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Workplace Wellness Programs and Employee Productivity

Recent market data show that corporate wellness programs in the U.S. are an $8 billion industry. With a projected growth rate of 7.8 percent through 2021, the industry doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Rising number of competitors, increasing technological advancements, and spiraling healthcare costs are driving companies to actively invest in the well-being of their employees. Some of the top health concerns that employers wish to address include work-related stress, depression, on-site injuries and non-communicable diseases.

Statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that:

  • Every year, employee absenteeism amounts to $225.8 billion in costs.
  • The top four ailments among employees are high blood pressure, chest pain, diabetes and heart attack.
  • 38 percent of the U.S. working population has no paid sick leave.
  • Employees working while they are sick account for two-thirds of all corporate health costs.

The United States has one of the longest working hours in the developed world. In fact, Americans work 200 additional hours every year. With rising market pressure and corporate costs, companies are introducing innovative workplace wellness programs for their employees. Each program has its own rewards and addresses core employee issues.

1. Harnessing Technology for Wellness Programs

UnitedHealthcare recently conducted a study “Wellness Checkup” which interviewed 609 full-time employees across the United States. 60 percent of respondents who had access to a workplace wellness program stated that the corporate initiatives had a positive impact on their health. The study also found that 25 percent of the employees owned a fitness tracker. By tapping into this trend, many companies are syncing wearables with employee health targets.

Example: Indiana University Health introduced the Fitbit Challenge to its employees. At the conclusion of the three-month step challenge, 40 percent of the 4,000 participants experienced a decrease in their Body Mass Index (BMI), while 67 percent reported greater stress management and healthier eating habits.

2. Promoting Healthy Eating Habits

In the U.S., the average full-time employee eats one in four meals during work hours. Owing to the fast-paced nature of corporate culture, the majority of workers will consume foods that are high in saturated fats, refined sugar, and sodium. On the contrary, food prepared at home tends to be packed with nutrition. But as Americans cook less and eat out more, the country’s obesity epidemic continues to balloon. Thus, companies that invest in actively promoting healthy eating habits experience greater employee output and less absenteeism.

Example: The mega-feeder Sodexo has joined the Meatless Monday campaign in an effort to promote vegetarian dietary options throughout its corporate, healthcare and college centers across the United States. That amounts to 10 million people every day. By committing to plant-rich meals at the start of the work week, Sodexo is providing its employees with diverse and nutritious plant proteins like quinoa, lentil, and tofu.

3. Smoking Cessation Programs

It is common knowledge that workers who smoke create more costs for their employers. According to a 2013 study by Ohio State University, employees who smoked cost their companies $5,800 on an average every year. Costs can aggregate from factors like smoke breaks, excessive absenteeism and nicotine addiction. As a result, many companies have started to offer smoking cessation programs, both on moral and financial grounds.

Example: The Union Pacific Railroad provides a smoking cessation program for its employees, that includes lifestyle coaching, moral support and pharmacological assistance. Between the 1990s to 2007, the number of workers who smoked dropped from 40 percent to a mere 17 percent.

Workplace wellness programs have repeatedly demonstrated their positive impact on employee productivity and corporate healthcare costs. Investing in them is a smart move in terms of long-term benefits. As summarized by Soeren Mattke, lead author of the 2013 Rand Report, one of the most comprehensive analyses of wellness programs,

“We find that workplace wellness programs can help contain the current epidemic of lifestyle-related diseases, the main driver of premature morbidity and mortality as well as health care cost in the United States.”

People at gym

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.

Living Walls at Amazon Spheres in Seattle

Cityscapes Goes to Seattle and Visits some of the Biggest Corporate Headquarters in America

couple riding bikes on trail

Get Outdoors in the Greater Boston Area

Boston may be a metropolitan hub, but if you love to spend time in the great outdoors, there are plenty of local trails and green spaces where you can find your fix. Whether you prefer to pedal, row, or enjoy a leisurely stroll, you’ll reap the benefits of sunshine, fresh air, and improving your cardiovascular fitness. Here are a few of our favorite local places and ways to get outdoors and maintain your healthy lifestyle.

Row Down the Charles River

In the 60s, The Standells sang that they “loved that dirty water” of the Charles River. Nowadays, the river’s been cleaned up and the water has been known to sparkle on sunny days. Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of the winding waters and rent a kayak to paddle down the length of the river. Paddle Boston offers kayak rentals, guided sunset tours of the Charles, paddling classes, and more. If you’re feeling daring, why not sign up for one of their Wednesday night races?

Kayaking is a fun way to build upper body and core strength. Maneuvering the paddle over and over makes for a strong back, chest, shoulders, and arms. This is not to mention better coordination and flexibility. It’s a low-impact exercise, so that means less stress on your joints. You’ll also be able to take in the iconic features of the Boston and Cambridge skylines, from the dome of MIT to the gold leaf that tops the State House.

Avid kayakers report that it’s also a good way to reduce stress as you watch the blue-green waters undulate around you under a wide blue sky. And if you join a kayaking club, it’s a way to make new friends as you paddle the waters together.

Get Outdoors and Hike in the Blue Hills

The Blue Hills Reservation is in Milton, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. It offers trails for experienced and inexperienced hikers alike, so no matter who you are or what fitness level you’re at, you’ll find a trail here that suits you. No matter what trail you set on, you’re sure to find one that offers rewarding sights of the reservation’s marshlands, meadows, and rolling hills. You might find a stunning view of the city in the distance, or enjoy New England’s famous foliage on a wooded path.

Hiking can be as challenging or as easy as you want it to be, depending on the trail you choose and the pace you set. If you can walk, you can hike. Be sure to bring snacks, water, and wear comfortable sneakers or boots with good traction. Put one foot in front of the other and take the time to enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds of nature around you.

Hiking offers a slew of physical and mental benefits. It’s a weight-bearing exercise, so it builds strong bones and strong legs. It builds cardiovascular fitness, so it’ll lower your risks of heart disease and high blood pressure. Beyond that, the relative solitude of hiking offers a meditative experience. It gives your mind a break from the stressors of everyday life. Research shows that regular hiking can alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Reconnecting with nature works your body and rests your brain. This is a great reason to get outdoors.

Ride Down the Minuteman Bikeway

If wheels are more your style, it’s time to take yourself on a spin down the Minuteman Bikeway in North Cambridge. This rail trail starts just past Alewife Station on the Red Line. It travels 10 miles on an out-and-back path through Arlington, Lexington, and Bedford. It’s paved all the way and popular with runners, walkers, roller skaters, and cyclists alike. Along the way, you’ll pass Spy Pond, Arlington’s Great Meadows, and the Battle Green where the Battle of Lexington and Concord sparked the American Revolution. Keep an eye out and you might reward yourself with sightings of a hawk or songbird in the wooded sections.

What can cycling do for you? For starters, it’ll build stronger legs and lungs and improve your flexibility. Research suggests cycling can alleviate symptoms of knee pain and osteoarthritis, and balancing on two wheels means better coordination as well. When you take your bike out regularly, you’ll enjoy all the mental benefits of cycling as exercise, including higher-quality sleep, reduced stress, and a healthier brain.

These aren’t the only ways to enjoy the great outdoors around Boston. However, they’re a start. All three will lead you on the path towards becoming your best self, physically and mentally. Get outdoors and make the most of what the Boston area has to offer.

people holding plant

Biophilic Design: Connecting Employees and Nature

According to the United Nations World Cities Report, 60 percent of the world’s population will live in urban environments by the year 2030. That means 1 in 3 people will reside in cities with a population of at least half a million. As a result, architects, scientists, and organizations are working together. They are studying the dynamics of the human-nature connection. In addition, how this connection can be incorporated into the concrete jungle. The answer to this challenge is biophilic design.

As defined by the International Living Future Institute:

“Biophilic design is the practice of connecting people and nature within our built environments and communities.”

An analysis of the data collected by the Labor Department revealed that the average U.S. employee works 1,811.16 hours every year. An estimated 40 percent work more than 50 hours a week, while 20 percent work more than 60 hours per week. This means that employees spend a lot of time in the office. Maybe even more than they do so at home. As a result, companies are increasingly focusing on providing an office design that creates a holistic, productive and collaborative atmosphere for their employees.

In 2014, the EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) Human Spaces Report analyzed the impact of biophilic design across eight countries. Recently, the second wave of data was collected on workers in 16 countries. Statistics on workers in office environments with natural elements, such as greenery and sunlight, reveal the following:

  • 85 percent of the workers surveyed were employed in an urban environment.
  • Workers who functioned in airy, well-lit and green spaces, reported 15 percent higher levels of well being as well as lower levels of stress than their counterparts.
  • Offices that incorporated biophilic elements increased their productivity by 6 percent.
  • Employees’ ability to think, innovate and perform creatively increased by 15 percent.

Some of the first organizations to jump on board the biophilic design philosophy are big weights such as Apple and Amazon. In doing so, they have helped make the movement mainstream through high profile successful projects.

The Spheres

Amazon’s new office in downtown Seattle features three glass and steel domes occupying a forest area of 40,000 plants. Known as the ‘Spheres’, the glass orbs have been an instant hit with employees. From the 4,000 square foot living wall to the 55 foot high treetops, Amazon has created its own unique urban workplace ecosystem.

Treehouses

As part of its outdoor districts in its Redmond campus, Microsoft has built three treehouses to empower its employees to work and interact in new ways. Created by renowned builder Pete Nelson, the treehouses feature unique details. This includes weatherproof benches, rustproof rocking chairs, charred wood walls, and skylights.

Apple Park

Compared to a UFO, Apple Park has aptly been nicknamed the ‘Spaceship’. One of the most energy-efficient buildings in the world, this architectural wonder in Cupertino, California is fitted with solar panels and has its own on-site low carbon central plant. The landscaping includes more than 7,000 trees including indigenous plants of the Mojave Desert and apricot orchards.

While the majority cannot afford grand projects, there are some simple principles which can be easily incorporated into any workplace.

  • Increase accessibility to natural light and views of the outside to boost employee productivity.
  • Use outdoor spaces like roofs and balconies to create creative working spaces for employees.
  • Experiment with bright, vibrant colors like orange and blue.
  • Utilize natural textures like wood and stone that imitate the outdoors.
  • Bring in plants to increase oxygen levels, which in turn brings down mental fatigue.
  • Avoid congested, cramped spaces, and keep the office design open and airy.

In conclusion, biophilic design marks a revolution in office architecture. With scientific backing, it proves that architecture makes a difference in workplace health, employee productivity, project teamwork, and stress management. In the words of Amanda Sturgeon, biophilic design expert, and CEO of International Living Future Institute:

“What could we learn from what makes us love being outside and incorporate it into the design of our buildings?”

Corporate Landscape Design Practices: Creating a New Aesthetic With Plants

When you think of landscape design in corporate settings, you may consider it a one and done type of procedure. In the past, this might have involved using fake plants to fill the voids of blank walls or drab surroundings.

It’s time to take landscape design more seriously as a viable way to not only improve the aesthetic value of your office space, but also the air quality.

Take a look at some recent corporate landscape design trends to show you what’s possible at numerous levels.

The Advent of More Experiential Design

One major trend in this design field is creating more experiential environments, both outdoors and indoors.

You’re seeing a more concerted effort to make corporate settings more enjoyable as a place to not only work, but have more pleasant employee experiences. This includes adding more walking and bicycling paths, or gardens to provide places for solace.

With the corporate world often being hectic, this experiential trend is one to keep in mind to create less stress. It’s a chance for your employees to meditate so they brainstorm for more innovative ideas.

More Sustainability in Landscaping

Many corporations bring sustainable practices in numerous ways now. In landscaping, it’s becoming a major trend, especially in eco-friendly water management.

How you take care of your plants indoors and outdoors is going to play a big part in how you water them. You’re seeing more corporations use plants that don’t require as much water for conservation, including eliminating excessive maintenance.

Succulents are a popular plant variety needing hardly any water, including cacti. If you travel often, these are beautiful plants unable to die on you if you forget to water every week. However, they do need more sun, so you’ll need to keep them by a well-lit window.

The Trend in Using More Colorful Plants

Greenery is still in, but so are more colorful plants for use in office settings. Companies have begun to add uniquely colored plants with purple, pink, or even patterns.

Pink Princess Philodendron is one good example, as is Tri-Color Oyster Plant for a purple tinge. You’re even seeing dwarf fruit trees being used in corporate settings. This is truly a unique trend, even if it does require a little extra maintenance.

The color from growing a small lemon tree in an office suite can add huge visual interest when meeting with guests.

Green Dividers

Rather than use standard cubicle walls, some companies are starting to use green dividers as a unique way to bring plants into the workplace.

These green walls work better for noise reduction, including bringing far more privacy. At the same time, using the right type of plant, you can use these to help purify the air from chemicals and other pollutants.

It’s common to see these as stand-alone pieces or working as full dividers.

Plants Cleaning the Air

As part of your more green initiative in your company, you’ll want to think about how plants can purify the air around you. This works outdoors as well as indoors.

Not all plants are good at this, though others are better known for absorbing chemicals like benzene or formaldehyde. These pollutants are often hidden in carpets or furniture, bringing potential illness if you inhale them every day for long hours.

Ficus benjamina, or even Aloa are two of the best air-purifying plants out there. Some of these plants are large enough to fill in spaces to make your office more presentable. Even if you have a lot of office furniture, plants add a visual interest and down-to-earth feel to remove any sterile corporate appearance.

Visit us at Cityscapes Inc. so we can help you achieve these corporate landscape trends to create a new and refreshing aesthetic.

Peace Lily on small table

Low Maintenance Interior Plants for Your Home or Office

Having plants in a business or at home is an interior decoration tradition, though have you ever wondered what other benefits plants bring? While you’ve likely had greenery in your home or office before, some interior plants are better suited for your environment than others.

Certain varieties look more attractive based on your particular exterior design. Others are easier to care for if you don’t have enough quality office time. You’ll also find plants providing air-cleaning qualities if you don’t want to rely on air purifiers.

Take a look at this list of plants you should consider for improved office design.

Peace Lily Plants

If you want to find a plant helping to clean the air, Peace Lily is one of the best. More formally known as Spathiphyllum, it’s a large plant needing little light. It’s a perfect choice if you need to fill space and have few windows.

The largeness of a peace lily is advantageous in its ability to purify your office air. NASA put this plant at the top of their list when studying plants with the best air purifying capabilities.

Peace Lily is known for removing the often dangerous chemicals Benzene and Trichloroethylene, making your interior spaces healthier. Plus, the plant helps provide more moisture in the air if you’re continually suffering from dry air problems.

Jade Plant

Those of you looking for a plant with little maintenance should consider Jade Plant in your home or office. This plant comes from Japan and is known for its succulence and small flowers.

With a formal name of Crassula ovata, the plant can live for years without needing excessive watering. It’s the perfect choice if you’re looking for something attractive that won’t die on you if you forget to water now and again.

These plants do prefer bright light, though, so be sure to keep it by a brightly sunlit window.

Gerber Daisies

As a flowering plant, Gerber Daisy (Gerbara) is beautiful to look at and one of the best at filtering toxins. Many plant experts say these quickly brighten up a room if you feel your home or office space is too drab.

Out of all the pollutants its known to help filter out, benzene is one of the most notable. Benzene is known to emit from printing products, so using Gerber daisies in office settings is usually more common.

Many other pollutants that frequently infiltrate work areas are consumed by this plant, making it a top pick for any office setting.

Cactus Plants

You can’t go wrong buying a cactus plant in any variety if you don’t want to water plants often. The only thing they do need more of is sunlight. It’s best to buy these if you have a lot of windows in your home or office suite. They prefer considerable sunshine but don’t really like being watered too much.

Anyone who has to travel often can still enjoy any cactus plant for more than a decade with proper care. Of course, in the wild, they live for hundreds of years. Even so, ten years can make your cactus plant assimilate into your interior office design.

Weeping Fig Plant

Known as Ficus benjamina, this is one of the best plants available for filtering pollutants from various sources. Along with filtering benzene, it also consumes formaldehyde.

Some of these pollutants are commonly hidden in carpets or furniture. Your office furniture, for instance, may have more pollutants than you realize from heavy use over a period of time.

Adding a weeping fig plant will do the job, along with filling major space. The waxy green leaves are very attractive and should replace any fake plants you have around your work space.

Visit us at Cityscapes, Inc. so we can help you find cutting edge, sustainable plantscapes for custom design in any work environment.

Corporate Networking Event

7 Proven Corporate Event Planning Tips

Are you in the middle of corporate event planning but aren’t sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve gathered some helpful advice. Here are seven proven tips you can use to make your corporate event a success.

#1. Understand the Objectives of Your Event

Before you start planning the details you should consider what the overall objectives are for the corporate event. Why are you having the event in the first place? Are you trying to raise money for a good cause, introduce a new product or disclosing new financial information to employees? When you understand the purpose of the event you can develop an agenda that can help you achieve that outcome.

#2. Figure Out the Logistics

Next, figure out the location and logistics for the event. Are you going to have the event onsite or at another location? If you’re having it offsite, how will everyone get to the venue? Is there nearby parking for employees who decide to drive or public transportation available that stops close to the venue? Depending on your budget and the event’s location, you can also consider chartering a bus or car to transport guests.

#3. Create a Central Theme For the Event

Many successful corporate events have a central unifying theme. You can communicate the event’s theme and make a statement using lights, audiovisuals and plants. Besides improving the ambiance, live plants can help reduce stress and make beautiful displays as live art. Just remember to communicate the theme of your event to the vendor beforehand if you are having the event in another location so they can make accommodations.

#4. Choose Items for the Menu

For corporate events that are longer than a couple of hours, you may want to consider providing food for your employees if it’s in the budget. Luckily there are many options for planning a meal when you’re throwing a corporate event. You can have a local restaurant cater the event or have various food trucks stationed outside the premises. When choosing items for the menu, remember to have different options for people with dietary restrictions like vegans and vegetarians. You can also survey the employees ahead of time if possible to find out their specific food preferences to help ensure that everyone has a great dining experience.

#5. Plan a Variety of Activities 

Many people associate corporate events with boring lectures, but that’s not always the case! One way you can keep everything fresh is to plan a mixture of different types of activities to break up the monotony and allow everyone to stretch their legs. For example, your event can have educational workshops and outdoor events. Although it may require some thoughtful planning and additional organizational skills, a variety of activities can make your event stand out.

#6. Hire Professional Event Planners

Corporate event planning can be overwhelming at times, especially if this is your first time planning a big event. After you’ve started planning the details of your event, you should think about whether you have enough people on your team to execute it. If you don’t think you have enough people to successfully pull it off, you may want to consider hiring professional event planners so you can be confident everything will go smoothly. An event coordinator and other professional staff can help make sure everything runs on schedule and take care of the small details.

#7. Ask for Feedback 

Lastly, we recommend asking employees to provide anonymous feedback so you can learn more about how you can improve the next event. Honest feedback can also give you ideas on different themes you can use in future corporate events.

Three Ways You Can Add Green Design to Boost Employee Productivity and Happiness

Whether you manage an office of five people or 500 people, you’ve probably faced the task of refining your office design to improve employee productivity. Most people focus on things like creating open workspaces for better collaboration or adding ergonomic chairs and standing desks for added employee comfort. While these are valuable steps, don’t lose sight of one easy change that can reap big benefits: introducing more green design into your office.

Research shows that incorporating plants in the workplace can improve productivity, increase creativity, and sharpen employee focus. The effects can even extend to employee health. Being around plants or viewing nature scenes can elevate your employees’ mood and wellbeing. It also lowers their heart rate and blood pressure. With all of the benefits plants have to offer, what are you waiting for? Here are three easy ways to get started.

Place Statement Pieces In Central Areas

Start your design process by placing living art pieces in central areas of your office. A vibrant centerpiece of colorful flowers and greenery displayed in the lobby will draw the eyes of clients, visitors and employees every time they pass by it. Thriving plant arrangements placed in conference rooms or waiting rooms will provide a positive visual impact on both clients and employees. And common areas near hallways and elevators are ideal locations for tall plants that take up very little floor space but provide a respite for the eyes and mind. By placing statement pieces in central areas, you can positively impact the most people at once.

Incorporate Unique Plants Into Employee Workspaces

Now that you’ve addressed the central areas of your office, it’s time to focus on employee spaces such as cubicles, workrooms, kitchen areas and bathrooms. These are the spaces your employees use every day, and you can add plants to make an immediate impact.

Start with a series of calming centerpieces such as Japanese-themed zen gardens or bonsai tree arrangements in the kitchen and dining areas. Then energize the office by incorporating flowering plants in the employee workrooms or within each cubicle area. In the bathrooms, add some subtle, low-profile plants on the countertops that provide a pleasant visual appeal without getting in the way. Keep lines of sight in mind as you position these plants since every employee should have a chance to see some green when they look around or get up and walk around.

Create A Green Space The Entire Company Can Enjoy 

Many companies offer perks such as gym facilities, foosball and ping pong tables, or onsite food prep for their staff. Why not offer your own company perk in the form of an indoor garden? These relaxing spaces are easy to set up. They can be as small or as large as your available space will allow.

Try to pick an area with high visibility so that employees can benefit from looking at the garden. Indoor trees, flowering shrubs, and water or rock features can be combined to form an idyllic space. This can lower stress levels and promote happiness and creativity. For example, tech startup GIPHY recently created an indoor garden of hanging plants in their New York headquarters. The garden is just one of several design elements that showcase the company’s colorful, fun and friendly attitude.

We hope these ideas have got you thinking about how you can add green design elements to your office. Employee productivity is essential to your company’s success. Why not take advantage of every design element you can to increase that productivity? With a little more greenery in the workplace, you could soon see some very happy, productive employees.

Multitask business woman with many hands. Performing several actions at the same time. Increase Productivity. 90 Minute Run

The 90-Minute Rule and Other Ways to Be More Productive at Work

What is the most important part of your workday? Is it the middle of the day, just after lunch? Perhaps, you think it’s the very end of the day when you accomplish that final task and end your day on a good note. Maybe, you think it’s when you complete a great meeting with a new client.

If you said any of these things, you are wrong. According to a Thrive Global article from earlier this year, the 90 minutes at the beginning of your day could set the stage for your productivity level for the rest of the day. How, though, can you make the most of this 90-minute period and in turn make the most of your whole workday?

The 90-Minute Productivity Plan

Planning for your 90-minute productive period actually starts the night or evening before. At the end of each workday, determine the most important task you need to complete the next day. This should be the task you focus on for your first 90-minute work session. Getting the most important task out of the way first gives you energy, and it makes you feel a greater sense of accomplishment. This might be just the encouragement you need to make the rest of your day productive.

This pattern of productivity should continue throughout your day. While you can (and should) take a break after you have completed 90-minutes of focused work, avoid taking a long break. When possible, establish a pattern of working for 60-90 minutes at a time and taking about a 10-20-minute break between tasks. This break, though, does not need to be completely unproductive. Use this time to talk to a colleague, take a walk, or work on a less intense task. After your break, you should feel rejuvenated and ready to jump back into work.

One important thing to know about this 90-minutes of productivity is that while it should be early in your day, it does not necessarily need to be the very first thing that you do in the morning. For some people, getting in their first 90-minute intense work session first thing is essential. For other people, they need to check their email or do another task that takes less mental energy first thing. Otherwise, they aren’t awake enough to complete the harder tasks.

Figure out what works for you. Just make sure that you do not wait too long before getting in your first 90-minute focused work session. At the very least, it should be done by midday. The longer you wait to get productive, the harder it is to make your day productive.

Other Keys to Productive Work

Of course, there are several other things you can do to increase your productivity. When combined with your 90-minute productivity plan, you might find yourself getting a lot more accomplished.

Get Up Early

By getting up early, you can get started on your day earlier. Often, this allows you to have several tasks completed before your peers have even gotten out of bed. Just be sure to get to bed early enough to get up early. Getting enough sleep is another important key to success and productivity.

Establish a Schedule

If you are struggling with productivity, you may also want to establish a schedule and stick to it. Without a schedule, it’s easy to procrastinate, saying you’ll do something later today or even later this week. Unfortunately, that often results in the task not getting completed at all.

Ask For Help

No one can do everything on their own. Sometimes, the most important thing you can do to increase your productivity is to ask for help. Whether you don’t understand a task, you simply have too much on your plate, or you have work that can get done faster and easier if two people work together, never be afraid to admit that you can’t do something on your own.

Connect with Nature

Take a walk outside. Get an office plant. Spend the weekend doing yard work. Find other ways to connect with nature. Doing so can help with mental energy, stress, concentration, and creativity, which is going to make you more productive.

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.

Vertical Garden

Making Boston Healthier One Beautiful Plant At a Time

City life is an incredible experience of work and play, opportunity and activity. Around every corner is another shop, street vendor, or sparkling office building and there’s always something to do as long as long as you have a few dollars in your pocket. But living in Boston isn’t all glamor and delicious food. There are plenty of hazards that come with city life as well. While you may be thinking about the crazy drivers on your way to work or the occasional flash flood, what we’re talking about today is the inevitable consequence of so many people living and driving so close together, and it’s not just Boston. Every city struggles with its pollution level and while we don’t talk about it, everyone knows that moving to the city is just a little hard on the lunch and bronchial passage. So how do we make Boston healthier?

Digging That City Air

That said, most people who live in the city and have done so their entire lives don’t even notice city air and wouldn’t trade it if they could. This is a subject you almost never hear about except from civil servants and visitors from far more rural regions who are not used to living near so many other people and cars. For a Bostonian, the mild smell of car mixes naturally with other favorite city smells like food truck menus, fresh spray paint, and the endless mix of faint perfume or cologne on your fellow Bostonians. This is the smell of the city and we’d miss it just as much if we moved out to the country as our rural relatives object to the city smells when they come to visit.

Acknowledging the Health Concerns

But as much as we love city life, the health-conscious among us do acknowledge that there are certain medical concerns involved with living around and above a few million cars that fill the streets every day. Pollution is no joke, especially for those who already have health concerns. To this end, many people have developed their own coping mechanisms for staying healthy without having to leave the bustle of city life. Some use air purifiers, some workout indoors, but we’ve found that the best local-scale solution is simply to plant as many beautiful green things as possible.

Breathing Cleaner Air One Plant at a Time

Plants are nature’s natural air scrubbers and they are truly incredible at what they do. Everything that grows roots and green leaves has the unique ability to turn carbon dioxide into sweet wonderful oxygen that enriches our air, makes it easier to think clearly, and literally boosts your mood. The oxygen a single plant produces might seem negligible but what about a hundred plants? Or a million? It turns out that while our parks are great, you don’t actually need a ground-level garden to enhance your home, work, and public environment with more greenery than you can count on your lunch break. In fact, you don’t even need to be outdoors. With the delightful and incredibly attractive innovation of plant walls and arboreal sculptures, businesses, homeowners, and city planners alike are finding ways to fit these beautiful air-scrubbers absolutely everywhere.

Here at Cityscapes Inc, we delight in finding new creative ways to plant things in places you would never expect. Inside cafes, spiraling up the inside of a glass and steel skyscraper, or even with plants in place of cubicle walls, it is absolutely possible to put a plant almost anywhere you might put a wall, sculpture, or piece of furniture. Indoors or outdoors, the smile our plant installations inspire isn’t just because they’re beautiful. It’s also the effect of delicious oxygen lifting your spirits and reminding your brain of the busy forests we used to live in before we ‘grew’ our favorite concrete jungles.

Outdoor meditation

6 Ways to Revitalize Your Employees Through Mindfulness Meditation

Committed workers form the backbone of any organization. Their overall well-being is crucial not only in terms of retaining talent but also in generating profits. Few things are as expensive and toxic to a workplace as good employees feeling stressed and burnt out. In fact, 1 in 2 employees leaves their job to escape a demanding work environment.

In recent years, mindfulness meditation is becoming popular with the American mainstream. Many studies have recorded the benefits of mindfulness, with prominent companies like Google, Intel and Aetna offering mindfulness training to their employees.

Drawing its roots from ancient Buddhist meditation, Mindfulness is defined as,

“A state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.”

The following list explores some of the many benefits that employees can experience from mindfulness meditation:

1. Increases Focus

Mindfulness meditation positively affects attentional functioning and cognitive focus. According to a 2009 study by Moore and Malinowski, researchers compared a group of experienced meditators with a control group that had no prior meditation experience. The meditation group performed significantly better on all tests measuring attention.

2. Creates Self- Awareness And Compassion

Self- leadership is a quality mindfulness emphasizes, making one compassionate and empathetic to the views of others. According to the journal Psychological Science, researchers from Northeastern and Harvard universities found that meditation is significantly related to increased virtuous or “doing good” behavior. This in turn nurtures a healthy and robust company habitat, where employees are cooperative and willing to work as a team, as opposed to being resentful and frustrated.

3. Decreases Anxiety 

In a 2013 Massachusetts General Hospital Study, 93 individuals with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) were randomly assigned to two groups. One group became part of an eight week group intervention program based on mindfulness- based stress reduction (MBSR). The other group studied stress management education (SME), and served as control. By the end of the study, the group enrolled in the MBSR program experienced a significant decrease in anxiety levels.

4. Boosts the Immune System

Telomerase is an enzyme that prevents cell ageing and cell damage, thus prolonging cell longevity. In 2010, researchers examined the effects of a three- month meditation retreat on telomerase activity in participants. A significant increase in enzyme activity indicated that meditation can bolster immunity and reduce the incidence of age- related diseases.

5. Protects the Brain

Mental health of employees is a major concern for company management. Researchers at the University of Oregon discovered that practicing meditation can result in brain changes that may serve as a shield against mental illness. The signaling connections in the brain, also known as axonal density, are enhanced. There is also a rise in myelin, the protective tissue around axons, in the anterior cingulate region of the brain.

6. Less Sick Days

A study published in the journal Annals of Family Medicine, analyzed the protective effects of mindfulness and exercise against cold and flu. A group of 149 people, averaging around 59 years of age, were divided into three groups. Fifty- one participants were allotted eight weeks of mindfulness meditation training. Forty- seven participants performed moderate exercises such as biking and running for eight weeks. The remaining fifty- one participants were not assigned anything. At the end of the research, the meditation group was linked to a 40- 50% decrease in flu symptoms, as compared to a 30- 40% decrease in the exercise group.

Mindfulness boosts the physiological balance of mind, body and spirit. According to research from Stanford, employee productivity per hour drops sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours. After 55 hours, the productivity level falls so low that it is insignificant. There isn’t any quality work being done any more. Exhausted workers does not lead to quality work, and is counter- productive to the workplace. Mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool for spiritual development and well- being. With regular practice, employees can develop a complete and holistic outlook toward life and work.

In conclusion, here are some great apps related to mindfulness meditation, that provide both guidance and mental relaxation for your employees: