The Grass Roots of Office Productivity.

Most people spend fifty percent of their lives within an enclosed or indoor environment.

“This greatly influence their mental status, actions, abilities and performance” (Sundstrom, 1994).

It is fair to assume that well designed office spaces will increase productivity and in turn create a more hospitable workplace environment. In fact it is more than just an assumption. Studies have continuously shown that the environment we live and work in has a huge impact on how we think act and feel, and no I am not just talking about the office furniture you choose to install.

Bringing the Outside In.

There is nothing new in design speak about incorporating exterior features into the interior design of an office. In fact some of the most successful designers have made a name for themselves by doing exactly that – creating spaces that seem larger than they are, utilising light and glass – and even nature in ways that create an atmosphere that sometimes seems [literally] larger than life.

At first the idea of incorporating nature came in the form of colour. Splashes of green and autumn hues made everyone feel better – and of course productivity increased – but as we learn more and more about the human brain we are starting to realise that the environment we live and work in requires far more than just a splash of colour and some timber.

Good interior designers and architects know this, and as such have strived to create an experience that appeals to all the senses, one in which influences from sight, sound, feel, taste and even touch affect our psychology, but we are now learning that in some cases it goes even deeper than this.

Get Off the Grass!

Actually, I think you should stay on it… and give it a mow.

Studies by the Queensland Brain Institute at UQ have been researching the effects of odours on honeybees, including the smell of recently cut grass.

Within a few minutes of being exposed to the smell, stressed out, aggressive bees calm down. If Bees are exposed to the smell for more than 2 days, there are longer term changes in their molecular brain structure (effects which are reversible)

Scientists at the Institute, led by researcher Judith Reinhard predict the effect would be very similar in humans because of the similar molecular structures of human and bee brains.

Reinhard, who this week spoke at the Australian Neuroscience Society meeting in Melbourne, said the ideas behind aromatherapy weren’t just for hippies.

“The Reason why they think of hippies and crystals is because there ‘s not a lot of scientific evidence  done on it. That’s what we are trying to break. We’re doing  studies and quite a lot of people in Japan are trying it” Reinhard said.

Where does this leave us?

The idea of bringing the natural world into our environment is nothing new – with groundbreaking office designs and breathtaking interiors that inspire being built every week – but now the proof is in the pudding, or the honey at least – and it seems that the sensory wonders of our natural world have more of a role than we originally thought.

Is there a new market for interior landscapers now?  You Bee the judge.

Author Bio:

Caroline Webber is head of marketing and strategy for JP Office Workstations, A Sydney based firm supplying Office Desks, Partitions , Modular Workstations and Modern Office Furniture to Commercial Offices across Sydney and Australia. View their online specials or contact Caroline for a quote.

Image 1 and 2:                   Microsoft Headquarters in Vienna

Image 3:                               TBWA \ Hakuhodo Headquarters in Tokyo


1 Comment
  • Ben
    February 12, 2013

    Have seen the same in an office building on the 30th floor.

    It’s full of mice.


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