Columbia, SC is almost like a bowl; it is as if the entire state concaves into the city. However, in the center, where the University is, the landscape shoots up again and culminates in near 90° hills where you constantly worry your car will start rolling backwards. While most people think this geographic feature just makes the city “famously hot,”( because it is where the heat and humidity settle), it also provides spectacular views to its inhabitants.
Last year, I lived in one of the dorms on the edge of campus that faced away from both the city and university. I remember on move in day looking out my window and marveling at the view. All I could see were trees in every shade of green; only occasionally, were they interrupted by a lone building. This view would become my favorite thing about the room. Little did I know that nature was having a greater effect on I could comprehend. Plants and the natural world can help make us more productive in our daily lives. Every morning, even when I just wanted to sleep in for another hour, I would roll out of bed and pull back the curtains to admire this stunning view. The brilliant sunrise coupled by the trees and hills gave me the motivation to start my day. Not only did this view prompt me to start my day, but it also encouraged me throughout it. On days when I didn’t want to do my work, when I needed inspiration, or when I just wasn’t being as productive as I could, I would look out the window and count the colors in the trees and landscape. Even though it was subconscious, I now realize that having the trees and greenery constantly made me more efficient and I was always able to finish my work.
Although it was a dorm and not an office, a series of studies from the University of Exeter support the idea that plants make people more productive. They found that having plants in an office or workspace can increase productivity by 38%. But that’s not all; plants also increase creativity and overall well-being by 45% and 47% respectively.
In the experiments, participants were able to experience one of four common office space designs. Each office was designed in a different way and productivity was measured. In the end, they found that workspaces that had plants and well thought out designs consistently made workers more productive.
If employers want increase results even further, they should also let their workers have some say in the design. This boosts their productivity and well being because it makes them feel as though they matter and people care about their opinions. This, in conjunction with adding plants, can easily make any office more productive. Seeing these numbers honestly surprised me. Having a view to the plants outside was a good option, but now I wonder if I could have completed my work faster and more efficiently if I had actually added a plant to my room? I know next semester I will have a nice new green friend for a roommate.
Visit our interactive Biophilia website to discover how nature-inspired design can make a difference in the workplace.
How does access to nature effect your work? Share below in the comments!