Hello green fingers, goodbye bluesA study led by Dr Masahiro Toyoda, specialist in horticultural therapy at the University of Hyogo in Japan revealed that three minute 'nature breaks' could improve the mental health of employees. These breaks would consist of simply looking at a plant and tending to the plant in an office environment. This type of break was particularly beneficial to employees that felt tired during the working day. The study used the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory Index (STAI) which measures levels of anxiety. It was found that employees that chose their own plant and cared for it at intervals during the day would see decreased levels of anxiety.
Natural elements in office design shown to improve quality of workIt isn’t just the introduction of real plants that can help employees to relax and perform better, and research featured in the Journal of Environmental Psychology suggests that images of nature also have an impact. In a study entitled '40-Second Green Roof Views Austain Attention: The Role of Micro-Breaks in Attention Restoration', the results of viewing two different types of image showed significant findings. Participants of the study were shown either city rooftop scenes of over-flowing plants and greenery, or images of bare city rooftops and were then asked to complete a task. The participants that viewed the green scenes made less mistakes and responded better to the demands of the task than those that were only exposed to the concrete roofs. It’s thought that by including nature scenes, either on television screens in offices, or in permanent décor such as 'living walls', employees experience an increased positive response to tasks.
The sounds of successThe sounds of nature, such as rainforests and rippling streams, have long been used to help people fall asleep, but what if these types of sounds not only help you feel relaxed, but can improve the quality of your work? Apparently, it isn’t only the sight of nature that can improve productivity and mood, but according to researchers, the sounds of nature have also been shown to result in a better work environment. According to Science Daily, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York believe that the sound of a mountain stream in offices can elevate mood and productivity. Installing water features in offices or playing the soothing sounds of lapping waves or flowing streams could be a wise move for employers wanting a calmer work environment.
What is your working environment like? Could you introduce any images or sounds of nature?