Relaxing under the shade of a mighty oak, letting your thoughts drift. A soft breeze gently kissing your cheek, reminding you how freedom feels. Getting lost in the trees down unknown paths. We all understand how being in nature improves our well-being—emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Look—there’s no reason why you should leave the outdoors outside.
We spend most of our daylight hours indoors—in front of computers, in buildings with windows that do not open, in oftentimes stark environments designed to “increase productivity” but in fact by their sterility result in mood-crushing listlessness. Studies show plants and natural elements brought into the workplace increase productivity and well-being across the board.
Bringing nature in doesn’t have to be an expensive or complicated project. In fact, there are many simple and easy ways to bring nature’s goodness indoors to transform your work environment and reap instant benefits.
Plants in the Office
Not undercover spies. I’m talking about the green potted variety. A healthy plant well-placed in key areas of your office can release oxygen into the atmosphere, lifting moods and improving air quality, which in turn raises productivity. Some good choices for office plants include:
Snake plant (mother-in-law’s tongue)– most often recommended plant for improving air quality
Golden pothos – cleans the air in the room where it’s placed and helps relax your eyes when you’re feeling stuffy or irritated, among other health benefits.
Spider plant – removes air toxins common in the workplace, including formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide, xylene, (used in leather, rubber and print products).
Dwarf banana – its leafy tropical beauty creates a vacation mood in any room it graces
Peace lily – another top choice for cleaning toxins from indoor air, not to mention its natural beauty
Aloe vera – this easy to grow plant purifies the air and has healing qualities as well
While it may not be possible to knock out walls and add more windows or skylights, it may be possible to reconfigure your workspace to take advantage of the natural light you do have. Designing your space to allow employees more access to natural light elevates moods and creates a positive environment with better morale, and we all know that means higher quality work.
Again, the more you can allow the outdoors in, the better off your employees will be. A good-quality air purifier can be one simple step to a myriad of benefits including preventing allergies, removing germs and bad odors, reducing stress, and even fighting asthma.
Another clever way to bring nature indoors is by incorporating some textures that mimic outdoors. Wall coverings with trees, leaves or other nature designs has similar effects as looking out a window or even being outdoors. Make some simple interior choices, replacing furniture, adding wall hangings, and other elements to replace manufactured products with natural materials like bamboo or woven textures and materials. Wood, stone, even a water feature can be added to create a natural ambiance.
Try some of these easy ways to refresh your indoor workspace and I think you will see the benefits of the outdoors without even leaving the office. But if you get the chance—leave the office. Nothing is better than a breath of fresh air to make your employees happier, healthier and more engaged.