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.

    Businessman on beanbag surrounded by plants - productivity at work

    5 Productivity Hacks to Help You Do More With Little Time

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

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

    Make a Not-To-Do List 

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

    Make Priorities Clear 

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

    Conquer Procrastination

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

    Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

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

    Use Productivity Tools

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

    StayFocused

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

    Pomodoro

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

    Boomerang

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

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

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

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

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

    Location

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

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

    The Garden

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

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

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

    Benefits

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

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

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

    5 Reasons You Need Live Office Plants

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

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

    The Benefits of Live Office Plants

    1. Design Aesthetics and Visual Appeal

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

    2. The Effects of Plants on Stress and Productivity

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

    3. Creating Healthier Work Environments

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

    4. Noise Reduction

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

    5. Fulfilling Biophilic Needs

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

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

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

    3 Reasons to Have Interior Plants

    The Blessings of Botany

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

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

    Stress Reducer

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

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

    Air Purifier

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

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

    Aesthetic Classic

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

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

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

    Let Interior Plants Do Their Job!

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

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

    Two business woman making the workspace cheerful with corporate holiday design

    Get The Most Out Of Your Corporate Holiday Design

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

    Safety

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

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

    Convenience

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

    Respecting Diversity

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

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

    Consistency With Your Business Image

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

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