You might think that a few plants won’t make or break a person’s sanity, but you’d be wrong. Every year, many office workers suffer from “sick building syndrome,” which reduces productivity and costs companies millions of dollars (Gritzka et al., 2020). Employees’ mental health and productivity can be influenced significantly by their work environment, and nature can play a significant role. We can see how the right attitude and positive traits affect employee performance, well-being, and attention through practical psychological research.
Many businesses and other places of work have long believed that having a small footprint reduces distractions and boosts productivity. Unfortunately, this has been going on for far too long, and the consequences are becoming increasingly severe as the work is moved indoors (Basu, Duvall & Kaplan, 2019). According to their findings, such a situation may be more harmful to the company than beneficial; vacancies did not improve concentration, well-being, or productivity.
Plants, in particular, can assist people in increasing their productivity at work and are essential (Candido et al., 2019). In the study conducted, because one space was thin and the other was full of plants, participants who worked in plant-infested workspaces said their productivity increased. Having a job that allows employees to go outside for lunch can help them relax and recover mentally. The authors looked at how concentration can improve after engaging in outdoor activities. It also alleviates post-work stress and fatigue caused by socializing and relaxing.
Employees should try to involve nature as much as possible to avoid “sick building syndrome” or general low productivity. To decorate the workspace, use plants, and other natural landscape images. Even if a decorating company’s budget is limited, it can provide time off for its employees. This technique backs the attention restoration theory, which states that people can regain their focus and attention by observing and staying in nature.
Research Methods and Findings
Applied psychology and research can aid in the discovery of solutions to real-world problems. This issue focuses on office workers’ mental health and how workplace design can influence it. Employees can avoid sick building syndrome and low productivity by using natural elements to decorate an office space and having 24-hour access to outdoor facilities.
The impact of workplace design is demonstrated in a study in which there were three groups, each of which had to complete tasks in three different types of rooms. A room that belongs to a group, a room that belongs to a different group, and a room that isn’t decorated were the rooms. The group must complete the SPACETEAM communication task and the crown task with letters, words, and sentences (Gritzka et al., 2020). The results show how much each team member contributes to each job in this situation.
Participants were also asked to write about how they felt in the room, such as whether they felt competitive or intimidated by the other groups or whether they thought they could work with them. According to the findings, a space that represents the people in it aids in the creation of a more productive atmosphere than a room devoid of decorations (Hähn, Essah & Blanusa, 2021). Furthermore, rooms decorated in the colors of competing groups increase productivity, implying that competition aids in producing results. These findings suggest that workers are less likely to produce efficient products in a poorly developed or basic working environment. This is the start of a conversation about office design and its impact on productivity.
Furthermore, the importance of office furniture was covered in a study conducted (Nie et al., 2021). Plants and outdoor landscapes can help workers focus and be more productive when detailed. The 153 employees in question are usually in charge of project management and client meetings, and their offices are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. The goal was to see how plants affected employee productivity and well-being by keeping one room empty and the other overflowing with office plants. According to the findings, participants’ alertness increased, air quality improved, and personal productivity improved after adding office plants.
A study followed a group of volunteers from various organizations for five weeks, asking them to rate their afternoon, lunch, and lunch happiness twice a week. As part of the survey, participants completed an SMS questionnaire one hour before leaving for work and a pencil and paper questionnaire each morning and evening (Hähn, Essah & Blanusa, 2021). Allowing the brain to recover to its pre-stress state by mentally disconnecting from work and not making hasty decisions is vital. Long periods of stress without a break are harmful to one’s mental health, let alone productivity. According to the researchers, pleasurable emotions can help workers become more aware of their surroundings and stimulate “new ideas and behaviors (Gritzka et al., 2020). Because the walks they take are in parks and natural beauty, the workers’ brains can recover and resume work with the ability to be more observant.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
It is widely acknowledged that a person’s surroundings significantly influence his mental health. Incredibly, it took us so long to realize that people who live in simple squares can be depressed. Allowing someone to spend some time outside before returning to work can significantly impact their mental health. The way we punish people in the United States exemplifies this. We put them in undecorated spaces with limited access to the outside world… wait, have you heard of that? It’s difficult to deny people taking outdoor breaks or beautifying their workspaces when you think about it that way.
The presence of nature, or at least some plants around you, can help people revitalize their attention spectrum, according to the idea of restoring attention. According to the attention restoration hypothesis, people present themselves more effectively after spending time in nature or simply viewing nature pictures. This is crucial because companies that incorporate nature into their designs allow employees to work outside or provide outdoor relaxation spaces that can significantly improve their employees’ psychological well-being (Candido et al., 2019). People who are physically fit are also more likely to be mentally happy. Plants significantly improve the air quality in office buildings. This lowers CO2 levels while lowering the risk of building-related diseases.
Believe it or not, office decor can improve a person’s overall well-being. Employees believe that if they do something nice for the environment and show some love, they feel that the organization values them. Both subconsciously and consciously, employees get the message that their boss cares about them and wants to make them comfortable and happy (Basu, Duvall & Kaplan, 2019). If the organization is only motivated by results and sees humans as replaceable robots, they don’t need to decorate anything. Taking your employees for walks outside during their vacation can be a good way to improve their well-being if your décor is limited.
Sick Building Syndrome, poor mental health, lack of concentration, and fatigue are all serious issues that can be avoided entirely. According to psychological research, efforts, amenities, and nature are simple ways to avoid this problem. According to restoring mindfulness, people can regain their concentration and relieve fatigue by gazing at nature, which requires no effort. This enables us to unwind after a long day at work while still meeting deadlines. Moving away from the notion that simplicity equals focus can significantly impact how organizations operate. Allowing plants and natural elements into the workplace can make workers feel more energized, provide cleaner air, and improve their health.
Basu, A., Duvall, J., & Kaplan, R. (2019). Attention restoration theory: Exploring the role of soft fascination and mental bandwidth. Environment and Behavior, 51(9-10), 1055-1081.
Candido, C., Thomas, L., Haddad, S., Zhang, F., Mackey, M., & Ye, W. (2019). Designing activity-based workspaces: satisfaction, productivity and physical activity. Building Research & Information, 47(3), 275-289.
Gritzka, S., MacIntyre, T. E., Dörfel, D., Baker-Blanc, J. L., & Calogiuri, G. (2020). The effects of workplace nature-based interventions on the mental health and well-being of employees: a systematic review. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11, 323.
Hähn, N., Essah, E., & Blanusa, T. (2021). Biophilic design and office planting: a case study of effects on perceived health, well-being and performance metrics in the workplace. Intelligent Buildings International, 13(4), 241-260.
Nie, Q., Zhang, J., Peng, J., & Chen, X. (2021). Daily micro-break activities and workplace well-being: A recovery perspective. Current Psychology, 1-14.