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:
It’s #WorldFMDay – Hurrah! We’re joining in the celebrations and recognition of Facilities Management (FM) people and projects that enable positive experiences. Some of our biggest clients are FM companies and BIFM members, so we know a thing or two about helping get things right for you and your clients.
In today’s world our cities are so built up and our environments often claustrophobic and bland so it’s more important than ever that we work together to create welcoming, feel-good spaces to enable businesses (and people) to thrive.
What could be more suitable than floristry and green planting to bring positive changes to the built environment? Planteria Group has 40 years of experience working with FM companies providing planting and floristry services to suit your budget. Even if you’re already working with another planting provider, we’re confident we can go above and beyond to meet your requirements. If you’re considering us, why not request a no-obligation free quote?
5 Positive Benefits of Planting for the Built Environment:
1) Soften the interior and/or exterior of your business, providing psychological benefits such as positive effects on reducing stress and promoting health and well-being. As humans we have an innate desire to be connected to nature, also known as biophilia, and it seems we have lost much of this ability to be in the natural world as our cities and work environments have become absorbed by the concrete jungle. By adding a variety of plants and flowers for businesses we suddenly bring back a part of the nature that we crave.
2) Increase productivity, creativity and happiness. It is proven that a vibrant, welcoming environment has positive effects on the speed at which we work and improves mood. Studies show that employees who are exposed to plants within the workplace, actively engage with their surroundings, are more productive and have a more positive outlook at work.
3) Make spaces more welcoming and inviting for employees, visitors and clients. Having a space that is pleasant to be in and beckons to visitors has a positive effect on businesses and improves perception of their image. Plants and flowers bring life to a space and boosts eco-credentials too.
4) Improve air quality and reduce allergens by cleansing the air. As shown in NASA’s Clean Air Study, plants provide a natural way of removing toxins from the air and also reduces the presence of aggravating allergens. NASA researchers suggest efficient air cleaning is accomplished with at least one plant per 100 square feet of home or office space.
5) Reduce sickness and absence at work. Combining all of the points above results in reduced illness and time away from work, increasing the overall effectiveness of businesses and staff wellbeing. One of the most common illnesses in today’s workplace is Sick Building Syndrome which is often linked to poor air quality and indoor air circulation which can easily be combated with a variety of planting solutions.
A recent Norwegian research study tested what happened when plants were placed into and then removed from offices. When plants were present headaches, coughs, sore throats, fatigue and dry skin all reduced. Several similar studies around the world have found similar results:
Absenteeism reduced by 30%+
Minor illnesses reduced by up to 30%
Dry skin reduced by up to 20%
Coughing reduced by up 37% due to improved air quality
Interested in how we can offer similar improvements for you?
Biophilia is a current buzzword in the world of well-being and workplace design. Planteria Group have 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 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
May is an important month for health, nurses and mental health awareness.
Every year on May 12th we celebrate International Nurses Day. Nurses save lives and create wellbeing and International Nurses Day is a day in which nurses around the world are celebrated for the fantastic work that they do on a daily basis. It also happens to be Florence Nightingale’s birthday.
Following this, beginning on the second Monday in May for one week, is #MentalHealthAwareness week, in which activities to raise awareness about mental health will be encouraged across the country. This year’s theme is Body Image – how we think and feel about our bodies.
Keeping yourself healthy is a key factor to longevity; therefore, making small changes throughout your routine today could benefit you greatly in later life.
Some of these changes are easier to identify, such as eating healthier food and exercising regularly.
However, a fact that some might be unaware of are the health benefits that plants and flowers can bring to the individual.
The Benefits of Flowers
In addition to being visually beautiful and having an appealing scent, flowers and plants also hold several proven health benefits.
1. Flowers Improve Anxiety
Most widely reported is the reduction in anxiety levels that flowers can provide.
For those suffering from anxiety, which is a third of us in the UK, flowers are said to restore some short-term calm and alleviate stress.
2. Flowers Can Improve Memory
A brilliant health benefit of flowers and plants, rosemary in particular, is the fact that they can sharpen the individual’s powers of recall.
In a 2015 experiment by Northumbria University, professors found that individuals who were surrounded by rosemary were able to remember more items from a specifically designed test as opposed to participants who had been surrounded with no flora.
3. Flowers Encourage Productivity
Through providing visual stimulation, flowers can encourage productivity in the workplace and increase brain performance.
Whilst a minimalist office might appear better to some, an office with plenty of plants and flowers can have a greater effect on the amount of work produced in it.
4. Flowers Can Fast-track Recovery
Many individuals report recovering quicker when surrounded with gifts of flowers and plants. There are many studies which prove that views of nature have a significant impact on patient outcomes, healing rates and also reduction of pain perception. This study showed the effects the environmental design plays on a patient’s outcome.
This is due to a number of factors: relieving stress and providing stimulation being only a couple.
5. Flowers Can Improve Mood
As flowers and plants are visually stunning, their appearance can improve the mood of those admiring them.
In addition, the injection of colour can brighten up a workspace, and the incredible fragrances ensure that the room is inviting and fresh.
6. Flowers and Plants Purify the Air
Indoor air-pollution within the workplace is an issue which contributes to thousands of sick days being taken each year.
This is when stagnant air sits within the building and has no opportunity to be circulated.
Flowers and plants can be used to combat this issue, as they absorb VCOP’s from the air as they take in carbon dioxide, and give off oxygen, thus purifying the air.
All of these health benefits are recognised in hospitals and other healthcare facilities throughout the implementation of healing gardens.
Healing gardens are areas of colourful flowers and plants where a patient can visit to promote recovery, find refuge and benefit from the peaceful surroundings.
In addition, in human nature is the innate desire to be near natural components such as flowers and plants.
This is called biophilia, and healing gardens provide the perfect access to these benefits.
Consider corporate flower bouquets to improve the working environment at your company – contact Planteria today.
Sadly, now that Halloween is over for another year, this isn’t an exposé on haunted houses, but it is about the benefits of biophilia. By adding a living wall to your building or office, you are more likely to improve your employee retention rates. This article will look at some of the benefits of having an office moss wall, whilst looking at some of the most inspiring uses of nature on buildings from around the world. Could your building be the next Churchill Arms?
The Benefits of Living Walls, Moss Walls and Living Pictures
It is well known that having plants in an office has many benefits. For example they can increase motivation and productivity by up to 15%. This means that smart employers are sure to be investing money in greener office environments. Some employers, especially smaller start-ups, might worry about the amount of space required to make an office green – a legitimate concern – which is one of the reasons why an office moss wall, or a living picture is an attractive option.
Living walls make use of space that isn’t being used already; without taking up precious floor space, they still offer all the benefits of having plants in the office. Faux versions are also available, whilst not so environmentally friendly, they do have the benefit of being low maintenance and long lasting and will give the outdoors indoors look.
In the past offices were often minimalist and stark, featuring black, grey and chrome. This look suggests power and efficiency, but an austere interior does not allow for individuality and it does not encourage creativity either.
We recommend that offices steer away from this power-oppressive mindset, and instead employ more plants into their designs. This will bring an eco-friendly touch, and with a specialised office moss wall, you won’t be sacrificing the professional aesthetic of your office either.
There are plenty of ways to incorporate an office moss wall into your building. By looking at some of the world’s most famous living walls, you might find yourself feeling quite inspired.
Cidade Jardim Shopping Mall (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
The Cidade Jardim shopping centre is inspired by the world’s most luxurious streets, and it makes extensive use of plants both indoors and out, and each of its stores overlooks a modern garden.
Cidade Jardim is Portuguese for ‘Garden City’, which could not be more true for this shopping centre. Climbing plants festoon the walls and balconies, and the floor gardens between the shops have natural-styled chairs for shoppers to take rest in.
The Churchill Arms Pub (Kensington, London, UK)
The Cidade Jardim shows how lots of plants can be used in a retail setting, but the Churchill Arms shows the draw of a spectacular planting display extravaganza that cannot be missed. Every year, The Churchill Arms beats every other establishment in London with its Christmas cheer, which has a noteworthy effect on its sales, too.
Each Christmas, punters flock to book their meal at the infamously Christmassy Churchill Arms in Kensington. It truly is a sight to behold. Consider what kind of audience your business attracts, and whether you too could benefit from showing off your Christmas cheer. When it comes tocommercial Christmas Trees, you’ll be wanting the best if you want to stand out.
Edgware Road Tube Station (Marylebone, London, UK)
London is becoming greener and greener each year. The Churchill Arms is one example of green Christmas cheer, but living walls can thrive all year round. The Edgware Road tube station in Marylebone, London, is one such example of an outdoor living wall that is not just eco-friendly, but artful too.
Holding an amazing 14,000 plants from 15 different species, Edgeware Road is a vibrant example of how you can attract attention to your business through living walls. These plants curl around one another in waves of colour and texture that really catch the eye.
Moss walls are a fantastic option for businesses looking to make their offices greener. They are low-maintenance, space-friendly, and very decorative. Differing from other living walls, moss walls (made from preserved moss) do not require water or light and will neither grow nor decompose.
We stock moss in 16 different colours, and we’re able to create an entirely personal design for your office moss wall, such as your company logo.
Keep your building or office looking lively by introducing more plants. Your employees will surely benefit from it, and therefore so will your business.
If you have any questions about living walls or office moss walls, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us. Likewise, if your creativity has been sparked by some of the amazing walls we’ve covered in this article, why not request your free quote on a moss wall today?
Four Simple & Inexpensive Ways to Improve Morale in Your Workplace:
by Chloe Pooley @ Liquidline
Making a good impression on behalf of your company doesn’t just revolve around your attitude towards staff and clients, but more so on how you present your business. Presenting your office well is one of the most forgotten about issues when managing a company and it’s rather easy to slip up, ending up with an office with mess here there and everywhere. Everything right down to how your office looks can affect the morale given off in the workplace which can even start to have an impact on your clients. There is nothing like a good first impression, so here are four simple ways you can implement today in which you can help to improve morale throughout the workplace for both employees and clients.
Offer Fresh Coffee Straight From Your Office
Everyone loves real coffee. There’s nothing better than waking up to the aroma of fresh coffee, so don’t make your employees even more stressed in a queue for Costa, bring the coffee right to your office, bean to cup, with a commercial coffee machine. As well as treating your employees, clients can also benefit from this, because who doesn’t love an impromptu cup of fresh coffee throughout the day? This is definitely one of the most simple, yet most important features that you can add to your office, and you’ll be surprised at the rewards it brings.
Bring the Outdoors Indoors
There is something truly pleasant and pleasing about a fresh bunch of flowers for offices. If your employees are working long hours, various fresh plants displays or flowers arrangements dotted throughout the office can definitely help boost morale and productivity. Just having an injection of colour and the fresh enticing smell of fresh flowers is sure to brighten moods; as well as transforming a clinical office into something much more welcoming and potentially inspiring. Flowers will also help promote an appealing image for your company and brand, so there are benefits to be had internally and externally when considering corporate horticulture. . Make it even easier for yourself by having flowers delivered fresh every week and plants maintained and service.
Keep Clutter to a Minimum
Messy employees? It’s easy to let standards slip when many people spend almost as much awake time in the office as they do at home. But not only does an untidy office impact the positivity of your staff, it will also look unsightly to clients coming into the office. Encourage your employees to cleanse and purge! A clutter-free area is proven to be good for you and tidying can even be therapeutic which can work as a morale booster in itself.
Welcome Ideas From Your Staff
Make yourself welcome to suggestions about how you can improve the morale across the workplace from your staff and even clients. After all, if you don’t actually know what is lowering the morale in the first place, then how will you fix it? But don’t just ask, start to implement these ideas!
What will you be doing to boost the moral in your workplace?
This blog post has been contributed by Liquidline, our suppliers for delicious coffee.
There are many things associated with the UK: tea that solves a multitude of ills, rain that never ceases and queuing that is a national sport in itself. Yet this sceptered isle is also renowned for its green spaces and as such boasts an astonishing fifteen National Parks across the nation.
This month, a week-long calendar of events is taking place to celebrate our National Parks and encourage us to get out and explore them.
From Sunday 22nd to Sunday 29th July a range of activities that the whole family can get involved in will be taking place up and down the country and here at Planteria Group we take a look at what’s going on and why you should get involved.
A Walk on the Wildside
Amongst the many studies that support the theory of the benefits that nature has on our mental health as well as our physical well-being, there is increasing focus on how interaction with animals influences this too.
With that in mind, the wildlife-friendly events organised as part of this week-long festival provide the perfect opportunity to get involved.
If you’re local to Exmoor, why not join the Evening Deer Search for a two-hour walk over three miles looking for the Red Deer at the Exmoor National Park on Tuesday 24th July starting at 7pm? Naturally shy beasts, it might be worth taking binoculars to ensure you catch a glimpse, but no dogs please!
Earlier on in the same day, the Yorkshire Dales National Park hosts a Secret Squirrel event in which a specialist guide will show you how to look for the squirrels and other wildlife that make the peaceful woods their home. Being a gentle afternoon stroll covering just a mile and a half, this is an ideal event for young and old alike.
A fantastic family event takes place on the Thursday of National Parks Week on the Cleveland Way National Trail, part of the North York Moors National Park. Taking around two hours to complete and costing five pounds per family, this fun Geocaching activity involves using a GPS unit provided as part of the event to locate clues that have been hidden in boxes. What’s more, as long as your dogs are on a short lead, they are welcome to help sniff out the clues!
The little ones can take charge with the Young Explorers Smugglers’ Treasure Hunt – with one nearly every day of the event – and use their smugglers’ map to search for hidden treasure, meeting at the Danby centre.
If you fancy something more physical, the Run ‘n’ Park event at Balloch on Saturday 28th July might just be for you; with a 2k and a 5k course marked out taking in the stunning, iconic views of Loch Lomond and with no official recording of times, you can take this event at your own pace and enjoy the great outdoors.
The kids can get involved at the New Forest National Park on each day of the festival on the Holiday Adventure Days. With activities throughout the whole day that they can enjoy, you can guarantee they’ll have a good night’s sleep after all that fun.
If you’re more of a hands-on type of person, there are plenty of great events for you to take advantage of. From dry-stone walling, letter-carving and archery to machine embroidery, there’s plenty of opportunity to learn a new skill in beautiful outdoor settings. Take a look at the diary of events to find an activity near you.
Of course, you don’t have to wait for an official week of events to enjoy our National Parks – nor are you only restricted to visiting a National Park to reap the benefits of spending time outdoors amongst nature.
Dr Andrea Mechelli of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at Kings College London, acknowledges that whilst it has long been understood that there is a positive link between contact with nature and health – in particular mental health – the lack of ability to gather qualitative data has led to little compelling evidence to support this.
With this in mind, he collaborated with the developers of an app called Urban Mind which tracked users’ movements through mobile devices and randomly asked them questions about their feelings and their immediate environment.
The findings were quite staggering, including not only demonstrating this positive link between the outdoors and health but also providing surprising but measurable results in terms of the length of time these positive effects lasted. He found, for example, that a single exposure to nature such as a walk or even time spent in a garden can have beneficial effects lasting up to seven hours.
Additional studies have shown how incorporating a green outdoor space in other settings, such as hospitals and care homes, has had a positive influence on successful outcomes for patients in relation to aiding their ultimate recovery in the case of the former and their improved well-being whilst being cared for in both circumstances.
So, the recent trend for providing an outdoor space in unexpected locations such as offices has been shown to be more than just improving the aesthetics; it can actually have a beneficial emotional impact on employees that can last a whole working day in addition to creating a pleasant environment to take a break and enjoy the visual stimulation, access to vitamin D and peace quiet from the humdrum of an office.
Additionally, these spaces provide an easy talking point that enables colleagues to engage with each other naturally thus improving relationships, whilst also providing handy sustenance and shelter for local wildlife.
The good news is that you don’t have to find the room to recreate the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in order to do this; any amount of space can accommodate an element of nature, from a small collection of pots planted up with flowers, a green ‘living wall’ to a roof garden hosting low-maintenance plants such as lavenders and other scented butterfly attracting plants.
Here at Planteria Group, we specialise in Corporate Floristry to help organisations to provide green spaces for the benefit both of their employees and their customers so to see how we could help you bring nature closer to home – or rather the workplace – get in touchwith us.
At Planteria Group we are proud of our core values and our big smiles which drive our approach to providing you with reliable quality service and the most stunning planting & floristry services you’ll find in the UK. We believe that with great values comes great service.
As a family-run business for the past 40 years we hold our values close to our hearts, and believe that this is one (very important) thing that makes us stand above other companies out there. Our values embody our personality and our dedication to service whilst shaping every aspect of our business to ensure we always give our best.
Outlined below are our principle values:
– Dedicated to Care
– Always Smart
– Committed to Excellence
– Relentless to Improve
Integrity – Our business was founded on integrity from day one and we continue to do what is right, acting responsibly and always following through on our commitments. We are honest and hard-working and will always work to achieve the high standards you have come to expect.
Dedicated to Care – we are in the business of nurturing and nothing feels better than the sense of achievement that comes with a job well done. There’s nothing we can’t handle and we thrive on attention to detail from the initial consultation through to the design process, planting and after-care maintenance. Nurturing plants, flowers and clients since 1977 – that’s something we are quite proud to announce!
Always Smart – Image isn’t everything but it is a big part of good business and it goes a long way in promoting loyalty & professionalism. Whether you visit us at our head office or if you use our services and view the results you will find us smart, tidy, professional and efficient.
Committed to Excellence – Anything less is not an option. We won’t settle for second-best and nor should you. We believe a job is only worth doing if it is done properly and professionally. All of our staff receive rigorous training and everyone at Planteria Group is an expert in their own field giving you the best possible experience.
Relentless to Improve – We are constantly challenging our designers and pushing boundaries above and beyond industry standards, driving innovation, design and execution of our services. We continue to explore and innovate using new concepts and technologies bringing you the best possible results.
Whether you’re a new client or an existing client (or perhaps a future client) we are confident that you will love our services and the benefits they bring to your business.
Planteria Group provides stunning planting & floristry for businesses & offices since 1977. Not only attractive to the eyes but other health benefits of greening your space include cleaner air, increased productivity & creativity as well as reducing stress & sickness creating an overall happier place to be. Interior & Exterior planting & flower designs available.
We’ve all been through a lot this year, Brexit, financial instability on the markets, turbulent politics at home and outside the UK. In true British style when the going gets tough the tough find everything they can to celebrate and be positive about.
If this seems a trivial thing, or superfluous to business requirements, it might be time to take a fresh approach and see what benefits can be brought to you by finding opportunities to celebrate.
You only have to look back a short way in history to be inspired by the famous ‘Blitz spirit’ Londoner’s displayed in the second world war, to see that this attitude is a winning formula. When the chips were down and the City was being destroyed around them, Londoner’s pulled together, they soldiered on and they found time to gather together to sing and celebrate small things. We can’t compare our current situation to the adversity of war-time London, but we can take a lesson from their attitude.
You’ve heard the expression ‘work hard and play hard’ this is a key part of building passionate, productive and resilient teams. If you’ve set targets and worked hard to achieve them, taking the time to celebrate is imperative. Recognising and celebrating when you reach your goals, or even smaller goals on the path to the final destination makes the effort worthwhile and reinforces the satisfaction of achievement. Take time out to applaud the efforts of all concerned with a meal, a reward or recognition event.
Here are some really good reasons why you should celebrate your successes:
A happy workplace brings better results for companies and individuals and is cited as a main reason for staff retention.
Celebrating with your team increases bonding and builds teams that work better together.
Celebrating success reminds the team of why you set the goal in the first place and spurs your team on to greater achievements.
Ironically sometimes even celebrating failure can be a key to success. Read how Spotify celebrated an unsuccessful experiment, and how not sweeping the results under the rug, but discussing it openly, created a win.
A great chance is coming your way, Christmas is fast-approaching, so why not plan an up-beat end to the year? Decorate your office, with Christmas Trees, wreaths and garlands. Push the boat out and plan a Christmas Party, Secret Santa draw, or festive drinks? Show your appreciation to your team for their efforts over the year, and use it as a perfect opportunity for some team-building.
With the lines between work and life blurring and the fact that we are often spending more time with our colleagues than our family members it’s important to create a more relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. To quote Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson “A business has to be involving it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts”.
‘Tis the season for goodwill to all men. So let it work for you and give you an excellent reason to end on a high note. Celebrate your collective successes, and spring-board your team into a positive and prosperous New Year.
A Business Improvement District (BID) is a not-for-profit collective of local businesses who have come together to help improve their immediate area. There are currently 47 BIDs in London, each of whom create, develop and fund projects that benefit local business and the community.
In 2008 ‘The London Plan’ the Mayor’s spatial development plan for London, introduced a new concept, ‘Green Infrastructure’ or GI including; green walls, living walls, roof gardens, rain gardens and ‘parklets’.
Increasing green infrastructure brings with it may benefits; Cooling the built environment and reducing energy consumption, improving air quality, improving health for residents, increasing wellbeing, enhancing biodiversity and creating attractive places where people want to be.
In 2015 Boris Johnson launched a new and more specific initiative called the “Wild West End” designed to link up Regent’s Park and St James’s Park with green ‘stepping stones’ to encourage more birds, bats and insects to the built-up busy streets. This initiative was handed over to the local BIDs. A variety of installations have since been put in place including green roofs, planters, beehives and bird and bat boxes to provide a permanent habitat for London’s wildlife. Adding wildflowers including oxeye daisy, birdsfoot trefoil, and field scabious attract butterflies and bees and create more natural habitats to provide foraging opportunities for robins, goldfinch and other species.
The London Wildlife Trust said it was a “fabulous step” towards attracting nature to the heart of the capital, and demonstrating “how wildlife can flourish amidst the hustle and bustle of the city centre”.
Boris Johnson said the initiative could transform the city for thousands of residents, workers and tourists. “London’s population is at an all-time high, so while we need to build new homes and improve transport infrastructure, we also need better quality green spaces,” he said in a statement. “There is absolutely no doubt that parks and green spaces in urban areas improve people’s wellbeing and quality of life.”
The widespread public benefits of the greening of public infrastructure mean that the delivery of GI has previously been seen as the role of the public sector and the challenge has been to make the case for businesses to invest.
Evaluation of Victoria BIDs Cleaning and Greening programme suggests that businesses increasingly recognise the value of Green Infrastructure in;
Attracting Customers – guiding customers to a retail space and making locations more inviting.
Maximising Spend – increasing the amount of time a customer spends browsing.
Motivating Staff – and retaining them.
Adding Value – working with suppliers and building relationships in the locality, giving back to the wider community.
Looking to the future, the ‘London Green Infrastructure Plan 2050’ projects ahead to our needs for the coming decades, it calculates that the capital will need the equivalent of 13,000 football pitches of new green cover by the middle of this century. These findings prove that green infrastructure projects are much more than nice-to-have and certainly not an afterthought. Green infrastructure is about conservation as much as it is about aesthetics. The future of land and property management will be more proactive and less reactive and better integrated with efforts to manage growth and development.
FM Manager or Eco Warrior? We can help you with a ‘GI’ project; Green roof, green / living wall, eco-friendly planting, roof gardens and more. Contact us today.
More than simply working to survive, modern workers in developed nations desire to be able to take pride in their work, make a meaningful contribution, and gain respect from their peers. The journey towards achieving respect in the workplace is a very personal one, but you can help your workers to achieve their career goals by providing them with an office that promotes their mental well-being.
Luckily for business owners looking to raise company morale, small easy-to-do things can make a big impact. This means that improving the mood of your workers can be as simple as offering free coffee, vouchers, office plants, or thoughtful useful gift items. This article will address some ideas which you can use in your company to help keep your workers happy, healthy and support them to achieve to the best of their ability.
Perks at Work
Place yourself in the shoes of your employees and ask yourself what kind of working environment you are promoting. What does their average day look like and how could you improve that? These are the kinds of questions that top companies are asking themselves when they’re looking to fix their offices. Google, for example, doesn’t hold back when it comes to ensuring its workforce are well-fed, hydrated and healthy; they provide free breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as free coffee to keep the caffeine flowing. Alongside these very ingestible perks, Google recognises the negative effects that stress can have on work-output, so they also offer on-site massages.
Your company might not have the resources to feed all its workers every day of the week, but you can apply a similar mentality when it comes to choosing which perks you should prioritise.
Office pets don’t necessarily mean buying an animal for the express purpose of having it inhabit the office. Chances are, plenty of your staff have pets of their own; asking them to bring their pets to work occasionally will come completely free of charge for your business.
There are plenty of benefits to bringing staff pets to work. Dogs and cats are well known for reducing stress, so this could be a cheaper alternative to Google’s on-site masseurs. On the other hand, there’s no telling how well-trained the pet is until they’re already in your office; no-one wants dog dirt on the office carpet!
A perk that shares qualities with office pets but won’t leave poo on your floor is the office plant. As well as adding a splash of colour to what might be a monotonous black and white office environment, office plants are also known for reducing stress and boosting health by improving air quality, and helping to connect your people to nature (known as biophilia).
You can use plants to decorate your office; to fill space softening the corporate image and blank white walls, to provide privacy or break up large open plan spaces, and to improve the acoustics, which works in a similar way to using soft furnishings. Plants are living organisms, so it’s important to choose a plant that suits your office. Perhaps start with easy, low-maintenance plants to see what your office can handle taking care of in the beginning.
If you choose to have plants placed around the office at intervals, you can connect your workers by establishing a watering rota so that each of your employees is sure to appreciate the greenery and reap the benefits of interacting with nature during office time. Alternatively, you can gift each desk with an individual plant of its own to promote feelings of individuality and creativity. Planteria offer a variety of plants for your office needs, and offer a free design and quote service, plus aftercare so that all the watering and pruning is taken care of by the experts.
Another way to reduce absenteeism in the workplace is to encourage fitness training among your employees. Fitter employees will likely be healthier employees with stronger immune systems. You can encourage this by offering your workers vouchers for the local gym, or you can go an extra step and encourage in-office yoga meetings which will have the added effect of bringing your workforce closer together by exercising as a group.
Yoga is a particularly useful exercise as it encourages participants to relax and clear their minds, allowing your workforce to be able to concentrate clearly on whatever tasks follow their yoga practice, eliminating any worries and stresses experienced during the morning routines.
Office Bar Friday
Show your workforce that you also get that Friday feeling, and perhaps treat them (and yourself) to something special when Friday rolls around. The appearance of an office bar during Friday’s final working hours will encourage your workforce to socialise, which will subsequently cultivate a stronger bond between your workers, which will increase productivity. Far from being just another cog in the corporate machine, you’re showing your workers that being a team is important, and by providing the drinks, you’re showing them praise for the week’s efforts.
There are lots of ways to increase productivity and mental-wellbeing in your office, not to mention that providing office perks means that your employees are more likely to stay with your company, rather than job hopping. Indeed, the average Brit will change employer every five years on average, according to the BBC. If you want to cultivate a strong workforce that’s going to stick around, it’s vital that you think about more than your workers’ needs; you should also address what makes them happy and content. Think office food, office pets, office fitness, office parties and office plants.
Are you an Eco Warrior, a Sustainability Superstar or a Green Hero?
We take a light-hearted look at this serious topic. Do you recognise your ‘Green Leadership Style’ and some of your challenges?
We also offer some practical suggestions to help you get your team on-board and make some green improvements around the office.
A recent, international study conducted by Unilever, revealed a third of consumers (33%) are now buying from brands based on their social and environmental impact. And an estimated €966 billion opportunity exists for brands that make their sustainability credentials clear.
The study asked 20,000 adults from five countries how their sustainability concerns impact their choices in-store and at home. Crucially, it then mapped their claims against real purchase decisions, giving a more accurate picture than ever of what people are actually buying – and why.
Strong emotions and opinions on the subject should be hardly surprising when you consider the vast amount of media attention that the problem of plastics in our oceans, and rubbish going to landfill, along with climate change accelerations. Are we all looking to someone else for the answers or are we creating the solution?
You’re likely to be the person in your workplace who is tasked with responsibility for steering your business into more environmentally friendly waters.
Which is Your ‘Green Leadership Style’?
“The Eco Warrior “
The Eco Warrior is most likely to be found working for a Tech-firm, in the Not for Profit sector, or in a company that is already integrated with a Green lifestyle. You are fully supported by your company who have embraced the plants you have added to all the indoor areas. Leading by example you will cycle, walk, or use public transport on your commute to the office. A true Eco Warrior will be on a personal zero to waste journey, having ditched shampoo in a bottle in favour of a bar variety. Woe betide any co-worker who is spotted with a single use plastic Frappuccino cup or a plastic straw! You lead by example and have a fervent conviction that we should all vote with our wallets and switch to greener and more ethical brands.
“The Sustainability Superstar”
You’re probably working for a large Multi-National with responsibility for ensuring sustainability across all areas of your business, which has already recognised the importance of this subject enough to appoint you to focus full-time on it. You are likely to review the compliance and green credentials of suppliers and potential business partners to ensure that there’s no ‘green-wash’ going on. This means reviewing documents and verifying details with a magnifying glass. You spend your spare moments reviewing news letters from http://sustainabilitypractitioners.org even when you wish you were strolling around Hyde Park or doing some ‘Forest bathing’ instead. Passionate about the importance of your role to create impact and effect positive changes, your natural business acumen and ability to influence the board, innovate and suggest changes that will also boost the bottom line, mean you really deserve a superhero cape to wear to the office.
“The Green Hero”
Being environmentally aware and ethical is ingrained in your psyche, and comes naturally to you. Your role as office manager or facilities manager is one of juggling many balls, and spinning plates, keeping the whole place running smoothly. However, yours is a challenging task as you are often battling against colleagues who don’t share the same mind-set, or are perhaps just not as ‘enlightened’ as you. You despair of the amount of paper used in the printer for tasks which frankly need not be printed at all. Not to mention the take-out wrappings, and cups which you keep finding in the waste bins rather than the recycling bins you have provided. Sometimes you wonder if you are sounding more like a nagging parent than a departmental manager. As Kermit the frog famously said, “It’s not easy being Green”, and some of your colleagues, it seems, are determined to prove him right. It takes time for people to adopt new habits. But you are on a mission to ensure that they do. Take it from us, you’re the one who really deserves a medal.
7 Easy Top Tips For Being Greener in The Office
Top tip 1: Cutting Back on Consumption – In the Kitchen
Ditch the coffee shop runs, or the coffee pod machine and most certainly get your colleagues out of the habit of buying single use plastic bottles of drink… and invest in a proper coffee machine or water filter. https://www.liquidline.co.uk/ check out the huge range from Liquidline and get a free quote or trial. If you just can’t quit your coffee shop habit then at least use a reusable coffee cup. Did you know that Starbucks reward customers who get into the recycling habit with a discount on every drink bought? Giving them a 25p discount every single time they bring in their own cup.
Top tip 2: Cups and glasses over plastic and paper
Use reusable water bottles and mugs at work.
Top tip 3: Prep Ahead
Save money and the planet by packing your lunch ahead of time with reusable containers. You might find that you make healthier, lower calorie choices this way too!
Top tip 4: Bring nature indoors
Did you know that having plants in your indoor environment can help clean the air, offset VOCs and CO2 emissions, and improve your mood?
Biophilia is the term for our love of nature and living things, we are genetically pre-disposed to feeling uplifted and ‘connected’ when we are exposed to natural elements. Including biophilic elements, like plants, in your office environment increase positive feelings, aid concentration and subconsciously connect you to nature and the wider world.
Bonus: plants look great and are a low-cost way to add contemporary decoration for any desk. You can get a FREE QUOTEfor office plants here.
Top tip 5: Make Greener Office-Wear Choices
If you wear shirts to the office choose ones made of natural cotton or even better organic cotton, as synthetic fibres wash into our oceans adding to the plastic contamination. Do a label check before buying new clothes and avoid clothes that need to be dry cleaned. If it really needs dry cleaning seek out your local “green” dry cleaner. Look for your local Johnson Cleaners… Branch search
You may have heard the expression – ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’. This is certainly true. Research indicates that impressions are formed very quickly, sometimes in as little as a second, and once formed are hard to change. When you think about your brand identity, what does your location and office or premises say about your business?
Does your building match your online profile and digital branding?
The first thing a prospective employee sees when they approach your company is the outside of the building, and this crucial first glance will tell them everything they need to know about whether they want to spend the majority of their week in your offices. Just like a home has a better chance of selling if the outside looks appealing, so too will your business attract more custom if the outside is aesthetically pleasing.
The attractiveness of a property and its surroundings when viewed from the street is known as its kerb appeal. Kerb appeal is a well-known term in the context of selling a house but it’s important for any property to maintain a good kerb appeal if it wants to draw positive attention.
Window boxes are the ultimate statement for creating some kerb appeal. These simple additions can give a company that perfect touch that makes the façade of the building one that passers-by will certainly give a second glance.
A Touch of Colour
Brightly coloured flowers and lush greenery will make a building’s windows pop, especially in the middle of a drab, city centre. In a street where other buildings are similar and there is a lack of nature, window boxes will mark out a building as a cut above the others, with a touch of luxury and class.
Window boxes can keep things interesting and can brighten up any building. You could even coordinate your window box to match any colours already present on the outside of the building. If the door is painted red, for example, then a window box featuring red flowers will coordinate and add impact to really make a statement.
A Company that Cares
Windows boxes aren’t just there to look great – although they really do – their presence alone speak volumes about your company. Flowers and plants show that you care about your image and your clients. Window boxes are not just a pretty decoration that you plant and leave, they require care and attention, and that care and attention gives the perception of a company that cares for and is attentive to its clients.
Seasonal Window Boxes
Window boxes provide a great opportunity to add interest throughout the year and ring the changes. Re-planting with seasonal plants, will really give that wow-factor and ensure that your window boxes and building look stunning all year.
Take advantage of the warmer spring months by adding a splash of bright colour and luxurious scent with spring bulbs. Daffodils, tulips and hyacinths, provide dazzling colours that will create an eye-catching window box and radiate those spring vibes. Lavenders are also a great choice with the added benefit that they attract bees and butterflies.
For a divine scent when you open the windows, consider rosemary or pinks: beautiful tiny carnation like flowers with a wonderful aroma. Summer sees geraniums and fuchsias added into the mix in bright pinks, reds and crisp white.
Window boxes do not need to be retired when autumn and winter come along. Swap your summer plants for some cyclamen, violas, trailing ivy, flowering heathers or winter flowering pansies to keep the window boxes blooming, looking beautiful and seasonal whatever the time of year.
At Planteria Group, we can do it all for you. We can provide you with exquisite window boxes and bedding plant changes that complement each other. If you would like to find out more about any of our services, do not hesitate to contact us, and get a free quote today.lo
April is national “Stress Awareness Month” and as we take a look at the issue of stress in the workplace, we’re pleased to offer some suggestions for making things better for you and your colleagues.
Stress is dubbed “the health epidemic of the 21st-century” according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). “Health is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity but a positive state of complete physical, mental and social well-being (WHO, 1986), a healthy working environment is one in which there is not only absence of harmful conditions but an abundance of health promoting ones”.
Clinical research shows that stress is an underlying factor in at least 70% of all visits to GPs. And stress can lead to many chronic diseases including increased rates of heart attack, hypertension, obesity, addiction, anxiety and depression.
So why does stress make us sick? Under conditions of prolonged periods of stress the body’s nervous system is put under pressure and goes into fight or flight mode, this means the sympathetic system is highly engaged and the parasympathetic system is suppressed disrupting our natural balance, increasing levels of hormones including; glucocorticoids and prolactin, cortisol levels increase and insulin levels can decrease. This imbalance creates the health issues we have mentioned above.
What Causes Stress In the Workplace?
Stress can occur in a range of circumstances; having no control over workload and not receiving enough support, for example.
Stress in response to demands which are not matched by abilities or knowledge is an issue. In this case managers need to be open to listening to colleagues, seeking to understand the situation and provide the support and training needed.
Job content including monotony, under-stimulation, carrying out seemingly meaningless tasks. Workload and pace including having too much or too little to do, or constant time pressure, can all cause stress.
Lack of development opportunities, job insecurity, bullying and harassment, poor leadership and communication are all other examples of stress inducing situations in the workplace.
Making Changes For The Better
A healthy lifestyle including exercise and finding healthy ways to unwind such as, spending time outdoors in nature, practising yoga and meditation are all coping strategies to make people feel more in control. Studies have shown that spending time in nature restores mental energy.
Allowing for flexibility of working schedules where practicably possible demonstrates trust and allows employees to manage their own time better, this has been proven to be good for morale.
Environmental factors and B Biophilic Elements can make a big impact too. A worker’s surroundings can have a significant effect on their productivity and overall job satisfaction both of which factor into stress levels. Organisations which invest in attractive offices, with bright or calming colour schemes, plants and artwork, provide happier places to work. The addition of biophilic elements, such as plants, natural materials and biomorphic design, provide a more calming and productive experience at work (read more about Biophilia, and why bringing nature to work can improve health & wellbeing).
“Mental fatigue” that feeling of brain fog, inability to concentrate or having racing thoughts can be greatly alleviated by exposure to restorative environments, which research has found, generally means the great outdoors. One study found that people’s mental energy bounced back even when they just looked at pictures of nature. (Pictures of city scenes had no such effect).
Providing space where workers can get away from their desk for a break even for a short time, can help boost productivity for the rest of the workday.
Communication is also a critical issue for the handling of stress and stress related absence. Encouraging an open and transparent dialogue, offering help and support, and communicating clearly about work-related issues without fear of reprisals or stigma, creates a great culture within a company.
Corporate Planting Ticks All the Boxes for Facilities Managers
Facilities Managers have a lot on their plate! Responsible for the management of services and processes that support the core business of an organisation and tasked with using best business practice to improve efficiency, reduce operating costs and increasing productivity.
Juggling the competing needs of the end user, reactive maintenance, supplier relations and contract management are the daily norm.
So how can you make a big impact for your organisation through a small change? Something that will improve health and wellbeing, and increase productivity?
Corporate planting for the office space ticks all those boxes.
Improves air quality
Proven to have a positive effect on mental and physical wellbeing
Improves concentration and productivity
Increases staff satisfaction
But…Space is a premium
Maximisation of office space is a key importance. Fitting your staff and equipment in, having enough space to grow, and providing for multi-purpose areas where meetings can be held and staff can work creatively are all high on the agenda.
There are lots of creative planting solutions to help you achieve this. Planting can be used to screen an area for multi-purpose use. This is a cost effective method of creating an attractive office feature with the associated positive impacts of increasing wellbeing.
Living pictures are an impactful design feature and take up no floor space whatsoever. They look great in reception areas and client suites.
Cabinet top planting brings all the beauty and benefits of living plants, but takes up no floor space and keeps a paperless office, well… paperless! So, no untidy piles of printer paper, files and brochures which get left laying on cabinet tops!
What do facilities managers want from their suppliers?
Whether a company chooses to outsource, or takes care of their requirements in-house their expectations of their suppliers is the same:
Excellent customer service
Competitive pricing of services
A straightforward on-line invoicing process
A National Service: One company, one contact, one central reporting system, one standard for all their locations across the country.
Instant Reporting: a service that is transparent and instant – key for multi-site managers providing unprecedented operational visibility of service to help you manage SLA’s
A quick response and solution if anything goes wrong
Over the past 39 years we’ve worked with a lot of Facilities Managers and Facilities Management Companies and we’ve gained a deep understanding and appreciation for what you do.
Every business is looking for the ‘slight edge’ to give them competitive advantage. But how about if I told you that you could become 15 % more productive by doing one small, low cost thing?
What if I also told you that doing the same thing would make your employees happier and more creative too? Would you put it into action immediately?
It’s true, and it’s backed up by plenty of research and science.
Dr Chris Knight from Exeter University and his fellow psychologists, who have been studying the issue for 10 years, 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 better workers.
The study says that offices devoid of natural elements and distractions are “the most toxic space” you can put a human into, and reports that workers perform better when household plants are added to workplaces.
Collaborating with academics from four universities in Australia, the UK and the Netherlands, Knight said he had wondered for years why the fashion for spartan offices has been so dominant in the business world. “If you put an ant into a ‘lean’ jam jar, or a gorilla in a zoo into a ‘lean’ cage – they’re miserable beasties,” he said. People in “lean” offices are no different, he added.
Essentially planting in the workplace makes you more productive because it connects you back to nature, this innate desire, which is hardwired into our DNA is called Biophilia. If you take a human out of ‘nature’ and put them in a clinical, space devoid of natural elements and colour and you will increase stress and anxiety levels.
Researchers extensively studied workplaces over an 18 month period, including a call centre in the Netherlands and a large City auditor in London to see how even a small number of plants could rapidly improve performance.
The City auditors, which Knight declined to name, had spent “a lot of money” on their office, he said. “They had very expensive desks … banners that were just to do with the company … it was a beautifully sparse environment.”
Yet when plants were brought into the offices (one plant per square metre), employee performance on memory retention and other basic tests improved substantially.
“What was important was that everybody could see a plant from their desk. If you are working in an environment where there’s something to get you psychologically engaged you are happier and you work better,” Knight said.
He hopes the project, the first of its kind carried out in functioning offices, will bury the lean office practice for which he said there was no scientific support.
Prof Alex Haslam, from the University of Queensland’s School of Psychology, who co-authored the study, added: “The ‘lean’ philosophy has been influential across a wide range of organisational domains. Our research questions this widespread conviction that less is more. Sometimes less is just less.
How do you measure the happiness and wellbeing of your employees? Do you know how your staff are really feeling when they’re in the office and how they feel after leaving work?
In today’s fast-paced, technology-fueled, budget-conscious offices it’s no wonder that employees are feeling the stresses and pressures of our modern workplace more than ever before. That’s why as a business you value your employees as your most important assets and treat them accordingly. After all, a happy workplace is a productive and successful workplace and your investment in your employee’s wellbeing will reap rewards for everyone.
Boosting happiness, morale and productivity in the workplace can be easy, fun, and you don’t need to spend a huge amount of money to make some simple changes with a big impact. We’ve chosen 10 of our favourite suggestions below to help you create a modern workplace with perks that staff will enjoy.
10 Tips to Improve Workplace Wellness & Employee Wellbeing:
1) Provide healthy snacks and drinks in the office and encourage employees to eat their lunch in a communal area or outdoors rather than sitting at their desk.
Healthy snacks are far better than sugar-fueled nibbles which can often lead to employees feeling sluggish and less productive in the afternoon, so be sure to have a few healthy snacks on hand, such as fruit. Similarly, lunch breaks are important and even 20 minutes away from the computer screen will refresh tired eyes and increase productivity for the rest of the day.
2) Encourage employees to be active during the work-week. You might consider offering a weekly lunchtime yoga class or free gym memberships, giving employee incentives to focus on physical fitness and the impact this has to overall health and wellbeing.
Other ideas include promoting the cycle-to-work scheme and offering assistance with public transport or parking costs if your business is located in a larger city, to offset any costs your staff may wish to spend on fitness.
3) Make your office interior greener with plants & flowers. Biophilia is gaining popularity in the workplace because we as humans have a strong need to align ourselves with nature (learn more about biophilia in our blog post ‘Biophilia – What is it and Why is it Important?‘).
Studies have shown that plants in the workplace increase productivity, reduce stress and provide cleaner air, among other things. From as little as £2.50 per week for a floor-standing potted plant, Planteria Group can offer planting & floristry services for your business which includes regular maintenance. For examples of our recent work see our projects and also our case studies.
4) De-clutter your workspace and brighten your interior with a fresh coat of paint and some clever organisation. A bright and airy office will improve productivity and general well-being.
We know too well that flat surfaces often get covered with paperwork, office supplies and other random items, so consider using planters on top of shelving to give a tidier appearance. We love storage solutions which also double as interior planters (as seen in this example), and did you know we also offer attractive storage solutions for fire extinguishers which double as planting containers?
5) Provide in-office health checks and regular health screenings with a mobile doctor to promote healthy living. Consider offering this once a year.
6) Offer flexible working practices if possible, which include working from home to promote a healthy work/life balance. Promote a positive focus on family and friends and encourage your employees to use their holiday entitlement to avoid a culture of ‘presenteeism’.
Try to limit your work-related communication to office hours and to help reduce the likelihood of anxiety associated with being tied to technology 24/7.
7) Offer training programmes or workshops for employees to learn new skills or brush up on advances in technology related to their job. This maintains employee expertise and can improve productivity. This gesture also shows your employees that you value them as individuals and are committed to excellence.
8) Promote charity fundraising and volunteer work in the community. For example, Planteria Group invite employees to vote on a chosen charity each quarter and work together as a team to raise money through bake sales, sports tournaments, raffles and more. You could also consider a team-building day out of the office where you all volunteer your working hours to support a chosen charity.
9) Create a chill-out zone free from technology. This space should be comfortable, clutter free and inviting. Encourage employees to take a 15 minute break and relax with music, a book or magazine or even a quick snooze.
10) Offer monthly massage treatments for staff by bringing in a mobile therapist. Depending on budget you could either cover the whole cost or arrange for staff to book and pay a small fee. Find companies offering this service near you with a search on Google for “office massage London” or “local massage therapists”.
Set aside some space in an unused meeting room for the therapist to set up a private mini-treatment room for the day. A focus on neck, shoulders and back will reduce stress and leave employees feeling refreshed and well looked after.
Above are just some of the many ways you can help improve employee wellbeing at work. Your employees will agree that these types of perks are very much appreciated and you may even consider asking for their input on other ideas that are meaningful for them.
Promoting wellness in the workplace is crucial in today’s world more than ever before. Our hope is that we’ve given you some unique suggestions for building a strong and supported working environment, benefitting employees and businesses alike.
If you’d like further suggestions, ideas or a free quote on how Planteria Group can help support wellbeing with plants and flowers for your business please contact us.
NHS Health At Work Recommendations:
According to a recent report published by NHS Health at Work on healthy workplaces, health and wellbeing are defined as follows:
Health relates to a person’s physical and mental condition. Wellbeing is the subjective state of being healthy, happy, contented, comfortable and satisfied with one’s quality of life. Mental wellbeing relates to a person’s emotional and psychological wellbeing. This includes self-esteem and the ability to socialise and cope in the face of adversity. It also includes being able to develop potential, work productively and creatively, build strong and positive relationships with others and contribute to the community.
Breathing. It’s the single most important thing that every human being must do to maintain life. On average, we take in the region of 23,000 breaths per day, so it goes without saying that the quality of the air we breathe is incredibly important.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is defined as the degree to which the air in a particular place is pollution-free. Most of us think of pollution as something that occurs outdoors and beyond our control, but it is arguably even more important to be aware of pollution that could be occurring indoors. This is especially significant given the fact that many of us spend the majority of our time inside at work or home.
According to DEFRA, air pollution can cause both short and long term effects on our health. This mainly affects the respiratory and inflammatory systems, but can also lead to more serious conditions such as heart disease and cancer. People with lung or heart conditions may be more susceptible to the effects of air pollution. Pollution affects our wellbeing on many levels – physically, mentally and emotionally.
Poor air quality is related to Sick Building Syndrome, decreased productivity and other symptoms such as poor concentration and fatigue. According to the NHS, Sick Building Syndrome is defined as:
‘A range of symptoms thought to be linked to spending time in a certain building, most often a workplace, but no specific cause can be found’.
Some common causes of poor air quality are inadequate ventilation, airborne particles (also known as particulate matter, or PM) such as dust or fungal spores, exposure to computers and wireless devices, poor lighting and even ozone produced by photocopiers and printers.
Indoor Air Quality Facts:
We spend around 90% of our time indoors, making the quality of indoor air one of the single most important areas of responsibility for business owners.
In Europe alone, exposure to particulate matter (PM), also known as particle pollution, decreases the life expectancy of every person by an average of almost 1 year. This is mostly due to increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and lung cancer. (World Health Organisation – WHO).
Other symptoms of poor indoor air quality include: dryness and irritation to the eyes, nose, throat and skin; headaches; fatigue; shortness of breath; hypersensitivity and allergies; sinus congestion; coughing and sneezing; dizziness; nausea (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health – CCOHS)
A spokesperson for the European Commission, which sets our air quality targets, says the World Health Organisation is now reviewing evidence about mental health, including depression, anxiety and alzheimers.
Scientists at the University of Utah have found a link between short-term exposure to pollution and suicide – particularly for middle-aged men.
Indoor & Outdoor air pollution claims up to 40,000 deaths each year in the UK (Royal College of Physicians)
Indoor air pollution from biological agents in indoor air related to damp and mould increases the risk of respiratory disease by 50%. (World Health Organisation – WHO)
Indoor environments are 10 times more polluted than outdoor environments (IAQUK.co.uk)
50% of all illnesses are caused or exacerbated by polluted indoor air (AMA – IAQUK.co.uk)
73% of Facilities Managers have installed a fake thermostat to reduce complaints of indoor air quality without actually addressing the issue (IAQUK.co.uk)
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognises indoor air quality as one of the top five health hazards facing modern society
The UK has some of the highest rates of asthma in Europe, mostly linked to pollution (Asthma UK)
People who work in well-ventilated offices with below-average levels of indoor pollutants and carbon dioxide have significantly higher cognitive functioning scores in crucial areas such as responding to a crisis or developing strategy than those who work in offices with typical levels. (Environmental Health Perspectives: ehponline.org)
According to an Australian study, improving IAQ reduces sick leave rate by 39% and costs by 44% (Green Building Council Australia)
With evidence building that this problem is increasing in cities globally, and the far-reaching implications for health and wellbeing, it is more important than ever to take action. This is the very reason facilities management companies, hospitality specialists & cleaning companies, along with general businesses are looking for effective solutions to this issue. After all, a business is only as strong as the people within it and this is one of the easiest ways to ensure improved health and wellbeing for everyone involved. An investment in air quality is an investment in your company.
5 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality:
Circulate fresh air through the office by regularly opening doors & windows for proper ventilation. This sounds pretty simple. And it is. Many indoor spaces have heating or air conditioning that circulates stale air. Simply opening doors or windows for 30 minutes a day can have a positive impact. However, be aware that if your office is on a busy road or if windows do not open it is important to utilise other options, such as having a variety of plants to help naturally filter the air.
Add indoor plants to filter the air and remove toxins. According to research conducted by NASA, it is recommended that at least one plant per 100 square feet is all it takes for efficient air-cleaning. Companies such as Planteria offer a free quote and services to install and maintain plants and flowers for businesses, chosen specifically to improve air quality whilst also providing other benefits (see ‘5 Benefits of Indoor Planting’). You can also learn “How to Grow Fresh Air” by using an arrangement of common indoor plants, as explained by Kamal Meattle in his TED Talks video.
Avoid synthetic fragrances, air fresheners, scented candles & scented cleaning supplies. Many of today’s artificial fragrances contain powerful chemicals known as VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) which can be toxic to skin and lungs. VOCs are dangerous to human health and cause harm to the environment, especially indoors where the concentration is high and ventilation usually low. If you really want to have welcoming fresh scents indoors consider natural alternatives such as fresh flowers. Companies such as JungleWorld and Planteria specialise in providing fresh flower deliveries suited to the specific needs and budget of businesses. Another option is choosing an air diffuser with natural scents from pure essential oils.
Ensure your environment is thoroughly cleaned by professionals, particularly carpets, surfaces, and furniture. Use a specialist cleaning company that uses eco-friendly cleaning products. Encourage staff to keep workspaces tidy and de-clutter regularly to minimise dust, mould and other airborne particles. Where possible choose floor surfaces that are non-absorbing and easy to clean. Carpets can be unsanitary and trap particles, mould and other contaminants. If you need to tidy your workspace yourself, dust with a damp cloth to remove particulate matter (PM) rather than just spreading it around.
Control Moisture & Humidity. Dampness creates a breeding ground for dust mites, mould, mildew and other irritants. Air conditioners, de-humidifiers and air filters can help keep your workplace at a healthy humidity level, which is between 30-50% humidity. Ensure drip pans, vents, filters and air ducts are regularly emptied and cleaned to proactively improve air quality. Note that although air conditioning can help control moisture and humidity, it can also over-do this job by causing the air to be too dry. If not correctly monitored, air conditioning and heating can cause several issues indoors causing dry skin and dry eyes, among other things. Here is another area plants can help by increasing the humidity to counteract the perils of air conditioning and heating. Houseplants increase humidity in the air through a process known as transpiration. Plants absorb water through their roots, then circulate the moisture through stems and leaves with a vascular system that’s comparable to human veins and capillaries. Water reaches the leaves, evaporates into the air and increases indoor humidity. A study by NASA also showed that certain high-transpiration plants could remove up to 87 percent of indoor air pollutants within 24 hours.
f you’d like to regularly measure the quality of the air in your environment you can do so using a special tool called a VOC sensor, which measures volatile organic compounds. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of different chemicals, some of which may have adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands (EPA definition).
There are several companies out there that can measure IAQ on your behalf or you can also purchase your own VOC sensor if required. If you have a third party managing this on your behalf, be sure you understand where the sensor has come from and how to read the data captured.
Once you know the state of your building, get in touch with a business dedicated to improving office atmosphere. At Planteria, we can provide you with plenty of hints, tips and free quotes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Everyone has those days, you know the ones – those days when you knock your coffee over at work, get bumped into in the street and forget to send a time-sensitive email. For that week when things are not going well and you’ve missed the bus home, you need to consider a forest bath.
Forest bathing is a rising trend, and with good reason – it could be an eco-friendly solution to the bottled-up stresses experienced by workers across the country, and it’s incredibly easy to do. In this article, we discuss the joys of forest bathing and where it comes from.
Where Did Forest Bathing Originate
As a country that prizes self-improvement practices and simplicity, Japan has a lot to teach the West about the pursuit of health and happiness and one of the best places for the uninitiated to start is with ‘shinrin-yoku’ – forest bathing. Shinrin-yoku literally translates to ‘forest bathing’, is a fun but very accurate description of this relaxing activity.
The practice of forest bathing under the label of shinrin-yoku began in Japan in 1982 as part of a public health programme, but, truthfully, humans have been practising variants of the activity unprompted for hundreds of years. The poetry from the era of British Romanticism the 19th century can attest to the benefits that nature had on the soul, but never before has this activity been undertaken by thousands as part of a knowing trend.
Some have linked the current popularity of forest bathing to recent surges in mindfulness. Shinrin-yoku is about learning to put your mental-wellbeing first and foremost, and it just so happens that nature is a free and accessible resource which can help us to achieve this.
How to Forest Bathe
Forest bathing is a simple process requiring you to take a few hours out of your day, occasionally, to go and wander in nature. It really is as easy as that. Some schools of thought will put an emphasis on leaving all your electronics at home, but it is understandable that not everyone would feel safe doing this and if you don’t feel safe you will struggle to relax. Instead, it is important to remember that you only get out what you put in, so, by all means, bring your mobile phone, but try to resist the temptation to start texting during your session.
To begin, head out towards a forest or wood and the rest is up to you. You could spend the time walking, resting or investigating plant life – acting on these desires can help to improve your self-confidence, especially after a long week of holding back frustration at work. Try to act on all of your senses, sight, smell, touch and hearing, enjoying a fully immersive experience of the forest.
Why Forest Bathing is Good for Your Health
Shinrin-yoku is very relaxing, which also means that it will reduce heart rate and blood pressure in those practising it. This can be very important for people who struggle with heart problems as the ability to unwind can be more than mentally beneficial, it could have lasting effects on predicted lifespan.
An added effect of forest bathing is that it encourages people to get out and enjoy taking physical exercise in nature. Instead of appreciating it from watching it on television. Forest bathing gets people off the sofa and out walking in the fresh air which is so important. However well ventilated your home or workplace may be, nothing can rival the positive effects of clean air on the body. This means that you should try to make wellness trips to clean air spaces like forests every now and then.
In any fitness regime, or diet, the majority of people see their best results near the beginning when they have the most weight to lose, and you can view your mental wellbeing as a similar muscle; while you may see the best effects from forest bathing if you engage only on your most stressful days, you could succeed in making long-lasting changes to your outlook if you practice shinrin-yoku regularly.
Problems in the UK
It is estimated by nhsforest.org that if Central Bedfordshire encouraged 10% of its population to exercise, by providing better access to good quality green spaces, it would save around £2.9m in healthcare costs. Currently, a lack of green space is preventing more people from enjoying the benefits of shinrin-yoku.
The NHS also reports that green spaces have huge benefits to physical, mental and social health, meaning that the public should aim to protect and improve its health by protecting its plants, woods and forests. If this isn’t convincing enough, then perhaps the statistic reported by Natural England regarding our children can convince you that we need to be putting plants in our cities;
‘more than 10% of children have not set foot in a park, forest, or other natural environment over the previous 12 months’ (2016)
This is termed by many as ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’, and it is something that we need to fix. If not by making the effort to travel to green spaces, then by incorporating more greenery into our cities, offices and homes.
We can do this by improving our collective respect for plant life, and our connection of nature, by adding planting to both indoor and outdoor spaces where we can. From window boxes and trough planters to desktops and cabinet tops. This begins with individuals, especially those in prominent positions. Perhaps you have the opportunity to raise the health, output and mood of your workforce by introducing some indoor office plants to your workplace?
1) Forest Bathing, by Dr Qing Li (book, 2018)
2) Prescribing Green Space, by nhsforest.org (pamphlet PDF)
3) Nature Makes You Better,by National Geographic(article, Feb 2019)
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