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7 Reasons Why You Should Put Plants In Your Working Area

7 Reasons Why You Should Put Plants In Your Working Area

While winter is hardly synonymous with cultivating flowers or plants, in many ways it is the ideal season for growing seeds. According to Beauscape, the primary advantage of wet weather is that it produces damp soil, which in turn makes it easier to remove weeds and plant new seeds. As a consequence of this, now is the ideal time to grow a host of seasonal plants, whether these are for your garden, home, or the confines of your workspace.

Integrating plants into your workspace can be particularly impactful, as it offers wide and diverse benefits both for the environment and you as an individual. Consider the following.

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1. Plants Reduce Stress and Blood Pressure

In both the UK and the US, studies have revealed that the presence of plants within a workspace can actively reduces stress. In Britain, for example, respondents were tested to compare their skin conductivity, heart rate, and blood pressure in rooms with plants and those without. The results were conclusive, and suggested that the mere presence of plants and foliage lowered the prevailing stress levels and increased the rate of recovery from bouts of anxiety. These results were supported by studies conducted in the US, which also revealed that integration of plants into the workplace also lowered employee blood pressure levels.

2. Plants help to drive Productivity

During the same research trials, it was also revealed that workers surrounded by plants were able to complete computer-based tasks with a reaction time that was 12% faster than alternative test groups. This carefully collated research also suggested that the process of tending for potted plants also help to improve focus over the course of a typical working day, improving the prevailing levels of concentration and attention to detail in the process.

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3. Plants improve Indoor Air Quality

In addition to this, including plants in your workspace can also have a positive impact on your physical wellbeing. The growth of living interior plants is known to create cleaner air, leading to improved physical health and lung capacity over time. This has been supported by various NASA studies, with one from 1973 revealing that various varieties of houseplant could be used to eliminate the volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) that are present in the air. Given that VOC’s are capable of causing burning eyes and respiratory issues, the careful integration of houseplants into your workspace can deliver huge dividends.

4. Plants help you to take care of the Environment

We live in an environmentally aware age, with even industrial cities around the world investing in Eco-friendly initiatives. Increased levels of awareness are also impacting on individuals, who are constantly seeking out ways to create a healthier environment. The growth of potted plants at work offers a practical example of this, as this encourages you to take small, but practical, steps towards living a more sustainable lifestyle. While it is a relatively small action, when combined with office recycling and energy conservation it can have a cumulative effect over time.

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5. Plants add color and texture to the office

From a purely aesthetic perspective, the use of plants helps to integrate color, texture, and softness into the typical office. Plants are renowned for softening the harsh metallic sheen of filing cabinets, for example, while also infusing bright colors into sterile workplace environments. If you are an entrepreneur, you should also consider cultivating seasonal plants in your businesses reception area, as they have the potential to create a natural and welcoming aesthetic that appeals to clients and employees alike.

6. Plants make your office more comfortable

Similarly, it is crucial that you make your workplace as comfortable as possible (especially of you are to optimize productivity throughout the typical working day). This is particularly important when it comes to humidity, which can rise exponentially during the summer and create an oppressive working environment for staff members. It is worth noting that the recommended humidity range for human health and comfort is fixed between 30% and 60%, and falling short of such figures can trigger employee fatigue, diminishing immune systems, and even respiratory discomfort. Plants can negate these issues, however, as they have the capacity to naturally control humidity levels and elevate them into the required comfort range.

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7. Plants drive improved creative thought processes

On a final note, there have also been fringe studies that have explored the influence of plants of creative thought processes. One delivered particularly interesting results, with the introduction of foliage and household greenery into one office increasing creativity by an estimated 15%. Although there are many potential explanations for this, the most sensible is that the presence of plants invoke our natural instincts surrounding food and create a calmer state of mind.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay / GLady via pixabay.com

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

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