Normally when you think of working environment in the context of personal productivity, you immediately envision an organized office layout, ergonomically positioned chairs, desks and computers, private offices or efficiently designed cubicles and meeting areas, and perhaps even a soothing soft green color scheme, sound-absorbing walls and perfume-free air at an ideal temperature circulating throughout.
Our bond with nature
But when I wrote the eBook, How work environment impacts productivity, I was thinking more of potted plants and office greenery, music, views of nature, sunlight, and the background noises of a bustling coffee shop.
Plants, for example, not only give off oxygen, they are able to absorb environmental chemicals and transport them to the soil, rendering them less harmful. Researchers have found that plants act as vacuum cleaners removing pollution from the air. Studies have shown that the presence of potted plants improves productivity, creativity, performance and learning ability. In the case of schools, the presence of plants improved scores in mathematics spelling and science between 10% and 14%.
Is it a coincidence that blue and green – the colours most frequently found in nature – have also been found to be the most effective in stimulating personal productivity? Blue enriched light has been shown to improve mood, performance, alertness, irritability and evening fatigue. Blue is known as an excellent colour for productivity as well as having a calming effect on employees. It stimulates the mind and increases productivity.
Recent studies have found that urban green spaces improve cognitive development in children, and those close to park land had better memory development, attentiveness and creativity. So in choosing our office and decor, we should not overlook the possibility of merging more with nature – window views, plants, green spaces and so on.
Noise can be music to your ears
Background music in the office can also increase creativity and improve reasoning skills. The sound itself is not necessarily a distraction. It can enhance learning and higher brain function and even improve memory performance. Background music, especially classical, has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and even help focus attention and improve concentration. Music can motivate, reduce fatigue, and make both exercise and boring jobs feel more like leisure and less like work.
Recent research carried out at the University of Illinois on the effects of background noise on creativity found that the level of noise experienced in a bustling coffee shop enhanced performance and even helped people concentrate. Recent research carried out at the University of Illinois on the effects of background noise on creativity found that the level of noise experienced in a bustling coffee shop enhanced performance and even helped people concentrate. The ambient noise of coffee shops have been used for many years as a positive environment for creative thinking and performance
A scenic view of productivity
Potted plants, white noise, music, natural lighting, air circulation, physical organization, windows facing the outside world, the ability to feed off the energy of others, and even a cheerful office decor with scenic pictures on the walls can increase productivity as well as improve mood and personal well-being.
Those are the type of things I discuss in my eBook, How work environment impacts productivity. Sure, the physical layout of an office is important. But if you really want to be more creative and productive, take a look out the window and get a visual whiff of nature.
Here you’ll find more articles by Harold Taylor:
- Managing Stress: Coping With an Illusion of Urgency and a Reality of Stress
- Internal Time Management: Using Your Natural Body Rhythms to Increase Your Effectiveness
- Why does life seem to go faster the older you get?
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