The employment market in the UK is changing and skilled staff are often in short supply. Businesses now need to work harder to recruit and retain good people. One way to make workplaces more appealing is by transforming the physical office surroundings into greener environments.
We took part in a study led by the Universities of Cardiff, Exeter, Queensland and Groningen which showed that offices enriched with interior landscaping can make staff happier and more productive than ‘lean’ designs devoid of greenery. Entitled “Green vs Lean” the report revealed that introducing plants into the office, increases workplace satisfaction by up to 40%.
To create appealing offices that enrich productivity, the ultimate interior landscape requires a number of key elements.
Create the feel of nature indoors
The freedom and randomness of a natural environment can be replicated, or at least imitated, by allowing a degree of informality with planting. Introducing planting indoors is a simple way of bringing nature into office spaces. A connection with the outside can also be achieved by blurring the boundary between inside and outside, using interior landscaping to draw the eye to the outside world.
Overlook the landscape
Recreating the illusion of overlooking a landscape can be easily achieved by placing tall plants near to the observer, and progressively using shorter and smaller plants the further away you get.
Create interest with light and shade
Dappled shade and gentle movement of shadows played through the foliage of interior plants can provide interest and enrichment to the indoor environment. Refuge, shelter and privacy can also be created by using taller trees and palms in and around sofas and benches in lounges, breakout spaces and reception areas.
Natural scents and odours
The sense of smell is one of the powerful of human senses. The use of fragrances in buildings, especially in areas of transient occupancy such as lobbies, lounges and corridors, has become increasingly popular, aided by the development of ambient scenting systems.
Helping your workers
Having plants around us is a known way of improving our wellbeing. Research has consistently shown that when offices have plants, reports of symptoms associated with Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) frequently fall – often quite dramatically. In addition plants in offices have been shown to:
- Reduced blood pressure (lowered by 1 – 4 units)
- Reduce complaints about fatigue by as much as 30%
- Reduce coughing by up to 40%
- Reduce complaints of dry skin by 25%
This, and other research, demonstrates how a greener office environment can improve wellbeing as well as staff engagement. Now, more than ever, businesses need to keep their staff happy and motivated, and improving the office environment through the use of plants is one simple and efficient way to keep and recruit the best people
By Kenneth Freeman, Head of Innovation, Ambius