By merely glancing at a green rectangle for two seconds led to improvements on creative tasks, German researchers discovered. Students writing exams perform better if there are windows in the classroom with natural light and nature-photos-screensavers do wonders for recharging employee batteries. The sick get well sooner when they have greenery in their hospital rooms, and doctors paint their receptions shades of green to calm patients.
We haven’t tested the green rectangle theory yet, but sitting on soft comfy chairs, looking out onto nature, hearing the gentle soothing sounds of water, makes you wonder if you are on holiday in nature or at the office when you work for The Mindspa Institute. Then you blink and see you are still in the office, but somehow you feel positive, relaxed and charged up to complete any task thrown your way. In light of February being Environmentally Awareness Month, we decided to discuss nature and productivity.
At The Mindspa Institute, we are extremely lucky. Our office board room table is on a beautiful patio overlooking a swimming pool, green tailored lawn and palm trees. All you can hear are the birds singing and the wind rustling through the leaves and the sweet smell of roses in the air. This space we use for our think tank and it works wonders. Employees also take their coffee breaks and even their calls out on the grass if they want to. When we gather around there for a brainstorming session, creative juices flow and ideas fly like sparks. Our minds love this. So speaking out of experience – green is the color of productivity and creativity.
But if you are high up in a corporate building, or working in a busy open plan office between four walls, using nature as productivity booster can become challenging. Although some office blocks have gardens, there is also the issue of “having the time” to go outside to explore nature, even if for only a few minutes. An Australia-based research team published their paper in the Journal of Environmental Psychology where they found that even taking just 40 seconds to focus on a view of nature can sharpen your mind to handle the next task within the work day. They refer to this as taking a “micro-break”.
Now that we have established through all the research that nature lowers your blood pressure and stress levels and increases your productivity, what can be done to “go green” and get all the advantages of a green office. Try getting as many plants inside the office. Plants clear the air and create a calming atmosphere. If it is at all possible place the plants close to the windows and get as much natural light into the offices. Views of the outdoors and other connections to nature, such as central courtyards, rooftop terraces or atriums with real trees, and even try painting your office walls shades of green, are all ideas to help nature come indoors. Nature-themed screensavers or art of nature and flowers on your desk can lighten up your mood tremendously.
Looking at the awareness created for being environmentally friendly like trends on architecture, creating a quality life both indoors and outdoors and just keeping up with the trends on the leisure side, it is safe to say that ‘going green’ is definitely the way to go. Some are going as far to say that the physical barriers between the indoors and outdoors, both home and office, should be lowered. Green offices and apartment buildings are popping up everywhere. There are definitely more positives than negatives in creating a green office space. The Mindspa Institute believes that companies should do everything in their power to create an environment where employee mindsets are powered by positivity and enthusiasm so that problem-solving skills feel like they come naturally. Setting the stage for a beautiful and relaxed workplace can really do wonders for your productivity. So do away with the doom and gloom and create the nature inside your workspace.