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Plants and art make employees up to 32% more productive

Media release knight – 1
18 September 2011

Plants and art make employees up to 32% more productive

If you could make your employees 32 per cent more productive, you’d do it wouldn’t you?

Well, there is a way and you may be surprised to learn it doesn’t involve caffeine, ‘to do’ lists or ergonomic workspaces.

An international researcher says the answer lies in allowing employees to put plants and art in their work space.

Sound too easy? If you don’t believe it, Dr Craig Knight is willing to prove the point.

Dr Knight is director of PRISM, an organisation that completes psychological research into identity and space management.

He says recent trends have seen the paring down of office environments to create minimalist internal spaces that are free of ‘distractions’. But Knight argues that’s not the way to improve employee productivity.

“Proponents will say minimal office space leads to improvements in productivity as the employee is less likely to be side-tracked from the task in hand. However, the research we have conducted at PRISM suggests that, in fact, the reverse is true,” says Dr Knight.

Dr Knight says historically, there has been no real psychology behind the development of the office space, which has meant pseudo-psychology has filled the void.

“This means unfeasible office management solutions - such the Lean Office, Six Sigma, ‘colour psychology’ and clean desk policies - flourish without scientific check.

“Rather than imposing a corporate identity on employees, bosses should allow their staff to realise and create their own identity in their environment. This provides the optimal solution for productivity,” he says.

Dr Knight suggests employees should be free to choose plants and artwork to enrich their workspace and achieve improvement in productivity, mood and wellbeing.

Dr Knight has worked with indoor plant supplier Ambius to conduct experiments which involve measuring the productivity of groups working in a ‘lean’ environment with those in which plants were introduced. Going a step further, the research has examined those who were able to completely personalise their space with plants and artwork.

Results suggest productivity improvements of 32 per cent are achievable by allowing workers to make relatively simple changes to their workspace through the placement of plants and visual stimulants.

The PRISM research argues that expense and design skill in the office is often unnecessary. It suggests the most important factors in a successful working or living environment are:
• a willingness by experts and managers to relinquish power within the design process;
• the encouragement of decision making amongst the people who will eventually use the space; and
• minimal hierarchical interference.

Dr Craig Knight is visiting Auckland to hold seminars and raise awareness of his research into space management so New Zealand companies can give employees the tools to personalise their workspace and improve productivity.

Dr Knight will be in New Zealand from 18 to 21 September and is available for interviews.

Ends

Notes to Editor

About Dr Craig Knight & PRISM

• Dr Knight is a chartered psychologist with a background in office design and a PhD in the psychology of working and living space.
• PRISM (psychological research into identity and space management) is a research consultancy based at The University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.
• Prism’s research into the design and management of offices and care homes has been widely published and attracted international comment.
• The use of PRISM methodology has seen increases in well-being of up to 40 per cent and in productivity of up to 32 per cent.
• Studies by PRISM and others have recently cast significant doubt on the effectiveness of current office and care home environments.
• PRISM hopes to develop the interdisciplinary approach and challenge existing practices of space development and management.

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