We’ve learned some hard lessons thanks to the coronavirus pandemic about how much our health and wellbeing is governed by our environment inside our homes, workplaces, schools, public facilities, and other buildings like stores and movie theaters. Anything we can do to improve the quality of our indoor environment needs to be a priority.
Our surroundings make such a difference in our health because people in industrialized countries including the U.S. spend more than 90% of their time indoors.
It makes me even more relentless about the work we do at Good Earth Plant Company to improve indoor environments by enriching peoples’ lives with plants, by promoting biophilic design and the WELL Building Standard, and by talking about this with you – and as many other people I can get to pay attention!
One of the silver linings of the cloud we’ve all been under is seeing how many more people really are paying attention. When I read this recent article on the website Human Resources Online, I wanted to stand up and cheer.
Human resources professionals are facing multiple challenges bringing employees back into offices safely. They are embracing the concepts behind biophilia and biophilic design with real enthusiasm. HumanResourcesOnline.com called attention to the need to bring nature indoors when designing workspaces. There are so many interesting studies here, and most aren’t new. They cover all aspects of plants at work: the use of movement, sounds, colors, and shapes that mimic nature; natural lighting; colors from nature; windows; and – of course – adding plants and natural imagery to indoor spaces.
Plants improve workplace health and employee performance
We know views of nature, green roofs, and water elements can offer psychological breaks which improve mental performance and creative thinking because of cognitive restoration. It’s called resting your mind.
“Restoring depleted mental energy is vital in the context of the workplace: without it, our mood, mental performance, and interactions with others are significantly impaired,” says Dr. Sally Augustin in a 2012 study cited in a new white paper about office design.
We agree! In our own white paper, “The Nature of the Post-Pandemic Workplace,” my co-authors and I relied on decades of experience seeing the results of using plants and other natural elements to improve workspaces and make people happier, healthier, and more productive. It’s never been more important in our lives.
University of Oregon architecture professor Kevin Nute researches keeping indoor environments healthy when we send people into space on long-distance trips to Mars.
Professor Nute conducted experiments with natural elements inside the workplace, using the reflection of sunlight on moving water, and a projection of a tree’s shadow with leaves in motion from the wind. When people are exposed to natural movement created by nature and weather, people were more alert while their blood pressure dropped simultaneously. This supports another theory called “attention-restoration theory.”
Take a breath
Did you know your brain consumes more than 20% of all the oxygen entering your bloodstream? It’s more than any other organ, even though it’s only two percent of the average person’s body mass. And unlike storing water or calories, the brain can’t store oxygen. So, you always need a fresh supply.
When your oxygen runs low, the first symptoms include poor judgment, short attention span, and feeling clumsy. If this sounds like you in the mid-afternoon, you might need a walk instead of another cup of coffee. Or just maybe, your office needs more oxygen. Plants at work produce oxygen.
More companies are starting to understand and embrace these principles. Before COVID-19, these were sometimes considered luxuries that could give businesses an edge in industries competing for talent like high tech and biotech. Now ALL industries are competing for employees during the Great Resignation.
Plants at work are good for business
Human resources professionals are embracing and discussing these principles in the workplace because it’s become a matter of survival.
Businesses aren’t philanthropies. They need to make money to survive and to provide jobs along with goods and services. Good Earth Plant Company can show businesses how it’s possible to survive and thrive by embracing biophilic design. Green is good for the bottom line. It’s easy and it’s surprisingly cost-effective. Our basic GO Plan for workplace greenery starts at just $150/month.
So if you haven’t, pick up a free copy of our white paper. Share it with your own HR people. Then get in touch with us at Good Earth Plant Company and we’ll help you bring these practices to life at your workplace or any other building. We’re just an email or phone call away and we’d love to enrich YOUR life with plants soon.