Your office environment has a big impact on your productivity, stress levels, and creativity.
If you’ve decided to give your office a bit of a revamp, you may have considered painting the walls a different colour, investing in some ergonomic office furniture, and putting some inspiring artwork on display. But have you thought about bringing some of the outdoors indoors with some indoor plants for the office?
The benefits of indoor plants are well documented and have been proven in several scientific studies. Making a small investment in some indoor desk plants could have a huge impact on your wellbeing and even the success of your business.
Wondering just how exactly a houseplant can change your life so much? You’d be surprised.
There have been several studies into the effects of plants on stress levels in the workplace.
A study carried out by the New University of Technology Sydney (UTS) found that staff with plants placed in their office spaces reported a 30-60% reduction in stress levels over the course of three months. Interestingly, even adding just one plant to the office was enough to have a huge impact on employee mood and stress levels.
As well as the effect on stress levels, the 40 participants in the study reported a reduction in other negative emotions such as anxiety, depression, and anger.
So why exactly do plants have such a positive effect on our mental health? Looking at greenery and nature helps us to feel calm. Scientists believe that all humans naturally have biophilia – an instinctive love and need to connect with nature.
People who live in cities and spend all day working indoors may experience stress simple due to a lack of connection with plants and the earth. But something as simple as a single desk plant can provide that in-built need to connect with nature, promoting positive feelings and reducing levels of stress hormones.
Australians spend 90% of their time indoors. Indoor air pollution caused by cleaning products, air fresheners, perfumes, mould, dust, and secondhand smoke can trigger or exacerbate health problems such as asthma, bronchitis, headaches, and even cancer, costing the economy as much as $12 billion per year.
Reducing the use of toxic cleaning products and increasing ventilation are two obvious ways to reduce pollutants and increase the quality of the air inside your office building.
Another easy change to make is to keep living plants in your workspace. During the day, plants absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), to use in a process called photosynthesis. Indoor plants have been shown to reduce CO2 levels by as much as 10% in air conditioned offices, and up to 25% in those without air conditioning. High levels of CO2 can cause headaches, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating.
A study by NASA showed that some plants such as Bamboo Palms, Peace Lily, and Spider Plants also filter other toxic compounds such as formaldehyde, ammonia, and benzene, as well as airborne dust and mould.
As a knock-on effect of better air quality and a low-stress environment, offices with living plants often report lower sickness and staff absence rates.
Employees may take time off work for both physical and mental health reasons, so it’s logical that if you can improve the overall health and wellbeing of your employees, you’ll find they’re not calling in sick as often. The Green Building Council of Australia reported that indoor plants can reduce sick-leave absences by as much as 60%.
The natural world has been inspiring creativity for thousands of years, but you don’t need to hike to the top of a mountain to seek out dramatic landscapes, if you feel a lack of inspiration.
An eight-month study conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University found that participants working in an office with plants and fresh flowers generated up to 15% more ideas, formulated more creative solutions to problems, and demonstrated more innovative thinking than those in offices with abstract sculpture or no decorative elements.
Researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK also found that employees making design decisions in a workplace with office plants increased their creativity by as much as 15%.
The aforementioned University of Exeter study also demonstrated that office plants can increase productivity by 38%. Another global study of over 7,500 employees – the Human Spaces Report found that workers in offices with greenery and natural sunlight were 6% more productive.
This productivity can be attributed to a few factors. Plants help to improve physical and mental health by cleaning the air and helping to create a relaxing, stress-free environment. As you’ll know if you’ve ever tried to work when you’re coming down with the flu or distracted by a stressful situation, it’s almost impossible to reach optimal productivity levels when you’re not healthy or in the right mental space.
Filling your office space with green living plants not only makes it more attractive for you and your employees, but it also gives a better impression to clients too.
As well as the numerous health and wellbeing benefits, plants are a naturally attractive decorative element that can add the finishing touch to your office décor and make it more visually appealing.
Finally, plants can be used for purely practical purposes, to act as a visual barrier between work zones, or placed on a windowsill to reduce the amount of light coming in from a too-bright window at certain times of day.
A strategically positioned office plant can be used to hide a bundle of unattractive cabling or fill the space in a weird alcove or a bookcase that’s conspicuously empty.
Plants dotted around an open office will help to dampen sound too, making it easier for your employees to concentrate and to ignore the distractions of office conversations and ringing telephones.