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Essential Essence: Aromatherapy in the Workplace | A Blog by Kimball

photo source: Kimball Brand

photo source: Kimball Brand

As human beings, our five senses are critical to how we take in and perform in the world. In our homes, we use things to positively affect our moods, such as windows for natural light or a dim lamp to relax us at night, our favorite candle burning or music playing, and soft blankets or pillows to make us feel cozy and relaxed.

But what about carrying those things over into the office? Both in the home and the workplace, sensory experiences can have a significant and continuing effect on our mood and well-being.

Out of the five senses of perception, smell is probably an afterthought when it comes to designing a workspace. It’s a small detail, but thoughtful management of smellscapes could provide one of the biggest benefits when done properly.

photo source: Kimball Brand

photo source: Kimball Brand

Candles are often not allowed in the workplace due to fire safety concerns, but aromatherapy now provides an effective alternative. In the recent Kimball whitepaper, “How a Place Makes Us Feel: Designing in Moods that Boost Human Performance”, author Sally Augustin, Ph.D., explains how research with particular scents indicates that some are useful in workplaces.

In general, smelling unpleasant scents increases stress levels, while pleasant scents can reduce them. Lemon scents have been tied to improved performance on mental tasks and better worker moods. The smell of peppermint has been linked to improved performance and speed. Scents of an at-work coffee bar influence travel through spaces and serve as cues for behaviors such as spending time casually with colleagues. Smelling rosemary and common garden sage improves memory performance and alertness.

photo source: Kimball Brand

photo source: Kimball Brand

People are fairer and more generous when they find themselves in spaces that smell clean to them. Several scents have been shown to reduce anxiety levels including sweet orange, lemon, mango, and lavender scents, all of which contain linalool. These smells reduce stress levels through their influence on the immune system and blood chemistry.

photo source: Kimball Brand

photo source: Kimball Brand

Some companies are even moving toward customizing scentscapes to align with departmental objectives in different parts of the building, as well as creating signature scents for their workplaces to establish a stronger and enduring emotional connection with guests and consumers.

Our signature Kimball scent is one of luxury, sophistication and comfort. Sparkling citrus fruits illuminate a green floral heart surrounded by Blonde Woods, Golden Amber and Crystallized Musk. Imagine walking through a grand, lush forest with sunbeams shining through green leaves. With notes of Mediterranean Lemon and Calabrian Bergamot, our signature scent activates the body and soul.

Workplace Trends for 2019 | Kimball

photo source: Kimball

photo source: Kimball

While some of the trends that experts are predicting for 2019 are a continuation of what some workplaces were already doing in 2018, there are still a number of new ones. Some that might even raise a few eyebrows.

Here’s a quick preview of the trends that experts believe will be popular for workplace design in 2019.

Different work settings for different tasks.
Okay, technically, designating different areas of the office space for employees to work alone, in collaboration with others, or without distractions, isn’t new. But utilizing furniture options that can be easily rearranged to an employee or team’s liking does take the concept further. The furniture buzzwords moving forward are “minimal restrictions”.

photo source: Kimball

photo source: Kimball

Multifunctional rooms.
An adaptation of the designated space for 2019 will be to create small, multifunctional rooms that can be rearranged depending on the function. These rooms can be used for informal meetings, quiet spaces, interviews, or to relax with a cup of coffee. Versatility is the key — that includes the furnishings.

photo source: Kimball

photo source: Kimball

Space that contributes to employee well-being.
Employee health and psychological well-being will play a bigger role in office design for 2019. Research shows that people who experience higher levels of well-being are more resistant to colds, have a quicker recovery time from illness, a greater life expectancy, feel less pain, are more creative, and are better at problem solving. Literally, there’s no downside for a company to create a space that makes people feel good about working there.

Blurring the lines between the workplace and the comforts of home will also continue in 2019. For example, relaxation spaces will be a big plus to employees. Comfy seating, mini fridges stocked with cold beverages, and coffee machines will be a must.

photo source: Kimball

photo source: Kimball

Experience-driven spaces.
Another trend that experts expect to see among companies other than the high-tech and startups is something called experience-driven spaces. These spaces could include such features as massage therapy, yoga studios, meditation areas, virtual reality gaming spaces, espresso bars, and even rock-climbing walls or music stages.

The melding of furniture design and technology.
The introduction of laptops, cloud, and mobile phone technology into the workplace has increased the demand for more creatively thought out workstations. In 2019 expect to see more desks and workspaces with built-in technology like air-charging ports for mobile devices, under-desk mounted CPU holders, tabletop-embedded “personal assistant” touchscreens, electronic cable management systems, even Bluetooth-enabled standing desk controllers connected to mobile apps.

photo source: Kimball

photo source: Kimball

Abstract patterns.
Plain walls are so 2018. Abstract patterns and geometric shapes will be the thing for 2019. In the halls, lobbies, and conference rooms, you'll start to see the use of bold shapes, colors, and patterns accenting the walls. Handcrafted, artisanal, and earth-based products will also be making their way into the office and wood furniture will be moving towards darker, more elegant tones.

The Second Nature trend.
The use of plants and biophilic design in office space will continue to grow. (Sorry, for the pun.) Living green walls, plants, trees, and flowers will be used more and more to bring the outside in. This once trendy fashion statement is now considered by many companies to be a “must have’ in 2019 workspace design.

Here are some other characteristics of this Second Nature trend:
• WELL certification
• Fitwell certification
• LEED certification
• Natural materials - biomorphic forms and patterns such as wood and stone
• Natural lighting
• Thermal comfort and high-quality ventilation
• Visual connections with nature

photo source: Kimball

photo source: Kimball

So, if you’re designing a new space or giving your old space a makeover for 2019, make sure you keep these new trends in mind. If you need furniture to fill that space, we know a great place where you can look.

The healthy office; Investing more into your people

Photo: b + c portfolio 'Living Wall Installation' at Chosen Foods 

Photo: b + c portfolio 'Living Wall Installation' at Chosen Foods 

Small cubicles, silent offices, and sad fluorescent lighting...sound like a place you want to be? I didn't think so. It's no doubt that having a healthy work culture is key in the workplace today. Employees are the most valuable asset to a company. If your employees aren't happy, how do you expect them to produce successful work for you? Employee well-being has become a major priority for workplace design. It goes beyond the modern work space and finest amenities. These include: biophilic design, wellness programs, healthful eating options, and more physical activity through out the day. 

 

Biophilic Design

The word Biophilia means 'love of nature'. It describes the deep-seated connection humans feel towards nature itself. As  our world has continued to become more densely populated and more people are living in urban areas, we have decreased the use of our natural world. It is vital that we reconnect with the environment.

Given that we have this natural connection to nature, it is important for our overall well-being to incorporate it more into the place that we spend most of our time...work. According to The World Health Organization, stress related illnesses like mental health disorders and cardiovascular disease will be the two largest contributors to disease by 2020. Biophilic design has been known to improve memory, mood, attention span, stress, inflammation, and immunity. Businesses that incorporate biophilic design have seen a 13% higher level of well-being and an 8% increase in productivity.

Wellness programs 

Wellness programs include a number of activities and benefits that encourage health and well-being in the workplace. Some companies may have an on-site gym where employees can exercise at after the work day. Smaller companies may encourage employees to form fitness groups or reward the most active employees by using wearable tracking. Social activities can also be apart of a wellness program, as mental health is just as important as physical health. 

Healthy eating options 

This one can be a bit tricky since not everyone has the same tastes in food. However, giving people options to choose is the important part. Providing healthy food choices at work can be appreciated by some, but it is important not to eliminate other options. Some companies provide a healthy meal at meetings, parties, and events. Other companies provide weekly lunches free of charge. Another option would be to replace some of the snacks in the vending machines with healthier options. You can't force your employees to eat healthy. The choice is ultimately up to them, but it can definitely be encouraged. 

More physical activity through out the day

The last tip is promoting more physical activity throughout the day. This can technically fall under the wellness program. Again, you can't force people to get up out of their chairs and run around the office but you can give them the option so that it is available to them. These can include standing meetings, sit-to-stand desks, lunchtime walks, cycle to work days where employees can ride their bikes to work, or even a five minute stretching session next to an employees desk can help unwind. 

 

A healthy office is a happy office; emotionally and physically. It is important to take care of your employees. There are many cost-effective way to improve the overall well-being of your work culture. Developing and promoting healthy options will increase productivity and morale around the office. 

 

 

Sources: 

http://www.oliverheath.com/biophilic-design-connecting-nature-improve-health-well/

https://k2space.co.uk/knowledge/biophilic-office-design/

https://www.google.com/search?q=work+wellness+programs&rlz=1C1NHXL_enUS775US775&oq=work+wellness+programs&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.3356j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

 

Spring Cleaning; tips to keeping your work desk clutter free!

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There is nothing worse than feeling like you’re drowning in paperwork at your desk. It is very easy to accumulate clutter in your desk around your work area. We all do it! All of the sudden it’s 2:00pm, you look down, and BOOM…clutter…everywhere. As if work isn’t already stressful enough, you become even more overwhelmed knowing you have all of this mess devouring you. Sound familiar?

Luckily, we know exactly how you feel…and we’re here to help.

It is important to have a relaxed mind while you’re at work, not only for productivity, but for creativity as well. Your desk is where you create. It is a place where you come up with innovative solutions. It is also a place where you’re at for most of the day, so why keep it messy?

In with the old and out with the new. This is the first step to keeping your desk clutter free. There is nothing wrong with keeping old projects but get ‘em out of the way! Freeing up new space can make a big difference.

Organization is HUGE…for obvious reasons. This is one of the main reasons spaces become cluttered. Use folders/dividers to help label and store your things. Walmart has a ton of inexpensive, cute accessories you can purchase to help maintain a clean surface. Make a place for your things so you can put them back when you are finished.

Designate one day out of the week to de-clutter. Set a goal for yourself to clean out your desk every Friday or every Monday. This way you can leave for the weekend feeling accomplished, or start the week out already feeling accomplished. The choice is up to you!

Lastly, spice up your desk with some aesthetically pleasing items. A small plant, a picture, or even a motivating quote that you enjoy. Make your desk a place where you want to be, so your mind is able to produce more. The more welcoming your environment is, the more you will be able to boost your creativity and productivity.

I hope you enjoyed these tips on how to keep a clutter free work space! Stay tuned for more creative expressions by b + c Office Interiors.    

Ergonomics 101

How to sustain ergonomic habits at your workstation:

SIT

1. Raise or lower the seat to ensure your thighs are parallel to the floor with your feet flat on the floor or a footrest.

2. Adjust seat pan depth to maintain two inches of clearance between the back of your knees and the front edge of the seat.

3. Adjust backrest height to comfortably fit the small of your back.

4. Adjust the recline tension, if necessary, to support varying degrees of recline throughout the day. Avoid the use of recline locks.

5. Lean back and relax in your chair to allow the backrest to support your upper body

Type

6. Use an articulating keyboard support and position it 1 to 1.5 inches above your thighs. Angle the keyboard away from your body to keep wrists straight while typing. Rest your palms—not your wrists—on a palm support.

Mouse

7. Position your mouse close to the keyboard or over the numeric keypad to minimize reaching. Avoid anchoring your wrist on the desk. Instead, glide the heel of your palm over the mousing surface and use your entire arm to mouse. 

View

Position the monitor at least an arm’s length away with the top line of text at or slightly below eye level. Tilt the monitor away from you so your line of sight is perpendicular to the monitor.

Illuminate

Position a task light to the side opposite your writing hand. Shine it on paper documents but away from computer monitors to reduce glare.

Align

Align the monitor and spacebar with the midline of your body and arrange frequently used work tools within easy reach. Prop reference documents between your body and the monitor with an in-line document holder.

Rest

Take two or three 30- to 60-second breaks each hour to allow your body to recover from periods of repetitive stress.

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