Panoramic view across the River Thames to the historic span of Tower Bridge illuminated against the blue dusk sky overlooked by the futuristic glass spire of The Shard in the heart of London, Britain's vibrant capital city. ProPhoto RGB profile for maximum color fidelity and gamut.

    One of London’s Most Iconic Skyscrapers is Experimenting with Biophilic Design

    The Shard stands out in the London skyline at just over 1,000 feet tall. The structure is made from 11,000 panels of glass and topped by it’s iconic “broken glass” roofline, from which it gains its name. The building is a testament to the power of man-made design, with all its sharp edges, steel, and glass. But venture inside the Shard to the 12th floor and you’ll find a whole different design aesthetic that’s embracing nature.

    Welcome to the “Living Lab”

    The 12th floor of the Shard has become a biophilic design masterpiece. The biophilic design principle seeks to integrate nature into man-made spaces, with the idea that humans have an innate need to connect to nature. London-based design studio Daewha Kang Design created the Living Lab for a top facility management company housed on the 12th floor. Designers wanted to take the principles of biophilic design and create an elegant, functional area for work. Some of the design elements they used include:

    • A circadian lighting system that’s in tune with the body’s natural internal clock and subtly shifts through the day.
    • Color palettes inspired by nature, including warm wood tones and bright spring grasses.
    • Living nature directly integrated into workspaces, such as with live plants growing in desks.
    • Privacy screens made from bamboo and other natural materials that enclose the space from floor to ceiling.

    The overall effect of the biophilic design is a warm, welcoming space that works in harmony with the company’s integrated technology. It also embraces the sweeping views of London out the windows.

    The Purpose of this Biophilic Design Experiment

    The Daewha Kang group created the Living Lab with an express goal in mind. They wanted to be able to measure the impact of biophilic design on workers. This includes their productivity and a general sense of well-being. The firm is measuring the impact of the design on productivity by using a control center located on the same floor. The control center uses a similar aesthetic without the biophilic design elements. Workers will rotate through the two spaces every four weeks, while the design firm measures productivity in both. Employees will also take daily surveys that provide feedback to the design team.

    The hope is that Daewha Kang can prove what much anecdotal and scientific evidence has already suggested: that biophilic design can help boost productivity and well-being in workspaces.

    How to Incorporate Biophilic Design in Your Space

    More and more companies are integrating biophilic design into their offices. This includes Etsy headquarters in New York and well as many offices around the Boston area. Companies are receiving positive responses from those using the spaces every day and seeing the benefits of integrated nature. Bringing nature into your space can help reduce stress and create a more efficient workplace, and it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive to do.   You can integrate biophilic design principles without completely overhauling the design of your office. Small changes can start to make a big impact on employee health and happiness. Start to integrate more nature into your space with the help of an experience biophilic designer. They can help you with projects such as:

    • Plantscapes which are custom-designed for your office.
    • Living walls that add interest, color, and nature to your office.
    • Living art pieces strategically placed in your space to enhance the atmosphere.

    Use these projects as a starting point and see the positive impact it can make on your office.

    Cityscapes can help you find the right biophilic solutions for your office. Get in touch with our team today to set up a design assessment and to learn more about the work we do to help bring nature into man-made spaces.

    porous paving up close

    Porous Paving: A New Landscape Design Trend

    The driveway that leads up to a business is the aspect of any property that visitors see first. It is what welcomes clients and partners into the organization. This is what greets the employees every day when they get to work. And then there is the walkway that leads up to the front door and the possibility of a patio in an atrium or behind and beside the building. All of these ground coverings make up a large portion of a company’s property. They need to look appealing and they need to last–especially if the owners are wanting to put the property on the market.

    The look and the quality of all paved outdoor areas need to be taken into consideration by any business. Pavement cracks and potholes detract from the view. On the other hand, pavement that is made from a quality and environmentally-friendly material that holds up to harsh weather can add significant value to a company’s property. For this reason, many business owners who are planning on adding upgrades to their office should consider repaving their driveway, parking lot, walkway, and/or patio.

    When you are paving an area for commercial use, there are various aspects to consider. Cost needs to be broken down. The difficulty of installation should be reviewed. Durability needs to be thought about. All of these factors have to be deliberated on in order to make the best choice. While some individuals want to go with the cheapest price and sacrifice on quality, others would prefer to go with the most fashionable option and forfeit environmental friendliness. But what if there was a paving solution that provided the best of all worlds? Enter porous paving.

    What Is Porous Paving?

    In short, porous paving is an environmentally-friendly way to pave parking areas, sidewalks, and roads. It lets stormwater through its surface, base, and subbase, all of which are made with sustainable techniques and materials. But porous paving not only reduces runoff, it also filters out any pollutants or hazardous materials as the stormwater seeps through. It’s able to achieve this because while normal paving material is mixed with high amounts of fine sand, porous paving contains very little sand, leaving between 10 and 25 percent of space void. This, in turn, lowers the runoff coefficient to nearly zero.

    What Are The Benefits Of Porous Paving?

    1. Good For The Environment

    There are multiple ways that porous paving is good for the environment. As previously mentioned, the pavement is made with sustainable methods and materials. These factors alone would allow the installer to get LEED Green Building Rating System credits. But additional credits can be earned from other environmental aspects of porous paving.

    One such factor is the local heat island effect that porous paving creates. Because the water can filter into the ground, the surrounding area and ground surface temperatures are lowered. When a lighter color of paving is chosen, this lowers temperatures even more. This lower temperature both improves local air quality and the health of surrounding vegetation.

    And then there is erosion control. Whether you are remodeling an office in a hillier and mountainous area or in a more arid location, the soil tends to be loose. Porous paving can help with soil retention and erosion prevention.

    2. Lowers Costs Over Time

    There are several different ways that costs are reduced over time. The first was briefly mentioned above, and that is the lowered temperature. For office buildings, one of the big expenses can be air conditioning. Because of the lighter colored material and the porousness of it, the temperature of the surrounding area will be slightly lower. This, in turn, lowers energy costs for cooling any surrounding buildings.

    Another way costs are lowered is through fewer irrigation demands. Many cities and towns have periods of the year when they suffer through heavy amounts of rainfall. Some years are worse than others and sewer systems cannot provide the necessary support. Additionally, the water that falls straight onto soil cannot be absorbed fast enough to provide many benefits. With porous paving, the ground captures the runoff and then slowly filters and cleans it, allowing the water that is eventually collected to be of great use to surrounding areas. This water can also be collected and used during dryer times of the year, meaning a lower need for man-produced irrigation, stormwater management methods, and a reduction in water use.

    A final way cost is reduced is through materials used. While the underlying stone bed can be costly, this is generally offset by the reduced need for enhanced irrigation. And when it comes to the actual porous pavement that is used, it costs less per square foot than both asphalt and concrete. It is also significantly less labor-intensive to install than other options. Lastly, the life cycle of porous pavement is long, meaning no to very little money will have to be spent on repairs for many years.

    3. Long Lasting

    The life-cycle of porous paving is impressive. Due to its strength and durability, it both lasts for years and repairs are few and far between. It is common to see no cracks or potholes in a porous pavement 20 years after it has been installed and heavily used. Additionally, the porousness of the pavement does not wear out either, meaning that after 20 or 30 years there will still be no surface discharge and the water will filter through just as it did when it was installed.

    The real reason for this durability is that porous paving is more flexible or rubbery in a sense. The base and sub-base that are used are loose and can move with the soil beneath it as it changes. The top pavement is also not as rigid, meaning that even the heaviest of equipment traveling over it will not harm it. This is exactly why it is so rare to see potholes and cracks in the porous pavement.

    This smoothness is very good news for properties that want to provide better-handicapped access. Because potholes and cracks are so rare with porous pavement, it makes it much easier for those in wheelchairs or with walkers to navigate on sidewalks and through parking lots.

    4. Good Looking

    The final benefit of porous paving is the options you have. The downside of asphalt and concrete is that they offer one look. If you have a unique building, asphalt may not look good with it, whether it is the architecture or the landscaping. Porous paving solves this problem. Porous pavement comes in a variety of styles and colors so that you can find the best look for your parking area or sidewalk. No more of the boring concrete or the smelly asphalt that constantly needs to be repaired. Get the look you want, at the price you want, with all the convenience you can imagine.

    Businessman on beanbag surrounded by plants - productivity at work

    5 Productivity Hacks to Help You Do More With Little Time

    As a leader, you can only influence the people around you by your deeds. If you are not productive, your employees will follow your standard. It is therefore essential for every manager to learn to be productive before demanding the same from their employees. While the internet is awash with productivity hacks for employees, this article shares five hacks that will help you achieve productivity at a personal level. Afterward, you can replicate them for your employees. Remember, they will be as productive as their boss.

    Here are five productivity hacks that will take your business to new heights:

    Make a Not-To-Do List 

    Have you stopped beating yourself up for tasks you didn’t do? If you haven’t, you should. It is not what you didn’t do that matters— It is what you did (when you were supposed to be doing the task) that should worry you. What consumes your energy but doesn’t reward you? Could it be the distractions; Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram notifications that never let you accomplish your daily goals? The social hangouts that add nothing to your life but negative energy, envy, and more toxic friends? Or maybe, you spend too much time attending to low-level tasks when you can be more productive if you delegate. The logic is, you can’t fill an overflowing cup, dredge the filth in your daily routine first. Instead of making a to-do list, why not make a not-to-do list first? You’ll be amazed at what you accomplish.

    Make Priorities Clear 

    If you have your priorities right, then all your energies and goals will be channeled to the most important tasks. While making clear priorities help you accomplish small tasks on a daily basis, it also gives you a refined picture of where you are going and what you need to do to get there. Setting priorities right will not only be beneficial to an employee at a personal level, but leadership that gives clear priorities can achieve a lot because efforts of the organization are streamlined to achieve the most important goals of the organization. Steven Covey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, has a whole chapter on “first things first”. Priority can never be overemphasized.

    Conquer Procrastination

    You can’t do challenging tasks because procrastination will not let you. The easiest way to beat procrastination is to use the 5-seconds rule. Whenever you don’t feel motivated to complete tasks, count fives seconds and begin doing it. This productivity hack works because most times you postpone a task you rarely go back to it.

    Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

    While you might have a wonderful vision for your company, you cannot achieve it running on a broken system. Your health comes first. You have to keep your body in the right shape by regular exercise so that you can be able to sit long hours at your desk without strain. You have to eat healthy foods to nourish your body and sharpen your brain. And most importantly, when you maintain a healthy lifestyle, you will spend more hours in your office than in the hospital.

    Use Productivity Tools

    As a person, you can only do so much. The world today is full of distractions. One minute you want to work, the other you are stuck on Facebook. Using productivity tools can help you do so much with little time. Here are some tools you can use:

    StayFocused

    StayFocused is a Google Chrome extension that can help you achieve high levels of productivity by blocking internet sites that distract you. If you are a social media addict, then this tool is for you. It allows you to block the sites for as long as you want therefore increasing your focus on the job at hand.

    Pomodoro

    If you love to allocate time for each task you do, then this app is for you. The Pomodoro timer can save you a lot of time since you will be beating yourself to complete each task within the allotted time.

    Boomerang

    Boomerang allows you to schedule your emails. You can, therefore, write your emails whenever you want and schedule to send them at an appropriate time.

    Well, with these hacks, you will finally be able to motivate yourself to create more impact by being a doer. Remember, you cannot be productive overnight. It is a habit you develop, so be kind on yourself and don’t push yourself too hard. You should focus on consistency more than intensity.

    London, UK - June 25, 2017 - Tourists walking on the Crossrail Place Roof Garden in Canary Wharf

    London’s Crossrail Place Roof Garden is an Green Urban Masterpiece

    There is an oasis in the heart of London’s financial district where the citizenry can relax in the calmest of rooftop gardens. Crossrail Place Roof Garden is a new concept in landscape architecture and the city is all the better for it. The unique geometric windows provide great views over Canary Wharf while shrubs, trees, and flowers from all over the world offer a green space respite for all who choose to enter. The garden is hidden beneath a latticed, timber roof and is an exceptional example of how innovative design can successfully create a fusion between urban and rural environments.

    Location

    Crossrail Place Roof Garden is situated directly above London’s new Canary Wharf train station, a seven-story structure providing an east-west rail link in the heart of the city. The ambitious project was pioneered by renowned architects Foster and Partners and includes four stories of retail spaces, several eateries, and an abundance of leisure facilities. The plan comfortably unifies the train station below with these visitor-friendly elements.

    Crossrail Place Roof Garden is interestingly located geographically on the Prime Meridian line just north of Greenwich. This aspect divides the site into eastern and western hemispheres and serves as an influence in the garden design. The garden emphasizes the historical maritime culture of the area while at the same time providing an accessible modern venue of mixed use for London’s ordinary folks.

    The Garden

    The enclosed garden was designed by the London-based landscape architects, Gillespies and is an incredible masterpiece of creative innovation and imagination. Plantings are arranged by native origin into two geographic zones where the east side layout may feature Japanese maple trees and Chinese bamboo while the opposite west side may highlight American gumtrees or Australian ferns. It’s like taking a slow walk around the world.

    The structure is built with a semi-permeable canopy which provides a localized microclimate environment perfect for more exotic plant species to thrive. Unexpected paths branch off from the main walkway delighting visitors with a show of different and sometimes rare plant species. Benches are randomly placed along the pathways inviting passers-by to dawdle in the beauty of the natural surrounds.

    The project was a challenging undertaking often requiring out-of-the-box thinking and innovative construction to support the many unusual plant species and mature trees envisioned for its completion. Soil conditions, light, drainage, and enough space for root growth all had to be taken into consideration. Most materials were craned in through openings in the roof. The result is a satisfying and surprising tropical paradise where you would least expect to find it.

    Benefits

    Crossrail Place Roof Garden is a prime example of how a city’s revitalization efforts can provide an infrastructure plan designed to serve as a community hub without sacrificing aesthetic qualities. The lush sheltered plant environment leads way to an in-house 80 seat amphitheater at each end hosting a variety of local performers and musicians. It is all free and meant to encourage the imagination of young and old alike. The roof garden has become a community treasure since its opening in 2015.

    The stunning contrast between the dramatic architecture and the exotic greenery of the space couldn’t be more pleasing to those wanting to escape the busy streets below. The project illustrates why redevelopment goals can and should integrate green areas within city landscapes. Access to natural environments is beneficial to productivity and creativity and the incorporation of green spaces into a business setting is nothing but a win/win. All it takes is the inspiration of new concepts and ideas, meticulous planning, and the motivation to meet and beat the challenges along the way.

    Young beautiful woman in her 20s wearing glasses making mobile phone call while sitting in a chair in an alternative office with live office plants

    5 Reasons You Need Live Office Plants

    Live plants in the workplace can be a highly debated topic among many. While some may shy away from adding plants because of required maintenance, a fear that they will overwhelm the space, or anxiety about choosing the right plants, having live plants in the office may be something to reconsider.

    Having plants in the workplace can offer employers, employees, customers, and clients alike a variety of benefits and advantages. Not only are they beautiful pieces of decoration, but living plants can also provide an array of physical, psychological, and environmental benefits that will you make you wonder why you haven’t added plants to your workplace already.

    The Benefits of Live Office Plants

    1. Design Aesthetics and Visual Appeal

    Everything about nature and the world around us is beautiful, which is why live plants and flowers in any indoor space add an element of decorative beauty. Adding varying shades of greens, browns, and even other natural colors add dimension and focus to any office and provide visual appeal for anyone working or visiting the office. Plants provide workplaces with an enhanced, “put together” feel that conveys a positive message, as well as decorative focal points that can brighten up any space.

    2. The Effects of Plants on Stress and Productivity

    Scientific research has found a strong correlation between nature and the human brain. In fact, science tells us that plants in the workplace can reduce stress and fatigue by up to 20-30 percent. In addition, plants can help create positive work environments and create a natural, meditative atmosphere that restores positive moods and reduces mental fatigue. This helps boost the performance and productivity of the brain.

    3. Creating Healthier Work Environments

    The healthy effects of plants don’t just stop at the brain. One of the biggest perks of having plants in the office is the air-quality they provide. With the right amount of greenery, carbon dioxide can be reduced by up to 50 percent, while also helping to tackle bacteria, germs, and dust in the air. People who work around plants all day are less likely to suffer from skin problems, cold symptoms, and more. Many offices experience a reduction in employee absenteeism, as well as minor illnesses when the right plants are added.

    4. Noise Reduction

    Office spaces tend to have great acoustics, which can also mean noisy workspaces. Live plants are healthy (and affordable) options for reducing unwanted noise in the workplace. Plants have a natural ability to absorb background noises and help block distractions for employees or visitors. It also makes for a less-distracting and calm atmosphere to be in.

    5. Fulfilling Biophilic Needs

    Science has indicated that humans have an instinctual and physiological need for connecting to nature and other forms of life. Biophilia is a hypothesis and theory that proposes the idea that this connection is physically necessary, as well as psychologically. Since humans are instinctually connected to living things, there can be consequences when these needs are not met. People who work in an office can spend up to 90 percent of their day indoors, which makes little time for fulfilling any of these biophilic needs. Live plants and fresh greenery in a workplace can appease your desire for nature and have a strong impact on your overall wellbeing.

    The benefits and advantages of having plants in the office are numerous. As a less stressful, more beautiful place to be, offices with plants send all the right messages. With the right greenery and decorative style, you can create a healthy and beautiful workspace that will have employees and visitors alike wanting to stay a bit longer.

    Two men working in an office with interior plants and a living wall

    3 Reasons to Have Interior Plants

    The Blessings of Botany

    When we think of houseplants, we often put them in the same category as mere home decor, or even a hobby; but it is important to note that leafy green plants are much more valuable than normally given credit for! Botany has an intrinsic regenerative quality that benefits the environment for humans and animals alike, both mentally and physically.

    Let’s take a brief look at how plants have made our world, our workplaces, and our homes a better place.

    Stress Reducer

    Did you know that simply being around plants and working with them can lower your stress levels? That’s right! Studies have shown that people who spend time around plants have developed significantly lower blood pressure and an increased level of psychological stability.

    In our world of technology and informational overloads, scientists have come to recognize interior plants as a valuable relaxation tool that can counter the negative effects of the modern computer age. There’s just something about having nature around that makes us think more clearly, makes us operate more efficiently, and helps us feel better.

    Air Purifier

    Indoor plants are growing in reputation as efficient and practical air purifiers. Seems to good to be true, right? The fact is, plants clean the air by absorbing toxic carbon dioxide and light energy in through the leaves; this the natural process of photosynthesis. But it gets better; plant foliage also absorbs other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde, and other dangerous chemicals from plastics, carpet dust, and cigarette smoke.

    Houseplants take in a bunch of airborne garbage, safely dispose of it, and then give back purified oxygen to be used once again by us. It doesn’t get much better than that! Some of the best varieties for cleaning the air include ferns, palms, snake plants, and peace lilies.

    Aesthetic Classic

    Okay, we aren’t going to just skip over the fact that houseplants can be simply gorgeous. If taken care of properly, a flourishing indoor plant can be the highlight of a room. For thousands of years, humanity has taken great delight in the beauty of gardens and cultivated plants.

    The ancient Chinese used indoor plants as symbols of wealth and prosperity, as well as for general ornamental purposes. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon became one of the 7 Wonders of the World, displaying the glory of botany like none other. Ever since explorers have been traveling to and from the tropics, beautiful flowering plants have found their way into homes and palaces all over civilization.

    It’s no different today! Elaborate sculpted plants, living walls, and other creatively arranged plants can dramatically increase the aesthetic value of a home or workplace, improve acoustics by muffling reverberations, and create an eye-catching focal point in a room.

    Let Interior Plants Do Their Job!

    Although many people are intimidated by the thought of taking care of plants, it really is a simple process. Some varieties may require special watering patterns, trimmings, or specific levels of humidity; but in most cases, care is minimal and the returns are big! A few minutes of research can inform you on the proper care for whichever varieties you have. And don’t forget the fact that working with and handling plants is great for your soul!

    So, are you ready to give indoor plants a fair chance? Go for it, and experience the wonder that has captivated botanists since ancient times! Let every area of your life be enhanced by the benefits that greenery offers; cleaner air, clearer minds, and creative beauty. What could be a better choice for you, your friends, and family?

    Two business woman making the workspace cheerful with corporate holiday design

    Get The Most Out Of Your Corporate Holiday Design

    Holiday decorations are more than fun. They boost team morale by making the workspace cheerful and reminding employees that their bosses care about making their work life comfortable. Plus, it reinforces your image with anyone who comes in contact with your business. So when you hire someone to decorate your business, you’ll want to discuss with them how you will get all these benefits. The team will likely want you to consider the following:

    Safety

    The top of everyone’s list should be safety. No one wants the holidays to turn into a threat to people. The decorating team will want to know where exits are so they can avoid blocking them with decorations. They will also have to know where your fire sprinklers are so that they can avoid blocking or damaging them. On a more legal note, your design will have to comply with OSHA regulations, which includes keeping exits clear and avoiding overloading electrical outlets. One OSHA requirement to keep in mind is about any temporary wiring that you use for decorating: it has to comply with the same rules as permanent wiring, except it must be taken down before 90 days are up.

    On your end, you might want to check that your fire extinguishers and other safety equipment are in working order before the team arrives to put up the decorations. You will also need to remember to turn off any illuminated items every night before you go home. Electrical items can catch fire if they are allowed to burn when people aren’t in the building.

    Convenience

    Team morale may get a lift from seeing snowflakes in the lobby, but it will plummet if employees have to step over the snowflakes all day in order to do their job. Ultimately, your office is a place where people have to get their work done, and you don’t want to interfere with that. Before your corporate design team shows up, you can do a quick tour of the building to find places that should be avoided. For instance, people often take shortcuts to get from one place to another because it is faster, and putting a Christmas tree in the middle of the shortcut will catch people off-guard. You also want to avoid cluttering necessary work surfaces.

    Respecting Diversity

    You know your employees, so you know that you have hired many types of people. Some of those people might not celebrate a particular holiday. It’s always a good idea to poll your employees to find out which holidays should be decorated for. That way, your employees know that you respect their history and care about them individually (as opposed to assuming they all celebrate the same way you do.) You can also go the route of avoiding referencing specific holidays: stick with snowflakes and fake snow in the winter, pine cones, and cornucopias in the fall, and daffodils in the spring. It creates the same festive spirit without leaving anyone out.

    It is important for another reason to be mindful in your holiday decorations: a lot of the decorations will be in public spaces where your customers will see them. You don’t want to make them uncomfortable.

    Consistency With Your Business Image

    Your corporate image doesn’t change just because a holiday is approaching, which is great because corporate holiday design is a way to reinforce that image. A tasteful, luxurious holiday design will reassure your customers that you are a respectable, prestigious business. A colorful holiday design will make customers feel like you are a fun, modern business. Want your customers to know that you are in touch with their traditions? Decorate for the same holidays that most of your customers celebrate. Want your customers to associate you with good times? Add a few quirky touches to your holiday design. You will have to work with your decorating team to create the image you want.

    With these tips in mind, your corporate holiday design is sure to boost morale and your image.

    productivity in the workplace

    How to Increase Efficiency and Productivity in the Workplace

    A more efficient company or office simply gets more productivity and quality work done at the end of the day than an inefficient one. It doesn’t require a larger team, just better work habits.

    To develop true efficiency, you must respect regulatory requirements and financial limitations without creating an unsafe workplace. OSHA checklists and the administration’s free on-site checkups help, but your soft skills as an executive and your ability to teach team members by example increase efficiency and productivity the most. You can help every person in your organization to boost efficiency. You can implement these tips and pass them along to your team. Create a formal program, if needed.

    Team Member Productivity Tips

    The right skills and techniques raise the efficiency and productivity of every team member. Don’t forget that the business owner and/or C-level executives count as team members, too. People will do what they see you do, not what you tell them to do, so lead by example. Here you’ll find tips to increase your efficiency and productivity.

    Planning

    • Determine what you can delegate and do it. Of course, train the person in how to do it properly first, but you can boost your efficiency by assigning small, time-consuming tasks to properly trained personnel or to an automated (artificial intelligence) system.
    • Make a prioritized to-do list. Provide a sense of accomplishment by checking off items as you complete them. Set hard deadlines for each item and make yourself stick to them. Monitoring your own productivity lets you assign rote tasks or errands to times you’re usually least productive.
    • Get a good night’s sleep every night. Play with the number of hours to determine your needs. Not everyone is the same. For example, entrepreneur Elon Musk sleeps six hours per night. Some people need eight hours though. Find what works for you. Set a specific time to go to sleep each night and stick with it. Do the same with your waking time. Setting a routine for this and sticking with it lowers stress.
    • Start the day before. Layout the next morning’s clothes the night before. Make and pack your lunch the night before. You can add flow to your morning by taking care of the little things the night before.

    Execution

    • Follow the two-minute rule. In small pockets of free time, if you have something you can do that literally requires two minutes or less, do it. It doesn’t matter its priority. It’s about knocking something off the to-do list.
    • Jump-start your efficiency and your body by taking a five-minute break every 90 minutes. Stand up, do some stretches, jumping jacks, go for a walk. Simply get moving. Sitting for long periods reduces the levels of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase (LPL) in the body, It helps break down fat and convert it to energy. Sitting around causes fat cells to build and your energy level to decline.
    • Disconnect from social media, email and the telephone. Set a time period during each day for completing communications. Do it and then turn off your devices. If you must, set a short break time each day for checking on these items, perhaps an hour before the end of the business day. That gives you the opportunity to return calls or address problems before the close of business but ensures you don’t waste your day sucked down the rabbit hole.
    • Minimize workday interruptions. Guard your time. It equals money, self-development, and success.
    • Limit the meetings you attend to the bare minimum. If you’re the meeting organizer, hold a standing meeting. At these short meetings, everyone stands.
    • Choose snacks that give you a lasting energy boost like almonds or peanut butter. Eat an omega-rich fish for lunch. Both coffee and green tea offer health benefits plus caffeine. Try each and determine which one works better for you.
    • Spend a few minutes each day in meditation or deep thought. Five or ten minutes benefits you with clearer thinking and lower stress.

    Monitoring

    • Monitor your own progress. Find the methods by which you get the most quality work done each day and keep at it. You can always improve efficiency and productivity though, so don’t fear trying new methods of getting more done.
    • Tweak your surroundings to boost efficiency and productivity. Use brighter light bulbs. Add your favorite color to your workspace. Organize using colored folders or bins. Dress up your workspace with a plant or two. Proper aesthetics can result in up to a 25 percent productivity boost.

    Implementing these tips at the organizational level and with each team member can boost efficiency and productivity. You can get more quality work done more quickly. It just requires planning and execution.

    mindfulness and wellness at work in the office

    Improving Health and Quality of Life by Practicing Mindfulness and Wellness

    The busier our day to day lives become, the more difficult it can be to make a concerted effort to maintain our health. Being a healthy person is an evolving and self-directed process. It requires effort. When we think of health we often think of exercising, eating well and being devoid of illness but there are actually several dimensions to being a healthy being. Lifestyle experts across the globe are attesting to the positive impact of practicing mindfulness and wellness. Upon close examination, wellness, mindfulness, and health are interlinked processes with benefits that can help anyone improve their quality of life.

    Let’s take a look at how practicing mindfulness can help achieve wellness. First, let’s define wellness.

    Wellness

    Wellness is the active and multidimensional process through which people try to make better choices and build a healthier and more successful life. Wellness is directly connected to every aspect of one’s existence, from their spiritual and social health down to their physical and emotional wellbeing. Wellness requires a level of personal honesty and awareness that is not always easy. This is where mindfulness becomes key. It requires you to assess your day-to-day activities and experiences and ask yourself questions. When was the last time I exercised? Do I relax and socialize enough? What vegetables have I eaten today? Wellness is the active process of reflecting on your existence and looking for ways to improve your quality of life.

    Mindfulness

    Mindfulness is defined as the basic human ability to be fully aware of the present moment. This goes beyond what one is currently doing and refers to a reflective state of being personally aware and how it correlates in the grand scheme of our personal existence. It requires honesty, kindness, and focus. Many say that mindfulness is achieved through meditation which is true but that is not the only way. Everyone has the ability to focus on the present moment, it just takes some time and effort. Paying attention, knowing one’s self and focusing on returning honestly to the present moment is the true nature of the practice. With this honest reflection, we can see who we truly are and then by extension, focus on how to achieve our true potential.

    Taking Control for a Successful Existence

    No matter what level of success or health a person has achieved, there is always room to grow and better one’s self. Establishing goals and following through is part of the formula for success. But within the process, it is vital not to forget one’s physical, emotional, intellectual, social, environmental, financial, physical and spiritual wellbeing. Self-control and self-esteem are connected to one’s sense of personal self-worth, just as much as our personal belief systems or the relationships, we cultivate. To build a better life, as humans, we must remain productive and seek enrichment through As we age, our lives become consumed with activity and work. This can become distracting and in an effort to please those around us, we sometimes forget the importance of exercise, eating well, sleeping well or even the necessity of fun and relaxation. Mindfulness is the key to remaining in tune to all the needs a successful existence requires. And when we focus on self-improvement, our personal needs, and personal growth, that is wellness and mindfulness functioning together properly for the benefit of every aspect of our personal existence. It is truly a beautiful and inspirational thing.

    By embracing mindfulness and wellness, you are ensuring not only that you are making your health a priority but you are also implanting the structure into your day-to-day life to focus on yourself and what your body needs. Making small adjustments to your daily schedule by allowing time for yoga, meditation or even a hot bath at the end of the day gives your busy mind a relaxing break and communicates that you care about yourself.

    LANDSCAPING WITH BIOPHILIC DESIGN. Woman working outside in an outdoor space.

    Modernize Your Business Landscaping with Biophilic Design

    The modern idea of a functional workplace no longer revolves around a desk in a large office. Each day, wireless communications become more sophisticated. Younger people, who are more used to these new communications methods, are entering the workforce and employers have a new awareness of how employees work best. These new ideas and innovations make it possible for companies to incorporate nature and the outdoors into a beneficial workplace environment.

    Landscaping with Biophilic Design

    Many companies are combining the recent trends of biophilia (a human being’s natural affinity for nature) with the landscaping trend of placemaking and recent findings concerning productivity. Placemaking is a recent trend in commercial landscaping. Designers use it to reevaluate unused outdoor spaces and remake them into a practical outdoor space for employees, clients, and customers to relax or do business. This trend partners well with landscaping with biophilic design, which stresses positive interaction with the user’s surroundings.

    Working in an alternative space is no longer equated with fooling around. Recent studies have linked it with higher productivity and cost savings for companies. WorkDesign magazine cites a Heschong-Mahone Group study that tracked employee productivity with exposure to nature. Researchers observed call centers where managers placed seats so employees could see outdoor greenery with their peripheral vision. This small change resulted in employees with the view handling calls six to seven percent faster than the group without the view. While it cost money to renovate the office, it ultimately saved the company about $2,999 for each employee because production went up.

    Innovative Workplace Trend

    As more and more millennials enter the workforce, companies are adjusting to meet their needs and expectations. Because younger employees grew up in a wireless world, companies and municipalities are looking for creative ways to attract them. Blueprint reports that urban areas are increasingly incorporating outdoor office space in communities, not only for freelancers but to add an alternative for professionals who want to meet or work in a professional outdoor setting, rather than a restaurant or a windowless conference room.

    A Silver Spring, Maryland project, called The Outbox, has recently been lauded as an innovative way to incorporate outdoor office space into urban life. It is simply a seasonal structure with outlets, a seating area and open walls that allow a clear view of the surrounding area but also provide shade and shelter from any sudden weather issues. This popular destination draws an eclectic mix of different professionals who come together to work and share ideas.

    Renovating You Space for Biophilia

    If you have an unused outdoor area on your business property, now it the time to consider incorporating a space for working outdoors. Of course, wifi is crucial for an outdoor workspace but there are other needs.

    • Consider remaking an unused outdoor area on company property to include any features relative to your employees.
    • Shade trees are appealing for a park setting but don’t place seating under them or your best client may end up with bird droppings on her favorite suit.
    • Colorful flowers provide a mood lift, so ask your landscaper to fill pots and planters with seasonally blooming plants.
    • Ask your landscaping crew to keep greenery closely trimmed so that it does not block walkways or seating, particularly for the handicapped.
    • Outdoor furniture should still look professional after being out in the elements for a bit and it should be at the height most comfortable for people working on laptops.
    • Plan a structure that can protect employees from the elements. Wind days are a problem if your workplace still uses paper and sunny days create glare on electronic screens.

    There are many benefits to landscaping with biophilic design. Renovating your outdoor area to include a place for employees to work is not only good for your current staff but for millennials entering the workforce. Besides creating an appealing space to work in, it will draw in new employees and freelancers who can bring fresh ideas to your company.

    Cropped shot of an attractive young businesswoman in her office. Employee productivity. Window landscaping.

    How Landscape Design Can Contribute To Employee Productivity

    Employee Productivity and Health

    Landscape design is an important part of your business plan and can provide many advantages to a workplace. One of the most subtle and most valuable effects of good landscape design is the boost in employee productivity and health. This is for a few reasons.

    Seeing Natural Environments Improves Thinking

    According to an article published in the American Psychological Association, viewing nature rests the mind from the strain of what is called directed attention. This is the type of attention that people use when they do tasks that require a lot of focus, and it is different from the fascination type of attention that people use when they look at nature. After resting the mind, people can focus better. Studies have also found that people can remember better and pay attention longer by 20% when they are exposed to nature.

    For instance, there was a study done where people were given 40 minutes of attentionally exhausting tasks and then relaxed in different ways, including a walk in a nature preserve. The people who were exposed to nature did better at a standard proofreading test than the people who were assigned to other types of relaxation.

    It isn’t necessary for your employees to work in a nature preserve to get these benefits, either: being able to see or take their lunch in a professionally done landscape that has plants in it will improve their focus.

    Exposure To Nature Improves Mental Health

    Studies show that people who spend more time in nature feel more hopeful and often have better mental health. They feel more energetic, less stress, and less depression when outside. Being able to see a good landscape from their windows can help employees feel better about work in general and enjoy their job more.

    The association between exposure to nature seems particularly strong when it comes to depression, which is a condition that can definitely sap your productivity. A study on twins that was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that people were less likely to feel depressed if they had ready access to green spaces.

    The improvement in mental health can be indirect, too. For instance, the effect of tiring your mind from using directed attention increases impulsivity, distractibility, and irritability. This can increase the stress on everyone who has to work with the person who is fatigued. Many studies have shown that increased stress leads to increased absenteeism and decreased productivity.

    Green Environments Improve Physical Health

    There is a documented association between green spaces and improved health outcomes. This might have something to do with nature’s association with lowered stress levels. Lessening the stress people feel is known to have positive health effects such as improving sleep and making it easier to recover from illnesses.

    For instance, there is a famous study that a director at Texas A&M University conducted on patients who were recovering from abdominal surgery. The director surveyed the recovery of patients who were given a view of trees from their window and the recovery of patients who were given a view of brick walls from their window, and he found that the patients who could see the trees recovered faster, didn’t request as much pain medication, and had fewer complications.

    But beyond the effects of reducing stress, green landscapes may encourage physical activity. Taking a walk around the campus at lunch is a more attractive idea if the path that you will walk on is hedged with pretty flowers. Increased physical activity promotes general wellness, which in turn boosts attendance at work and the ability to concentrate on the tasks at hand.

    These three subtle benefits make good landscaping design something to look into.

    Group of young people celebrating with champagne and sparklers at a corporate holiday party

    10 Steps to Hosting a Corporate Holiday Party That Your Employees Will Want to Attend

    Your corporate holiday party can be a smashing success or a total bust. Whether this is your first time hosting a holiday party or your tenth annual event, you want to make sure that you close out the business year in style. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to help make sure that you throw an unforgettable holiday party. Below are ten steps to help you design a corporate holiday party all of your employees will want to attend.

    1) Start with a safe, convenient location. 

    Make sure you choose a secure location that is large enough to accommodate all of your employees. Try to stick to locations that are easily accessible and not too far from your office or the general area where most of your employees live. If you choose to hold your party at your office, then be sure to decorate your facility to create a festive mood.

    2) Appoint a holiday party planning team.

    Involving some of your employees in the party planning is a great way to delegate some key party planning tasks while building excitement about your holiday party. A small team of 3-4 people from different departments is ideal.

    3) Invite spouses.

    Decide in advance whether you would like to include spouses or guests in the festivities. Office holiday parties provide the perfect opportunity for your spouse or partner to feel included in your work life. If you decide to include spouses or partners, be sure to get an accurate headcount and choose a larger space.

    4) Launch an ugly holiday sweater contest.

    An ugly holiday sweater contest is a great way to create a fun, lively atmosphere at your party. Anyone can participate and ugly sweaters are great conversation pieces. Make sure you begin promoting the contest a couple of days in advance to allow employees to prepare!

    5) End the workday an hour early.

    Some of your employees will need time to take care of responsibilities at home before heading to the party. By ending the workday a little early, you give everyone a chance to change clothes, coordinate with dates or spouses, and make it to the party in time to enjoy the festivities.

    6) Serve a variety of food.

    Your employees likely have a diverse range of tastes and food preferences. Some of your employees may even have food allergies. As you plan your menu, remember that you may have employees who do not eat meat or who cannot consume nuts.

    7) Have a door prize drawing. 

    The prospect of winning a gift card, cash, free health insurance, or a dinner for two is exciting. If your party budget is limited, you can still make prizes alluring by offering preferred parking, extra vacation days, or a corner office for the next year. Some companies work with their vendors to secure door prize donations such as tablets, TVs, and fitness gear.

    8) Prepare a slide show.

    Featuring a slide show of company events that took place throughout the year is a great way to celebrate some of the year’s most memorable moments. Also, make sure you capture some of the fun moments from this year’s event to feature in future slideshows!

    9) Consider a drink ticket system.

    If you are planning to serve alcohol, it is a good idea to distribute drink tickets to employees in advance. By distributing 1-2 drink tickets to each employee, you help ensure that your workers do not overindulge.

    10) Take the time to thank your employees for their hard work.

    Prizes, ugly sweaters, and tasty food usually combine to make for a fun evening. However, a holiday party is also the perfect time to tell your employees how much you appreciate their service. Some employers even offer recognition for 5, 10, and 20 years of service.

    By following the ten tips above, you can design an irresistible corporate holiday party that none of your employees will want to miss!

    man working in garden center picture horticulture

    Horticulture- How to Save the Planet while Creating a Solid Career

    No one can deny the importance of plants, not only for us as humans but to our planet as well. And yet, there has been an obvious decline in young adults seeking out degrees in horticulture. Likewise, the horticulture departments at major college campuses are disappearing due to lack of participation. This has created an interesting paradox. As more millennials are becoming environmentally-conscious while also seeking a solid career path, why not kill two birds with one stone? Few of these students realize the numerous career paths available to those with a degree in horticulture. Here we take a brief look at what is horticulture, all the different career paths a person with a horticulture degree could pursue and how more horticulturalists could save the world.

    What is Horticulture?

    Horticulture can be defined as the practice of cultivating fruits, vegetables, flowers or plants for beauty or utility. Truly, it is part art and part science. Horticulture encompasses the process of planting the seeds into the earth, ensuring the soil provides the nutrients that the seed needs while watering, sheltering and nourishing it as it grows into a plant. When successful, the seed grows into a plant and will reproduce in some fashion whether, fruiting, flowering or producing clones. The plant’s offspring can then be used in numerous different ways depending on the industry. What is interesting is how far horticulture can reach within different aspects of society across cultures.

    There are five main branches of horticulture:

    • Floriculture- production/marketing of flowers
    • Landscape- production, marketing and maintenance of landscape plants
    • Olericulture- production/marketing of vegetables
    • Pomology- production/marketing of fruits
    • Postharvest Physiology- Expertise in how to prevent produce from prematurely spoiling.

    Horticulture does not only impact the food industry. The pharmaceutical, landscape, lumber, floral, and clothing industries are just a few of the industries that fall under the umbrella of horticulture’s influence.

    How Horticulturalists Save the World

    “If you want to save the planet, one of the best ways to do it is through horticulture,” said Angus Murphy, Chair of the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture at the University of Maryland at College Park. What did he mean by that? Plants help re-oxygenate the planet and can have dramatically positive effects on the environment. For example, if an area is prone to flooding because of rainfall. You can plant a tree in that location. The roots will absorb the excess water like a sponge, while the leaves will act like little umbrellas. Not to mention, when you facilitate the growth of plants, you are literally helping to generate life which is a pretty commendable and amazing thing.

    In an effort to bring much-needed attention to the field of horticulture, organizations are sprouting up and using social media campaigns to attract youth participation and also bridge the gaps between horticulture and “cooler” industries. The younger the people are that get interested in horticulture, the sooner they can begin forming their career goals around horticulture with a sense of clarity and purpose.

    What are Some of the Career Possibilities?  

    • Arboretum Director/Associate
    • Botanical Gardens Manager/Grounds Associate
    • Business Owner
    • Community Garden Planner
    • Entrepreneur
    • Extension Educator
    • Farmer of Specialty Vegetables/Fruits
    • Floral Designer
    • Geneticist
    • Greenhouse Manager
    • Garden Manager
    • Garden Center Operations, Sales, Maintenance, Landscaping
    • Golf Course Superintendent
    • Horticulturist
    • Horticulture Therapist
    • Horticulture Marketing/Sales Manager
    • Landscape Design
    • Lawn Maintenance Foreman/Technician
    • Master Gardener/Landscaper
    • Plant Biologist
    • Plant Breeder
    • Produce Retail Team Member
    • Professor
    • Research Scientist
    • Urban Garden Manager

    According to a study conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2015, nearly 58,000 jobs become available each year in agriculture-related fields but only 61% of those jobs are filled by qualified candidates. With so many students entering college and graduating college, horticulture could provide a viable avenue to make it inside the industry of their choice.

    Cityscapes has consistent openings in the horticulture departments with training provided.  For more information, check out our careers page.

    There is something inherently rewarding about growing and attending plants, even on a minimal scale. It is nurturing and gratifying in it’s own completely unique way. You get your hands dirty and you help produce something. You help life, you help the planet and you help yourself at the same time.