When the image of an office comes to mind, most envision a similar environment: fluorescent lighting; computer, printer and copying machine noises; cubicles; and eggshell painted walls.
For many employees, these components can evoke feelings of unease and even anxiety, be a determining factor towards migraines and other conditions and quite frankly difficult places to concentrate.
We all have an innate need for plants and greenery, which is known as biophilia. Without getting too technical research has shown how important plants, gardening, and natural light are for our personal and corporate health and wellbeing.
Therefore, by following these eight simple steps, and by introducing natural materials, light, views, and plants into the modern workplace, concentration levels will increase, employees will feel more relaxed and be happier and more productive and perhaps with the introduction of a garden, a new social activity will grow.
1. Ditch the artificial plants and replace with easy to care for houseplants. If there is not a lot of natural light, don’t panic. There are lots of plants that can be introduced that work well in low light levels, such as air plant (Tillandsia), spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), flaming Kate (Kalanchoe), rubber plant (Ficus elastica) and peacock plant (Calathea).
2. People worry about watering, but there are some great planters on the market with water reservoirs at the bottom, which help reduce the need to water frequently.
3. Block planting not only looks great but by placing a group of plants together you increase the perceived green in your office.
4. Position plants, 1 per square meter will suffice so that everybody can see a plant from their desk.
5. Natural light is preferred by plants, so think about window ledges in communal areas such as restrooms, kitchens or coffee areas. Be bold, and plant sun-loving plants such as herbs and even edibles like cut-and-come-again salad leaves.
6. Be proactive. Form a gardening club. The group can look after the plants, feed them, water them – they will only need 4-5 minutes (depending on the number of plants), the same time as a cigarette break. Also, try and persuade non-gardeners to have a go.
7. If you have a boring wall outside a window that you can get to, think about growing a small tree or a climber to disguise and soften the wall. Another idea is to introduce a living wall – before you know it you will be attracting wildlife and pollinators into the area.
8. Gardening is a social activity, so if you have space, no matter how small, turn it over into a productive garden. Employees can help, get involved, socialise with colleagues and, fingers crossed, share and eat some of the produce.
Plants and gardening really do make a difference to the work environment.
Just a few houseplants will get employees actively engaging with their surroundings and be better workers!
Blog post by Groundwork Health, Wellbeing and Community Ambassador