How to Bring Biophilic Elements into Your Workspace

The importance of Biophilia in urban spaces is growing. The Biophilic Design Movement is in the process of transitioning from a hot architectural trend to an absolute structural component. As stated by Timothy Beatley, author of Biophilic Cities,

“Nature is not optional; it’s absolutely essential. It’s something that should be part of every day, every hour, if not every minute of people’s lives, not something you just get when you’re on vacation.”

Statistics show that there are significant advantages to incorporating Biophilic materials when designing infrastructure.

  • In corporate sectors, biophilic projects led to an 8 percent rise in productivity, as well as a 13 percent increase in employee well-being.
  • In schools, the rate of learning in students rose by 20 to 25 percent.
  • Customers are willing to pay 8 to 12 percent more on goods and services if retail stores introduced Biophilic elements such as plants.
  • In the hospitality sector, guests prefer rooms with natural views and are willing to pay 23 percent more for it.
  • In the field of medicine, the recovery period for patients after an operation decreased by 8.5 percent, while the requests for pain medication dropped by 22 percent.

In order to transition your workplace into a nurturing and productive environment, you have to understand the basic features of the Biophilic design. While not all businesses can afford expensive makeovers and chic architectural projects, there are a number of simple ways in which Biophilic design can be implemented.

1. Views of Nature

When offered a choice, passengers prefer to seat at a window seat on a plane. Naturally, having a desk near a window allows employees to look outside. Workers tend to get less anxious and stressed when they have visual access to natural flora. Whether it is open skies or the falling leaves of autumn, nature has a calming effect on employees.

Example: Million Trees NYC completed planting 1 million new trees across New York City’s five boroughs. The concept of an urban forest was created to provide both ecological and health benefits to the inhabitants of the city. Everyone, from commuters to employees, can now look out and inhale a fresh breath of oxygen.

2. Pictures of Nature

Not everyone is fortunate to work in an environment which has access to natural greenery. In this case, setting up even nonliving depictions of nature can have a positive effect on employees. Stunning artwork comprising of variegated landforms, wildlife, water bodies and colorful flora not only brightens up the office decor but is also a proven mood-enhancer. After all, who doesn’t love a canvas print of a sunrise?

Example: One of the biggest advocates of marine conservation, artist Robert Wyland has transformed concrete facades into large-scale murals of dolphins and whales. He has worked on the sides of skyscrapers, sports stadiums, and others in 18 countries. Some of his famous works include Whaling Walls in Oahu and Hands Across the Oceans in Beijing.

3. Corporate Gardening 

A simple way of incorporating Biophilic design is to bring plants into the workspace. Displaying succulents or flowering plants can brighten up any corner of the office. If your building has an open terrace or patio, consider planting some greenery. Gardening is known to be a great form of relaxation and helps alleviate work-related stress, depression, and anxiety.

Example: The Boston Medical Center (BMC) has set up a farm on its 7,000 square foot rooftop. During the growing season, the farm yields up to 15,000 pounds of produce which is used to stock the BMC’s food pantry. Not only does the rooftop farm help feed the patients, but it has been a source of enthusiasm for BMC employees who regularly volunteer for gardening hours.

4. Natural Light

Sunlight has many proven health benefits. It is a natural source of vitamin D. In addition, sunlight helps maintain levels of serotonin and melatonin, two hormones which are key for mood and sleep regulation. Employees who work solely under interior lighting tend to be less productive, as well as fall sick more often than their peers who have access to natural light. Propping up a window or installing skylights can go a long way in keeping your employees healthy.

Example: The Crozer-Chester Medical Center found an innovative way to bring in natural light into its interiors. The building features a dome skylight that measures 40 feet in diameter. Coated in silver color with a 70 percent PVDF mica coating, the skylight not only fills the place with sunlight but also creates an illusion of expansive space.


Simple Ways to Increase Productivity By Keeping Employees Happy

Have you ever had a job where you arrive to work each day and had to force yourself to walk through the front doors? Chances are you have employees who feel the same way from time to time. It’s important to strive to make your workplace a place people want to work. When employees are engaged and feel like the company cares about their needs, the result is higher productivity rates and less employee turnover. Happy employees increase productivity. There are several things that those in leadership roles can do to make the workplace more enjoyable for employees.

Make the Workplace Feel Like a Home

While keeping the company image and safety in mind, allow employees to make their workspaces feel more like a home. Full-time employees spend most of their waking hours during the week at work. It is important that they feel at home while doing their jobs. Being comfortable increases mental focus, and the result is better productivity. Encourage employees to decorate their offices and cubicles with workplace appropriate artwork, trinkets from home, plants, candy dishes, and other items that personalize their space.

Implement Kaizen Events to Increase Productivity

Kaizen Event is a 5-day program that is aimed at reducing time waste and increasing productivity in the workplace. These events are led by a facilitator. They provide employees with the opportunity to be part of the solution in developing workflow processes that are efficient. Kaizen is a Japanese word for “improvement” and involves a 5-step process:

  1. Sort: The first step of the Kaizen process is to get rid of the junk. Consider this the spring cleaning phase of the event. Your team cleans out closets, desks, storage rooms, and other areas of the workplace.
  2. Set in Order: This is the organization phase where your team will create a permanent home for all supplies and equipment so they will always know where to look for things they need in the future.
  3. Shine: Employees spend this day cleaning and sanitizing the workplace. A clean work environment enhances workplace morale almost instantly.
  4. Standardize: In this step, employees and their supervisors devise ways to standardize work processes with the goal of increasing productivity, reducing time waste, and creating more efficient practices.
  5. Sustain: While going about their day-to-day activities, employees will be encouraged to maintain the new work practices and organization techniques they learned during the event.

Kaizen events increase productivity and give employee morale a boost because employees get to be part of the solution and design workflow processes that work well for them.

Relaxing Community Areas

Workplace stress caused by overwhelming workloads, tight deadlines, chaotic schedules, and demanding bosses leads to employees becoming disengaged from the work they are doing. When employees are not engaged, productivity suffers. Provide employees with a place where they can relax and unwind. They should be able to recharge to go back to their desk ready to tackle the next challenge.

  • Employee Lounge: Instead of setting up a few tables, chairs, a microwave, and a coffee pot in room and calling it an employee lunchroom, create a tranquil space for your employees to relax during their scheduled breaks. An employee lounge should include comfortable couches, a TV, reading materials, soothing artwork, and even some elements of nature like plants and flowers.
  • Community Garden: If your workplace includes an outdoor area or courtyard, provide basic supplies so that employees can work in a community garden together. Gardening is effective at reducing stress as it encourages creativity, focusing on the moment, and learning about the natural elements of the world.
  • Exercise Room: There is nothing like a good workout to make a person feel human again. An employee exercise room encourages health and well-being in the workplace. It also provides them with a place to blow off some steam after a hard day. Exercise rooms should include weight equipment, treadmills, a space for yoga, showers, and even exercise balls.

Employees are the heart and soul of any successful business. In order to increase productivity, they need to feel engaged and enjoy coming to work each day. Provide your employees with a better work environment and places they can alleviate stress. As a result, you will get to enjoy lower turnover rates and a better bottom line.

Six Ways to Subtly Improve Your Office Environment

Every workplace is different, so it’s only natural that every office manager develops a unique combination of techniques and methods to manage their team and office environment. Office perks play a major role in the current hiring competition. A lot of press has been given to things like lunchtime catering, trendy office decor, and bring-your-dog-to-work days. These are often little more than gimmicks. Experienced office managers know that true productivity boosters are often completely invisible to the employees. Your best methods successfully fade into a supportive background environment. Today, we’re here to talk about six subtle ways to improve your office environment. You will have everyone smiling more and working harder without even realizing it.

1) Sound-Absorbing Materials

If your office environment is a large room shared by many workstations, the ambient noise level can get surprisingly oppressive. Even the soft clacking and occasional throat clearing in a ‘quiet’ space can start to grate on nerves. Instead of handing out earplugs, consider quietly replacing some of the cubicle walls, light fixtures, and wall art with sound-absorbing office decor. Reducing the echo and distance sound carries can make a real difference.

2) White Noise

Once you’ve brought down the ambient noise, the next question is how to fill the silence. Unless your team is unusually unified in its musical tastes, it’s often difficult to find a radio station or playlist that works for everyone. This is why many office managers are turning to white noise. This removes the odd discomfort caused by silence without adding distraction to the workspace. Consider soft ocean whooshing, leaves rustling in a breeze, or possibly a little inoffensive flute and strings.

3) Natural Light

The best way to light an office has been a long-standing debate for office managers. It’s been found that bright lights cause headaches. This can reduce productivity while dim lights cause relaxation which can also reduce productivity. The current best solution is to provide plenty of natural light by opening up the blinds or making use of skylights. However, if you’re dealing with a complete interior room or one with insufficient windows, look for lights that simulate natural light with a clever choice of ceiling bulbs and lamps.

4) Foot Traffic Management

Many professionals are overwhelmingly distracted by people constantly walking past their desk or workspace. It can be hard to concentrate if your desk is near the restrooms, break room, or placed between any two popular office locations. This results in high foot traffic. Consider rearranging your office so that high traffic paths are clearly separated from workstations. Simple dividers and a subtly ergonomic floorplan can help to isolate your focus-challenged employees from the distractions of visits to the water cooler or elevators.

5) Ergonomic Chairs

Every professional knows that the quality of your work can often be determined by the quality of your chair. A chair that hurts, creaks, or slowly causes discomfort will also cause distractions and falling morale. If you’re constantly hearing either squeaky chairs or complaints about back, shoulder, and neck pain, consider surprising your team with ergonomic chairs one Monday morning.

Bonus Tip: If you want to be a real super-star, ask around to discover if any of your employees have special chair needs. This could be chairs that accommodate a specific back problem or very short professionals for whom normal ergonomic chairs won’t fit their frame.

6) Carpets and Fatigue Mats

Finally, you might be surprised to discover just how much of a role office carpet quality can play in a satisfactory office environment. When employees see and walk on a thin dingy carpet, the entire office feels lower quality. Even if you don’t fully replace the carpet, consider a twice-yearly steam cleaning. This will refresh and fluff what you have and lay down comfortable fatigue mats and runners. These will both dampen the thump of footsteps and ease foot, knee, and hip problems among employees who walk and stand as part of their job.

Being a great office manager is all about keeping track of the little things. There are hundreds of hacks out there to increase productivity from apps to Friday meetings. You can make a big difference without changing anything about the workflow by subtly improving the office itself. Just a few of these little changes can boost morale in a way few will even realize to be the result of your clever efforts.

5 Tips For Improving Office Life

All of us want our offices to be productive places, but sometimes it is the design choices we make that limit our own productivity. The conditions people have to work under deeply affect the quality of work that gets done, which is why it’s important to look around, and ask if this is the kind of workspace that’s conducive to progress.

If it isn’t, here are a few simple things you can do to change that.

Tip #1: Shine Some Light On The Issue

There is nothing worse than working in a box under fluorescent lights all the time. One of the simplest ways to improve your office’s atmosphere, according to YFS Magazine, is to increase the amount of natural light that workers are getting. People need natural daylight, and while artificial light will let them see what they’re doing, it can also lead to eye strain, headaches, and general negative feelings. While people aren’t plants, both will perk up a bit if you make sure they get enough time in the sun every day.

Tip #2: Make Your Workers Comfortable

We’ve all seen those copy-and-paste office setups where all the carpets are gray, the walls are white, and every desk is a hard-edged, mass-produced clone. If your office feels more like a classroom, down to the uncomfortable chairs and rigid setup, consider making some changes. As Business News Daily points out, giving workers comfortable chairs, adding splashes of color, and most importantly giving workers options and freedom in how they conduct themselves can all have huge impacts on productivity in the office.

Tip #3: Cut Down On Clutter And Keep Things Clean

A cluttered workspace can feel overly busy and result in a kind of visual “noise” that makes it more difficult for people to focus. Which is why, as Time Doctor suggests, you should keep your workplaces neat, tidy, and streamlined. That means you need to make sure your design doesn’t feel too busy, but it also means you need to regularly vacuum, wipe, and clean everything to prevent buildups of dirt and dust. A clean place to work can do wonders for employee morale. The less cluttered your design is, the easier it is to keep clean.

Tip #4: Include Some Green

There is no denying the positive effects of fresh air, especially considering how hard it can be to get in some office environments. While it might not be possible (or even recommended) to leave the windows open, it is a good idea to include plants in your workplace design. Not only do they add color to your office, but they also produce fresh air, and suck up unwanted pollutants. They will require some additional maintenance and occasional replacement, but the benefits that plants can offer for both comfort and health are impressive.

Tip #5: Open Up Your Space (But Consider Privacy, Too)

Open design has been very chic, and it’s taking companies by storm. However, as The Undercover Recruiter points out, it’s important to consider what open design is supposed to do for your workers. Because the idea is that it opens up communication, and allows people to come and go as they need to. However, it can also affect concentration and cause distractions. Which is why, if you’re going to institute open design in your office space, it’s important to also give workers privacy, and the ability to disengage from the rest of the office in order to concentrate. Carefully consider what your office space’s design is there to accomplish, and then make sure the design you’re implementing will actually be improving office life.

8 Ways To Improve The Office Environment

You and your employees spend the majority of your lives working, right? So it makes sense that you want your office to be as inviting and comfortable as possible. After all, who wants to go to work every day and have to look at a bland office? Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to create comfort and improve the office environment.

Add Art Pieces

By adding art on the walls of various spaces in the office, you add personality to the office. The pieces you choose identify your individual or corporate personality without saying a word. Modern or abstract art shows you are forward thinking and on the cutting edge. More classic pieces evoke comfort and trust. Don’t forget, the subject matter of some pieces can give a nod to your industry.

In addition to using art to reinforce your business’ brand, pieces also warm up the environment by adding color and breaking up the interior landscape.

Add Accessories

As with art, accessories can show off your company’s personality while giving your office environment a more comfortable feeling. Just by adding throw rugs and pillows to a break lounge area, you give employees a place they can enjoy relaxing in. By doing the same in a front office waiting area, you create a space that makes visitors feel welcome. And that’s always good for business.

Be Strategic

While wall art and accessories can contribute a lot to improve the office space, it’s easy to go overboard. That’s when comfortable and cozy becomes clutter – a look you definitely don’t want. The key is being thoughtful about how much to add and where. Remember that less is more.

Light It Up

Lighting is a great way to creatively cozy up your office space. Of course, fluorescent lights are the least expensive option. But you can add other lights in, too. Floor lamps that complement your décor can add another design element to the space, as well as some warmer lighting. Pendant lights add yet another element of visual interest and warmth. Plus, it boosts employees’ hormonal balance, productivity level, and mood. Quite a win, all the way around.

Go With The Flow

If you want to improve the office environment but don’t want to dole out a lot of dollars to do so, there’s a simpler – and less expensive – way. Just rearrange the furniture and accessories. That’s right. All you have to do is move things around. But when you’re planning your new layout, be mindful of how the natural light will affect the new floor plan. You don’t want the afternoon sun hitting wall art and casting an unpleasant glare in your employees’ eyes. You also want the furniture to allow for easy traffic flow.

Say It With Flowers

Research indicates that just by adding plants, flowers, or other natural elements to the office environment can make employees more productive and happy. It doesn’t matter if it’s a vase of real flowers or a container plant is real or fake, it’s all a plus. Pictures of outdoor scenes even work. Just bringing a little of the great outdoors into the office can work a world of wonders.

Provide Healthy Snacks

Remember on “The Middle” when Mike’s employees revolted after he tried to cut pretzels out of the company budget? He ended up keeping them to keep the staff happy. Silly as it seems, there’s truth to that scenario. Just by adding healthy snacks, such as protein bars, fresh fruit, and mixed nuts in the break room, you add an extra level of comfort to your office environment. And it’s little touches that show you care. In return, you have a happier, more productive staff.

Open Up Individual Spaces

While the right layout, furniture, lighting, and accessories go a long way toward making an office space feel livable, don’t forget about individual work desks. The best way to make them look like a million bucks is to simply keep them free of clutter.

When you drive by a house with junk in the yard, your opinion of the homeowner tends to sway to the negative, right? The same is true for a desk with piles of files and stacks of unorganized papers. But an organized desk makes quite the positive statement. Plus, it reduces stress and increases productivity.

It doesn’t take much to improve the office to be a more comfortable and inviting space to work. But with a little thought and creativity, you’ll end up with happy, productive employees.