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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.

Bring Your Pet to Work [Every] Day

With increased work demands and longer commutes, the workplace is becoming a home away from home. Many companies are moving to employee-centered work atmospheres by providing new wellness initiatives and other amenities to help make employees feel comfortable and enjoy the environment they work in. But even with healthy food options and exercise classes, many employees still rush out the door at 5:00 p.m. to spend time with the beloved pets waiting for them at home. This challenge is now being recognized by today’s employers, and many are seeing mutual benefits to inviting employees to bring their four-legged friends along with them.

Power of Pets
Decades of research have shown that pets provide numerous health benefits, from lower blood pressure, reduced stress and anxiety, boosted immunity, and prevention of asthma and allergies. Even a quick pet can calm and reduce subconscious tensions. And when you’re less stressed, you’re generally happier, more creative, and more productive.

photo source: Kimball

photo source: Kimball

By bringing their pets to work, employees aren’t worried about having to stay late once in a while or feel guilty about leaving their pet at home all day. They feel they have a better work-life balance, which ultimately leads to less absenteeism and better employee retention.

Taking their pets outside for a quick walk or restroom break also provides increased movement and much needed brain breaks throughout the day. It even gets employees out of their primary area and encourages new interactions and coworker bonding that may have not happened otherwise.

Family and Friends
Often, pets are thought of as a member of the family. Since the beginning of David Edward, the canine companions of the Pitts family have helped make David Edward a special place.

Four-legged friends have been a steady feature at the David Edward office since Edward Pitts began the company. He always had a love for dogs, and brought them to work with him every day. Their presence provided a welcome and more informal environment, and soon, the David Edward family of employees became attached to them as well. Over the years, the beloved pups of David Edward have even made special appearances in marketing materials.

© Seth Hughes, Getty Images.

© Seth Hughes, Getty Images.

“A few walks a day bring fresh air to our lungs, a nice stretch to our legs, and the lack of guilt associated with leaving our best friend at home for 10 hours,” said Greg Pitts, VP of Marketing and Design at David Edward.

David Edward's philosophy is to manifest positive, unconditional regard for its customers, employees, suppliers, the environment, and the community at large. Known as Design’s Best Friend, they strive to treat everyone with the same love and friendship that their four-legged pals provide them each and every day.

5 Steps to Making Pets Work in Your Workplace

  • Maintain good hygiene.

  • Make sure pets are groomed, cleaned and free of fleas/ticks, as well as have up-to-date vaccinations. Introduce pets slowly. Inform employees of pet’s training and dietary needs.

  • Additionally, be respectful of employee allergies. Sections or floors of a workplace should be determined as no-dog-zones, and employees taking their dogs to their desks should take the shortest route possible to get there.

  • Keep your pet-friendly areas clean. Dogs’ bedding to be washed once a week, as well as the implementation of HEPA filters to provide allergy relief.

photo source: Kimball

photo source: Kimball

The Sustainability Movement: Techniques & Trends | Kimball

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As our population continues to grow and climate change becomes a more prominent issue, the need for sustainability has never been greater. No matter how big or small the action, any act helps in the collective goal to create healthy, safe and sustainable environments. This movement toward sustainability is creating new techniques and materials that are now being used in constructing “green” buildings, redesigning or fitting-out existing ones, managing resource consumption, and reducing harmful emissions.
 

But making sustainable choices doesn’t just stop with the external components of a building, it moves inside as well. Spacestor identified sustainability as one of the Top 8 Workplace Trends for 2019, with an upward trend of combining wellness culture with sustainable design. These are some of the trends surfacing in each of the primary areas in architectural and interior design.

Building & Materials
Today, there are new artificial materials that are more environmentally safe than traditional materials. Since 2015, the Dubai Municipality has required the use of sustainable “green” concrete in all new construction which uses environmentally friendly materials that have low-energy costs, high durability and low-maintenance requirements, and contains a large proportion of recycled or recyclable materials.[1] Many new buildings are being constructed as multi-use spaces or structured for modular interior design, which will be more sustainable over time because it can change and adapt to new occupant needs. Instead of building spaces for specific functions, architects and designers are creating buildings that can serve a wide range of uses.

Water Usage
With water, the goal is to use less and reuse more. From high-efficiency fixtures, automatic sensors, metering and flow controls, to reduced flow toilets and urinals, low consumption fixtures for sinks and showers, and dual flush water closets, there are numerous options to help us become sustainable with water consumption.

Energy Efficiency
According to a recent study by Harvard based researchers, buildings consume nearly 40% of primary energy production around the world. Any cuts in energy consumption can have a tremendous impact on carbon emissions, which is the main source of climate change. One method of reducing energy consumption is increasing natural light through sky lights, sloped ceilings, light shelves, or solar harvesting. Other options include automatic lighting control, timers to turn lights on or off during office hours, and energy-saving lighting like LED, T5 and HE fluorescent.

Waste Management
Tracking your waste, generating less waste, and recycling provide the key foundation for a successful waste management program. For existing businesses and buildings, tracking it is the first step to knowing the type and amount of waste your company creates. With this knowledge in hand, you can determine the best sustainable practices to implement for reducing waste.

Changing from single-use to multi-use cups, switching to paperless documents where possible, donating items that are no longer needed, reusing items that you already have in new ways, and implementing a recycling program are just a few of the ways to become more sustainable with waste in the workspace.

The EPA's guide to managing and reducing waste in commercial buildings also shares that organizations that sign up as a partner in WasteWise, the Food Recovery Challenge or the Federal Green Challenge can use the Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Data Management System hosted in Re-TRAC Connect. Through the SMM Data Management System, partners can track and report to EPA their annual waste management and green purchasing activities, set annual goals and apply for recognition.

Air Quality
When it comes to air quality, the EPA also states that indoor pollutants are often two to five times greater than those encountered outdoors. To create a healthier and more sustainable workplace, improvements to air quality can be made by integrating plants inside, selecting low-emission materials, creating separate spaces for high-emission equipment, and ensuring fresh air through windows or ventilation.

Sustainable Interior Design Elements
Design elements such as wood, cork, bamboo, and linoleum are all low-maintenance, durable and renewable. Countertops made from recycled materials, sustainable textiles and natural fibers such as soy, wool, hemp or flax are also eco-friendly options in sustainable design planning.

Seattle’s Bullitt Center, a six-story office space is billed as the “Greenest Commercial Building.” It is outfitted with solar panels, rainwater treatment systems, and a ground-source heat exchange system, all of which result in a net-positive energy environment. Additionally, the building materials were carefully handpicked so as to avoid 14 categories of chemicals. Impressively, as of 2015, the Bullitt was the world’s largest certified Living Building Challenge (LBC) facility. (Living Proof: Building the Bullitt Center from Brad Kahn on Vimeo.)

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Sustainability is also becoming more important to the employees that are, or will be, working in the spaces being designed. According to a recent Nielson study, Millennials and Generation Z will be the first generations willing to pay more for sustainable products and view sustainability as a critical component in the company culture they want to join for their career.

At Kimball, we are proud of our environmental stewardship we have been practicing since the founding of the company and are committed to not only meeting current environmental standards, but also setting new ones. Kimball works diligently to improve our understanding of our impact on the environment. We partner with companies and certifying bodies such as LEED and WELL that can help us monitor and reduce our overall impact so we can continue to be a responsible steward of resources. We continue to bring products to market that are not only innovative, but sustainable. It’s part of our heritage to take initiative, reduce waste, conserve energy, commit fully and lead by example. It’s not enough to simply sustain. We strive to enhance our world. And we hope you’ll join us.

See original blog post by Kimball

Living Green Walls Bring Nature Inside the Workplace

photo source: Kimball

photo source: Kimball

The concept of bringing nature inside is circling back around as an important piece of workplace design. As cities grow larger and the push for healthier environments continues, elements of nature are being brought back into our workspaces and communities.

One example of this is the living green wall. Also known as vertical gardens or eco walls, these vertical panels of plants help restore the natural balance while also making a powerful design statement.

Plants are naturally beneficial by helping improve air quality, increasing positivity, and helping you feel more relaxed. Green walls also help reduce noise and provide benefits connected to biophilic design: the concept that people feel better when they have access to nature.

Research has shown that air quality and lighting at work can have significant effects on brain function and productivity. According to Ambius, a premier creator of ambiance for businesses, green walls incorporated into a biophilic design plan can help improve creativity, reduce absenteeism and presenteeism, and other workplace concerns. Just being close to plants can have a positive impact on an individual’s wellbeing. Simply seeing nature in the work environment can increase job satisfaction.

The installation of a structure like a green wall also sends a message to employees that they are employed at a company that is concerned with providing them with an enjoyable work environment. They can even earn buildings LEED points and WELL credits.

photo source: Kimball

photo source: Kimball