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FRESH FRIDAYS: Refreshed Office, Refreshed Mind…

With pictures of the Google and Mind Candy offices broadcast all over the internet, it can leave the rest of us feeling that our white, air conditioned rooms full of desks, computers and HR-approved chairs are no longer adequate. At the FreshMinds' offices you'll find brightly coloured pillars, vibrant pictures adorning the walls of our meeting rooms and a recent influx of exercise balls -  but we still think it's time we freshen things up...

A bout of excitement ensued last week at FreshMinds HQ as Annie, our Head of Marketing, invited us to take to Pinterest with ideas for our new office. The page was flooded with chunky wooden tables, art work and funky, space-saving ideas. We then turned our thoughts to making the office not only a good-looking space to work in but a healthy, productive one too. I won't begin to advise on the latest office design (this is not my forte!) but I can give you our four top tips for a healthy and efficient work space:

1) Go back to your roots
A lot of research suggests that our happiness and subsequent productivity is highest when we are in our EEA (Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness). This is the environment in which most of our brain evolution occurred; a natural, green environment as opposed to a stark white office. Studies have found the introduction of plants improves concentration and productivity and reduces stress, fatigue, headaches and therefore sick leave too.

If you think plants would be a welcome addition to your office, here's a couple of our favourite recommendations:

  • Areca Palms - a natural humidifier
  • Variegated snake plants - which act as air purifiers
  • Lemon balm - which can elevate mood.

We've also trialled another stress reliever which has proven to be extremely effective - Bob, the office spaniel - but funnily enough have noticed a negative correlation between Bob and productivity!

2) Think bright

Lighting can have a real impact on our physical, physiological, and psychological health but recent advances in lighting tend to be used by businesses to reduce impact on the environment and energy bills rather than improving the environment for employees. Researchers at the Interdepartmental Neuroscience program at Chicago's Northwestern University found that those working in a space with windows would have better general health and a vastly better quality of sleep than those in a window-less environment. Good quality lighting also has a significant impact on our productivity and performance in the workplace as well as reducing fatigue and eyestrain.

If you have little natural light in your work place, or fancy a boost during the winter, try full-spectrum lighting. It's the closest artificial lighting to natural light and can make you feel more awake at work as well as maintaining your cortisol levels so will lift your mood at your desk.

 3) Cool off

A huge number of studies have been conducted on the effect of temperature on productivity. They reveal that just a couple of degrees difference can impact significantly on your productivity. Studies indicate that 71-73 degrees Fahrenheit (21-23 Celsius) is optimal in getting your creative juices flowing, your mind working on top-form and even a reduction in typing errors!

4) Blue is the new magnolia
Many studies have explored the effect of colour on mood; having more blues in the office can increase productivity (the colour, probably not the music!) as it stimulates the mind, yellow can increase creativity, while red in small doses helps bring out more passion and determination. So it's worth having a think about which mood your company or team could benefit from more of and subtly colour accordingly.