This Is How You Can Improve Your Working Life

From the newest TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS to the latest holistic trends, PENNY McCORMICK has a few tips for creating a HEALTHIER, HAPPIER WORKING LIFE …



The benefits of plants in the office are manifold – from combating sick building syndrome (try Ficus pumila) to providing a calming effect (use Coffea Arabica). There is an entire green floor in Google’s Dublin offices while Skype’s headquarters in Palo Alto has grass rugs, wooden benches and shed-style meeting rooms to bring the outdoors in.

THE EXPERT: “Our research suggests that investing in landscaping the office with plants will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity,” says Marion Nieuwenhuis of Cardiff University’s School of Psychology. For on-trend greenery try an Areca Palm – the huge fronds are very effective at air filtering.

WATCH: On your daily commute try “TED-ED: Lessons Worth Sharing”. Many of the episodes are only three minutes long and include random snippets of interesting trivia, ideal for water cooler moments.

READ: Charlotte Moss: Garden Inspirations (Rizzoli) is a timely read for ensuring beautiful floral displays in your garden all year long.

LIFE HACK: Focus@Will, an app developed by neuroscientists, plays music designed to keep you on track while you work. Trials showed listeners improved focus
by 15 per cent and lasted 400 per cent longer without being distracted.


Noise pollution causes stress, irritability and a feeling of being drained. The World Health Organisation says 40 per cent of the EU population is exposed to noise levels in excess of 55 decibels (the average washing machine is 70 dB). Our love of open plan living is exacerbating the problem.

THE EXPERT: In 2012 the Noise Abatement Society launched Quiet Mark, a non-profit that campaigns for a reduction of noise in the environment. Quieter appliances are now in the pipeline from brands such as Whirlpool, Dyson, and Samsung. Miele already has an “extra quiet” option on its machines. In future, how we reduce noise in our homes will be as important as how we made them energy efficient ten years ago. In the workplace, quiet pods are the new hot-desking.

READ: Every Room Tells A Story by Kit Kemp (Hardie Grant). Hotelier Kemp shares her approach to design and how she infuses rooms with colour and pattern.

LIFE HACK: Rough day? Ty Aromatherapy Associates Clear Mind Bath and Shower Oil to help soothe and calm.


THE EXPERT: Psychologist Elaine Slater (who practices at the Priory Hospital in London) suggests interrupting negative thoughts immediately, rather than going down a rabbit hole of misery, pretend to feel more positive than you do and learn to say no (rather than strive for perfection). She also recommends a digital detox and to physically connect rather than always communicating digitally. Asking others how they see us can offer a different perspective, as can reading poetry.

READ: Diana Athill’s memoir Alive, Alive Oh! And Other Things That Matter. At 91, Athill dwells not on death but on life. This is an optimistic outlook from a former literary editor who now lives in a nursing home. “One good thing about being physically incapable of doing almost anything is that if you manage to do a little something, you feel great.”

LIFE HACK: School of Life founder Sophie Howarth has masterminded a new website called The Department Store for the Mind where each item promises to promote health and well being.

Penny Mc Cormick

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