Choosing Office Furniture for the Optimal Employee Experience

Choosing Office Furniture for the Optimal Employee Experience

Leading companies focus not just on customer experience, but also pay attention to the employee experience.  Starting with the outside environment, attention is paid to the overall offering of the office buildings.  Offices that are established in historic districts or older buildings are retaining ties with the past, while modern structures remain consistent with the spirit of its design. Inside, a livable atmosphere that’s welcoming and focused on employee comfort and health will continue as a standard to achieve.

Frame the Attitude

Starting the week and each day with the right mindset includes having an inviting atmosphere that doesn’t appear crowded and overwhelming. Office design and set up becomes an important foundation for creating a favorable experience by showing an interest in people. It’s an investment in human capital, the most critical resource for any for-profit or non-profit organization.

Little things matter like having plenty of natural light and outdoor views for a change of scenery while other elements include:

  • Coffee bars
  • Comfortable private spaces and lounges
  • Wellness incentives

Tie in to the Community

A one hundred-year-old Nabisco factory in Pittsburgh is now one of Google’s 21stcentury offices, located on the penthouse floor. A local architectural firm’s design pays homage to the building it occupies by acknowledging the community’s history and links to the present day.  Exposed brick in the reception area with the Google logo over it, along with a huge photo of the well-known Smithfield Street Bridge, are among the touches that connect workers with the surrounding area.

In Southern California, employees often commute from completely separate regions, but we’re familiar with the landscapes. Mountains, the beaches, and sports teams are used as inspirations to connect us with our surroundings and make us feel right at home.

Current office layouts are being driven by the desire for shared ideas and relationships. A drive to communicate and collaborate together is essential for offices to create community.

Create Livable Work Spaces to Enhance Employee Experience

Wellness including ergonomic furniture that promotes movement are ways offices are enhancing the quality of life within the workspace. Work can get stressful, so a livable office that offers relaxing spaces to deal with challenges of winning new accounts or pleasing clients can provide a sense of relief from the daily grind.

Having a sense of freedom is important. Staff members typically like to have their own assigned desks, but being able to be mobile with open lounge areas can create comfort and well-being. Furniture that can adjust from one user to another include adaptable workstations and height-adjustable desks. These acknowledge individual needs.

Want to add movement to a meeting area? Or have an active area be flexible as a meeting area? Options like the Nomad Sport Conference Table can bring a team together.

In Creating an Optimal Employee Experience, a write-up for the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM), employee engagement is often lacking. Younger workers are willing to go work where they think they’ll personally be happiest, and work cultures can’t make lasting fixes through cosmetic approaches alone.

Little things matter in the daily life of a company.  Maximize your office layout and employee experience by exploring what’s possible for your office space. 2010 Office Furniture has extensive experience providing the latest office furniture for large and small companies in Los Angeles County, Orange County and the Inland Empire, and you can submit your project questions and needs and speak to one of our experts.

Image Source: Friant

Harnessing the Benefits of Collaborative Workspaces

Harnessing the Benefits of Collaborative Workspaces

Benefits of Collaborative Workspaces

The benefits of collaborative workspaces are found in offices that are designed well and provide an efficient flow of information and open communication conducive to promoting camaraderie and relationships. A “flat” organization can maximize collaborative spaces in different ways than companies that are run top-down with a focus on individual performance.

Open office layouts are usually the only ones thought of as collaborative. A 2011 article from Harvard Business Review, Inventing the Collaborative Workspace, states that most buildings are suited for individual work with cubicles and private offices. But efficient communication can be built into many layouts. Read on to discover how to set up collaborative spaces and their benefits.

Completing Tasks

Where work tasks are carried out are natural places for collaborative workspaces. Tech companies have been known to drive the collaborative work space approach. Creative firms like ad agencies and production companies require brainstorming and group effort around campaigns and TV or film development.  Open bench seating is an excellent solution with options like Friant’s Verity Open Plan Benching that gives a modern, professional and orderly appearance to office spaces. Want to promote movement and creative collaboration? The G Series Desk Lounge by Scale 1:1 is flexible for many office needs.

What if your office is more traditional or requires individual attention to projects? It’s still possible to set a tone for collaboration and open communication using appropriate desking and dividers.  A range of cubicles are available that don’t create a generic walled look. The EO workstation by Global allows for personal boundaries and openness. Modular Walls by Open Plan Systems is another way to have personal space without solid walls.

Sharing Ideas

Providing brainstorming and discussion is another one of the benefits of collaborative workspaces. Even companies with brick walls and doors between desks can promote sharing. A common room or large open space can be turned into a comfortable lounge.  The Serafina Modular lounge offers professional seating solution to common office areas while sharing ideas in a flexible lounge system is the concept behind Share by Stylex.

In many cases, comfortable seating, a white board along with some beverages gets discussion flowing.

Solving Problems

A team that brings multiple perspectives to a problem can reduce individual burdens and provide lasting solutions. Not only can clients benefit, but internal needs such as deciding on new product launches can be handled effectively.  Bringing people together isn’t always easy so make sure to set up the physical environment to promote problem solving. Gathering around a conference table is the norm but a smaller, modular approach like the Dewey Collection can be great for presenting a topic and then inviting small groups to break it down.

Building Relationships

Everyone needs to contribute their skills and ideas to make an office function at its peak. Since people have up and down days, a team approach can provide support. A company that’s aiming for collaboration at work can go far by building healthy relationships.  Clearly defining goals and tasks in a community based on problem solving can lay the foundation for a satisfying work experience. Challenging days are unavoidable. But when the office layout is designed to promote discussion and collaboration then challenges can be overcome.

Enjoy the Benefits of Collaborative Workspaces

An office space is more than desks and chairs. If you are interested in designing your office to help you reap the benefits of collaborative workspaces, please don’t hesitate to ask us for help.  Our office furniture experts are here to guide you and help you every step of the way.

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Make Office Ergonomics Your Next Smart Move

Make Office Ergonomics Your Next Smart Move

What is Office Ergonomics

Keeping employees well and productive isn’t just about giving lectures on how to stop smoking or regulate blood pressure. Physical movement is one of the keys to keeping an office staff healthy.  It impacts work-related absenteeism (since prolonged sitting or standing stresses muscles and joints which can lead to musculoskeletal disorders or MSDs), and can overall affect a company’s performance.  Oftentimes, office movement is directly related to office design and the furniture utilized by the staff.  Conditions like unwieldy office chairs can cause ailments, and existing health problems to persist and worsen. That is why addressing the issue of office ergonomics come is so important.  Office ergonomics apply the science that lies behind the interactions people have with their environment, so personal well-being and office efficiency occur at a peak level.

Don’t Just Sit (or Stand) There

Sitting for long hours or standing for long periods of time will stress the body’s joints. Poor posture aggravates muscles and joints.  One very common example is an employee working in front of a computer screen.  Ever pick up a heavy bowling ball? A person’s head weighs between 10 pounds to 14 pounds. Leaning forward to glance at the computer screen with gravity pulling down on the head will gradually strain the upper two vertebrae out of alignment. This will pinch the nerves in the brainstem, an area located at the bottom of the neck and shoulders, which ultimately will cause health problems for the employee.  This risk, however, can be alleviated through regular movement, proper workstation arrangements and chairs that flex with the body.

Shake, Rattle, and Roll – or at Least Stretch

When the topic of movement in the office is brought up, most workers think the main reason is to burn calories. But that’s just one of the resulting benefits.  Moving, even small stretching exercises, maintains a healthy blood circulation and is important for the health of the muscles. You can also promote movement by adding some key types of furniture to your workspace.  Height adjustable desks (for both collaborative spaces and individual offices) as well as a conference table that can double as a ping-pong table are effective office additions that can help keep employees moving.  It’s important to note that the key is to avoid being in one position for too long. Standing while working, which helps with movement, should still be done in brief amounts of time, perhaps intervals of no more than 15 to 20 minutes.

Workstation Standards that Raise the Bar — For Best Office Ergonomics

Proper workstation set up is, according to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), “the first step in combating musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the office environment.”

OSHA standards are:

  • Aligning joints in the neutral position
  • Chairs adjusted correctly for the individual user
  • Backs supported
  • Computer monitors, keyboards, and accessories like a mouse are at the right height for the user

This is why adjustable office furniture is so important. Individual pieces can all be adjusted independently.

Sit On It with Confidence

Every office has people with a range of postures.  Chairs that don’t conform well to sitting positions can result in tight shoulders, breathing that’s constricted, and tightness in the thighs and throughout the legs.  That is why it’s important to have ergonomic chairs that allows users the freedom to move naturally while in a sitting position.  Ergonomically designed chairs like the Cherryman Eon Chair and 9 to 5 Seating’s Vesta Chair have lumbar support and an advanced tilt feature,  which helps these chairs to work well at conference tables and for individual office use.

Image Source: Humanscale

How to Select an Open Office or Private Office Layout

How to Select an Open Office or Private Office Layout

Open Office VS Private Office

An open office layout allows co-workers to easily communicate with each other. The aesthetics are pleasing since even a small office can look spacious when it’s not sectioned off. About 80% of U.S. companies use the this layout, yet the layout has its critics that are speaking out.  During 2018, a headline in the Chicago Tribune announced, “The open office plan is a disaster” while the Washington Post published an analysis proclaiming, “Open office plans are as bad as you thought.” Disruptions and a sense of impermanence are noted as a couple of the negatives.

It’s important to note that the open office layout works or falls short of expectations depending on these variables: the nature of the work to accomplish; a company’s culture; and whether or not an office space is planned well.  Read on to learn more about open offices versus private offices, and how a professionally designed layout can work well for your office space.

The Nature of the Work

A reason that open office plans may be getting negative reviews is that company executives and office managers will often make decisions based on popular trends instead of what is right for their specific situation.  For example, tech giants such as Apple and Google use an open office approach in their office spaces around the world. So if it’s right for these global brands, then it must be right for—

Hold on. It’s important to remember that a better way to lay out an office is to understand the nature of a company’s work and the need for collaboration and communication. Budgets matter and open offices typically cost less to maintain. If the existing physical space is open, then planning an this can be an easy solution.  Think in terms of a grid or formula. The greater the need for collaboration, then the more an open office situation is right.  Highly personalized work that require individual conversations on completely different matters will require more boundaries in place.

A Team Approach

Consider an open office environment for small teams that are focused on bringing a project to life where the need for collaboration is high.  A small engineering firm that is building a robot or a creative firm like an ad agency that’s working on a specific account can benefit from an open office design and use of collaborative workstations.  The upside to this scenario is that team members have an easy time talking to each other and the open office arrangement is flexible and adaptable as projects come and go.  The downside however is that team members can feel like the arrangement is temporary with a “here today and gone tomorrow” kind of feeling. Also, individuals who need quiet to focus on their work are exposed to teammates’ conversations, phone calls, “out loud” thinking, and music that are a distraction while playing in the background.

Individualized Work

An architectural firm where partners spearhead their own projects or a law firm where individuals are tackling completely different cases can benefit from a more closed office with individual office desks.  In these scenarios, when private spaces become a necessity, panes of glass can be used in place of solid walls. Bookcases that are filled with research material along with dividers to deaden sound can delineate space.

Working in Open Groups

Rarely is a decision so straight-forward in today’s working world that an office either has to only have an open office plan or a closed office plan with private spaces and traditional doors. Today’s office furniture needs in seating and workstation options come with adaptability and flexibility.

A company that might have 200 or 300 employees can have an open office arrangement where groups are formed by department or logical tasks.  Accounting and finance can be in one open area while marketing can be in another. If the space is large enough, then using attractive dividers decorated with company milestones can act as boundary markers instead of installing solid walls.  Real estate brokerage firms and insurance companies can work with an open-private hybrid and design.  Hanging plants, light stands, or individual lounge chairs can create distinctive work areas. Creative office furniture like the Connection Zone or Co-op Lounge can carve out private spaces within an open office layout.

Designing an Open Office or Private Office Layout

Looking to design your own private office or open plan space?  Let our experts help you!  2010 Office Furniture has more than 45 years of experience working with some of the most prominent companies in Los Angeles and Orange County, including Southern California Edison, Irvine Chamber of Commerce, The Honda Center, UCLA, Bunim Murray Productions, Hollywood Park Casino, Living Spaces, W Hotels, Sony Pictures Studios, Dignity Health and more.  Share your project with us today and talk to us about a complimentary space planning consultation.

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Five Benefits of Using Plants in the Office

Why We Need Plants in the Office

Concerned about office stale air?  Thinking about creating a positive mood? Check your office greenery and consider the five benefits of using plants in the office!  Studies have shown that indoor plants refresh breathing and rejuvenate the spirit. Read on and discover all the great health contributions of having plants in the office.

Plants Tackle Hazardous Materials

In the 1960s, swamp plants in Florida were shown to clean up the devastating effects of Agent Orange, the chemical that the U.S. infamously used during battle in Vietnam. An environmental researcher working with the military, B.C. Wolverton, Ph.D., made the findings and soon worked with NASA to counter-act indoor air pollution.

Sending astronauts to the moon and into orbit for long periods of time in a space station led NASA to clean up the effects of “off-gassing,” the slow release of chemicals from synthetic materials.

Buying quality furniture is important and near the end of this article are easy-to-follow tips to minimize off-gassing.

Plants Aid Office Wellness

By the 1980s, a new term came into being called “Sick Building Syndrome.” Wolverton released a full study by the end of the decade that focused on “energy-efficient buildings” and how both furniture and computer and electronic equipment would “off-gas hundreds of volatile organics.”

Here’s where plants became important. More research from England showed that buildings with the highest levels of microorganisms had the fewest symptoms. And the opposite scenario was true. People who had more ill symptoms worked in mechanically ventilated buildings containing low levels of microorganisms.

Plants Create an Indoor Ecosystem

How do plants work their magic? Water vapor they emit pulls the air’s contaminants to the root levels. The plant then converts it into food and microorganisms in the potting soil do the cleaning work.

Pollutants from the air are absorbed into the plants while they’re taking in carbon dioxide. That’s then turned into oxygen through photosynthesis. Here’s where the microbes come into play. They’re in the potting soil and they do a lot of the cleaning.

Plants Boost the Spirit

A home or office that has nicely placed greenery has a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. It’s a way to spruce up the look of industrial grade gray. A 2014 study from the University of Exeter that was noted in Science Daily stated that a green office can boost productivity levels by 15%.

Plants also improve the air quality by raising humidity levels which benefits employees who have naturally dry skin and eyes. Dry air can also be troubling for asthma sufferers and spread germs leading to colds and flu.

Plants Absorb Sound

Air contaminants aren’t the only thing that plants absorb. Leaves and stems can capture sound waves and reflect them. That helps boost concentration levels.

In the open office, plants can act as green dividers in many creative ways. Open plan benching workstations could have small plants that are placed every several feet to create personal space.

In spaces with solid walls, plants on shelving can add color.

Recommended Indoor Plants in the Office

The following are some of the recommended plants for a healthy office:

  • Spider plants – known for purifying the air
  • Succulents – easy to care for and work well in small containers
  • Peace Lilly – are good for creating more moisture in the air
  • Aloe – a type of succulent; easy to grow and care for
  • Philodendrons – are popular as hanging plants

Tips to Reduce Off-Gassing From Office Furniture

  • Buy tables and desks that are well crafted.
  • Remove packaging outdoors since that’s where the largest concentration of gas is released.
  • Filter and circulate the air
  • Use plants as noted in this post

Image Source: Storyblocks

3 Popular Office Layouts to Meet Your Office Culture

3 Popular Office Layouts to Meet Your Office Culture

The Importance of Office Layouts

An office layout that’s set up for maximum functionality and efficiency creates a productive environment. Achieving this optimal arrangement takes planning and accounts for all the necessary accessories and equipment.  Here is an overview of different office layouts, how each can be furnished, and the impact on the personal preferences of employees.

1. Open Office Layouts

A large space without walls is a simple definition of the open office. It’s a highly relational approach to work and fosters communication and collaboration. In practical terms, the layout can also be an easy way to manage people who do a single task like data entry. Tech companies and start-ups often benefit from this layout.  The challenge is that privacy is scarce and there are more distractions than in divided offices.

Seating and Workstation Options:

Adjusting for Personal Needs:

  • Letting employees work from home when they need privacy
  • Creating private areas using comfortable and state-of-the-art lounge chairs like Focal Point and Connection Zone
  • Using Co-op lounges for private, small group discussions and phone conferences

2. Cellular Office Layouts

A large space that’s divided using cubicle style desks offers greater privacy and more personal space than the open office. Benefits include being adaptable in space sizes and design. Sales organizations can benefit from this style where time is split between the office and going out to see clients.  The cubicle usually evokes images of corporate sameness with a dull gray interior and workers slotted into positions. However, today’s options are quite attractive. Instead of industrial grade partitions with desks squeezed in, the desk and cubicle are often one and the same.

Seating and Workstation Options:

Adjusting for Personal Needs:

  • Since cubicles can divide up a room, having an open area for lunches or lounging can offer variety.

3. Private Office Layouts

For an office space that already has hallways and walls, offices ensure the greatest degree of privacy possible. This style is found in top-down organizations and hearkens back to the days when the president of a company had the largest office or prized corner office.  Professional firms and companies where individuals need a high degree of focus in their work can benefit the most from this setup. The downside is that it hinders the relational aspects of work that younger generations enjoy and the layout can seem intimidating and overly formal.

The look of the furniture for private office layouts can reflect the company’s brand and the individual’s brand and personal tastes.

Seating and Workstation Options:

Suggested Innovative Office Layout Ideas

Be a trendsetter or invite employees to design their own office space whether the existing plan is open, made of cells or private rooms.

Shared and Personal Space:

  • Shared spaces can have individual lounge areas nearby. If you use a product like the Mayline – E5 Open Plan Benching that accommodates eight people, then each person could have an individual lounge chair nearby that has a reading lamp and available plug-ins.
  • Encourage the team to decorate according to their hobbies and interests: a library look, sports, or outdoor area.

A Middle of Room Lounge:

  • In an open office space, use modular cubicles or open plan benching around the sides. This is nice if windows let in plenty of natural light. Then in the middle of the room, create an open area for break-time reading, eating and beverage service.
  • Consider an arrangement like the Coact lounge or the Island Modular to bring people together.

Choosing Reception Furniture

The style of office layout will help determine the type of reception desk and guest chairs to use in the entrance of your office.

Designing Your Office Layout

Looking to design your own open, cellular or private office?  Let our experts help you!  2010 Office Furniture has more than 45 years of experience working with some of the most prominent companies in Los Angeles and Orange County, including Southern California Edison, Irvine Chamber of Commerce, The Honda Center, UCLA, Bunim Murray Productions, Hollywood Park Casino, Living Spaces, W Hotels, Sony Pictures Studios, Dignity Health and more.  Share your project with us today and talk to us about a complimentary space planning consultation.

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Checklist of Wellness Activities for 2019

Mission: Wellness Activities

Make wellness an office priority with this checklist of wellness activities for 2019.

1. Move Often

Benefits:

  • Regular movements keep blood circulating well and prevent joints from stiffening. Movement can also clear the mind.

What to Do:

  • Stretch every 20 minutes while sitting at the desk
  • Use height-adjustable desks and tables to alternate standing and sitting throughout the day
  • Go for a brief stroll every few hours
  • Play games like ping-pong or have a magnetic dart board set up in a break area
  • Use ergonomic chairs that allow the body to move naturally

2. Drink Water

Benefits:

  • Water lubricates the joints, flushes out toxins in the body and helps battle tooth decay by maintaining saliva production. It also helps the immune system and delivers oxygen throughout the body.

What to Do:

  • Provide small bottles of water in break rooms and near lounge chairs
  • Place reminders in departments encouraging the team to “stay wet”
  • Provide packs of sugarless gum to chew and stimulate saliva production

3. Eat Well

Benefits:

  • Food is a personal issue for many. Don’t throw out doughnuts for every meeting but realize that eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits boosts energy, reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes, and promotes healthy bacteria in the gut.

What to Do:

  • Have a vegetable tray with dip for office meetings
  • Invite departments to take turns providing something like apples or grapes as snacks in the breakroom
  • Ask a local store to provide a discount if enough employees buy their produce there
  • Have a local chef do a healthy pop-up lunch with the staff seated comfortably

4. Go Green

Benefits:

  • Plants provide a visual break in an office while refreshing the air. They can also raise humidity levels to soothe workers with dry and itchy skin.

What to Do:

  • Have employees bring in a favorite indoor plant
  • Use plants in hanging baskets or potted plants on tables as area dividers
  • Place small plants every several feet on open bench seating to provide personal boundaries
  • Use ficus trees to define departments in an open office

5. Offer Exercise Incentives

Benefits:

  • Staying active outside work becomes part of a healthy lifestyle. Moderate walking or running reduces stress and is foundational for those managing their weight.

What to Do:

  • Offer small rewards for those who have the most creative walk or run in a month
  • Provide up to 10% off gym memberships or yoga classes (not to exceed a certain amount)
  • Offer aerobics or yoga on-site
  • Install a multi-use conference table for ping-pong breaks

6. Evaluate Company Culture

Benefits:

Work by its very nature is challenging. Competitive environments come from companies striving to be their best and please their clients. Providing ways for people to decompress is important. Leadership plays an important role in this by:

  • Listening
  • Allowing time for constructive feedback
  • Adjusting as necessary

7. Wellness Activities for 2019 – Designing a Healthy Office

Many factors contribute to a healthy workplace.  Now that you’ve read the checklist for wellness activities for 2019, consider that a well-designed and furnished office space also promotes success.  Looking to design an office workspace that promotes health and well being?  Let our experts help you!  2010 Office Furniture has more than 45 years of experience working with some of the most prominent companies in Los Angeles and Orange County, including Southern California Edison, Irvine Chamber of Commerce, The Honda Center, UCLA, Bunim Murray Productions, Hollywood Park Casino, Living Spaces, W Hotels, Sony Pictures Studios, Dignity Health and more.  Share your project with us today and talk to us about a complimentary space planning consultation.

Image Source: Storyblocks

Get More Work Done with a Green Office

Benefits of a Green Office

If you want a more productive office, then create a workplace that is as green as possible. Creating a surrounding that’s green and welcoming is really an investment in people. People have an innate desire to connect with the outside world, literally. Natural light and thriving plants can keep moods up and thinking sharp. Achieve fewer yawns and droopy eyes while using workstations and dividers that have a pleasant appearance and make room for greenery at work. Read on to see how the interior environment becomes more conducive to feeling fresh and alive, especially with a green office.

Natural Light

Want to give your team a competitive edge? An article in the Harvard Business Review referred to natural light as “The Number One Office Perk.” Natural light and outdoor views were more desired as an office benefit than onsite cafeterias, fitness centers and fun events like bringing dogs to the office, according to the HR advisory firm Future Workplace.  Also, survey opinions from 1,614 employees in North America found that 47% of workers felt they didn’t get enough natural light and 43% felt gloomy. Why the craving for light? Future Workplace’s survey linked it to the use of smartphones and other electronic devices. People spend up to four hours a day on mobile devices in addition to working in front of computer screens. Outdoor scenery offers a much-needed visual break throughout the day.

How to Let the Light Flow

Install large size windows, skylights, or solar tubes if possible. In southern California, west-facing windows in the hottest months of the year can get uncomfortable so use a lighter type of fabric that allows light to pass through while blocking the heat.  You can also place desks within 20 feet of windows and use workstations with partitions that are translucent or clear. A frame and tile cubicle system like the Friant marks personal space while offering openness.

Office Plants in Your Green Office

Put living “green” into a green office for even greater productivity. A person’s need to connect with other living things that include plants is called biophilia. The design of workspaces is now taking this need into account. One or two well-placed plants create a visual break just like outdoor scenery. In open bench seating, a small potted plant will change what could otherwise be a monotonous view.  Hanging plants like philodendrons can act like a divider. Walls can also be decorated with succulents. But don’t overdo the concept. Too many plants can create a feeling of being crowded.

4 Benefits of Office Plants

  1. Provide color: green comes in various shades and can add a variety of colors when blooming.
  2. Refresh the air: plants look like they’re sitting in one place, but there’s activity going on that you can’t see. They take the pollutants out of the air and microorganisms at the root level do the scrubbing action.
  3. Aid in Wellness: refreshing the air means there are fewer airborne germs and plants can indirectly aid in the fight against colds and flu. They raise the humidity level which can make the office more comfortable for people with dry skin.
  4. Absorb sound: broad, leafy plants can minimize distracting conversations or music. The buffer is minimal, of course, but leaves and stems redirect sound waves.

Image Source: Storyblocks