How FMs can increase productivity By Kenneth Freeman, head of innovation at Ambius

If you want to create a workspace that’s functional, innovative, boosts productivity and helps to attract the best staff, office managers shouldn’t be afraid to push the boundaries of office design. Many traditional office environments, with their rigid and restrictive designs, can be somewhat sterile in nature, and this can have a detrimental effect on employees’ general sense of wellbeing and performance. Office managers should be doing all they can to provide an environment that produces the healthiest and happiest workers possible. Wellbeing in the workplace is a difficult

concept to define. Although we probably all have an instinctive idea of what it feels like, it can be hard to quantify. Martin Seligman, a well-known psychologist, broke the concept of wellbeing into five distinct components – positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and achievement. At least the first three, if not all, of these elements can be impacted by the management of an office space. By working with interior designers and landscapers to adapt office layout, lighting levels, greenery and even scent, office managers can ensure their employees are performing to the best of their ability. Whether you’re unsure of where to

start or you’re simply looking for some new ideas, here are some great ways to improve your office environment and make your company stand out as an innovator in office design.

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Breathe some life into the office with plants

Businesses are increasingly recognising the benefits of incorporating plants into their office design. The human need to be with nature was originally identified by the American biologist, Edward O Wilson, who developed a hypothesis called ‘Biophilia’. He defined it as “the innate affiliation people seek with other organisms and especially the natural world.” Wilson’s ideas are increasingly being adopted by architects and designers and many are using the principles of biophilia to make their buildings more humane and connected with nature. Moreover, previous studies from Roger Ulrich have found that human exposure to plants and natural settings can improve positive moods and reduce negative ones. Plants, as living organisms, have a beneficial influence on our surroundings; we are all aware of the health benefits of being outdoors. We should therefore aim to replicate this as far as possible in indoor environments. Improved air quality is frequently reported in places where plants are used – the air is often described as feeling fresher and cleaner. In fact, indoor plants can improve air quality and remove up to 87% of air toxins in 24 hours. One of the less obvious benefits of

plants is to reduce noise. This is particularly useful for busy offices where high levels of concentration are required. Previous

research by Ambius and South Bank University in London showed that that plants can reduce noise is by absorbing sound through their stems, leaves, branches and bark. They can also deflect and refract sound. Whilst this can help create a relaxing atmosphere in a noisy office, in an airport for example, it is often more effective in smaller spaces to help screen and create quieter zones. Clever interior landscaping can give

workers access to an indoor garden or views of vegetation. Being close to greenery makes us feel more at ease with our surroundings, experience less stress and can even help to improve our wellbeing. So overall, plants not only improve the aesthetics of a building or room, but they even make us feel more relaxed. It’s hardly surprising then, that studies have found that people generate more ideas when they’re sat in an office with plants.

Modern working practices

Traditional office environments have changed dramatically over the last few decades. Dingy and drab offices, devoid of personality, are becoming a thing of the past. While it was once standard for staff to sit in their own cubicle, open offices which provide plenty of flexibility are now commonplace. For example, modular desks continue to

gain in popularity. They can be reconfigured depending on the space available and how

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