As the pandemic stretches on, most of us have hit the breaking point of working from home fever. Our home feels constricted, in some moments even claustrophobic. Time feels featureless; the clock a stagnant lake.
Since the pandemic started, I’ve been working from my home. This is the first time I had settled in one place for more than a few months. Before the pandemic, training contracts took me to other cities and countries every 2 or 3 months.
After a few months of being stuck at home, my home office has lost its luster.
You know what I’m talking about. The depressing monotony of looking at the same walls is driving you crazy. Every day is fraught with stress and you’re stuck home, working part-time or full-time. Juggling work and your home life are utterly exhausting. The stress is causing you to get short and snap at your partner. As the pandemic continues, you’re worried you will lose your paycheck or have your salary cut at some point.
All these spending too much time in a confined space has thrown your productivity out of the window.
At one point, I got alarmed when I fixated on a crevice in the ceiling, instead of writing an article the whole afternoon. That day felt like the walls were collapsing on me. I wished to get out and teach my students face-to-face — even though I knew it was impossible.
Before I went crazy, a friend suggested turning to houseplants to give my home a sense of serenity. I started reading about a design philosophy called biophilia — bringing nature inside. I started bringing nature’s magic back into my home.
Today, I’m writing to you from my new biophilic designed home. It has been two months since I purchased houseplants and flowers for my studio apartment where I live with my partner. The plants I see when I wake up and sit down in front of my computer help me find a sense of equilibrium and comfort. My productivity has improved and I’m a lot happier these days.
If I’m going to spend every day, every week, and every month in my apartment, then it has to be a sanctuary for me. A place where I can take a break and have some serenity. Where a sustained engagement with nature improves my mood and boosts my productivity.
Even if the pandemic is still haunting the outdoors, you can bring nature inside.
Even if you have a tiny space for your home office, you can create a harmonious work environment. Proximity of nature, even if you buy a tiny, single green houseplant, fosters a positive connection with your workplace. Or you can just put a visual image of your favorite nature picture on your walls.
Before the pandemic, you could do lots of things to boost your productivity. You could call your friends and visit your favorite park in your city. You could watch fresh green leaves unfurling right in front of your eyes. You could recharge your system by walking in a garden that’s bursting into life. You could take off your shoes and feel the damp earth beneath your feet and feel you could do anything.
Now, any outside exposure is scary. We’re terrified of contracting the coronavirus.
So, we’re reorienting our home to create a restorative workplace inside.
Some of us are creating spaces in our homes to put houseplants that energize, stimulate, and connect us. We’re designing nature’s magic back into our homes where they can give us a calm, relaxing, and restorative effect on our work.
Yes, this is an indirect experience with nature. But it’s still a wonderful experience.
This is because…
Productivity enhancement is one of the priceless biophilic design benefits.
One study conducted in two large commercial offices in the UK and The Netherlands showed that ‘green’ offices with plants made staff 15% more productive than ‘lean’ designs stripped of greenery.
Purchasing gorgeous houseplants and putting them in every room of my apartment is the best decision I made since the pandemic started. My plants help me project a soothing image to colleagues on daily video calls. I can show my energy on the camera when I teach my students online. I no longer look at a ceiling and get bored. Instead, I can look at my plants and feel soothed.
Intentionally putting plants inside your home can boost your productivity.
When you have a plant inside your home, your creativity and attention span increases. You get a decent handle on stress. Because filling your indoor environment with plants boosts the creation of melatonin. Melatonin is important since it regulates people’s sleep-wake cycles, making a noticeable difference in your energy levels.
These days, an optimal work-from-home condition is a necessary tool.
We don’t know how long we will work from home. 2020 has been an education in learning to swim in an ocean of not knowing. For me, the uncertainty has been exhausting. We have to design our home with our well-being in mind. When we work from home, it needs to feel like we’re walking through an open door, instead of banging our head against a wall.
Buying in-house plants for your home is a great place to start.
Giant companies had already designed their offices with a biophilic design before the world heard of a vicious virus. Microsoft debuted tree-house conference rooms in Redmond, Washington. Facebook created a 3.6-acre rooftop garden at its Silicon Valley hub.
You can make your home a place where you can have some serenity and foster a positive connection with your work.
Your home does not have to be a mansion to benefit from nature. With any available space you have, buy houseplants you can put in pots.
While you’re at it, use any available natural light. Sunlight stimulates the hypothalamus or the mood center of the brain. Any ray of sunshine that comes through your window boosts your productivity. It soothes you. So, open your curtains. Keep your windows clear and clean. No blinds.
Look outside your window and think about how you can bring nature inside your home. When you do, you create a work environment with your well-being in mind.
I hope you create a tiny refuge in your home from the bruising world outside.
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