5 Ways to Bring Mood-boosting Nature Into Your Home Office
Check out these key natural elements that could boost your health, happiness and productivity
It’s daylight that’s key here, but if you can also position your desk so you can enjoy the view out of it, all the better, particularly if you have or can create a nature-filled vista.
Ben Channon of Ekkist, who helps architects and builders to create WELL-accredited buildings, took part in a discussion about healthy offices at 2021’s Architect @ Work Digital Summit. He cited some interesting research that compared those working in daylight-filled offices with those in windowless basements.
The first group were found to get around 46 minutes more sleep each night. “Over a week, that’s almost one whole night’s sleep,” Ben says. “You can imagine the impact that could have, not just on physical but also mental health.”
If facing a window is impossible, consider adding a strategic mirror to allow at least a reflected view of the outdoors.
If you’re able to have a window, ensure it gets opened frequently to let in fresh air. According to ventilation specialist Vent-Axia, it’s estimated around 65% of homes in the UK suffer from poor indoor air quality because of inadequate ventilation.
“If CO2 rates are too high, it can reduce productivity,” Ben Channon says. “The effects can make people feel sluggish, even to the point of feeling as if they’ve had a few drinks.”
Opening a window may not be enough – not to mention not being overly desirable in midwinter or if you overlook a busy road. Luckily, there are other options, from something as simple as a fan or trickle vent to more involved ventilation and air-purifying systems, some of which are plug-in portables or can potentially be retrofitted into walls or ceilings. Talk to your professional to see which approach might work best in your home.
You might also like How to Retrofit Healthy Ventilation into Your Home.
Another potential way to improve the air quality in your home office is to introduce plants.
Studies have found that indoor air quality can be worse than outdoor pollution, with us breathing in undesirables including mould spores, bacteria, and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) such as toluene, xylene, benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, from various household products and chemical cleaners.
A study by space agency NASA looked at the air-purifying potential of plants and concluded that certain varieties had the ability to remove many pollutants from the air.
The RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) also reports on the potential psychological and physical benefits of indoor plants as including: an improved mood; reduced stress levels; increased productivity (especially with plants in offices); an improved attention span; quicker reaction times with computer tasks; reduced blood pressure, and up to a 25% reduction in fatigue and headaches.
You might also like 8 Indoor Plants That Can Make You Healthier.
Bringing nature into your workspace with colour may also have benefits.
A study highlighted by Made.com done at the University of Texas in the US found that pale colours, including grey, white and beige, reduced productivity, while red tended to be distracting. Blue/green shades provided the best environment for working.
As such, Made.com did some of its own research and landed on a deep, pine forest green as the optimum shade for the home office to encourage focus and clarity as well as optimism. It’s also a hue that will soothe the eyes, especially when you’ve been looking at a screen all day.
Search the Houzz Professionals Directory for reviewed interior designers in your area.
Using natural materials in the home taps into the theory of biophila – the idea that humans have an innate attraction to nature.
One study went as far as to compare the use of wood and steel as wall panelling materials, monitoring the blood pressure and stress levels of the people in the room. It found that, while steel had the tendency to increase levels, the wood consistently kept blood pressure, stress and a sense of depression low, even among those who didn’t like the look of the panels.
Have you included any of these elements in your home work space? If so, do you think they’ve improved your working day? Share your thoughts and photos in the Comments.