Our horticulture technicians at Good Earth Plant Company visit some of San Diego’s largest and most visible employers every day. We love creating healthier and more productive workspaces by introducing nature and natural elements through interior Plantscaping. Sometimes it’s living plants, and sometimes it’s through built-in structures like living walls and moss walls. Employees tell us they love working in these spaces, and we love helping them be successful while improving their wellbeing.
But there are a whole lot of people we aren’t seeing. It’s the growing percentage of the workforce that doesn’t work in a traditional office setting. You might be surprised how big this group is. According to a Gallup survey, at least 43 percent of all American workers spend time working remotely. Nearly one third of them do it full time. Many of them telecommute to work for a large company. Others are independent contractors or consultants who work for themselves. A significant percentage work in a home office setting.
According to a 2017 report, telecommuting saves workers time and money thanks to reducing expenses like gas and parking, even dry cleaning. (Who does that anymore?) They also get back 11 days a year from not driving to work. But here’s the part we really like: working outside their office allows employees to have better work-life balance and improves their health and wellness.
But the same principles apply to home offices just as much as it does traditional workplaces. You cannot trap people inside a gray box all day and expect it not to have a negative impact on their health. With so many more people working at home, it’s time for them to pay attention to their surroundings. Are they as healthy and productive as they could be?
Access to natural light and other elements of nature reduces workday stress and helps you work more creatively, effectively, and productively – one study shows people are 15 percent more productive. You need to be your own workplace designer and apply a few biophilic design principles.
Choose a workspace with access to a window letting in natural light. One of the advantages of most home offices: you can open the window! Turn the air conditioning off and enjoy some fresh air, even if it’s a little warmer. You don’t have to wear a suit and tie so no excuses. Hearing natural sounds also gives you these positive effects, so if you can hear the wind in the trees and birds singing outside, you will improve your cognitive abilities. You can focus, be creative, and solve problems.
Try to position yourself so you have a view of nature. An analysis of workers at a university in Oregon showed workers who can see out a window took 19 percent fewer sick days. Being in contact with nature improves your health and reduces absenteeism, still a real thing even when working at home.
But don’t just look at nature. Bring nature inside. The easiest way is with plants. Add two or three plants to your home office. They will remove toxins in the air from our necessary office equipment like computers, desks and chairs, items made of plastic or synthetics. They will put oxygen into the air to keep your brain full of thinking fuel. Since you probably have to be your own plantscaper, pick some of our favorite bulletproof choices, like the peace lily, Chinese evergreen, sansevierias (snake plant), ZZ plants, palms and dracaenas. Put a Pothos high up on a bookcase or shelf and let it trail down.
You don’t have to endure white or gray walls, either. Consider some bright bold colors in your personal workspace. Bright blues, yellows, and greens stimulate the most brain activity. But if you love purple, who’s going to stop you?
If you spend some time in a co-working space or another public space, put some thinking into the places you choose to work. Do they have some of these biophilic elements? If you don’t have to be in a workspace without any plants, natural lights, or other biophilic elements, why would you?
If there’s a convenient co-working space near you and it could use some biophilia design help, bring in Good Earth Plant Company for a “lunch and learn” discussion on the ways incorporating nature and natural elements into your workspaces can benefit you. We want people to experience the beauty, health, wellbeing and environmental benefits that living plants create in your life. And this isn’t limited to the traditional work environment!