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Does Working Around Nature Boost Productivity?

In many respects, people are not really meant to work in conventional workplaces.

Conventional offices are exceptionally bright, harsh, crowded spaces that can make us ill in a variety of ways from dust, poor ventilation and crowding spreading illnesses at a far more regular rate.

Because of this, it has been known for many years that adding plants to a workspace helps to improve our health, our sense of mental well-being and our ability to focus on work tasks.

Could you perhaps take this a step further, however? Would a contemporary garden office placed in your natural habitat help bring back the spark of joy into work during a time when people have more worries on their minds than ever before?

What Working Benefits Does Nature Provide?

To understand why you may work harder in your garden office than you would otherwise do at a more conventional workplace, it is important to discuss what benefits plants of any kind have in a working setting and why this may be the case.

2014 study by the University of Exeter found that offices with plants improve productivity by 15 per cent absent other factors compared to more minimalist “clean” designs, with three major direct benefits to productivity found.

The first is that plants help to improve the air quality of the area around them, through the act of photosynthesis.

Offices can sometimes have a higher level of carbon dioxide than normal due to a combination of many people in a confined space as well as poor ventilation, with a direct correlation between this and lower productivity.

This affects the focus and concentration of the people working in that space partly through discomfort, as a higher level of carbon dioxide often makes a room feel stuffy and can sometimes correlate with increased temperatures.

Higher carbon dioxide levels are also correlated with lowered mental capacity, slower reaction times and poorer decision-making compared to a level closer to outside.

A plant, or being close to a natural space like a garden with good ventilation, mitigates this, which is also why a walk outside can help refresh your mind.

Beyond this, nature in a work environment is also associated with reduced blood pressure, lower stress, reduced pain and lower fatigue levels.

From a more psychological standpoint looking at nature has a number of benefits and helps people increase their emotional investment in their work.

Office plants are often taken care of and nurtured by the whole office working collaboratively, which increases teamwork and helps to work as an icebreaker, but even when taken care of individually it is a discussion point.

As well as this, with many offices being bright white or some form of beige neutral shade, it can create a sense of sensory deprivation in people that is reduced significantly when the beautiful greenery is brought closer to the eye line.

If you have a garden office, try to have your desk next to a window overlooking the green space as you can use this to your advantage when you are having difficulties focusing on a task.

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