Introducing plants to an office environment has many benefits for both employees and employers. Those benefits, both physical and psychological are evidenced in numerous scientific studies. The cost savings are significant enough for any cost conscious business owner to sit up and take notice.
Here are just a few of the benefits of going green in the office:
Introducing plants to your working environment reduces stress. In a study conducted in 2010, significant reductions were recorded where plants were located in the office. Including;
- Tension/Anxiety – 37% reduction
- Depression/Dejection – 58% reduction
- Anger/Hostility – 44% reduction
- Fatigue – 38% reduction
The closing statement of the study reads:
“This study shows that just one plant per work space can provide a very large lift to staff spirits, and so promote wellbeing and performance”
Buildings and office environments appear more calming and simply a nicer place to be when plants are present. They are more interesting, colourful and relaxing.
The effects aren’t just psychological either, physical effects such as lowered blood pressure are also proven benefits of a greener office.
Plants enable us to perceive our surroundings better, we feel more comfortable and this, in turn, reduces stress.
Productivity is known to be improved in an environment were plants are present. Cognitive tasks, concentration and focus are all improved, therefore increasing productivity within the workforce. In numerous studies conducted it has been found that fewer mistakes are made, tasks are completed faster and, in the case of computer workers, productivity increased by about 6%.
The higher level of concentration can be attributed to the plants ability to reduce excess carbon dioxide in the air.
Reduce sickness and absence
Government figures show that more than 130 million days are being lost annually to sickness absence, costing the economy £100 billion a year. Legal & General’s Workplace Wellbeing report, published in November, estimates that sick days cost the average UK business £120,000.
Introducing plants to an office environment has been reported to reduce absenteeism by up to 50%, and reduce minor illness by 30%.
Reducing absence within the business not only maintains productivity, but will help to reduce the cost of absence year on year.
A better environment to work in
Most will agree that an office with plants present is a nicer place to be. As we’re within this environment for a considerable time most days, it’s important that we should be comfortable.
Office plants not only improve office surroundings for employees, they also provide a more welcoming place for clients.
Cleaner air to breathe
By introducing a ratio of 1 plant per 3 employees, air quality can be improved within the office.
CO2 can be reduced by 50% as well as a reduction in the dust, bacteria and mold which would otherwise be inhaled by employees.
A study by Washington State University found that the amount of dust can be reduced by as much as 20% by adding plants to an office space.
There are also man made toxins within an office created by plastics, paint, furniture, carpets, and certain cleaning products that will be reduced significantly by plants.
With correct placement of plants, the need for air con can also be reduced and the air kept at a higher humidity (up to 20%). By reducing the dry air caused by air conditioning and increasing humidity, illnesses such as tickly coughs are much less common.
One lesser known advantage of plants is their ability to reduce ambient noise within an office, as much as 5 decibels. background noise, which could otherwise be distracting, is reduced allowing employees to concentrate on their work.
Even in open offices, plants can be utilised to created personal spaces in which employees can work. Noise and visual distractions are reduced allowing individuals to focus on their work.
In one study, plants were seen to increase creativity by 15%. One theory suggests that plants being present invoke our ancient instincts that there is food nearby (berries, fruit etc) and so we relax, become calmer, are happier and more creative.
You’ll look and feel healthier
It has been found that plants can reduce dry skin by 20%. This means we look healthier as well as feeling better!
The Agricultural University of Oslo, Norway, conducted a study across 51 offices and those that contained plants had a reduction in the following:
- Sore and/or dry throats – 30%
- General fatigue – 20%
- Dry facial skin – 25%
- Coughs – 40%
- Headaches – 30%
Which plants do best in an office environment?
Keeping plants in an office environment requires some forethought due to certain environmental conditions such as air conditioning, periods where the office is empty etc.
Some plants which will thrive include:
- Spider plants
- Rubber plant
- Peace lily
Further reading – ‘The health benefits of office plants’
Author note: Article updated Nov 2017