Working from home with plants: Making the best home office

on Thursday, 10 December 2020. Posted in News

The best space for your home office is a dedicated space close to a window or source of natural light. Good light is essential for you to work efficiently – and for most houseplants to thrive - but if you are close to a window you can open it for fresh air too. So it’s a double whammy.

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If there is a view of a garden, meadows or trees, so much the better. This really helps with your connection to nature which is important because of the innate love and need to connect with nature that we all have.

Oliver Heath’s reminds us, ‘Washing windows is one of the simplest ways to improve the natural light that comes through your home. Natural light is really important for one’s circadian rhythms. It affects our body’s release of melatonin and serotonin, both helping us to sleep at night and be alert in the day time.’

What does your home office need?
While it might be tempting to curl up on the sofa or your bed with your laptop, it isn’t the best place to work. Ideally, you need a dedicated desk or table and a chair that supports you properly. Sitting correctly ensures that you are less likely to suffer aches and pains in your back, neck or elsewhere. A number of office furniture companies can conduct assessments to ensure you have the best equipment and know how to adjust it to suit you.


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Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a dedicated space though. In those circumstances try to make the space you use as good as possible. For instance if you using the dining table, set up the portion you are using like a desk. Similarly, if it’s the kitchen table or a dressing table.

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Remember that obviously the more comfortable you are the better you will be able to work.

The importance of houseplants
We’d recommend that you have at least one plant on your desk but preferably more than one plant either on your desk or close by. We may be biased but we have good reason. Research over the last 40 years has found that plants are really good companions for us.

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The basics
We know that they freshen the air and improve humidity levels both of which conditions make a room more comfortable for us. They also help to reduce anxiety and stress; this is really important as our mental health has really suffered due to COVID19 and when some are finding working alone and missing colleagues – or earlier combining working with supervising or teaching their children too - difficult.

"People vary quite a lot in terms of personality type," says consultant psychiatrist Dr TBS Balamurali. "But the guiding principles are very clear. Sunlight - alongside fresh air and access to nature - is fundamentally good for your mental health."
And did you know that ‘Multiple studies have found that exercise is a natural anti-anxiety treatment, relieving stress, boosting physical and mental energy, and enhancing well-being through the release of endorphins.’ Sourced from BBC article.

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Other properties that plants have been found to offer us are the ability to concentrate and be more productive and even more creative. All of these conditions are beneficial to a working environment wherever it is.
You can find lots of information about research in our resources section. It's particularly worth checking out the research papers by 

  • Virginia Lohr: What Are the Benefits of Plants Indoors and Why Do We Respond Positively to Them?
  • Marjolein Elings: People-Plant Interaction
  • Masahiro Toyoda et al: Potential of a Small Indoor Plant on the Desk for Reducing Office Workers’ Stress
  • Margaret Burchett et al: Greening the Great Indoors for Human Health & Wellbeing
  • Craig Knight et al: The relative benefits of green versus lean office space

Tending and caring for the plants can also be very therapeutic for us according to our Deputy Chair, Kenneth Freeman who has worked in the research and training sides of the industry for many years.

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The 15 minute list

We wonder what you think of this idea that we saw? It suggested that in the darker, colder days of winter the pull of the comfy sofa might be greater than your work space.
The 15 minute list is a list of jobs that can be completed in 15 minutes or less. These could be notes of what needs to be included in the next newsletter or that call you’ve been meaning to make and putting off to booking a zoom call or even that important 10 minute exercise break.

There are lots of ideas to stay winter motivated here.

15 minute list

Taking breaks and walking and stretching throughout your working day are important but you may be less likely to get up and walk around when everything you do is virtual. With no commute to get to work now, you could be missing out on your walk to the station and at the other end to the office. (Ignore this if you always drove right to the office door!) But this is a good excuse to take one of your breaks outside taking a walk around the garden or further afield. This not only gives you necessary exercise but also reconnects you with nature and also allows you to absorb that all important Vitamin D.

Vitamin D

Invest in a coffee machine?
Were you guilty of stopping to grab a latte or an espresso on your way to work? Now there’s no commute you might consider starting your day with a decent homemade coffee. We know one person whose first investment once confined to home working was a decent coffee maker! You might be interested in this article for a giggle or the reason to invest.