body’s nervous system. This system is comprised of two networks: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic systems. The sympathetic system stimulates the human body when cognitive function is needed. The parasympathetic system serves to relax the body and is used for internal processes such as digestion. When the body’s natural balance of sympathetic and parasympathetic is achieved, the body is in the ideal state of homeostasis.

But in chaotic and stressful environments, like a busy office, the body’s sympathetic system is highly engaged in a “fight-or-flight” mindset. Concurrently, the parasympathetic system is suppressed, disrupting our natural balance and resulting in energy drain and mental fatigue. This combination induces stress, frustration, irritability and distraction. In contrast, human interaction with nature provides an increase in sympathetic activity. This results in decreased stress and irritability and the increased ability to concentrate.

In Japan Shirin-Yoku (Forest Bathing), the practice of mindfully spending time in the forest, using all of your senses to appreciate nature, has been proven to combat stress, enhance mental wellness and bolster brain health.

 

4. Feel happier and healthier.

Not surprisingly, biophilic elements make us feel in a more positive frame of mind.  Positive people have a positive impact on others, take better care of themselves and are healthier. Another point to consider here is that they are less likely to be off work sick, so if you are still on the fence about adding biophilic elements to your workspace, consider the impact it could have on reducing absenteeism in your office.

 

5. Attract and Retain the best talent.

 Having a thoughtfully designed, attractive workspace, full of natural light and biophilic elements, shows who you are as an organisation.  It also sends a powerful message about your social conscience and green-credibility and that you care about your colleagues.  We spend a large amount of time at work, and whilst we are there, we want it to be a positive experience.

Want to add some biophilic elements to your workspace, retail space or venue? Contact us today.


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The Three Pillars of Biophilic Design

 

Living Ceiling

Biophilia is a current buzzword in the world of well-being and workplace design. Planteria Group has written a White Paper on the subject, and there are lots of excellent in-depth pieces of work backed by research if you want to discover all aspects of this fascinating topic.

This blog article serves as a bite-sized look at one of the aspects of Biophilia…. the different types of Biophilic Models that exist.

There are three pillar concepts to biophilia-based design.

 

1. Nature in The Space

This refers to adding natural elements into the built environment. This is perhaps the easiest and cheapest way to introduce Biophilia to the workplace or living space and gives people instant access to all the feelgood associations of biophilia. Think potted plants and animals – for example fish tanks, office dogs and pets. Views to nature from the inside of the building, natural light, and direct access to nature like courtyards, gardens and roof terraces planted with greenery, also fall into this category. These direct connections to nature have the strongest impact on us as humans.

 

2. Natural Analogues

This concept refers to man-made elements that mimic nature. Artificial plants, preserved moss walls, representational artwork, patterns and architecture that evoke nature are all examples of natural analogues. Furniture with organic rather than geometric shapes. Woodgrain and building materials mimicking shells and leaves used in interior of exterior decoration are all excellent illustrations of the use of natural analogues.

Many benefits can be reaped from including natural analogues into a space, including reduced stress levels increased feelings of well-being and improved levels of productivity.

 

3. Nature of the Space

This concept refers to the physiological way in which space planning and architectural design affect our human responses and feelings. As a species we have evolved over millennia and our success is partially due to our ability to connect with nature. We are intuitively drawn to environments that will serve us and allow us to thrive or, entice us to explore. For this reason we find a Savannah landscape, with broad vistas of rolling pastures and a source of water such as lakes or a view of the sea to be the most attractive view.

We also find views involving mystery or even risk and peril as exciting, this explains our love of skyscrapers, and multilevel views such as mezzanines, atriums and spiral staircase as intriguing. Architects have capitalised on our innate affinity for these types of environments in their building designs.

Gaining more knowledge and insight into this subject is helping decision makers in the world of workplace management, design and build for happier and healthier businesses of the future.

 

Sources and Suggested Reading:

The Economics of Biophilia – Why Designing with Nature in Mind Makes Financial Sense. 2012 Terrapin Bright Green LLC

https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/reports/the-economics-of-biophilia/

Biophilia (1984) New Ed by EO Wilson (ISBN: 9780674074422)

Human Spaces: http://humanspaces.com/

Planteria Group Biophilia white paper:

https://www.planteriagroup.com/blog/biophilia-white-paper-/29

Kellert et al., 2008

Biederman & Vessel, 2006

https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/reports/14-patterns/

Edward O Wilson – “Biophilia”


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Biophilic Design in The Workplace – What’s it all about?

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As the design of the workplace evolves through various trends, from cellular office environments to open plan spaces and then the rise of agile working spaces, the rising trend of biophilic design has been hard to ignore.

 

What is Biophilic Design?

Biophilic design is essentially a design framework that intertwines the patterns of nature into the built environment, strengthening the human-nature connection. What makes this work is the effective incorporation of natural elements such as stone, wood, living green walls, water features, and plants into the interior environment.

Apart from the inclusion of natural materials, biophilic design also incorporates the use of natural lighting to help people maintain a natural circadian rhythm, access to fresh air through high quality HVAC systems and an overall design that encourages movement, such as stairs to keep people active and mobile.

Roof terrace area with ratten furniture, artificial grass and two tree style plants.

 

Why is Biophilic Design so Effective?

When all the features of biophilic design are combined correctly, what is created is a workplace that optimises employee performance, health and wellbeing, helping organisations reach peak physical and mental performance. Through our innate desire to protect and nurture that which feeds us and sustains us physically and emotionally, we instinctively connect with natural features such as plants, fresh air and water.

Whilst this may seem a financial luxury given the pressures on most organisations, economic reasons are actually one of the key drivers for the growing biophilic trend. As organisations become more aware of the value of investing in employee health, wellbeing and performance, the value of creating a workplace which fosters and improves this is seen as a sound economic policy.

Open plant office with bright yellow desk dividers and tree style plants potted around the room edges

 

Why is Biophilic Design Relevant?

Biophilic design is changing the way we work and has been a key feature in workspaces from workplace design pioneers such as GoogleAmazonApple and many others across the world. The focus in creating the best workplaces is also to do with attracting and retaining key talent and these companies realise that by investing in this area, they will be successful in attracting the top workforce and maximising creativity within that workforce.

With the World Health Organisation expecting stress related illness such as mental health disorders and cardiovascular disease to be the two largest contributors to disease by 2020, the onus is on creating spaces where worker wellbeing flourishes. Numerous studies have been shown to demonstrate that by incorporating elements of nature through biophilic design into the workspace, stress levels and ill health absenteeism can be reduced whilst productivity, creativity and wellbeing are improved.

Mezzanine level meeting room in office with artificial grass

 

How Do We Implement Biophilic Design in Our Workspace?

The best way to implement biophilic design is at the outset of a project. By involving all the key stakeholders in such a project, including employees, facilities managers, finance teams, office design consultants and biophilic experts like Planteria Group, the whole picture can be realised.  Incorporating the spatial and human opportunities that exist enables the organisation to realise a plant display and design that increases performance, wellbeing, creativity and profit.

Planteria Group work closely with Zentura, specialists in office design and fit out, to design biophilia into the perfect space for you creating the ultimate working environment.  You can find out more, take a look at their case studies or obtain a free consultancy session here.


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