The office is a challenging setting. With staff spending so long in the same rooms day-in, day-out, it is vital that this environment integrates comfort and productivity.
One of the most simple and cost-effective ways to boost your workforce’s morale and productivity is to bring plants into the office. With an incredible ability to not just make a room look more attractive, but make people feel happier, healthier, and more energetic, plants are perfect for getting the best out of your staff.
1. A better working environment
Despite people’s natural attraction to nature, modern life increasingly demands people spend more and more time indoors. Research by the University of Exeter suggests that while offices with a modern, minimalist design look stylish, they have a negative impact on workers who feel disconnected from their environment. Simply adding plants to sparse rooms like this can have a dramatic impact.
If plants are strategically placed so that everybody can see them from their workstation, it is likely that engagement, concentration, and happiness will improve because the working environment has become more comfortable and welcoming.
2. Increased productivity
The inclusion of plants in the office is thought to deliver a significant boost to focus and concentration. Across a company’s workforce, even a slight improvement per person could greatly help towards increasing well-being and productivity.
The research has revealed that simply adding plants to a previously sparse area saw productivity increase by 15 per cent – a remarkable increase considering the contemporary preference for “lean” i.e. minimalist workspaces.
As well as making the office look great, plants can also help to absorb noise – a great benefit towards reducing distractions in a busy open plan office. They can also break up the harsh straight lines of modernist architecture, making the visual environment more interesting. Perhaps they might even subconsciously take us back to our prehistoric days roaming the forests of Africa: our natural habitat.
3. Better health
The benefit of plants in the workplace is far more than aesthetic. Along with making the environment more visually appealing, a selection of plants can help to improve air quality, reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.
Modern buildings are increasingly designed with the intention of being more energy efficient and keeping the outside and inside separate. However, while this saves on heating bills, it means the toxins in the room are not necessarily escaping.
However, fumes from modern furnishings, paint and electronic equipment which otherwise would be inhaled, can also be absorbed by plants, making the air dramatically cleaner.
Consequently, offices with plants may be more likely to note a reduced rate of absence from minor illnesses such as coughs and colds as a result.
4. Reduced stress
A study from the Bavarian State Ministry of Nourishment, Agriculture and Forestry revealed that workers in office environments with plants feel less stressed while at work. This is likely to be the result of feeling more comfortable in a cared for environment, leading to a happier workforce, and therefore better output and happy bosses.
For offices located in cities, the chance of having a green and scenic view from the window may be slim, so bringing plants into the office is a very quick and easy way to make the indoors a more welcoming environment. Without a “grass is greener” feeling, workers are likely to feel more content and relaxed in the office, rather than clock watching.
With a combination of cleaner air, an improved working environment and better health, it is likely that employers will also notice a significant reduction in stress among their workforce.
5. A strong first impression
Plants are not only beneficial for staff. Guests and clients will also appreciate walking into meeting rooms and receptions that have welcoming greenery on display.
The initial perception of a smart, modern office can be dramatically boosted if coupled with well-cared for plants, as their natural colours will contrast beautifully with minimalist decoration. The inclusion of plants is sure to give off the impression of success as well as care and attention to detail within your business.
Filling an office with plants could prove expensive because they will need maintaining. The regular care and attention required could prove to be time consuming even if the benefits are very attractive.
And as much as vibrant, healthy plants can boost the working environment, plants that are not kept in the best condition can instead have a negative effect, making it vital to maintain their condition and commit to the annual cost.
The only thing worse than dying plants would be to remove them entirely. A time-saving and practical option could be to use, for example, artificial plants in the office and hanging baskets or artificial palms in the reception. This could be instead of, or as a supplement to, using natural plants, especially if a plant is intended for a location that does not receive much sunlight or fresh air e.g. basements or windowless rooms.
Requiring no maintenance, the longevity of artificial plants will keep them looking vibrant long after real plants have gone out of season, or their lifespan has reached a natural end. Not being subject to seasons and maintenance costs, also gives the flexibility to add additional colour and energy to a room rather than sticking with shades of green.
As research continues to look at the links between plants, health, and wellbeing, it is likely that the benefits of adding plants to the office environment will only increase with time.