Start up team meeting to improve office culture

    New Techniques to Improve Office Culture

    Times have definitely changed in workplaces all around the world. In today’s corporate world, we find a staff that is more centered on their individual needs than that of the organization. The notion of taking one for the team is a little different than in the corporate world of days past. That doesn’t mean that people aren’t willing to become more team-minded anymore. So how do we develop a team that accomplishes success together despite this type of individualistic mentality? Simply put, we must ignite a spark within the people that make the organization. This requires establishing an internal motivation and great satisfaction in their role within the larger structure. Here are some techniques to improve office culture:

    Treat the Office as a Family

    The best way to accomplish this is by taking the time to know everyone on a personal level and make sure that their individual needs are met. Giving them a workspace that makes them comfortable, giving them the freedom and flexibility to speak their mind and make suggestions goes a long way toward making people feel appreciated. Impersonal relationships where everyone in the office is nothing more than an acquaintance will do nothing to improve office culture and the outlook of individual people in the company. CEO Rich Smith of Henderson Engineers in Kansas City will have Nerf battles with his staff, on top of a variety of other in-house leisure activities that promote the workplace as a family. This brings out the best in everyone at work. When everyone wakes up refreshed and excited about a new day at the place they enjoy being with people they value, everyone succeeds as a team. 

    Ask for and Listen to Opinions

    Soliciting opinions from each stakeholder in the organization helps them to feel both valued and important. Most people don’t appreciate the notion that they are just a small cog in a much larger machine. Thinking outside of the box to make people love coming to work goes a long way to giving people job satisfaction. Money always talks, but there is so much more to lighting that spark in employees than just in the paycheck. Companies like Netflix and Ikea listened to what their employees were saying. When they expressed that they needed paid parental leave, the company responded and are now considered innovative leaders when it comes to paid time off for parental leave. Soliciting opinions isn’t just about putting out a suggestion box. Personalized conversations where management listens with the intention of making significant changes based upon the results of the feedback is a process that requires forethought and commitment. 

    Distributed Leadership

    Establishing a series of smaller committees or task forces with leadership opportunities available to multiple people can help distribute leadership and make the organization more task oriented. While this is not a new concept it is often seriously lacking in organizational structures. Every employee, large and small, have a somewhat different set of skills. Distributed leadership opportunities allow for everyone to utilize their skills to help the company succeed. This leadership model has moved from the corporate world into the world of education as well. Many school faculties have begun to use distributed leadership structures and have seen significant improvements to student achievement. Companies like Google have figured this out and are famous for their out-of-the-box methods for making everyone a leader and it has paid off handsomely for them. 

    Simply put, the old school mentality of a boss and minions has most definitely faded away. There are leaders in every structure and certainly, the buck has to stop somewhere. But realizing that you are stronger together with shared passion and goals is the new key to improve office culture and success. 

    Mature man in wheelchair with smartphone in an office, more productive at work with wellness tips and indoor plants

    4 Ways to be More Productive at Work

    The gig economy has changed the way so many of us earn our living that it can be hard to keep up with. Whether you’re a hard-working freelancer, or you’re thinking about starting a side hustle as a way to earn yourself some extra cash on the side, or you spend a majority of the day in a traditional office, this list of tips will help see you through those tough times and how to be more productive at work. And more importantly, help keep you fresh while you keep your nose to the grindstone.

    Tip #1: Stay Focused

    One of the biggest challenges you’ll face during the workday is staying focused on the job you’re supposed to be doing. Because even if you know that your client needs this project by six in an academic sense, it’s tempting to check your email, to clear those notifications off your home screen, or to fill up your coffee cup again before you really get down to business. Ignoring the siren’s song of other stuff you need to do might sound easy when you’re on an important deadline, but that isn’t the case for everyone. And, as CNBC points out, lost minutes often add up to missing hours when all is said and done.

    One of the best things you can do for your focus is to eliminate as many distractions as possible. That means close any Internet windows, let your co-workers around you know that you have to knuckle down and get this done, and put in a set of earbuds to cancel out the noise all around you. Set a playlist, and start crunching! Alternatively, consider working in an empty meeting room, or even taking some remote time to work in a quiet place, away from the hustle and bustle of the office. Whatever works to eliminate your usual distractions, do that as often as you can to maximize your productivity.

    Tip #2: Have A Pre-Work Routine

    Getting yourself in gear is one of the best things you can do when it comes to your productivity. Whether it’s spending fifteen minutes getting coffee and straightening up your desk space, or taking your morning lap around the office and talking to your favorite coworkers, it’s important to get into the proper mindset before sitting down to do the heavy lifting of your day. As Elite Daily points out, what you do in the morning can set the tone for the rest of your day. Think of it like doing some warm-ups before a workout; it will stop you straining your brain, and ensure that your work is on-point when you do sit down at the keyboard.

    Tip #3: Give Yourself Regular Breaks

    There is nothing worse for your productivity, or for the overall quality of your work than going at it hard and fast all day, every day according to Psychology Today. Remember that you have a water cooler to go to, and ask your coworkers to check in on you from time to time.

    Make sure you take breaks for meals and don’t just eat at your desk. You need to have time away from what you’re working on in order to come back to it at full strength. Make plans with some friends and go out to get lunch, if you know folks who are available. Leave time in your schedule to go to the gym, perhaps, as getting the blood flowing can refresh your body as well as your mind during the workday. If you need to, set alarms on your phone to let you know when it’s time to take a break or time to get back to work. Because occasionally you need to click refresh on yourself if you’re going to do the best work you possibly can and ensure that you’re staying productive without eating into the hard edge that ensures you’re doing quality work, as well.

    Tip #4: Get A Plant

    As Earth 911 tells us, keeping a plant at your desk can do wonders for your productivity. Caring for the plant can help you establish your routine, allowing you to reduce stress and focus on the tasks you have to work on. Plants also freshen the air and add a splash of color to your surroundings, which can lift your mood and help you work that much harder, for that much longer.

    While the particular plant will vary based on personal tastes, office culture, and the amount of work they take to upkeep, it’s always a good idea to keep a little green nearby.

    Cityscapes offers a virtually endless variety of tropical plants, flowers, arrangements and containers for businesses in Greater Boston. Click here to learn more about indoor plants and how to be more productive at work.

    Hygge vide in the office with biophilic design. Woman happily working

    Biophilic Design – Becoming More Productive with Hygge

    Hygge -(pronounced hue-guh or hoo-ga), is a Danish term meaning cozy or comfortable. #Hygge was tagged over 1.5M times on Instagram and was Pinterest’s hottest home decorating trend. 

    What is Hygge? 

    It is one of the best ways to relax and become more productive by creating an environment that inspires, feels comfortable, and promotes productivity. The benefits are derived through biophilic design, introduced in 1984 by Edward O. Wilson that suggests, “...humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life…”  

    At Cityscapes Inc. we use this concept to bring hygge to the office — our biophilic designs fuse the human connection to nature improving the quality of life, reducing stress and bumping up productivity.

    Hygge-up your workspace with biophilic elements:

    1. Go green. Bring the outdoors in! Adding a small plant to your desk or a tall plant in the corner of your office will give it a fresh look. Plants in the office not only liven it up, but they also reduce stress and help you become more productive. Simply looking at plants has a tranquilizing effect; they make us feel good; very hygge.
    2. Connect with others. Share a morning muffin with co-workers occasionally; it’s all about connecting. Take time out of your busy day to connect with others and get to know them. Focus on positive subjects and encourage others to do the same. You will be re-energized and productivity will increase exponentially. Also, positivity is contagious!
    3. Fluff up your space. New pictures of the family, boyfriend/girlfriend, dog or pet tarantula can work wonders for the psyche. 
    4. Ditch the clutter. Look around – can your office use a serious top to bottom purge? What can you get rid to create more “open space”? Minimalism is definitely trending.

    Small changes like these make hygge work for you. Cityscapes Inc. will help you create the perfect work environments for your employees. By focusing on incorporating nature through the use of plants and harmonizing them with the human element, they will help you create an environment where both will thrive, your staff will become tuned in to your company goals and productivity will increase organically.

    Now that we have the right biophilic elements in place and hygge is working for you, here are more tips to becoming more productive

    1. It is now believed that multi-tasking doesn’t actually help you get more done— it causes stress. However, by focusing on one task at a time, you will have a more productive day 
    2. Be realistic with what you believe you can accomplish in a day and how long tasks should take. Scientific studies now prove that we have a tendency to underestimate how long something will take to finish.
    3. If you make lists, again, be reasonable and keep them short; the more things on your list, the less motivated you feel, plus you’ll become frustrated by the sheer number of unfinished tasks. As the day wears on, it’s more difficult to maintain that momentum and you end up losing steam.
    4. Schedule your most important tasks earlier in the day so as not to paint yourself into a corner. Accomplishing a little is more gratifying than going for a lot and missing the mark. Your mind becomes more efficient and strategic when an entire task is completed.

    By completing a few tasks well, you will retain the clarity to do the rest of your tasks even better.

     Managing energy over time

    1. We all get the same 24 hours each day to do as we see fit. Managing your energy versus time is a healthier, more productive approach to managing daily activitiesTony Schwartz, founder, and CEO of The Energy Project and author of “The Productivity Paradox”, has developed reliable, scientifically-backed methods to empower and energize people in the workplace. He is considered one of the world’s authorities on rebuilding organizations to be more humane, human and higher performing.
    2. There are 4 basic types of energy within the human spirit: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Tending to each of these sources of motivation is the key to keeping energy up — and that might mean taking a new approach to managing your energy at work and at home. 
    3. Hone-in on specific strategies to address each type of energy fatigue, 

     Physical Energy

    Exercise, nutrition, and sleep are the mainstays of physical energy. Working late, skipping breakfast, forgoing physical exercise all take their toll on the human body and psyche. Small changes, i.e. by eating three or four small meals make you less likely to crash. A regular sleep schedule will keep alert throughout the day.

    Mental Energy

    Use your mental energy wisely and stop multitasking.  Instead, block out periods to focus on one task at a time.

    Emotional Energy

    Emotional energy determines the quality of your attention and work. While proper rest is vital to help you focus, your attitude is equally important.  When stress starts to creep in, get up, take a short walk, or look share a funny story with a co-worker.

    Spiritual Energy

    To help recharge your spiritual energy, start by clarifying your long-term goals; brainstorm ways to make your daily work fit into those goals. Spiritual energy is clearly connected with real-life productivity.

    By incorporating biophilic design into the workplace, and managing energy over time, employees will experience heightened levels of productivity.

    ……………..

    https://www.ciphr.com/advice/plants-in-the-office/

    https://www.outsideonline.com/2160106/less-more

    https://curiosity.com/topics/multitasking-is-impossible-so-batch-tasks-instead-curiosity/

    young woman feel carefree and take a deep breath at nature outdoor. Health and Wellness concept

    Take a Deep Breath: Good Green Outings in Boston

    Health and Wellness

    Getting out and enjoying a natural space can be good for you – all of you. Studies have shown that spending time in nature, or just bringing some of the outside world inside, can have a positive impact on your mind, body, and spirit. Green outings in Boston can improve health and wellness.

    But if you’re a desk jockey or otherwise trapped inside for the majority of the day, it’s hard to get out to enjoy the healthy benefits the outside world offers. Work on fostering a green mindset and developing a few small habits and you’ll find it makes a big difference in your life. Most people eat a few times every day, for example. So why not change the way you think about going out for lunch? 

    Instead of buying lunch, pack some real convenience food that’s easy to eat on the go (think apples and bananas) and take a walk during your lunch break. Or, stop at a park on your way home from work. At the very least, get in the habit of parking as far away from your destination as possible and add a few steps to your day that way. 

    Why does it matter? As we said earlier, nature is really, really good for your health. A review of more than 140 studies concluded that “exposure to green space reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure.” Do you really need more evidence? 

    Well, OK. Here:

    Now that you see what a good green outing can do for you, find some ways to steal a little more time with nature. A few ideas below.

    Boston’s Natural Attractions Are Calling!

    It doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived here, it’s OK to act like a tourist in your hometown! Consider some of Boston’s easy, breezy spots to soak up some of nature’s benefits – indoors or out.

    • Visit The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. It’s open to the public year round, admission is free, and guided walks and other events are offered frequently. 
    • When was the last time you went to Castle Island? Maybe it’s time for a return trip.
    • Walk the labyrinth at Armenian Heritage Park, or find one even closer to you.
    • Get your own green space (and tend it) at the fabulous Fenway Victory Gardens
    • The Lyman Estates Greenhouses in Waltham are lush and lovely (and free to visitors) 
    • Trip into the tropics at Franklin Park Zoo’s Tropical Forest and while you’re there, explore Bird’s World, too. Both indoor attractions offer a big dose of outdoor beauty and wonder.
    • The Limonaia, or Lemon House, at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, is an indoor, sub-tropic environment that provides plenty of sunny views and lush greenery. 
    • Also offering natural beauty indoors is the Butterfly Place in Westford. Open from Valentine’s Day through Columbus Day, it’s sure to fill you with wonder. 

    Bring the Natural World Inside for More Health Benefits

    Whether you’re hosting a work event or just working in your home office, incorporating plants and other natural elements can improve the indoor atmosphere (and your attitude along with it). When you can’t get out for a fresh breath of air, you can still reap some of the benefits that nature offers. 

    From Living Art arrangements to landscape design and maintenance, at Cityscapes, we want to help you find more beauty both indoors and out. 

    Micro-irrigation system

    Low-Pressure, High Sustainability: Micro-Irrigation Systems

    How do you water that living wall? Why is that building’s landscape so lush when everyone else has the same ocean of dry, brown bark dust dotted with boring box hedges and juniper bushes? How can Boston Cityscapes take our biophilic campus to the next level of sustainability? 

    Whenever we’re maintaining our award-winning existing plantscape projects or creating design assessments for new clients, we expect to field these questions. Sometimes passersby wonder aloud as they admire cascading living walls or vibrant street-level landscapes, and we can’t help but overhear. 

    Our designs are contemporary, but we rely on horticulture principles that date back thousands of years. It’s entirely possible that you’re using the same technology at home as we do in our commercial irrigation systems: Low-pressure micro-irrigation. 

    More than just “drip” irrigation

    Micro-irrigation uses a network of small hoses and tubes to deliver precise amounts of water at or just below the soil surface. Moisture leaves the tubes through two types of emitters: Spray/mist and drip. Most emitters are small “heads” inserted into distribution tubes, but sometimes, the tubes themselves deliver the water, much like standard-size “soaker” hoses. 

    The primary line attaches to a water source—an existing or custom-plumbed hose bib—or a holding tank via a screened connection. A digital controller regulates water flow to the system, and manual valves on emitters and junction points allow another level of precision in managing water delivery to the plants. 

    The safe, sustainable, and cost-effective irrigation option

    Our maintenance plans are affordable largely due to our designs, in which micro-irrigation plays a critical role. We can economize our service calls and, when we’re on-site, focus on the plants themselves. This reduces our need to burn fuel, and drastically reduces your water usage. 

    You may have read about our porous paving options for outdoor water absorption and runoff reduction. We can further divert and use rainwater through a catchment system. Stored rainwater can supply your plantscape or biophilic system using gravity rather than plumbed-in, electrically-pumped city water. This is an economic and energy-saving strategy, but it also reduces the amount of runoff that carries urban pollutants from your rooftop to Boston’s already over-taxed stormwater system… thus protecting Massachusetts’ sensitive marine, aquatic, and riparian ecologies while earning your firm applause from municipal and non-profit conservation programs. 

    We’ve already discussed your potential savings in water usage and maintenance calls, but micro-irrigation installation is much simpler and more affordable than traditional below-ground systems. It’s absolutely more efficient than manual watering, which involves moving, storing, and hauling around cumbersome hoses, pack sprayers, and spray wands. If the flexible, resilient components should fail, low-pressure irrigation systems cause barely a fraction of the damage incurred by broken pipes or damaged standard sprinkler heads. Nor do they pose the same trip hazard to pedestrians, and they avoid the need to climb on ladders to tend to hanging plants or living walls. 

    Increased diversity, density, and plant health

    Micro-irrigation presents a whole new world of landscape design opportunities. Efficient use of maintenance time, natural resources, and space through targeted water delivery allows for higher-density planting and a broader selection of compatible species. Micro-irrigation allows us to water your plants in a manner that prevents root and crown disease and the problems associated with overhead sprinklers. Proper use of mulches and mist emitters increases humidity for semi-tropical plants, and low-volume drip systems satisfy a xeriscaping garden’s bare-minimum needs.

    Traditional commercial landscape designers default to species that tolerate neglect and abuse. We can provide lush, tender plants as well as the more resilient “classic” varieties, and the plants you select for your interior and exterior designs will exhibit richer, more vibrant foliage and flower color. 

    Micro-irrigation is scalable, customizable, and worthy of the investment…

    …Just like Cityscape’s services. Our systems work beautifully no matter the size of your facility, and they can go with you should you relocate. They’re versatile, adapting to dynamic designs and themes. 

    Micro-irrigation is just as adaptable, even when the components are integrated into many leading living wall systems at the point of manufacture. If you have a garden at home, or you’ve always dreamed of one but don’t want the hassle of daily hand-watering, set one up this season. Consumer-grade systems have a few more quirks than those designed for commercial applications, but even still, the results might make you might fall in love with your garden all over again.

    Now, imagine your employees feeling the same way when they come to work each morning. Let us help you make it happen! 

    The facade of the "La grande epicerie de Paris" is covered with living wall (Paris, France - August 21, 2018: The facade of the "La grande epicerie de Paris" is covered with living wall.

    Make Corporate Landscape Design Practices Compatible with Your Company Image

    Corporate brand identities and the broader image is typically born (or reborn) in the marketing realm, where positioning and messaging is developed. Marketing taglines and brand strategies are fundamental to sales and growth plans, and quite often, they are the primary focus of top execs. 

    And nowhere is corporate image more visible than at your front door. But unfortunately, sometimes commercial landscapes aim too low, presenting a generic image that fails to support your company’s message, brand, and unique character. 

    Professional landscape designers bring many disciplines and talents together to ensure that what visitors, employees, and other stakeholders see on your corporate landscape reflects the company image you have worked so hard to build. 

    Does Your Corporate Landscape Design Reflect Your Company Image and Values? 

    Landscape professionals always consider how humans – your employees, vendors and customers – interact with the outside environment. If your corporate entrance is welcoming and reflects your company values, that will reinforce your brand message and form a lasting, positive impression. Likewise, a corporate landscape (inside or out) can detract or distract visitors and employees from buying in to your company message and values. 

    If eco-friendly initiatives feature prominently in your marketing plans, for example, you certainly don’t want to stock the employee break room with styrofoam cups and plastic utensils that are bound for the landfill. Likewise, your corporate landscape should echo your company’s environmental responsibility by featuring native plantings and naturalized areas. 

    But how will that look? If you work with landscape designers who have experience in corporate landscape design, the answer is “great.” Their job is to help you reinforce your marketing message and support the corporate image you want to convey. And, thanks to growing interest in more ecologically responsible office design, those landscape professionals have gotten a lot of help from improved growing techniques and design innovations. Today, green roofs, living walls, improvements to or remediation of polluted areas, and water-smart landscaping are proving both environmentally-friendly and corporate-chic. 

    Designing a Corporate Landscape to Support Your Human Resources 

    Bringing natural elements to indoor office spaces has been shown to improve employee moods, productivity, and job satisfaction ratings and to reduce employee absences. What’s not to love, right? 

    Incorporating living walls, creating green spaces indoors, or just making sure there’s a plant on every desk may sound like a big undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be. Just like any project that is intended to benefit your employees, however, it’s best to start with a thoughtful plan. Many landscape and interior designers recommend introducing plants and other green elements through small, incremental changes. A plan designed specifically for your company will result in maximum improvements with minimal disruption during installation. Also, having a plan created specifically for your office space will ensure you know ahead of time what to expect in terms of ongoing maintenance. 

    Practical Considerations: Privacy, Safety and Security

    Well-planned vegetation, water features and lighting obviously go a long way to enhancing the aesthetics as well as the safety of your landscape. In dry or very dense or developed areas, landscaping can be used as a fire-suppressant. At building entrances and in parking lots, lighting improves visibility and therefore, safety. Talented landscape designers can even create a visually appealing feature to beautify less attractive security features like fences and entry gates, and to draw attention away from others you’d prefer to be less noticeable (like observation cameras). 

    Inside, adding natural elements to your office space can dampen sounds and create more private, comfortable work areas – especially in the increasingly familiar (but not universally loved) open office design. 

    Think about it this way: taking the time to create a plan that will improve employee productivity, reduce energy costs, and provide visual elements that support your company’s marketing message sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

    The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) refers to it as “Designing Awesome.” 

    If you’re considering how your exterior landscaping might better support your corporate image – and your employees – contact us for a design consultation

    An indoor palm tree in an office board room

    Three Expert Ways to Care for Your Indoor Palm Tree

    There’s a good reason why indoor palm trees are so popular. Nothing evokes the calm, refreshing breezes of an exotic tropical isle quite like the majestic palm tree. Entering a room with palm trees is not only a beautiful sight, but it also calms the spirit and conjures images of island vacations. With 2600 species of palmsto choose from, it can be overwhelming, but the good news is most palms do well indoors in about the same climate conditions as humans. The Arecaceae family of plants(palms) are an incredibly diverse species found in both deserts and rainforests around the world.

    A small palm on your desk or a mature palm in the office foyer are easy-care plants, and once you understand the basics, you will enjoy your palm tree for many years. You’re not looking for simple ways to care for your exotic indoor palm tree; you’re looking for the best ways! Here are three such methods:

    1. Find the Best Location

    Space

    Outdoor palms often grow to great heights in tropical climates, so it is crucial to know the mature height of the palm before purchasing. Indoor palms grow approximately 3ft -8 ft in height, depending on the variety. Keep in mind that you cannot prune the top of a palm. If you cut off a growing palm tip, the palm will die. Luckily, most palms are slow growing, and when they reach the ceiling, the best option is to find a room with a higher ceiling for the big palm.

    Light

    Most indoor palms thrive in bright indirect light from a southern or western window exposure. The pygmy date palm and Washingtonia palm prefer direct sun, but they are the exception. Occasionally turn your palm to ensure all sides of the plant receive adequate light, and the plant grows straight. Palms do well indoors because they like lower light and may get a sunburn in direct sun!

    Temperature and Humidity

    Palm trees flourish in warmer temperatures, again with a few exceptions. The hardy parlor and kentia palms favor nights with temperatures dropping into the 50’s. Generally, palm species flourish in a wide range of temperatures but prefer 70-75 degrees during the day, with a 10-degree drop at night. 

    2. Optimize the Growing Conditions 

    Soil

    Indoor palms grow well in general purpose potting soil, but additives to the soil create the ideal environment for a growing plant. Consider a loose, porous soil mix such as a combination of peat moss, leaf mold, and shredded bark. Palms do not like to be repotted, so repot the plants only after they have become rootbound in the pot. 

    Fertilizing

    Because palms are slow growers, excessive feeding is not necessary. A good rule to remember for palms is to feed lightly in the warmer summer months and not at all in the winter months. Any good houseplant fertilizer works well.

    Pruning

    Carefully prune your palm tree because palms don’t need excessive pruning and they don’t like it either. In general, only remove brown leaves, if you remove leaves earlier, you run the risk of robbing the palm of vital nutrients. Cut, do not pull leaves from the plants to avoid damage. Gently sponge clean large leaves on a big palm and shower leaves of a smaller palm in a sink.

    3. Avoid Potential Problems

    Yellow Leaves

    The most likely cause of yellow leaves on palm trees is underwatering. Palm trees quickly recover from underwatering by merely adjusting the watering and keeping the soil evenly moist, and by cutting off (not pulling) yellow leaves.

    Root Rot

    The opposite of yellowing leaves, root rot is caused by overwatering; in fact, overwatering is the number one killer of indoor palm trees. Keep the soil moist but make sure the pot is draining well at the same time.

    Insects

    Insect infestations are usually not a problem with indoor palm trees. Red spider mites cause the palm to have a dull appearance, but they typically flourish in hot, dry conditions, which is not the general climate in an indoor office. Cleaning or spraying the plant is a good control measure.

    Palm trees create a soothing and relaxing atmosphere in an office setting, and who doesn’t want a little less stress in their busy lives? If you would like to experience the ambiance of palm trees or other healthful plants in your office, contact us at Cityscapes and let us handle all your corporate horticultural, plant installation, and maintenance needs.

    Green landscape design corporate office. Employee heath and wellness concept

    Designing A Landscape For Employee Health and Wellness

    A 2011 study published in Public Health Report found that employees felt less stress when they have contact with nature. The scientists conducting the survey even broke down the types of contact with nature that seemed to have the biggest effect: they found that going outdoors and experiencing nature directly reduced stress the most, with direct contact with nature indoors coming in second. This feels correct at a gut level, and we at Cityscapes certainly have found it to be true. The question is how to landscape the company’s property for the best stress-reducing return on your investment. 

    Make Taking A Break Outside Appealing

    The Public Health Report article recommended outdoor breaks. Another study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that access to outside areas was associated with a lower Body Mass Index (meaning employees were a healthy weight.) So, how do you make your outdoors call to your employees? Some suggestions are:

    • Give them somewhere to sit down. You can’t enjoy the view when you’re sitting in a puddle; so provide some pretty benches and tables. These don’t have to take up a lot of space and can work in any little patch of greenery.

    • Put in lots of ferns and flowering plants. Lawns get dull. 

    • If you have a little concrete patio, put a few potted plants there.

    • Create little nooks with shrubbery. This can include putting little trees in a circle by your back door or installing few flower beds in a corner. This will provide a sense of safety and privacy while people take their lunch break.

    Improve The View From The Office Window

    While the Public Health Report definitely felt that directly contacting nature was best, it also found that being able to see nature from your office window had positive effects, and other studies have confirmed this. This conclusion makes sense, as people spend a lot of time looking out windows when they are at work. If viewing nature is restful, putting a little nature outside the window provides employees with plenty of rest.

    So, when your landscaping company comes in to help you landscape your property, ask them how the grounds will look from inside. They might decide to put in trees that will reach the second story or something similar. At the least, you can put potted plants on windowsills. Other things that might be tried are:

    • Planting trees that attract wildlife. There are few things funner than watching squirrels at play.

    • Planting tall things at the back of the property so people on the top floors will get a nice view.

    Encourage Walking With Inviting Paths

    The Working Healthy Project found that simple modifications to the working environment changed employee behavior, and one modification they made was to put a red line in workplace cafeterias to encourage people to walk to the fruits and vegetables in the buffet table. You can take this principle to outdoor spaces by creating paths in your lawns. These paths can be made of gravel or flagstones, and you can line them with flowers. People will want to stroll in the beautiful surroundings on their lunch breaks, which will provide the psychological rest and physical exercise that rejuvenates your average employee according to many studies.

    Other ways to encourage strolling through your garden is to:

    • Put the picnic benches at the back of the property so people will be motivated to walk.

    • Paint arrows on your path, just like in the cafeteria experiment.

    • Plant shade trees on the side of the path to make walking comfortable on hot days.

    • Find colorful gravel that will look fun to walk on. 

    As you can see, a few simple tweaks to your corporate landscape can improve employee health and wellness. It only takes a little thought to create a design that will maximize these benefits too, so why not give it a try?

    living walls at amazon spheres seattle

    Corporate Landscape Design Practices: Take a Cue from Industry Leaders

    Corporate landscape design should take into account your corporate image and how users interact with your building and landscape. Amazon’s Spheres meeting rooms reportedly feature 400 different species of plants. Apple has planted over 8,000 trees on its California campus. 

    Chances are your landscaping budget is a little smaller than theirs. 

    Rather than being awed and overwhelmed by such displays, make plans that will work for your corporate space, indoors and out. Work with professionals who can make suggestions to maximize your work space, inside and out. They can also help you plan to implement features in phases, minimizing disruption while maximizing your investment and the benefits. 

    Beautiful, Practical Corporate Landscape Possibilities 

    Inhale, close your eyes, and exhale a few preconceived notions: an office building doesn’t have to look boxy, dark, stark, or sterile. (Inhale again.) 

    Instead, it can look green, natural, and inviting. Ah-hhh. Are you getting the picture? A well-planned landscape can not only co-exist with a productive workplace, it can foster that productivity. Brainstorm for a while to consider how to make that happen in your corporate landscape. 

    • Maybe parking areas can include exercise or meditation areas. As a bonus, features like these are often seen as employee perks. And, with the right design, they, they can be very easy to maintain. 
    • What if your outdoor spaces allowed for small, comfortable (and productive) meetings? Hello, intradepartmental environmental collaboration area! 
    • Exterior plantings and landscape design can be used to highlight the visual elements of your building (like signs and logos) that you want to feature prominently in your company image, and minimize or even camouflage those you’d rather not call attention to. 
    • Can you encourage your employees to get up and walk more by creating a walking path around your building or through your campus? 

    Working with the Environment 

    The Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California, is a landscape with a futuristic twist – orchards surround the spaceship-shaped building, and greenspace fills the office’s round midsection. Of course, plant selection is just as important as the layout. The fruit trees and other plantings the tech giant chose are all water efficient and planned to fit – or more accurately, bring back – the natural landscape.  

    Smaller companies can take a cue from Apple by incorporating native bushes, trees and other plants in their corporate landscapes. Not only is a landscape plan that includes hearty natives environmentally sound, it’s also fiscally responsible. As always, working with nature rather than against it offers many benefits. Some of them even look good on your bottom line: your landscape will require less water, fewer chemicals and overall lower maintenance needs. 

    Creating a plan that will make wise use of water, natural shade is important, even in Boston. But in an area that’s likely to be snowy and cold for about half of the year, what else can you do? With the right plan, you can create natural barriers that will block wind and reduce snow accumulation on walkways and near entrances. Evergreen foliage and vines can also create living walls that offer a visual break from other nearby developments. 

    Ornamental grasses, small trees, and attractive planters are just some of the elements that can be used to provide year-round beauty and to create functional, welcoming spaces on your corporate landscape. (See our photo gallery for inspiration.)

    Savvy Employers Bring it In, Too

    Studies have shown that people who work in environments with live plants report higher levels of wellbeing, productivity, and creativity. Um, what employer doesn’t want to encourage that kind of atmosphere?? Professional landscape designers like Cityscapes can help design indoor and outdoor spaces that are both beautiful and practical, meeting your employees’ needs while enhancing your corporate image. 

    What’s not to love?

    productivity at work employees working together

    6 Ways to Improve Productivity at Work

    Employees are the most valuable assets for businesses both big and small. They can either break or make your enterprise. Therefore, you need to keep your employees happy and satisfied to increase their productivity. Productive employees help your business grow and assure business success and survival. They get work done quickly and reduce time spent on unnecessary tasks. You can improve employee productivity by making small changes to habits in your firm. This not only increases productivity but also results in greater business efficiency. Below are six ways of improving employee productivity at work.

    1. Provide the Right Tools and Equipment

    You can improve the productivity of your employees by providing them with the right tools and equipment to perform their duties effectively. Employees’ having to wait for days or even a week to get office suppliers is both counterproductive and demotivating for employees. In addition, ensure that employees have access to technology that make work easier.

    2. Improve the working environment

    Invest in a workplace that is free from distractions such as noise, music, TV, phones, and other colleagues because they reduce the productivity of employees. At a personal level, employees should turn off phone notifications since they are major distractors. Create a comfortable environment that has good lighting, free from noise, and good temperatures. An office that is too hot or too cold makes employees uncomfortable and unable to concentrate on their work. Invest in good air conditioning so that temperatures can be adjusted accordingly.

    3. Set realistic goals

    Many managers do not set goals for employees and those who do, do not set clear goals. This makes employees unsure of what is expected of them. You should set clear goals for your employees to give them direction and focus. Clear goals increase employees’ productivity and motivation. However, ensure that the goals are realistic and achievable.

    4. Motivate and reward good results

    Employees desire to be appreciated for the services they offer at a company. Appreciate your employees regularly and let them know they are doing a good job. Also, encourage, motivate, and reward your employees. You can offer the best employee a free holiday or even free lunch. Acknowledge well-performing employees in front of others so that they are motivated too. Do not forget to offer constructive criticism if needed.

    5. Go natural

    Nature, natural light and interior plants increase employee productivity. Research shows that interior plants are more than décor elements in an office; they improve employee productivity and satisfaction by up to 15%. A green office increases concentration levels, improves air quality, and enhances employee engagement. Ensure you choose the right plants for your workplace and develop a staff rota to care for the plants. Cityscapes purposes to transform lives by utilizing the power of plants and can help you choose the ideal plants for your workplace. 

    6. Offer advancement opportunities

    You can improve employee productivity by offering your staff members advancement opportunities. Provide them with opportunities to improve their skills and stay updated on the latest trends and best practices in your industry. Upgrading employees’ skills does not have to be a thousand-dollar affair. You can utilize cost-effective mechanisms like training, sending employees to conferences and workshops and even having an experienced employee share his experience and expertise with the team. Training increases employee efficiency and productivity.

    Low productivity in a workplace is detrimental to the success and survival of a business. It is important for organizations to devise ways to improve employee productivity and hence increase employee satisfaction, boost employee morale, improve profitability, and enhance business performance. You should monitor the efficiency of your employees and importantly, communicate with them. Managers and business owners should communicate with employees regularly to identify their issues and grievances before they affect their productivity and performance.     

    Modern room decoration. Collection of various potted cactus and succulent plants on white shelf against pastel turquoise colored wall. interior plants office

    5 Interior Plants That Will Fit Right on Your Desk!

    When you spend a majority of your time at your desk, it helps to add a few personal touches. That’s why so many of us have pictures of our families, a funny calendar, or even a little plastic lizard who hangs out on top of our computers. But if you really want to brighten up your work space then it’s a good idea to bring a friend with you. Someone who has to live the same shifts you do, and who is there to help bolster you through the tough days with their silent support. Someone who can give you a breath of fresh air when you really need it.

    In other words, your desk should have a little green companion.

    If you’ve thought about getting a desk plant, but you just don’t know where to start, then some of these interior plants might be just what you’ve been looking for.

    Plant #1: Miniature Succulents

    Succulents are extremely popular interior plants among forgetful gardeners, as they can survive and thrive with relatively minimal work on the part of the person taking care of them. Miniature succulents are no different, except for their diminutive size which allows them to sit on the corner of your desk. As long as you remember to water them, and get them plenty of sunlight, Small Biz Trends says these are an ideal way to brighten up your workplace.

    Plant #2: Aloe Vera

    If you’re one of those rare workers blessed with a window (or you’ve got plenty of natural light that lingers near your desk), then you should consider an aloe vera plant according to Save on Energy. Great at eliminating toxins from the air, but also useful for helping you moisturize your skin if you plan on squeezing out some of the gel it naturally produces, they suck up a lot of light. Other than that, they’re easy to care for, and make fine companions.

    Plant #3: Snake Plant

    A plant that has sharp edges, and it a serpentine green, a snake plants makes a lovely accent to most work spaces. What’s even better about it, though, is that is sucks carbon dioxide out of the air, and it doesn’t need that much in the way of sun or water in order to thrive. In fact, you only need to water it once every few weeks; if you do it much more often than that, you’ll actually hurt its growth rather than helping!

    Plant #4: Prickly Pear

    While this cactus can grow to frankly huge size in the wild, prickly pear can be potted and kept relatively small as well. And, as SFGate points out, it’s fairly easy to take care of as interior plants go. While the plant is going to need a lot of sun (it can suck up as much as you can give it), it is often comfortable at a wide range of temperatures, and it doesn’t need water very often. And when you’re talking about a smaller pot of prickly pear, it gets even easier to manage than the larger patches one might have in a garden.

    Plant #5: Bamboo

    Any desk plant is going to help brighten up your workspace, and it’s going to give you a living, breathing friend to share the work day with. But an arrangement of bamboo just might bring you a bit of luck, as well! As Boldsky points out, bamboo is supposed to be a lucky plant to have around, and if you need a little bit of good fortune, it’s probably going to be while you’re sitting at your desk. On top of that, though, it’s really easy to keep happy, as far as interior plants go.

    Environmentally Friendly Corporate Event Planning: Confident lady presenting information to business guests

    Tips for Environmentally Friendly Corporate Event Planning

    Whether it’s a shareholders’ meeting, training session, executive retreat, or “just” a project kickoff meeting, the planning for any company event is fundamental to its success. Before the first email is sent to invitees – and often before a venue is selected – it’s important to consider the underlying message and impression your event will deliver to attendees as well as to your broader audience. Wanna go green? Environmentally friendly corporate event planning is trending and easy with these tips.

    In Environmentally-Conscious Boston, Events Go Green 

    In the past few years, Boston has ranked in various city surveys (MSNConde Naste Traveler) as being one of the county’s most eco-conscious cities. More than 15% of Boston residents say they walk to work; the city government staunchly supports large-scale renewable energy projects, and the city has ranked in top 10 of sustainably-powered US cities. What else would you expect from the city that hosts the annual Greenfest?

    It’s clear, then, that when you’re hosting a corporate event in or around Boston, it’s important to ensure that your plans are environmentally-friendly.

    Practical Considerations for Greener Corporate Events

    It’s past time to rethink the ubiquitous plastic water bottle – along with custom note pads and other things that go in the SWAG bag. (Speaking of which, you’re not going to use plastic SWAG bags, are you?) If your event planning includes take-home or promotional items for attendees, consider reusable or recycled options wherever possible. And remember, green is not only a nice color for our planet, it’s also the color of money. Translation: Your meeting communications as well as your marketing collateral should include prominent messages noting how your meeting was designed to be an environmentally-friendly affair.

    In the earliest stages of environmentally friendly corporate event planning, make sure to convey to your venue contact, food vendors, and speakers that environmental considerations are important to you. Other practical tips to consider: 

    • Ahead of time – ideally, in your meeting invitation – include information on public transportation/ride sharing options and the best walking routes to your venue. If you’ll list local hotels, give preference to those that have LEED or other environmental certifications. 
    • If food for your event is locally sourced, make sure that information is noted on your menu. Are food scraps composted? Bonus points – and be sure to mention that to your attendees!
    • If your table settings include live plants, offer them to guests after the event, and have a plan to ensure any remaining plants are replanted, or otherwise responsibly reused.
    • Use pitchers of water with glass glasses or (recycled/recyclable) paper cups for guests.
    • Use environmentally-friendly bags for promotional items and source locally whenever possible.
    • Make sure recycle bins will be available and trash policies are prominently displayed near receptacles.
    • Reduce or just eliminate paper reports and marketing collateral – it’s 2019; ours a digital world!

    When following up with attendees after the event, include questions in your survey to determine how important having a “green” corporate edge is to your audience. (Hint: No one will admit that it’s not important – but by including a question or two about it, you will subtly remind them of your efforts.)

    Plant the Seed for Future Growth

    Every corporate event, whether it’s an appeal to donors or a staff appreciation dinner party, has its own personality – along with a budget and a list of goals. Event planners need to balance all of those needs, usually under considerable time constraints. Even if you are already well underway in planning a 2019 event, it’s not too late to incorporate some green elements in your plans. 

    From dazzling, eco-friendly, themed decor to ice-breaking activities, Boston CityScapes has the experience to help make your event a green success. Our talented designers can make suggestions that fit your budget and will impress your audience. See our gallery for ideas and inspiration

    Group of various indoor cacti and succulent plants in pots isolated on a white background

    Decorate Your Office with Easy-Care Succulent Plants

    Any desk, entry stand or conference table in the office looks better with a healthy, attractive container of colorful plants upon it. Fresh flowers make a mess and don’t last long at all, while some traditional houseplants need lots of maintenance. Consider a low-maintenance arrangement of unusual and colorful succulents for these situations.

    These plants are virtually care-free. If a stream of sunlight or even artificial lighting is available to them, many can last for months with no other attention, especially in winter. Some will grow in this atmosphere and you might sometimes get a bloom from the well-established, easy-care succulent specimen.

    Favorite Easy-Care Succulents

    Succulent plant popularity is growing, so much so that phony plastic plants of this type are used for decoration. Don’t do it, no plastic plants when the real thing is so easy to grow! Consider an arrangement of sedum, Haworthia, and Aloe types to fill that special space. if there is no room for a container plant, add a vertical wall garden or a series of hanging baskets. 

    • Sedum: You may think of year-round, outdoor growers when you think of the sedum family. While some of these grow vigorously outside in many areas, you’ll find many specimens are perfect for indoor combos. With numerous types available, you’re sure to find a few that work perfectly. Waxy leaves, unusual shapes and adaptability make this the perfect primary plant for your container. Space them sporadically and leave room to fill in with other easy-care succulents, such as:
    • Haworthia: A range of small succulents, these are often spiky and interestingly marked. Some feature pearl-like warts and bands, while others are called windowpane plants and appear almost translucent in some cases. Pinks, purples, and greens appear on hybrids and crosses. These plants pair well with sedum and Aloes. Colors are sometimes improved by limiting water. 
    • Aloe: While Aloe vera is well known and a favorite as a houseplant, did you know there are several other attractive types of this plant? Not always spiky and green, but usually undemanding in an arrangement situation, look for the different varieties of this plant to include in your container. Spiral aloe grows in an attractive, elevated circle while some others cascade. Some have leaves that turn red, like Arabian Aloe. Choose an unusual aloe plant for your office container or vertical planting.

    Succulent plants, especially those growing indoors, are rarely plagued by pests. Pest control is normally not an issue. If you see small gnats flying around your container, limit your watering even more. Soil that is too wet can draw fungus gnats that look similar to fruit flies. If you appear to have a problem with either insect, use a diluted alcohol spray to keep them under control until the soil dries or the fruit is gone. Others offer these suggestions.

    Soil and Water

    If you’re planting the succulent container, start with a special soil mix that allows water to move right through and not linger on the roots. Some growers use a combination of cactus soil and coarse sand, while others add perlite, coir, and pumice to the mix. Watering of succulent plants should be extremely limited. They are drought-tolerant and too much water is lethal to these plants. Don’t let the office waterer sneak around and give them a drink. Particularly in winter, when some are dormant, too much water is the most common cause of rot. If you purchase a plant in soggy soil, remove it immediately, gently take off as much soil as possible, and let the roots dry out for a day or two. Repot into dry soil and wait a couple weeks to water.

    If you’d prefer to just enjoy the ambiance created by a few well-placed, easy-care succulent arrangements, you can leave the planting and care of your containers to us. Cityscapes is the expert on just which plants to choose for your conditions and what is needed for their care. Contact us for a consultation and add living color to your winter office décor.

    Wellness at the Office: Businesswoman in wheelchair happily sitting at the desk, working.

    5 Simple Ways To Maintain Your General Health and Wellness At The Office

    It’s hard enough getting through your work day without having to complete your tasks on one hand and fight off sickness with the other. And while we all know we should stay home and recuperate if we aren’t feeling good, it’s often better to take a few, simple steps to minimize the chance that you get sick in the first place. If you don’t have time for an illness to slow you down, then here are some things you should start incorporating into your daily office life to maintain health and wellness at the office.

    Tip #1: Get Up And Move

    There are few things worse for your overall health than sitting sedentary in a chair all day. While an occasional trip to the water cooler is a good start, Health suggests you should be moving for at least 2 hours of an 8-hour shift. So consider going for a walk on your lunch break, or if it’s convenient catching a short work out in the middle of the day. Even if those aren’t options, though, just getting up and taking a lap around the office every 45 minutes or so can keep the blood flowing, and stop you from burning out too early.

    Tip #2: Stay Hydrated

    When you sit down at work, the caffeine tends to flow pretty freely. However, all the coffee, soda, and energy shots can dehydrate you pretty quickly. This can lead to you feeling like you’re in a slump, losing energy and unable to concentrate. That’s why WebMD recommends that you drink plenty of water while you’re at work (8 glasses a day is the recommended amount). You can help get into the habit by keeping a reusable water bottle at your desk, but you can also hydrate by swapping out salty snacks for some fruit (like an apple, grapes, or an orange) which can help keep your hydration levels up.

    Tip #3: Maintain Your Bubble

    You come into contact with a lot of germs on a day-to-day basis, so it’s a good idea to do your best to maintain your personal space, and to keep it clean. For example, you could take a page out of Howie Mandel’s book and replace your office handshakes with fist bumps. As Time points out it both makes you look cooler, and it avoids a lot of the exposure you can get from a handshake. Wash your hands regularly, and do your best to steer clear of coughs and sneezes.

    Tip #4: Bring A Plant To Work

    The air you’re breathing at work can have a big impact on your health, so why not make it as clean and refreshing as possible? While a desk-side air purifier may work for some people, you can often get plenty of fresh air and filtration by greening up your work area with plants according to Save On Energy. All you need is a plant that will respond to the amount of light you have in your office (and preferably one that isn’t too fussy when it comes to care), and you’ll be breathing fresher air in no time!

    Tip #5: Learn To Let Go of Stress

    Stress is one of the biggest obstacles to staying healthy. It can rob you of rest, steal your energy, and blunt the edge you need in order to actually accomplish your goals. That’s why, as Insider points out, combating stress is hugely important. Whether you use meditation, exercise, a stress ball, or just take a small break to watch cat videos every hour or so, make sure you have a release valve for your pressures.

    Staying healthy isn’t easy, especially when it seems like so many obstacles are arrayed against you. But with a little planning, determination, and thoughtfulness, you can improve your health and outlook, cutting down on the amount of time that you just aren’t well enough to do your job.

    Red Aglaonema offices plants

    Easy to Care for Office Plants

    You can lighten up any room or office and make it feel fresh and lively just by adding a few plants to the area. Having plants in your office can make it feel more lively,  and by adding a few indoor plants, you can also purify the air, reduce stress, and increase your health.  This almost “office hack” often causes people to shake their heads and say that they could never because they simply have the opposite of a green thumb.

    Even if you can’t create the next full garden because of a lack of space or ability to tend to the needier ones, you can still have a few plants that can give your office that much-needed uplift by adding some of these easy to manage plants. 

    Three Unique and Easy to Care for Office Plants 

    1. Snake Plants

    Snake Plants make perfect office plants because they can remove toxins like formaldehyde and benzene (a colorless, strong-smelling chemical in various household products and a colorless highly flammable or light yellow liquid, respectively. Both chemicals are associated with increased cancer risks.) Snake Plants are one type of plants that almost seem to thrive off of neglect. Since they are susceptible to root rot, they only need to be watered once every few weeks. So you can put one on your filing cabinet, bookshelf, or wherever, forget about it, and it will still survive as normal. While they prefer areas with high levels of indirect sunlight, they can also survive in low light areas and are resistant to pests.

    2. Pothos Plants

    If you prefer more of an ivy plant, Pothos may be for you. Just be careful, because they are poisonous, and they can be harmful to kids and pets. Pothos have heart-shaped leaves that can be variegated in white, yellow, or a paler green, though the more green a Pothos’ leaves are, the more it can thrive in places of low light. They can grow in water or in the soil, giving them adaptability for a wide variety of environments. Though, if you start them in water, they don’t transition well to soil and vice versa. While they grow, you can prune them back, controlling their shape and giving you the option to replant the cuttings (a potential gift for your office mates, or if you want more greenery in your office!). 

    3. Aglaonema

    Another low light tolerant and low maintenance favorite is the Aglaonema. Known as a luck-bringer in China, it is also been shown to remove toxins and clean the air. With multiple color varieties ranging from dark green, silver, and some have hints of red and they come in different variegations, there are countless options to choose from. As a plant that doesn’t like full sun, they’re perfect for the office. As they prefer places of higher humidity, it is good to often give them a nice misting and to keep them in slightly warmer temperatures. They are the perfect addition for adding variety and color to your office. 

    When Shopping at Home Depot, Look Out for These Things

    Bugs, insect eggs, and larvae

    Webbing or white, slow-moving specks on the plants could be a sign of spider mites, which can be easily spread to other plants. Fragile and spotted leaves can also be a sign of them. Or what appears to be small tufts of cotton might actually be mealybugs, which are also detrimental to the plant’s health. 

    Leaf tipping

    Leaves can tell a lot about the health of the plant. If a large portion of them are yellowed or brown, that could be a sign of overwatering or the leaves’ health could be saying that there is something within the soil or hidden within the plant that is stealing vital nutrients. 

    Plants left in pots outside in the cold or in a cold warehouse

    Many plants don’t like the cold, and when they’re left outside or in a warehouse in winter, it could be stunting the growth and the health of the plant. 

    Moss in soil

    If there is moss in the soil, that could be evidence that the plant had been overwatered, and can be susceptible to dying when it is planted. 

    Regardless of your available space or plant preference, there is the perfect office plant waiting for you. If you’re not sure which one would be best, for you and your office, call Cityscapes and let the professionals help you. 

    Outdoor wooden plant containers with palms and flowers

    Exterior Plant Installations: A Little Can Go A Long Way In Business Landscape Design

    When people think of landscape design, they tend to think of rolling lawns and English Tea gardens. These are great, of course, especially for businesses, but many work places don’t have the room to indulge in those sorts of large-scale projects. A restaurant may have only a small front patio or a small strip of sidewalk […]

    Vertical contemporary landscaping – lush ferns plants grow and hang on a walled garden.

    3 Living Buildings Break the Mold

    Living Buildings

    Millennials love plants! And as Caroline Biggs noted in her NYTimes article, Plant-Loving Millennials at Home and at Work, companies are working hard to incorporate greenery and natural features into building design.

    Going even further, forward-thinking companies from around the world have taken on the “Living Building Challenge” at their offices and workspaces. The Living Building Challenge (LBC) is a green building certification program that challenges designers to build a structure that functions as self sufficiently and sustainably as possible. Only eight buildings in the world are certified as living buildings, with many more working on the certification.

    The challenge is divided into seven performance areas that stress the importance of non-toxic materials, regeneration, and health and beauty. A final project integrates biophilic design, local culture, and a connection to all things natural.

    In the United States, two New York-based companies and one Massachusetts College site have taken on the challenge to become a “Living Building”, and in the process create a biophilic design with a workspace focused on the occupant’s well being.

    1. Etsy Headquarters

    Etsy, which is everyone’s favorite place to shop online for handmade goods, started with an existing building for its New York headquarters and transformed it into a sustainable and naturally harmonious workplace. Located in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood, the rooftop has sixty species of native plants and two outdoor terraces providing a beckoning place to relax. Rainwater collection on the rooftop feeds an irrigation system in the building sustaining the living walls growing on every floor.

    With greenery everywhere, the indoor air quality is much higher than the outdoor air quality, and Etsy believes by keeping employees healthy and happy they tend to be more productive and loyal to the company. In open areas, employees sit facing large picture windows working on sustainable wooden tables with a living wall spanning the space behind them. These appealing and healthful areas are a calm contrast to the hubbub of the city.

    2. Ted Talks Headquarters

    At Ted Talks headquarters in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood, two floors of the building have been outfitted with low maintenance, high visual-impact plants. Oversize planters line the halls filled with a dizzying variety of easy-care plants. Individual desktops are adorned with plants and meeting areas have self-watering plant dividers. Everywhere you look there are plants, blended with the decor or placed to serve as screening walls.

    Ted Talks recognizes that not all employees work well in the same spaces. They have customized each workspace (integrated with plants of course!) to suit each person’s working style. Ted Talks open, non-desk work areas with flexible designs accommodate the many different work styles producing their popular 18-minute talks.

    3. Williams College – Class of 1966 Environmental Center

    In Williamstown, MA the Class of  ’66 Environmental Center has taken on the ambitious performance requirements of an LBC certification. The center focuses on plant infused indoor spaces with measurably healthful indoor air. Large picture windows and lots of access to fresh air ensure compliance with the light and air quality requirements of an LBC building.

    Williams College is committed to demonstrating that high-performance buildings are not only possible but practical as well. The LBC standards require that the occupants of a building be active participants in the process because success is determined by the actual building performance, not the theoretical one. It is imperative that the occupants understand how the building works and how their behaviors may affect the performance goals of a green sustainable building.

    These companies have taken on the challenge to raise the design bar for themselves and to inspire others to reach greater natural harmony with their design choices. There is much to learn from studying the new structures and monitoring their progress. Even if the benchmark goal of environmental equilibrium can’t be reached, striving to achieve a ‘living building’ stands as a commendable accomplishment. It is a biophilic design inspiration to architects and environmentally conscious companies around the world.

    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.