Do plants increase workplace productivity?

Everybody wants to increase productivity in the workplace. You’ve probably tried all sorts of tricks to being more productive, from the Pomodoro technique to playing classical music. But have you tried something as simple as putting a plant on your desk?

There’s a huge amount of evidence that bringing nature into the office in the form of living plants can increase workplace efficiency and boost productivity. It may sound like a wild claim, but this theory is backed up by science. So what do plants do? Let’s take a look at the evidence.

“Green” Offices Improve Cognitive Function and Creativity

There have been several studies into the effects of introducing greenery into workspaces.

A recent study by leading health and building experts found that cognitive function doubled for participants in an “enhanced green environment”. In particular, crisis response, information use, and strategy scores increased dramatically.

Enhanced green buildings are classed as those with high levels of ventilation, low carbon dioxide levels, and low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). While plants don’t have any effect on the ventilation of a building, studies by NASA and other bodies have shown that they’re effective at reducing levels of CO2 and VOCs in the air.

An Exeter University study also found that employees working in an office with plants were 15% more productive than their peers in offices with no plants.

And it seems that employees working in a green office are not only more productive but they have better problem solving skills and are more creative too. Last year Amazon opened three huge dome greenhouses at their Seattle headquarters to give employees more access to nature and to inspire creativity.

Plants Promote Relaxation and Reduce Stress

Stressed and unhappy employees are unlikely to reach optimal levels of productivity. A global study of over 22,000 employees found that employees with high stress levels were less productive and less engaged at work.

So how to increase productivity and reduce stress levels in the workplace? It could be as simple as adding a few plants to the office.

Studies have shown that the addition of greenery in the office can be effective at reducing stress and negative feelings by as much as 30-60%.

Most of us have had the relaxing experience of gazing out at the ocean or looking down from a mountain and feeling our stress melt away. Well it turns out; we don’t actually have to be out in nature to benefit from its stress-relieving effects.

Just touching, smelling, and looking at a houseplant can help to reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, and promote positive feelings.

Plants can also help you to sleep better, which can also reduce stress and help to boost your office productivity. The scents of some plants such as jasmine, valerian, and lavender are known for their calming and sedative qualities.

Plants in the Office Improve Air Quality

Poor air quality and indoor pollution are thought to be some of the major contributing factors to “sick building syndrome”. People suffering from this condition will have symptoms such as tiredness, headaches, coughing, itchy eyes, and inability to concentrate, and will experience this only when in a particular building. The condition improves after leaving the building.

As you might imagine, working in an office that has such an effect on its employees can have a terrible health impact. Even if an office doesn’t meet the definition of a “sick building”, poor air quality can still cause major health problems for people with allergies or asthma.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that poor air quality in the workplace results in an increased rate of staff sick leave. Employees off work due to sickness means lost work hours and reduced productivity as a result.

By introducing air-purifying plants to the office, you can improve the quality of the air and help to keep your employees healthy. Some good office plants for cleaning the air include Rubber Plants, Spider Plants, Weeping Figs, Peace Lilies, Bamboo Palm, Aloe Vera, and Snake Plant/Mother-in-Law’s Tongue.

For more advice on the best office plants in Australia and how you can use plants to increase productivity in the workplace, get in touch with The Plant Man for office plant hire in Sydney.