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.

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

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

Terrariums Add Style

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Terrariums are making a stylish statement in luxury hotels, restaurants and in the receptions and board rooms of blue-chip companies thanks to our help. These exceptional planters offer a wonderfully unique and interesting way to display a variety of plants such as succulents, air plants, moss & more.

Terrariums enjoyed popularity in the 1970’s and they’re making a comeback on a massive scale. We’re glad because we think they look great and we love making them too.

As more people discover the benefits of planted terrariums we’ve noticed an increase in our requests to supply them to hotels, facilities management companies, offices & beyond. They’re on trend, easy to maintain and make a big impact to impress clients, employees and visitors at your place of business. They’re also a real conversation-starter to get people speaking and engaging with your brand.

If you’re unsure what a terrarium is, it is defined in the dictionary as: a glass container, chiefly or wholly enclosed, for growing and displaying plants. Terrariums are usually closed or partially closed glass containers such as fishbowls, jars or vases containing soil, stones and a variety of plants. Due to the popularity of terrariums they now come in all shapes & sizes, allowing you to choose the style and plants appropriate for your space.

Why choose a Terrarium?

  • Low maintenance
  • Saves space, good on top of surfaces to avoid clutter
  • Great in receptions, communal spaces & meeting areas
  • Add greenery to your workplace in a unique & stylish way
  • Modern alternative to fresh flowers
  • Terrariums make a statement and they are very unique & out-of-the-ordinary

4 Benefits of Terrariums

  1. These unique little planters create a peaceful atmosphere and can help reduce stress & anxiety by adding biophilic elements in the workplace (learn more about Biophilia & why it’s important)
  2. Increase productivity, creativity and happiness
  3. Employees are 15% more productive  when workplaces are filled with just a few houseplants
  4. Make spaces more welcoming and inviting for employees, visitors and clients.

Interested in how we can offer similar improvements for you?  Contact Us Today or Request a Free Online Quote.

Follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for regular updates, inspiration and case studies.

Biophilia White Paper

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We spend a great chunk of our lives at work. For some, this isn’t so bad. Walk into a high-ceilinged workspace, filled with natural light, artwork and plant life and it’s more than likely your creative ability will be invigorated. Yet these offices are few and far between, with the reality likely being a drab, open plan office that sucks the creativity and enthusiasm from you the longer you spend there. The way we design our offices is important, from the big aspects to the small, from the obvious to the obscure.

This informative report is the result of research conducted by Where We Work, written by Jessica Andrews with input from Planteria Group.

Where We Work offers a focused range of workplace consultancy services, with the necessary tools and expertise to help understand your business, your people, and your place of work. Where We Work partners with clients to develop a robust workplace strategy by looking, listening and discussing how each company interacts with their space.

Biophilia is word that you’re going to be hearing a lot more of and it’s going to have an ever increasing influence on interior design and architecture. Yet many of us are probably unfamiliar with this term. This paper seeks to explain the concept of biophilia and its application in an office environment as well as investigating the potential benefits of plants in the workspace and why they are so often a forgotten element.

What is Biophilia?

Let’s start with the basics. What is biophilia? Simply put, it literally means ‘a love of life or living things’; stemming from the Greek word ‘philia’, meaning love. As humans, we have an intuitive and deeply ingrained connection with nature and a biological need for immersion in the natural world. The relationship between people and plants has always been profoundly important. Biophilic design is a response to this human need, which works to re-establish contact with nature in the built environment. Plants affect every aspect of our lives; without them life as we know it would not be possible. Plants not only make the air breathable, but kick off the food chain. We feel good in nature, if you were asked to picture a place where you feel calm and relaxed, chances are you would pick a scene involving nature. This is backed up by statistics which show that 90% of us imagine a natural setting when presented with this task (Mocha, 2013). Our mental and physical well-being depends on engagement with the natural environment, being in a drab room without windows and piped air makes us feel lethargic, even depressed.

A connection with the natural world is clearly important. Yet we are living in ever more urban environments, deforesting trees to build our cities around the globe. The increasing academic and organisational interest in biophilia and biophilic design is driven by the positive outcomes that it can help to create, for both individuals and businesses.

This increasing interest in biophilia comes at a time when, as a species, we are more disconnected from nature than we have ever been. Living in an inner city, one can go days without seeing a patch of grass. Living and working in central London, you have to actively search out areas of green, else it could be weeks before you escape the underground, sky scrapers and office spaces overlooking (you guessed it), yet more concrete.

At a time when businesses have more knowledge than ever before on the effect of work environments on their people and their bottom line, it’s surprising that the biophilic agenda is still in its infancy.

In its rawest form, biophilic design is the theory, science and practice of bringing buildings to life and aims to continue a person’s connections with nature in man-made environments, such as offices, where we live and work every day. By mimicking natural environments in man-made ones, we can decrease our isolation from nature and create workspaces that are imbued with positive emotional experiences. (Human Spaces, 2015)

 

Bringing nature to work

Biophilic design brings an office to life. The benefits of biophilia stretch far beyond the practical benefits of recycling clean air.

Recent research into biophilia has found the positive impacts contact with nature can have. Studies have shown that this impact includes increasing academic performance amongst school children, increasing consumer’s willingness to spend and even reducing stress and anxiety before medical procedures. People exposed to natural surroundings are more energised, feel less stressed and have improved attention spans (Human Spaces, 2015) – all good news for employers. Recently, white papers such as ‘The Economics of Biophilia’ have shown us that natural materials in a workspace are not extravagances, but a way to make cost-savings and drive profits. (Terrapin, 2015)

Analysis has shown that individuals with a view from their desk of natural elements such as water, trees or countryside have greater levels of well-being that people who have a view of buildings, roads or construction sites (Human Spaces, 2015). However, one study found that just 58% of workers have natural light reaching their desk and 7% have no windows at all – a clear indication that the benefits of bringing nature to work are not appreciated or applied to the workplace nearly enough.

However, it is important to note that in some cases it is not possible to provide employees with views of nature. If offices are located in the centre of a large city, it would not be a practical aim to strive towards. In these cases, it is possible to bring nature inside. Introducing plants, trees, water fountains and images of nature are all ways to add a biophilic element to an office space, increase the connection employees have to nature and reap the benefits this sows.

This may sound like a daunting task, but bringing plants into the office space has never been easier. Help is also at hand in the form of companies with a wealth of knowledge into biophilia and its application in an office environment.

 

Planteria case study

So we know that plants make us feel good. But how does this feeling directly apply to the workplace? How does having plants in the office impact the bottom line and how can business maximise the potential benefits?

Planteria Group are a company specialising in planting services, with clients in many different sectors including corporate offices.  Established in 1977, Planteria have grown over the past 40 years and now provide a national service to over 900 sites across the UK.  They have seen an increasing appreciation of the importance of planting in the work place.

“We have seen a change in the attitude towards planting in the work place.  What was once considered a ‘nice to have’ is now more likely to be viewed as a ‘must have’ and this is very positive.  However, we still have a way to go in raising awareness of the importance of biophilia and the beneficial effects it has on people, improving wellbeing in the work place, especially with businesses outside of our major cities.  Yes, planting helps to improve productivity and creativity but most importantly it improves physical and mental health and creates a happier environment.  So much time is spent at work, creating the best possible environment for your people is paramount.

Plants and flowers do so much more than add the finishing touches to an interior they can create a completely different ‘feel’ to a location.  What was clinical and bland can be transformed into a vibrant, or more relaxing space.  Planting can also be used for practical benefits.  For example, a living wall or moss wall will improve acoustics by absorbing sound.  Cabinet top planting can cut clutter by removing the areas where people leave cups and folders or unclaimed printing.  Or add live planting dividers to get the benefits and attractiveness of plants whilst creating instant, low cost break-out areas and informal meeting spaces in open plan office.

As one of the first tenants to make their home in London’s Iconic Walkie Talkie building.  Insurance specialists, Lancashire Group were looking to buck the trend.  Their focus in establishing a single office for their combined Lloyd’s and London market operations was to move away from the more usual monochrome minimalism and instead opt for a warm, homely, fun atmosphere for the workplace, with soft furnishings and materials to create a look that managed to be both high-end and cosy.

Plants were an essential element to complete the interior and we chose them with care to reflect and enhance this concept.  We used bark containers in the client waiting area along with neutral white containers in the office and meetings rooms.  Succulent plants add a fun, contemporary touch to the breakout areas, and funky square cabinet top displays completed the fit-out.”

 

Biophilia and productivity

An all too common belief is that money spent on plants is money wasted (Dravigne et al., 2008). This is a sentiment that has been widely shared throughout history, where literature argues that clean, obstruction free work spaces are the most economical route to business health and productivity (e.g. Haberkorn, 2005).

The ‘lean’, rather than ‘green’, philosophy has a long history indeed. The idea that productive workplaces are those free from interference was formally put across by Josiah Wedgewood in the 18th century and it was this work which inspired Frederick Taylor (1911) to apply the principles of scientific management to office space.

In the wake of these findings, it is common for managers to insist that workspaces should be clear of plants, pictures and anything that is not directly required for the job at hand, in order to streamline operations and maximise productivity (Haslam & Knight, 2006). Yet doesn’t basing these assumptions on work that is over a century old seem a little foolish? Indeed, the workspace, the products and services we provide and the technology we use would be unimaginable to Taylor when he came up with his theories.

The evidence suggests that to neglect enrichment in the workplace is foolish indeed. Research by Knight and Haslam in 2010 found that people who work in an environment enriched with plants were more productive than their peers who worked in a lean space. Additionally, levels of wellbeing – measured by sick days, feelings of comfort and levels of job satisfaction – were significantly higher in the spaces containing plants. This study found the lean space to be inferior in all dimensions.

Why do plants have this impact?

Generally, studies into the impact of plants have indicated that we experience a beneficial psychological and physiological reaction from being exposed to nature. Physiological stress, or arousal (as measured by heart rate, blood pressure, and/or skin conductance) is often lower after exposure to plants and nature as compared with urban settings and exposure to nature has been shown to have the capacity to improve attention (Berman et al., 2008).

As it stands, there are three main classes of explanation for these responses. The first states that plants, as living organisms, have a beneficial influence on the climate of the working environment – in particular because they improve air quality. Indeed, when planted in sufficient quantity, indoor plants have been shown to remove many types of air-borne pollutants from both indoor and outdoor sources (Nieuwenhuis et al., 2014). In offices with plants, staff well-being increases and there is a reduction in sick leave (Bergs, 2002). Plants ability to absorb carbon dioxide also has beneficial implications for the office; studies have found that student performance declines with increasing CO2 levels (Shaughnessy et al., 2006), as does workplace productivity (Seppänen et al., 2006).

The second explanation of plants’ beneficial effects revolves around our evolution. Evolutionarily speaking, a green environment reflects the natural world and so supports human physiology (Appleton, 1975).

The third and final class of explanation moves away from physiological responses and instead considers the managerial consequences of enrichment. The basic premise of this theory is that enrichment of the workplace (whether through plants or other means) signals that attempts are being made by management to improve staff well-being (Vischer, 2005). This sense of managerial care communicates their focus on employee well-being, which may lead to increased attention at work, greater productivity and engagement and lower absence and attrition. Evidence supporting this idea comes in the form of a study by Dravigne et al. (2008), which showed that people working in offices with plants reported feeling happier in their job and their performance.

Additionally, this study emphasises the aforementioned point that transforming a lean office to a green one contributes not just to employee welfare, but also to profits and organisational output. Lean, it appears, is meaner than green, not only because it is less pleasant, but also because it is less productive (Nieuwenhuis et al., 2014).

When we’re happy and feeling good, we have a more positive outlook and are generally able to do more. There is clear evidence which directly links biophilia with organisational output. In a study of call centre workers, the numbers of calls handles per hour was 6-7% greater for those with a view of the outdoor environment, in comparison to those with no view. (Human Spaces, 2015)

It is clear that enriched spaces lead to improved job performance and greater productivity.  Yet of course, this idea that empowering organisational strategies have positive consequences is not new to either social or organisational psychology. Both of these disciplines benefit from massive literature supporting the notion that productivity and well-being can be enhanced by including employees in the decision making process and giving them a voice in their workplace (e.g. Eggins et al., 2002).

So, with this abundance of evidence pointing to the fact that enriched spaces make us happier and more productive, why are aspects such as plants not a feature in all modern office spaces?

The problem with the modern office

The way we structure our offices has changed considerably over the past few decades. More often than not, the world of the modern office is dominated by open plan. It’s not hard to identify why this change has occurred, the cost of space has sky rocketed and open plan provides a cost effective way to maximise the number of staff on the office floor. Yet the evidence suggests that the costs of open plan offices might offset the benefits of savings in terms of space if it is not implemented properly, as part of a multi-layered office design. They are often cramped, noisy and starved of light and some staff find themselves in the position of having no opportunity to express their identity at work – at all.

Studies across the pond have found that 70% of American workers personalise their workspaces. Yet it is managers and employees with enclosed offices who decorate more than their co-workers in open plan spaces (Wells & Thelen, 2002). In open plan spaces, personalisation of low-status working space is often infrequent and discouraged (Laing et al., 1998). The dominance of open plan offices means that the majority of staff now suffer from a lack of identity at work and a 2010 study by Knight & Haslam found that clean-desk policies resulted in high levels of personal identity threat, increased stress and a reduced willingness to contribute to company policy. This is thought to be due to the limited opportunities these staff had to express their personal identities, for example by decorating their workspace. Open plan offices themselves are not the problem, as they do have their benefits. However, it is important that offices be designed with the drawbacks open plan can have in mind and counteract these issues – for example by including quiet spaces, artwork and greenery.

A final thought…

The evidence that enriched spaces which involve employees in their design boosts morale and productivity is important. Perhaps most notably because it challenges the managerial models which argue the best way to manage is by removing autonomy and control from staff and having decisions come only from managers – as was noted by Bibby in 1996 (work which is still very relevant to academic research today). The fact that giving workers ‘some say’ in the design of their workspace is seen as ‘experimental’ indicates just how ingrained the ethos of managerial control has become.

At its core, the simplistic answer as to why plants are so often neglected lies with the individuals responsible for office design. The management of the modern office is typically influenced by architects, interior designers and facility managers, rather than by psychologists and office workers (Cohen, 2007). Managers need to move away from an autocratic style of management, towards a more collective approach to office design which involves staff at all stages of the process. Giving employees a say in the type of plants to introduce into a space is a great way to begin this movement.

The idea of incorporating nature into the built environment through biophilic design is less often seen as a luxury in the modern workplace, but rather as a sound economic investment into employees’ health, well-being and performance. Plants in the workspace can have a remarkable impact on employee well-being, both from the biological impact of their presence and the psychological benefit being involved in decision making can have. With this in mind, it seems that taking baby steps to introduce the natural world into the man-made one we have created around us, seems to be of the utmost importance to the well-being of office staff. It seems starkly apparent that green really is better than lean in all walks of life – and the modern office should be no exception.

Author: Jessica Andrews

References

Berman, M.G., Jonides, J., & Kaplan, S. (2008). The cognitive benefits of interacting with nature. Psychological Science, 19, 1207–1212.

Bibby, A. (1996). ‘Leeds: working life in Call Centre City’, updated from an original article in Flexible Working, August; http://www.andrewbibby.com/telework/leeds.html (last ac- cessed 27 June 2006). 

Cohen, L. M. (2007). Bridging two streams of office design research: A comparison of design/behavior and management journal articles from 1980–2001. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, 24, 289– 307. 

Dravigne, A., Waliczek, T. M., Lineberger, R. D., & Zajicek, J. M. (2008). The effects of live plants and window views of green spaces on em-ployee perceptions of job satisfaction. HortScience, 43, 183–187.

Eggins, R. A., S. A. Haslam and K. J. Reynolds (2002). ‘Social identity and negotiation: subgroup representation and super- ordinate consensus’, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, pp. 887–899.?

Haberkorn, G. (2005). Improving flow in an office setting. In Productivity Press Development Team (Ed.), The lean office: Collected practices and cases (pp. 95–104). New York, NY: Productivity Press.

Haslam, S. A., & Knight, C. P. (2006). Your place or mine? BBC News Web site. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6155438.stm

Human Spaces. 2015. The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace. Available from: http://humanspaces.com/global-report/

Knight, C. & Haslam, S. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied American Psychological Association 2010, Vol. 16, No. 2, 158–172 1076-898X/10/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0019292 

Laing, A., Duffy, F., Jaunzens, D., & Willis, S. (1998). New environments for working. London, England: Construct Research Communications. 

Mocha. 2013. What is Biophilia? And why you need biophilic design in your home. Available from: http://www.mochacasa.com/blog/biophilia-biophilic-design/

Nieuwenhuis, M., Knight, C., Postmes, T., & Haslam, S. A. (2014, July 28). The Relative Benefits of Green Versus Lean Office Space: Three Field Experiments. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. Advance online publication.

Terrapin. 2015. The Economics of Biophilia. Available from: https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/report/economics-of-biophilia/

Wells, M., & Thelen, L. (2002). What does your workspace say about you.  Environment and Behavior, 34, 300–321.?

Moss Walls: Q & A

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Greenery is much sought-after in today’s workplaces and within the hospitality industry, not only because it enhances a space visually, but it also has positive effects on health & wellbeing.

There are numerous studies about boosting mental wellbeing, increasing productivity & creativity and for those in the Hospitality industry a new report indicates that having more greenery in reception areas can increase the amount of time spent in these areas, translating to more revenue generated for your business (Human Spaces Biophilic Design In Hospitality report).

There are several benefits to choosing a moss wall in your workspace, including the fact that they are completely maintenance-free.  Working within facilities management, business & hospitality sectors, we can offer bespoke moss walls with your company logo or corporate colours and we can help you achieve the look you’re after, even in the smallest of spaces.

Moss Walls are in high-demand, and we’ve asked our resident moss wall experts some questions to help explain what they are, how to look after them and more.

 

Q:   What is the difference between a moss wall and a living wall?

A:   Living Walls are made up from live plants planted in modular compartments and require regular maintenance, with an irrigation system is built into the wall. Moss Walls are made from moss that has been preserved, so it won’t grow anymore, and it won’t decompose.

 

Q: How is the moss preserved?

A: This is like asking a chef for a recipe!  The moss is usually preserved with glycerine.  The moss is then washed though using food grade type colourants, so not to be harmful in anyway, and to ensure the colour stays vibrant.

 

Q:   Do moss walls require water & light?

A:   No, Moss Walls can go anywhere internally and no water or light is required.  This is one of the benefits of choosing a moss wall.

 

Q: What level of maintenance is required for a moss wall?

A: No maintenance at all is required for Moss Walls other than a spot of dusting every now and then. (we recommend a feather duster)

 

Q:  How long does a moss wall last?

A:  Moss walls are long lasting installations and will need the least care and repair if they are in lower traffic areas where they won’t get touched or bumped into.

 

Q:    What are my choices for a moss wall? Are there different types and colours of moss?  

A:  The moss we use is available in 16 different colours, and we can create client logos or other patterns in the walls if desired (as seen in the photo above).

 

Q: Where can it be installed, is it suited to some environments more than others?

A: Moss can be installed in any interior location, for aesthetic enhancement and/or for sound absorption.  They are not recommended for exterior use

 

Q:   What are the benefits of a moss wall?  

A: Moss walls can help with noise reduction, they require minimal maintenance, they add greenery and a biophilic design element, help increase productivity & creativity, adds a feel-good factor to those in the space, promotes calmness and wellness and much more.

 

Do you have other questions not listed here?  If so, let us know so that we can answer them for you.

Request your FREE quote for a moss wall today: https://www.planteriagroup.com/free-quote/

The Secret to Happiness at Work

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We hear about it all the time; it could be you or it could be a colleague, but someone that you know, somewhere right this second, is currently complaining about their line of work. What we are asking ourselves in this blog, is how much of this unhappiness is self-imposed, and what can we possibly do to help ourselves learn to love life (including work) a little more?

Happiness is a State of Mind

Happiness comes easier to some people than it does to others – it’s a simple fact. It’s a bit like losing weight; not everyone finds achieving the perfect figure a breeze, and for some of us, trying to feel happy and upbeat can leave us feeling more tired than a full workout.

Just like reading blogs about work-out tips and tricks to take to the gym, you can’t simply read advice about how to improve your level of happiness and expect to see the benefits without putting the work in. This blog will provide you with a happiness training regime for your mind, however, it’s up to you to act on it and find what works.

How to Wake-up Happy

We all have those days where we ‘get out of the wrong side of the bed’ – when the bed is just too warm, it’s cold outside, and you know you have a difficult day ahead of you how can you reduce the chance that you might start your day off on the wrong foot?

Get More Sleep

The first question to ask yourself is how you have been sleeping? Good sleep is crucial to having a positive attitude, so you should begin your path to happiness by working out how many hours of sleep you get and how it makes you feel in the morning. Everybody functions differently on different levels of sleep, so don’t let anyone else tell you what the norm is, because it is something best figured out for yourself.

On average, women need more sleep than men, and younger people need more sleep than older people. Your personal requirement for optimal function will also be affected by the amount of physical and mental stresses of your week. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep every night.

In today’s society, it can be difficult to recognise sleep as productive, but it is important to challenge this misconception. Achieving the right amount of sleep for you will improve your productivity, confidence and general health – what could be more productive than that?

Assess Your Sleep

Sleep isn’t merely a matter of hours spent in bed, unfortunately. The quality of your sleep is important too. If you wake up in the middle of the night, then your quality of sleep is arguably less than that of someone who successfully sleeps the whole night. If this is you, then try to establish a better bedtime routine. Winding down physically and mentally, and switching off electronics the hour before you plan to turn in, also avoiding caffeine in the evenings are helpful moves.

Warm baths before bed, good ventilation in the bedroom and also having houseplants like English Ivy or a Peace Lily for their air-purifying abilities can help some people.

Get Up Earlier

Getting up earlier can also work wonders to make you feel more positive and set the tone for the rest of your day, putting you in control of your morning. Perhaps your usual morning starts off in a bit of a rush to get out of bed, get dressed, finding last minute items that you need for your day, taking children to school, skip breakfast, grab coat, lock door and rush to work. It sounds a bit stressful, doesn’t it?

Getting up even half an hour earlier will allow you to get out of bed in a more relaxed manner. You will be less likely to forget important things while you are getting prepared for the day ahead. Most importantly you will have time to enjoy your breakfast, rather than just trying to eat it as quickly as possible or worse still, skip it. Breakfasting on healthy things like whole grains and fruit and including some protein, eggs for example or a protein smoothie, will set you up for the day and help to support a positive mindset. A quick carb and sugar breakfast of cereal or white toast and jam sends your blood sugar on a roller coaster of a quick high and then crash and burn

Just by finding the right amount of sleep to get and re-setting your morning routine, you can improve your mood and well-being at the start of your day. The next challenge is how you take that state of mind to work and keep it there.

Getting to Work Happy

Getting to work happy can be a challenge, especially when the traffic is bad. One way to offset this is by driving with the window open. Recent studies have found that stuffy environments with high CO2 levels can make people feel tired, which we want to avoid. By walking, cycling, or driving with the window open, you are increasing your exposure to fresh air in the morning, which is more healthy for your body and mind. You can read more about the importance of good air in our blog:Indoor Air Quality: Facts & How To Improve.

If you can walk or cycle to work this is great news because regular exercise is excellent for your body and mind too. Exercise brings transformative change to your brain, promotes a feeling of well-being and calm and releases endorphins – chemicals which make you feel really good and lifts your spirits.

If you are in the car, singing or listening to music is also recommended. A 2013 study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who listened to upbeat music could improve their mood and boost their happiness significantly in a matter of just two weeks.

How to Stay Happy at Work

Arriving at work presents the most challenging barrier between you and your happiness, because there will be factors that you can’t always prepare for, like a sudden crisis requiring you to work overtime or a difficult situation with something that saps your energy and patience. Finding happiness at work can be a test of resilience, but there is plenty you can do to improve it.

Keep Your Energy Up

At work, you will appreciate those extra hours of sleep and your pleasant morning routine all the more, because you will have more energy to deal with problems once they arise. This means that instead of buckling under pressure, you will be more likely to be productive and successful in the morning.

Many people find happiness from being productive and successful, so utilising tips to make the most of your day can help you to achieve more. Getting yourself organised can help a lot, but so can regulated and healthy snack breaks to rest your mind.

As well as perfecting your daily habits to promote productivity, you should also consider the environment that you work in, and maybe even consider changing seats in your office. Sitting next to people who can motivate you and with whom you can get along is another crucial factor to enjoying your day at work. You need to be with people who can pick you up when things go wrong or in the afternoon when your energy is lagging a little.

Workplace Environment

For some people, an untidy desk can be distracting; Junk food wrappers, stationary and random bits of tat can distract workers. This doesn’t mean that empty desks are the answer, however; improving your happiness by adding some beautiful office plants will bring many benefits to your workplace.

Office plants provide not only aesthetic improvements that are known to boost creativity in offices. The ‘Biophilia Hypothesis’ is the much-studied theory that human beings have an innate connection with nature, and that our connection to plants, flowers and other natural features in our environment contributes to our health and wellbeing. Having a view of plants in the workplace makes people more relaxed, less stressed, up to 15% more productive, and more creative than being in a workplace devoid of them.

Plants can also reduce levels of CO2, which, as previously mentioned, can have a negative impact on workers’ energy, productivity and health. A green office is a healthy office, and a healthy office is a happy office. We recommend the peace lily, snake plant or areca palm to craft the ultimate office atmosphere. You can read more about The Top 5 Plants for Your Office on our blog, or contact us for a free quote if you are interested in getting a bespoke design service for your office with us.

Add more fresh air to your day by going outside for a walk in nature, by taking a lunch break, breathing deeply and getting more exercise. You might be tempted to work through lunch, eating a sandwich at your desk, but you’ll be more productive and energised by taking a break and getting active.

Finding happiness is all about how you treat yourself and finding the willpower to keep good habits going. It might not be easy for you to put all of these methods into practice – we understand how hard it can be to put your phone down and go to sleep – but a bit of sleep, a better diet, some more exercise and a few plants can make a world of difference.

The Rise of the Shared Workspace

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Start-up businesses have a problem: today’s rent is too high to work from a traditional office set-up. But perhaps you have the solution – would you consider opening up your property as a shared workspace?

Between 2011 and 2018, the amount of flexible office space per square foot increased by 22%. And there is a big increase in demand for shared offices on today’s property market.

In this article, we will walk you through the expectations that businessses have for shared workspaces and offer ideas on how you can create a shared workspace aesthetic that will outstrip your competitors.

What Businesses Want

In order to create and sell a co-working space to prospective tenants, you need to understand their point of view. Businesses in shared workspaces can benefit from skills and knowledge sharing, as well as increasing their client portfolios through recommendations.

Companies such as digital marketing agencies and web developers, and other Tech industry firms are most likely to go into a shared workspace environment. Knowing this, you should tap into their wants and needs by providing fibre speed broadband, as many plug sockets as possible and some creative but comfy furniture. Think of the businesses that you are marketing your space to and tailor the environment to match their needs.

There are some general truths that apply to any shared workspace that you need to know about. These include the fact that businesses who share workspaces and costs are more likely to prize high-end facilities where they can make the most of networking and learning from one another. The kinds of facilities that companies want the most are high spec kitchens and communal social areas. If you want to attract really high-end businesses, you should consider adding private gym facilities, showers and even an on-site café (think avocado toast, homemade burgers and quinoa salad rather than a greasy spoon).

As variety is an important part of the creative process for many companies, you must consider this during the planning phase; creative businesses will benefit from flexible open plan rooms that encourage uniqueness and interaction. You can express this through dynamic and trendy interiors that speak to the audience you are trying to attract.

Making It Work

One aspect of shared workspaces that can cause friction between the occupants working in them is the lack of privacy. Distractions are far more likely to arise in a shared workspace. Creatives can find this beneficial in terms of generating ideas, but there are some times when people need to able to concentrate. Get onboard the latest, growing office design trend of Activity Based Workplace Design (ABW) which is a mix of open, semi-private and private spaces in one office, add funky soundproofed pods, where confidential conversations can take place face to face, or critical thinking and detailed work can happen. Phone booths are also becoming very popular for those important business phone conversations, without sounding like you are in a call centre.

The Aesthetic

Companies looking for a shared workspace want something fresh, different and exciting. The aesthetic is therefore highly important. Décor needs to be instantly attractive with furnishings that are functional and comfortable. The blending of work and home continues, so do include soft furnishing, lamps and large office plants, which have the added benefit of also aiding productivity and creativity. Office plants will also make your workspace stand out from other workspaces, which will seem boring and old fashioned in comparison to your thoughtfully designed office.

Short Term and Flexibility

One aspect of Co-working spaces that landlords should be aware of is that most businesses are reluctant to sign long-term leases for shared offices. Agility is a top priority for both modern businesses and workers, so shorter contracts which can offer more freedom are more attractive.

Property owners may find this an intimidating prospect, but if you are confident that the space you have created is a positive one, then you should also feel confident in supplying short-term contracts that other businesses will continue to sign.

Including all of the above suggestions – attractive designs, trending colour schemes, incorporating biophilia – you should aim to make the experience as stress-free for your tenants as possible. Having a great ‘Community Manager’ or Building Manager on hand for those unforeseen problems is a great idea. The ability to handle even the most minor issues with efficiency will definitely endear a business to your property and could turn a short term lease into a very profitable relationship.

Shared workspaces are the future, and could well be a secret weapon in our success as a country post-Brexit, as we nurture and encourage entrepreneurial start-ups and tech businesses, especially in big cities like London and Manchester. If you’re looking to create the perfect office space, contact us to find out how our talented florists and plant technicians can augment your property.

Lunch and Learn

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Want to have a fully engaged workforce that understands your whole business? Lunch and Learn sessions are a perfect place to start. Create a culture of continual learning and ideas sharing, and help different teams socialise and get to know each other better.

Lunch and Learns foster growth, team building and presentation skills within the business, whilst making the most of your employees time at work. The Lunch and Learn concept is one that the most successful businesses implement, and here we tell you more about the benefits, how to run your own and some mistakes to avoid.

What Is a Lunch and Learn

A lunch and learn is the coming together of two fantastic concepts and this is usually represented by some kind of presentation or activity happening during the lunch hour. This presentation is usually provided by one of your employees or is sometimes given by an outside speaker. The depth of the presentation will depend on the typical length of your lunches, but you could always consider a longer lunchtime on those days for a more leisurely or in-depth experience.

A lunch and learn should be easy for all to attend, hold them in-house if you can, in your board room or wherever you can comfortably gather your staff and where they can see and hear the speaker clearly. Ideally with access to a screen to view the presentation.

Offer lunch, this is a big draw for many staff. A finger buffet or sandwich platter or something more exciting. This gives staff a chance to get away from their desks and have a change of scenery. Many people work through lunch or skip it entirely and this is not good for their health or their productivity levels. So setting new practices like a lunch and learn will break up the day and help to reinvigorate your employees.

Key Benefits

A lunch and learn allows your staff to develop a wider knowledge of your business or industry. It can be used to develop thinking around new technologies available in your sector, or hear from suppliers about new products and how they could add value to your offering. The lunch and learn is also a great opportunity to grow in-depth knowledge of your internal functions, bringing together disparate teams and forming bonds between workers which will encourage your employees to appreciate the business as a whole, as opposed to only ever seeing their own small part.

CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and is the term used to describe the learning activities professionals engage in to develop and enhance their abilities. It enables learning to become conscious and proactive, rather than passive and reactive. There are over 1000 Institutes and Professional bodies across the UK and the number is growing, many of your staff may already be members of some of these. Engaging in Continuing Professional Development ensures that both academic and practical qualifications do not become out-dated or obsolete; allowing individuals to continually ‘upskill’ or ‘re-skill’ themselves, regardless of occupation, age or educational level. Typically, continued professional development can take many forms includingonline courses, reading white papers, attending seminars and industry-specific presentations. With this in mind, you can find out what your own staff requirements are and help them by delivering suitable lunchtime learning sessions.

Here are some more specific advantages gained by conducting lunch and learns:

Connect with Quieter Teams

It’s a fact of any business – some teams are simply quieter than others. This might be because their line of work is more likely to attract introverts, or it could be that the employees just aren’t so high profile.

Having a member from the quiet team present at a lunch and learn can illuminate their team’s work habits and purpose. Dissolving the air of mystery that inevitably shrouds some employees is an important part of creating a cohesive workforce that respects and understands every individual.

All for One and One for All

Although explaining the purpose of quiet teams is especially important, giving everyone the chance to explain their line of work can be illuminating. Lunch and learns are opportunities for different teams to advertise the skills they have learned to one another, which can encourage employees to develop a more thorough understanding of the business and to work more closely on projects, especially useful in larger matrix structured organisations. This also encourages internal development and agility, for staff to move to new roles within your company.

 

Setting Up Your Lunch

The key to a good lunch and learn is organisation. You need to know what, where, who and when, as well as having a clear plan of what you want to achieve with each presentation, including an overarching goal. These business-wide aims will include making more friendships between co-workers of different teams and connecting workers. You can achieve these aims by crafting an exciting and thoughtfully organised lunch and learn programme through the following tips and tricks.

Catering Staff or Local Lunch

You can’t host a lunch and learn without the lunch, so firstly you need to decide where you will be dining. Go for a simple option of food that can be eaten without too much mess, noise or smell. Make sure it’s tasty and you’ll have staff coming back for more.

Whether you go local or for catering will depend on the size of your establishment, cost and the needs of your staff. Don’t forget to cater for all needs, check on dietary requirements in advance. The lunch is often the biggest attraction at these events, but you also need to consider organisation and communication.

Organised Times, Organised Staff

You need to be consistent with when your lunches are organised if you want your staff to appreciate them. Consistency will ensure that your staff recognise when a lunch and learn is upcoming so that they can organise themselves and their schedules around it.

For example, those staff members who use three out of five of their lunches each week completing personal activities – going to the gym, running errands, meeting with friends – will hopefully remember to keep lunch and learns free, if it happens on a regular date.

Communication and Encouragement

Not everyone will appreciate lunch and learns at first. Indeed, some will undoubtedly view this exercise as a corporate scam created to squeeze more working hours into the day. You need to avoid this by making lunch and learns an activity that staff actively want to be a part of, not something they are forced to attend.

You want your staff to leave these meetings extolling the virtues of a good lunch and learn, talking about the good food they had, the things they have learned and the people they spoke with. You might need to give some encouragement at first, but if you’re hosting them right, then the staff should be encouraging each other.

Things to Avoid

There are some problems that Lunch and Learn hosts can run into, which can sometimes only be seen with hindsight. We’ve listed them so that you can skip the experimental period and get it right from your very first attempt:

Employee Resistance

Some workers view their lunch break as one of the most important parts of the working day. It’s a time to unwind, relax, and let go of any morning troubles so they can approach the afternoon with a fresh outlook.

It is important therefore not to force attendance to these events because it could lead to tension in your workforce. Sell in the benefits and make the topics interesting and varied. Once your staff see that this is a regular event and hear positive feedback they will be keen to take part.

Dull Presentations

A boring presentation will impress no one. Remember that these occasions are happening on workers’ free time, so put fun before facts. You can spice things up by inviting a speaker from another organisation to present, or simply by ensuring that topics are both varied and useful.

At Planteria we are passionate about what we do and why we do it. To add value to the companies we work with, we offer a presentation to enrich your understanding of biophilic design and planting in the workplace. Get in touch to arrange for us to come and talk to your team.

With the growing realisation of the importance that plants and biophilia play in the workplace and their effect on wellbeing, creativity and productivity they have become an essential element in any commercial environment. We work with you to blend our knowledge and design flair to specify the right kind of plants to thrive in a particular space. These presentations are popular with Design and Fit Out companies, Architects and also with Property Management companies and at Tenant Meetings.

Read more about what makes us different.

Lunch and learns aren’t the only option available to you if you are looking to improve relationships between staff; we also recommend improving office environments with office plants, planning social activities outside of work and offering staff perks.

 

 

World Health Day Is Getting Greener

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April 7th is World Health Day; an important day for individuals, families and businesses to look a little more introspectively at how they live and whether there are any areas for improvement. For the individual, this could be as little as a resolution to improve fitness levels or to reduce their sugar intake. For a business, it could be as big as a new office refit decked with office plants with the purpose of improving indoor air quality, reducing stress levels and improving wellbeing.

Whether your ideas are big or small, this article will teach you about how stress became the enemy of public wellbeing and how nature can be used to fight against its unwanted effects on the mind and body.

Stressed About Stress?

The World Health Organisation [WHO] cites poor mental health and cardiovascular disease to be two prime factors of worldwide illness by 2020 and at the heart of both issues is stress. Work is a large part of most people’s lives and many workers will attest that their work environment puts an emphasis on physical well-being, also recognised as the physical ability to get into the office and do the work.

This mentality, however, is proving to be quite old fashioned in the modern office; since 1986, WHO have been stating that health ‘is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity but a positive state of complete physical, mental and social well-being’. This means that a healthy working environment is one that does not only judge its employees on their physical well-being alone but also cares for their mental well-being.

This means listening to your employees when they are struggling with anxiety or heavy workloads and considering what you can do to make your workplace a happier environment. You might just find a rise in overall productivity when you make employee well-being one of your aims.

It should be understood by managers that the aim is not to remove all the pressures faced by the individual. After all, it is expected that employees will need to battle with emergencies and business-wide problems from time to time. If you feel that your company could improve its mental health awareness, you could start by considering ways to dilute the excessive stresses frequently felt by individuals. Offering more options to improve work life balance such as flexible working or allowing staff to organise their own working schedule can also be very useful. Encouraging people to talk about what is going on and offering moral support is also appreciated by your workforce.

Taking a look at the bigger picture, how can you make changes company-wide? This could be by updating your office look with some indoor office plants for a morale boost, or it could be that you introduce some new health-orientated perks for your workers.

How Can Nature Help?

The fight against stress is real; the British Heart Foundation speculates that high stress at the very least contributes to your risk for developing heart and circulatory diseases. One of the biggest dangers is that individuals will seek to assuage their feelings of stress with bad behaviours like alcoholism or overeating. If you want to keep a healthy business, it is equally important to spread the word about how individuals can adopt healthy ways to release their stress, as well as tackling their work-related pressures head-on.

You can do this by getting your business or team to spend more time in nature. It has been proven by a Dutch study that surrounding yourself with natural elements can lower stress hormones, so in turn, nature can be considered as a holistic measure against developing heart disease.

Indeed, some doctors in Shetland are already prescribing nature to tackle high blood pressure and anxiety. It should be remembered that these measures should not replace an individual’s pre-existing medications, but that many health experts are seeing benefits by adding a dose of nature to their patient’s prescribed treatment. The nature prescription has now been rolled out to all ten GPs across the Shetland, including the distribution of leaflets to help locals to understand the importance of outdoor therapy.

You can encourage your workers to spend more time in nature and increase their exercising by organising softball games in your local park, or by arranging an office hike. It can be hard to encourage all your workers to take walks in their own time if they are not already sold on nature’s beauty.

There is another way to connect them to the benefits of nature, you can introduce natural elements to their lives within your own office through our office moss walls and office flowers. Improve both their mental- and physical health with plants that fight dust levels and improve air quality. There are plenty reasons to have plants in the workplace which you can learn about through our infographic, and with our expertly trained plant technicians to take care of your office’s new plants throughout your contract, you won’t have to worry about finding time to manage their upkeep.

Office Moss Wall by Planteria

Let’s make World Health Day greener by spreading the word about the success of modern holistic practices together. We’re calling for more hikes and picnics at an individual level and a greater awareness of  the benefits of biophilic design in the workplace  business-wide. Please contact us for more information about how we can help you with an office refit that will not only boost employee morale, but health, too.

Further Reading:

1) Stress at the Workplace (Online Article, by the World Health Organisation)

2) Stress (Online Webpage, by the British Heart Foundation)

3) ‘Nature’ Being Pre-scribed by GPs in Shetland (Article by BBC News, 2018)

4) Gardening Promotes Neuroendocrine and Affective Restoration from Stress (Study by Van Den Berg and Custers, 2010)

 

Biophilia & other Reasons to Have Plants in the Workplace

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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 some office plants. 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.

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

Top Tips for an Office Make-Over

 

FUNCTIONAL FITTINGS

Interior design trends for 2020 are all about functional fittings. In the home, this translates to tidy rooms with pull-out furniture like sofa-beds, futons and extending tables. In the office, this translates to adjustable desks, so you can work sitting or standing, laptops for work away from headquarters and partitions for privacy between teams.

When brainstorming ideas for your office make-over, a good place to start is by improving what you already have.  For example, if you make use of basic office partitions between desks, why not use desk plants instead? Office plants have been proven to boost productivity and creativity, so doing something as simple as swapping out your partitions for greenery could see an increase in your returns down the line.

Adding office plants to your workspace is a magnificent way to transform it into a desirable place to work. Eco-themes are the future; they are an easy and affordable way to instantly upgrade an area and with a huge variety of plants to choose from they will have a unique feel.

 

It might seem obvious to some, but making sure that office supplies and useful items are in a designated and central location can save employees a lot of time, especially when inducting new employees, to whom the office is a strange new place. When rearranging your office, it’s a good idea to try to avoid moving these key supplies so that your workers can stay orientated.

STAFF PERKS

Think about why you are engaging in an office make-over; if you are doing it to impress clients, then you want something stunning, but if you are hoping to increase work quality and output amongst your staff, then you might be more interested in adding some facilities that they will surely appreciate.

Perhaps you can improve on the simple staff kettle that most (if not all) businesses have somewhere on their premises. The point of tea breaks – from an employer’s perspective – is to encourage organic team building opportunities.  You can further improve the relationships between your staff by providing them with access to gym facilities or making use of outdoor spaces to create a roof terrace, or courtyard with cafe style seating. We all recognise the benefits of encouraging a cohesive team that supports itself.  If you already provide these facilities to your staff, it’s always good to rethink how your staff are using the facilities. An influx of new employees might mean that the facilities you provide aren’t as relevant as they were before.

 

ADD A DASH OF COLOUR

Is your office exciting enough?  Take an objective look about.

Is it a generic space with white walls and a grey carpet? Being bold and adding some striking colour to a few feature walls, or areas of the office space will give your office a fresh new feel.  You could strengthen your brand identity by using a palette in your brand colours. Accent colours used in planters, soft furnishings and artwork will give the new scheme a pulled-together cohesive look.

Colour is a visual experience and actually has a subconscious effect on the brain.  Colour in the workplace has an effect on productivity, mood and emotion.  Warm colours like reds and oranges are known to raise energy levels and improve dynamism. Cool colours like blues and greens are shown to create a calming effect and improve critical thinking.Repainting your office and changing up the colours from time to time will ensure the office always looks fresh and clean and your colleagues will appreciate the effort that you put into providing them with a beautiful place to work in.

 

GREAT LIGHTING

Above all else, if you are going to be making improvements to your office, you should always consider the effects of your lighting.

We doubt that you’re submitting your staff to dodgy fluorescent lights that blinks on and off, but any inadequate lighting is unhelpful and could be costing your employees in new glasses prescriptions. We recommend offices with lots of natural light, but if you can’t remedy being in a dim office with very few windows, you can always supplement the existing natural light by adding mirrors to carry the light further by reflecting it. As well as prioritising sources of natural light, you should use lamps and high-quality light bulbs to make sure that your office shines.

 

The perfect office is possible; all you need are plants, perks, a touch of colour and some great lighting. We are more than happy to provide you with the plants, planters in every hue, and take care of them for you too.  To give your office a boost that outstrips your competitors, get in touch.