Take a look around you. See any plants?
If you do, you likely experience lower stress, less illness, and a lower absentee rate than your counterparts in plant-free offices. You also likely enjoy more productivity, inspiration, and creativity as well as more motivation for your workplace.
Don’t believe that a little rubber tree plant in the corner can do all that? Not only is it true, but there are studies to prove it.
Proven by science
Digging into plants effects on our moods, productivity, and health goes way back. From 1995 to 1996, a Norwegian research team split up a group of 60 office workers. Half the group worked in a plant-free environment while the other half spent their days in a room with full planter on the window sill and large floor plants positioned near desks. Mid-way through the year, the groups switched. At the end of the year, the study concluded that when plants were in the space, fatigue reduced by 30%, coughs decreased by 37%, and dry, flushed skin fell by 23%. What made it happen? The study pointed to improved air quality, as the plants literally cleaned the air.
More recent research, such as a 2010 study by Washington State University’s Dr. Virginia Lohr, have produced similar findings. Participants working in an office with plants were 12% more productive than their counterparts in plant-less spaces. How does that work? Researchers point to the emotional value of a pleasing environment.
That same year, Australia’s Nursery & Garden Industry conducted a similar study over a three-month period and found plant life promoted well-being and, potentially, improved performance. Specifically, people working in an office with plants showed a 30 – 60% reduction in stress and negative feelings.
Coming to an office near you
Before you start justifying the ‘greenhouse’ line item in your company budget, note that you don’t have to go too wild to make an impact. The Nursery & Garden Industry study found that even adding one plant to a space can make a difference. For maximum air quality improvement, researchers recommend one plant per every three employees.
As for which plants to get, any plant will yield a benefit. But plants that tend to thrive best in an office environment include aloe, cactus, succulents, peace lilies, and the ever-popular rubber tree plant.