Let Nature Into Your Workspace
Episode #9 of the course How to set up a productive working environment by Melissa Chu
Yesterday, we covered the impact of lighting on your mood and productivity. Today, we’ll look at the benefits of nature in your workspace and how to implement more of it. We’ll also look at the impact of air quality and how to maintain better air.
Nature Improves Your Workday
Research shows green environments are good for our mental health. Short engagement in nature boosts self-esteem and mood, while the presence of water increases the effects further still.
Another study compares participants who had 40-second views of a grassy roof versus those who viewed a bare concrete roof. Both groups were asked to complete a task before viewing the roof and again afterward. Participants who viewed the grassy roof had significantly lower omission errors and responded more consistently than participants who viewed the concrete roof.
How to Implement Nature
Here are ways you can put nature into where you work:
• Put up nature pictures. You can experience nature’s benefits by putting up paintings, posters, or changing your desktop screen. Think landscapes with trees, mountains, and running water.
• Walk outside regularly. The American Heart Association recommends adults walk for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Walking is great for heart health and boosts your thinking. You can walk during breaks, or before and after work.
• Put some green interior accents. Green is associated with balance, harmony, and tranquility. Simply having a greener space can provide a feeling of calm. You can implement the green interior design, such as an accented wall, ornaments, or working near a window.
• Keep some indoor plants. Plants improve air by absorbing toxins and producing oxygen. They also provide stress relief and a sense of overall well-being. Some easy-to-maintain indoor plants include the rubber plant, aloe vera, and orchids. Place them near a window and water weekly (keep a filled water bottle nearby).
Let’s now look at air quality.
Does Your Workspace Suffer From Poor Air Quality?
Years ago, I knew a woman who complained about headaches and fatigue at work. She would often go home early because she simply couldn’t focus. It turned out her office had high carbon monoxide levels.
Air quality is important for both productivity and overall health. Symptoms of poor air quality include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and stuffy or dry nose. If you experience these symptoms while working, see if other people have experienced anything similar. Serious cases may need to be taken to your local health department.
How to Maintain Healthy Air Quality
Here’s what you can do to keep the air flowing and healthy in your workspace:
• Check where the vents are located. Make sure the air vents are clear of furniture and boxes to let air flow.
• Sit near the fresh air. If possible, place your desk near a window for natural lighting and fresh air. When the weather is good, open up the windows to let the air circulate.
• Clean regularly. Set a schedule to clean your workspace on a weekly basis. Vacuum the floors, keep tables clear, and dust the vents to avoid build-up.
• Keep humidity at the right levels. According to the EPA, humidity should be between 30% and 50%. If the air is too dry, you may suffer from nosebleeds, allergies, or dry skin. A humidifier can add moisture to your environment. But if the air is too humid, this can lead to musty smells, mold, and respiratory conditions. A dehumidifier can take moisture out of the air.
• Get an expert when needed. If you suffer from headaches, respiratory problems, coughing, or fever in your workspace, it could be time to call in an air quality expert. They can check for air quality, water issues, ventilation, or any other problem that could be causing sickness.
Get Serious About a Healthy Workspace
It’s not only your productivity at stake, but your health too. We are designed to enjoy nature and fresh air, and all the benefits they provide. While there are steps you can take to create a healthy work environment, enlisting the help of a professional when needed can make a big difference.
The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams
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