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Natural boost to the workplace

11 August 2011

This week’s episode of Channel 4’s Secret Life of Buildings on ‘Work’ looked at the environments in which people work and the impact this can have on their well-being and in turn, productivity.

In a simple experiment, Ambius supplied the flagship London offices of Deloitte - where morale, teamwork and productivity had declined - with a range of plants and planters selected by the employees. The experiment, based on sound scientific research by academic Craig Knight of the University of Exeter and supported by Ambius, showed that addition of plants helped improve productivity and engagement amongst the staff.

Kenneth Freeman, International Technical Director for Ambius said: “Clearly there are many ways in which businesses can support the well-being of employees but plants, as the research by Craig Knight has shown, are a very simple and very cost-effective place to start. It’s easy to focus on the practical use of space without considering the emotional impact of the working environment and plants can be very effective in tackling workplace malaise. Certainly at Ambius we are working more and more with businesses who recognise the importance of the physical environment in supporting employee engagement and we are developing planting schemes working with them to address their specific challenges.”

On the programme Craig Knight, explained: “There has been a trend recently to pare down the office environment, creating very minimalistic internal spaces and making it free of so-called ‘distractions’. This was supposed to lead to improvements in productivity as the employee was less likely to be side-tracked away from the task in hand. Psychological evidence suggests that, in fact, the reverse is true. Our experiment involved measuring the productivity of groups working in this ‘lean’ environment with those into which plants were introduced and, going a stage further, those who were able to completely personalise their space.”

“Whilst the results are yet to be finalised, interim figures suggest that productivity improvements of 15 percent are achievable through relatively simple and cost effective changes. People not only work more efficiently but experience higher levels of well-being when they have some control over their work environment, even if that’s a simple as bringing in some plants.”

Those who missed the show on Monday can catch up with it on 4oD .

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