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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.

interior plants pots

4 Health Benefits of Having Interior Plants in Your Home or Office

Interior Plants

When it comes to interior decorating, nothing adds instant beauty and character to a room quite like a fragrant bouquet of flowers or a nice potted plant. Interior plants are the perfect addition to any home or office space and help to bring a touch of nature indoors. In addition to bringing elements of the outdoors into an interior space, plants are proven to have a positive impact on mental and physical health as well. Here are several reasons why you should incorporate plants into your home or office spaces:

Improved Air Quality

Breathing in clean air is important for your overall health and wellness. Unlike with air filtration systems that require constant filter changes and maintenance, all you have to do to maintain a plant is to ensure it gets enough water and sunlight to thrive. Peace lilies, Boston ferns, palm trees, and gerbera daisies are among the best indoor plants to choose from for maximum air purifying qualities. Not only do they look stunning, but they reduce formaldehyde and harmful bacteria from the air.

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, you should have one indoor plant per 100 square feet of floor space in order to keep the air clean and pure. Choose a variety of different plants in all colors and sizes depending on the size of each room the plants are going in. Full-size plants and miniature trees are great for conference rooms and living rooms, while small potted plants work well for small offices and bedrooms.

Calming Qualities

Plants and flowers are attractive to look at and can soothe the soul after a long and stressful day. Whether you work in an office that has demanding deadlines or experience a busy home life, turn your space into a personal sanctuary filled with plants that calm the mood with their good looks and relaxing fragrances. Some of the most popular relaxation promoting plants include lavender, aloe vera, jasmine, and gardenia. These plants also have the natural ability to reduce anxiety levels, so you will be able to concentrate during the day and sleep better at night.

Bringing Nature Indoors

Biophilic Design is based on the principle that people have an innate desire to be connected with nature and is a popular concept in architecture today. Biophilic design is about bringing nature indoors with expansive windows that overlook gardens and shrubbery, interior plantscapes and gardens, and natural colored furnishings that connect the outdoors with indoor living and working spaces. If you are considering a home or office remodel, be sure to tear down the walls, add more windows, and open up the space to promote natural lighting and the ability to feel as though you are outdoors even when you are inside.

Interchangeable Decor

With the addition of plants and flowers in your home or office space, you will have the ability to change the look of the space with the coming of each new season. The changing of the seasons opens up the opportunity to start fresh and redesign your space, celebrating the new life that spring brings, the warm and sunny days of summer, the crisp air of the fall, or the warm and cozy ambiance of the winter. Pick flowering plants that suit the seasons and really create the feel of that time of year.

Bring more nature into your life with interior plants and reap the rewards of better health and wellness. Whether you are looking for a way to redecorate the office or liven up your home, plants will enhance your mood and clean up the air. If you are looking for creative inspiration or would like more information on biophilic design, our experts at Cityscapes Inc., can help; contact us today!

Yucca, house plant in a pot. white square pot. modern interior design. landscaping of public institutions.

Going Green: Bring Some Botany Into Your Life

Trending Today

With all the conveniences and new technology of modern day life, things seem to get busier, and busier… and busier! We hate to even bring up the word stress, but… there’s no point in denying the statistics; we live in a stressed-out nation!

A study released earlier this year claims that anxiety levels in America have been on a drastic incline, even since 2017! American Psychiatry Association president Anita Everett states:

This poll shows US adults are increasingly anxious particularly about health, safety, and finances; that increased stress and anxiety can significantly impact many aspects of people’s lives, including their mental health, and it can affect families.”

Individuals all over the nation are simply stressed out about life. But how are we to reverse this negative trend that our nation is spiraling into?

Going Green (Literally)

When the buzz of industry and technology fail to calm the soul, the more primitive elements of nature step up and fulfill their role as the solace and remedy of many ills. That’s right, we’re talking about simple, down-to-earth plants. Why? Even just looking at plants and flowers has been recognized as a mood lifter and anxiety breaker! There’s just something about plant life that really has beneficial effects on mental health.

Anti-Depressants Were Never So Lovely!

Researchers in Canada and America have studied the results of nature encounters among those who are struggling with clinical depression. The studies contrasted individuals who took a walk in a natural park-like environment to those who spent time in a busy urban area. You guessed it; there was a significant increase in positivity and brain function within the group that chose the park.

And don’t forget the timeless expression of love and thoughtfulness humanity shows by giving a friend or loved one a bouquet of flowers. Even though there was no historical scientific evidence of the power of flowers, modern research shows a definite connection between flowers and brighter outlooks of life!

Better Focus, Better Life

In addition to brightening your mood, plants also help your attention span. Scientists have found that being surrounded by a natural foliage-rich environment has “regenerative effects for directed attention“.

In an experiment to see if office work was enhanced by the mere presence of botany, researchers found that individuals who read and recited from memory showed improved performance when working in an office with just four plants nearby!

Breathe Deep!

Did we mention that plants clean the air too? They sure do! Varieties such as snake plant, spider plant, and ferns (to name a few) take toxins and carbon dioxide out of the air, releasing healthy oxygen back into the ecosystem for us to breathe!

Bring Nature Indoors

These are amazing discoveries for managers and business owners all over the nation who are concerned about productivity and, more importantly, the wellbeing of their employees; and seeing how valuable nature and greenery is to health and happiness, it makes perfect sense to bring all of the goodness right into your work environment; after all, that’s where a lot of life is lived.

Fortunately, there are so many creative ways to fill your life with foliage; plantscapes, living walls, living art, and even plant-related holiday decor are some great options that will fill the workplace atmosphere with breathtaking beauty and soul-healing relaxation.

For more ideas about going green and bringing new life to your corner of the world, contact Cityscapes of Boston; no one can create interior biophilic scenery like our team of skilled designers. Our interiorscapes are displayed in leading hotels and offices throughout the city, and our reputation continues to go before us as a trusted and reputable service in high demand. Schedule your complimentary design assessment today!

Business people working at desks by window in office

5 Ways to Improve Productivity at Work

Getting enough out of your workday is an ongoing challenge. You may find yourself struggling to pay attention or wondering how you’re ever going to take care of all of those tasks on your plate. All the time management strategies in the world can leave you wondering if you’re ever going to actually manage to keep up. If you want to maintain and improve productivity at work, try some of these key strategies.

Strategy #1: Knock Out the Tough Tasks First

While no single schedule is the right choice for anyone, there are several benefits to taking on the biggest challenges in your day as early as possible. First, you’re more likely to have high energy levels in the morning, before your day becomes a bigger struggle. Second, taking care of those big tasks on your list will give you a feeling of accomplishment that will help propel you forward, making it easier to take care of those smaller pieces of the puzzle. If you’re struggling to find the motivation for a task that you don’t want to do, dive in and get started! Break it down into manageable pieces, then slowly start to work on them. That feeling of accomplishment might just drive you to excel.

Strategy #2: Tackle Small Tasks Immediately

Yes, you need to take care of those tough tasks as soon as possible. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should leave a huge list of little tasks sitting on your desk all day. If you know you can take care of a simple task in just a few minutes, go ahead and knock it out immediately. This will remove it from your To Do list and probably ultimately decrease the amount of time you’ll spend on that particular task since you no longer have to think about it (or even expend the energy to add it to your list). Knocking out simple tasks can also increase your feeling of accomplishment, which will increase the odds that you’ll get to work in other areas of your work day.

Strategy #3: Set Smaller Goals

Big goals can be daunting. While it’s important to have those big-picture goals, especially as they pertain to your work day, give yourself permission to set smaller, more manageable goals. The success high will push you forward to bigger things, and knowing that you’re working toward those goals will make it easier to accomplish the tasks on your desk every day that you dread the most.

Strategy #4: Know Your Break Schedule

How long can you work on a specific task before your brain starts to fry and it becomes difficult to focus, impossible to concentrate, and hard to do even the simplest things? Know your internal break schedule: the time when you simply need to break away from your work for a little while. Consider setting a timer to allow yourself ten minutes of chatting with a colleague or time for a walk around the office. These little brain breaks can actually increase and improve productivity and make you better ready to dive back in! On the other hand, don’t force yourself to take a break if you’re in the middle of a productive streak with an important task. Instead, move that break to the moment when you start to feel tired, overwhelmed, or unfocused.

Strategy #5: Create a Productive Office Setting

What does it take for you to create a productive setting in your personal office? For many people, that’s a highly organized system with exactly the right filing system, technology, and other advantages. For others, it’s a darker, more peaceful environment where harsh lights and frequent interruptions don’t interfere with their ability to function at peak efficiency. Whatever the perfect office setting looks like for you, do your best to create it! Whether you have an entire office to yourself or you’re working with a smaller setting, like your desk, a few small changes can substantially increase your ability to remain productive throughout the day.

Productivity is an ongoing challenge for many office workers–but it doesn’t have to be your biggest one. By following some of these simple strategies, you can significantly improve productivity and make it easier for you to meet your daily office goals.

Three plants in fabric pot covers standing on white, empty wall. Aloe in the office shelf

The Benefits of Growing Aloe in the Office

The aloe plant has been cultivated for thousands of years and makes for an attractive and easy-to-care-for plant for any office. Recognizable for its medicinal value, aloe requires little care or watering. It’s a great option for employees who want to bring plants into the office, but don’t want to spend time on maintenance. Learn more about the benefits of aloe in the office place.

Growing Aloe in the Office

Aloe is easy to grow indoors as an office plant. If you live in certain climates, you can even grow aloe outside on an office patio, balcony, or outside around the building. The most cost-effective part of growing your own aloe is that you do not need to destroy the plant to use it medicinally—each leaf contains aloe gel. To use it, you just need to cut off a single leaf, leaving the remaining plant to regenerate.

Even better, a healthy aloe plant will propagate its own smaller aloes, which you can separate from the parent plant and re-pot into another vessel. In a few short months, you may have more aloe plants than you know what to do with. These small plants make for a great (and free!) appreciation gift for employees.

It can be easy to over-water aloe. Depending on your climate and humidity, you may need to water an aloe plant as infrequently as once a month. If you feel the top two inches of the soil and they’re still moist, it’s too early to re-water.

The Health Benefits of Aloe

Before you procure an aloe plant, you may have a few questions. What are the benefits of aloe?

Air cleaning

Aloe has the ability to clear the air of harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and other substances found in carpet, cleaning products, and other chemical-laden office items.

Burns

Whether it’s sunburn leftover from a long weekend, or a kitchen burn from the office kitchen, growing your own aloe plant means you will not need to purchase aloe gel from the store to treat burns. Cutting open or squeezing a leaf of the plan expels aloe gel, which can be applied directly to the burn for relief.

Insect repellent

A natural and harmless alternative to DEET and other chemical-based repellents, aloe applied to the skin has the capacity to keep mosquitoes and other pests at bay. The gel creates a moist barrier that repels insects naturally, without chemicals that may cause other health issues and harm the environment. During the summer, keeping an aloe plant on your deck or balcony is the perfect way to have side effect-free repellent at the ready anytime you’re enjoying an outdoor space.

Health Benefits of Aloe at Home

Because aloe propagates dozens of smaller plants in the pot, you may find yourself giving away these smaller plants to employees. At home, aloe has many healing benefits as well:

Psoriasis

Dry skin is a persistent, embarrassing condition. It can also be frustratingly difficult to treat. The soothing properties of aloe gel have been used to treat psoriasis, eczema, and other dry skin conditions. Aloe may be considerably cheaper than expensive creams or prescription lotions, and it can also be used in conjunction with other treatments.

Acne

From soaps to lotions to astringents, acne is a condition that can cost you tons of money. There are dozens–or perhaps even hundreds–of acne treatments on the market. It makes sense that you would want to use a treatment that is gentle and holistic since acne most often occurs on the face. Aloe can be used in concert with your other acne treatments to reduce scarring, moisturize skin, and prevent future breakouts.

Dandruff

Instead of buying expensive shampoos, apply aloe after showering to moisturize and calm your itchy scalp naturally. For many people, dandruff is persistent and reoccurs periodically even after you’ve treated it. Treating your scalp with aloe a few times a week can not only take care of the problem, but it can also save you from having to buy expensive, specialized dandruff shampoos.

Aloe has tons of uses, but make sure to consult your doctor before beginning any treatment. It’s important that you monitor your use of any treatment, even if it’s a natural one.

Portrait of confident young businesswoman sitting at desk in office. Productivity at work - Horizontal shot.

5 Tips to Improve Productivity at Work

Productivity in the workplace gives a boost to the entire office. Not only does it enhance the work environment, it also provides increased employees morale. However, with all the demands of a hectic workplace, finding ways to streamline your workload can prove challenging. Here are 5 proven practices for improving productivity at work and effective work patterns at the office.

Eliminate multitasking

At first glance, this may seem like a contradictory statement. You may think by multitasking you will get more done, but according to an article in the Small Business Chronicle, multitasking actually hinders your productivity in two ways:

1) You cannot fully concentrate on the task at hand because you are trying to juggle more than one thing. So, you end up not really getting anything done that well.

2) Multi-tasking stresses you out, which gets in the way of your concentration.

Stay fit

If you make exercise a regular part of your routine, you are going to be more productive on the job. Harvard Business Review states that people who exercise regularly have improved concentration, better memory, mental endurance, heightened creativity, and quicker learning of new material. These are all necessary attributes of an effective employee. Exercise is not only good for the body but for the mind, as well. You can even add exercise into your workday by doing some power walks on your breaks. The burst of energy you’ll gain will give you greater returns at the desk.

Take time to plan

You probably have a schedule of appointments, meetings, or deadlines when projects need to be done, but if you take time to plan out your day more completely, you’ll get much more accomplished. In fact, this article explains how planning the night before is guaranteed to dramatically increase your productivity. If you go to work and simply begin tackling the mountain of tasks before you, you may not make as much headway than if you have a prioritized plan. The reason for this is that you’ll need to spend time thinking about what to do first, second, and next. It can be overwhelming when you don’t have a clear plan of attack. To get the most done in your workday, prioritize your tasks and then list out which ones you can reasonably accomplish for that day.

Rule your email

Your inbox can start to get a bit unruly if you’re not proactive in controlling it. That means you’ll need to rule over it instead of letting it rule you. Some people tend to check their email whenever they hear one come in. Then there’s a tendency to reply to the email and you lose your whole train of thought on whatever project you were working on. To combat this time waster, here are a few tips:

  • Turn off notifications for emails so that they don’t interrupt you.
  • Check your emails on a schedule. Plan to check them a few times a day.
  • When you take the time to check your emails, eliminate as many of them as you can by responding to those that just need a quick answer.
  • For emails that require more thought and/or an attachment or link, plan a time and/or day (depending on how many of these kinds you typically get) to answer.
  • Remove yourself from all mailing subscriptions that you don’t need. They will take up your time even if you are just deleting them right away.

Have a plan for distractions

Distractions are bound to happen even when we have the best intentions. It may be the chatty co-worker or racing thoughts. Maybe it’s something going on outside your large office window that is pulling your attention away from work. Whatever it is, finding a solution to overcome distractions will improve productivity. Here are a few tips to help you block out distractions.

  • If you have a window, use blinds or curtains to block out distractions.
  • Use earplugs for focus time if noise is a problem for you.
  • Learn some nonverbal cues if you have a co-worker who tends to talk too much (or you may have to just “shut it down”).
  • Keep your desk neat as that can be a distraction for many people.
  • Put your phone out of sight (many workplaces don’t allow phone use during work hours anyway).

Productivity is about being proactive. If you don’t take control and implement a plan, chances are that distractions will soon overtake your workspace. However, with careful forethought, you can get the most productivity out of your time at work.

Happy productive woman in an office with biophilic design plants. Improve office life concept

Improve Office Life Through Conceptual Design, Live Elements, and Concessions

Employees spend many of their waking hours at work. The office is like a home away from home, so it is important that employees feel like they are at home while they are there. If you have ever worked in a building that boasts furniture representative of a 1980s sitcom or has decor that is discolored, worn, and tattered, then you know it can lower the morale in the office and make people less productive. When employees are proud of their workspace, they are often times more willing to go above and beyond the call of duty, which translates into better productivity all around. Improve office life, motivate your employees and give them a workspace that feels more like a home with these office life altering tricks and techniques:

Update Office Furnishings

Whether your company is large or small, office facelift funds should be worked into every business budget. Presentation is an important part of the package when you are trying to generate new business and keep your current customers coming back for more. A well kept office space conveys professionalism. Employees and clients alike will feel more comfortable negotiating new deals, coming up with the next big concept, and seeing projects through to completion when they have a clean and contemporary space to work in.

The overall image of your company should be conveyed in the furnishings you select for your office space. If you wish to portray a laid-back atmosphere that fosters creativity and allows your employees to think and work freely, go with bold colors and furniture with interesting patterns and shapes. If your business is designed around helping others, choose natural earth tones and portray a look of warmth and compassion.

Get On-Board with Biophilia

Biophilia is a psychological concept that was first used in 1973 by psychoanalyst Erich Fromm who said that humans have an innate need to connect with the natural world around them, and are attracted to things that are considered to be alive and from nature.

It is a concept that is being incorporated more in shopping malls, office buildings, and other public spaces as nature calms the spirit. To engage employees and make them feel more relaxed in the workplace, incorporate landscape art, live plants, natural colors, fish tanks, water fountains, and other earthy elements.

The Little Things Do Matter

Providing simple concessions like a coffee pot and healthy snacks in the break room are little things that matter a great deal to employees. Small gestures of appreciation show employees you care and will help keep them feeling comfortable while they are at work. According to The Balance Small Business, businesses that provide free snacks and drinks to employees are the ones most likely to get the best employees in the job market.

Other gestures of appreciation you can consider to improve life in the office include giving employees gift cards to their favorite retailers for a job well done, providing a relaxing break area that includes comfortable seating, games, a TV, and some live plants for them to look after, and pumping soothing music through the airwaves to promote deep thought and reflection.

Knock Down the Walls

Open office concepts are in and promote conversation and idea sharing in the workplace. An open office concept invites employees to discuss projects and form partnerships among themselves as well as makes their supervisors more accessible to them. When the walls are knocked down, even a small office suite can take on a vast and expansive new life, letting in much more natural light for everyone to enjoy.

When designing your open office concept, remember to keep the cubicles low and try to incorporate more windows and skylights into the construction plans. If your office building needs to have individual offices for key executives to work from, position the offices so that they are in the middle of the building, allowing for lower level employees to have access to prime window seating.

In today’s job market, employees have choices when it comes to where they work, and sometimes the tipping point all comes down to the physical appearance and ambiance of the office space you provide. Give your office a facelift, let nature in, and provide employees with a few small gifts of gratitude, and you will enjoy seeing their smiling faces as they work hard to make the business boom.

Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata tricolor). Perfect for office indoor plant

Cleaning the Air While Decorating with Indoor Plant Displays

Living indoor plant displays adds a touch of class to a busy office or a bit of warmth to an otherwise sterile waiting room.  Such a display is an element that stylishly ties your décor together. The right indoor plant combinations make a place look finished, ready and put-together while they are useful for cleaning the air. Easy-care, low maintenance Dracaena plants work perfectly in many such situations.

Why Dracaena?

Dracaena is an exceptional and exciting family of plants that exist happily with limited watering and little pruning. Give them a place where the sun provides a few rays or in bright indoor lighting and they flourish. Consider which dracaena plants work with your décor and indoor lighting conditions. This plant family has something for every office condition.

Dracaena thrives under incandescent or supplemental fluorescent lighting if the ideal lighting situation is not available. Temperatures between 65-80 degrees F., those found in most businesses, are perfect for them. There is a variety of beautiful Dracaena from which to choose. Many have a tree form, taking center stage in a grouping near a window or accenting a corner.

We can even add a wall-hanging featuring this air-cleaning specimen. Include them on a table, wall shelf, in container arrangements, or plant a tropical themed garden outside. Our innovative biophilic designs beautify your space as only nature can do.

Improve Work Performance

Employees find a subtle encouragement in working in such an environment. Processes seem to flow more smoothly; interactions are more meaningful and less problematic. Sources say interacting with nature eases stress, lowers blood pressure, and improves one’s frame of mind. The benefits of cleaner air are endless and immeasurable.

Sources suggest that a 10-inch potted plant for each 100 sq ft of your business effectively purifies the air. We do the measurements and calculations to bring your office up to a standard when installing these plants. A few of the most popular Dracaena are listed below:

  • Dracaena marginata Dragon Tree
  • Dracaena fragrans Corn Plant
  • Dracaena Braunii Lucky Bamboo
  • Dracaena Reflexa Song of India
  • Dracaena deremensis Janet Craig

Consider these attractive plants as they can be arranged in your workspace. Don’t forget the positive benefits of this type of upgrade. Happier, healthier, and more productive employees is an achievable goal. Anything to make work roll along smoothly. And looking up the line, this makes work easier to manage for higher level employees.

 Who’s Trying the Indoor Plant Concept?

Giant corporations Google and Microsoft have taken advantage of this new movement to encourage their employees as they include green spaces in their indoor landscapes, according to NBC News. Not to be left behind, Amazon has jumped on the biophilic bandwagon with new domes in Seattle, called the Spheres. The three glass and steel domes house a proverbial forest of more than 40,000 plants. And, Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, CA features a nine-acre rooftop park, while Microsoft uses treehouses to allow employees to work outside. Apple has a 30-acre park, orchard, and pond for its workers to satisfy their outdoor urge.

You may rely on our experienced team of biophilic designers for a complimentary assessment and to explain the advantages in detail. Our designer meets at your convenience and can advise how to fit the Dracaena family into your offices. Rest assured, our design will work perfectly with your existing space and design.

Perhaps you will choose plant material other than the Dracaena. We offer a wide range of air-cleaning plant choices, something that is compatible with any design. From the front office to the outdoor break room and even the roof, we’ve got you covered.

Tokyo, Japan-October 25, 2013: The Hasegawa Green Biophilic Buildings is a good example of how the Japanese ecological architecture marks trends worldwide and is followed by many architects as modern inspiration.

The 5 Best Biophilic Buildings in Asia

First popularized by Edward O. Wilson in 1984, Biophilic design has grown to become one of modern architecture’s hottest trends. Focused on creating sustainable relationships between humans and natural elements, Biophilic design reaches beyond artificial man-made structures.

Architect Dwayne MacEwen, Principal of DMAC Architecture, best describes the emerging trend when comparing architecture to music:

“The space between the notes is where the magic is; otherwise, it’s just noise. We need that space between the notes in our everyday lives, and I think landscape elements create that.”

All around the world, architects are using Biophilic design to create, renovate and transform buildings into unique spaces and nurturing habitats. Asia in particular is stepping forward as a leader in Biophilic architecture, in a bid to address its congested cities, swelling population, global competitors, and large workforce. The below 5 biophilic buildings are some of the best examples of Biophilic design in Asia:

1. Pasona Group Offices, Japan

Designed by Kono Designs, this urban office in Tokyo, Japan has its own indoor farm. Completed in 2010, Pasona Group encourages its employees to cultivate and grow their own food. The agro-based philosophy uses both hydroponic and soil-based farming. When walking through the workspace, it is common to see personalized agricultural projects by employees. Some examples include bean sprouts growing under tables, passion fruit trees in conference rooms, and lemon trees in common areas.

2. Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Singapore

Touted as the most Biophilic hospital in Asia, the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore is a pioneer in healthcare infrastructure. The heart of this institution’s holistic environment is the green court. Imitating a lush forest, the green court includes water bodies with aquatic animals, brightly colored plants, as well as resident birds and butterflies. The blue and green spaces expand to the upper levels of the hospital as well as the basement. In fact, the total surface area dedicated to greenery is four times the actual land the hospital building sits on.

3. Panyaden School, Thailand

Drawing on its Buddhist founding principles, the Panyaden School in the Chiang Mai province of Thailand, is constructed entirely from earth and bamboo. The building is designed in the shape of a lotus, a flower which is regarded both as a symbol of Thailand and Buddhism. The most outstanding feature of this school is the sports hall. Covering an area of 782 square meters, the hall can accommodate up to 300 students, with bamboo staircases leading to viewing balconies for the spectators. It hosts sports like basketball, badminton and volleyball, as well as conducts events throughout the year. The bamboo trusses use natural ventilation and insulation to keep the sports hall consistently cool. In addition, they can withstand storms, high-speed winds, and earthquakes.

4. Keputih Boarding House, Indonesia

Located in Surabaya, the Keputih Boarding House was a finalist in the World Architecture Festival 2016 in Berlin, Germany. The boarding house is a world apart from the cramped conditions of its peers. While it is common to employ air-conditioning to escape Indonesia’s heat, the boarding house uses perforated panels for walls as well as spatial openings. The openings and panels allow natural lighting and air to circulate the main spaces, giving a sense that the house is “breathing”. Residents interact in the several communal places, the walls of which are decorated with stunning typographical prints. In addition, residents and visitors are provided with a parking space for their bicycles to stimulate both eco-consciousness and exercise.

5. An’garden Café, Vietnam

Located in Hanoi’s Hà Đông district on a former industrial site, the An’garden Café exudes vibrancy and oxygen throughout its three-story space. The eatery’s steel foundation and brick interiors incorporate a giant glass facade that floods the entire space with light. The timber roof is lined with planters with vines flowing out of them. Visitors can watch colorful koi fish swimming in a pond, or relax under the shady trees. The architectural firm Le House designed this cafe in the image of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. And it doesn’t fail to impress.