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More than half of us believe plants boost workplace productivity…

Submitted by on October 28, 2015 – 6:15 am |

Direct365 logoIf you think that having a minimal office environment is the secret to success then you may have been barking up the wrong tree, as 52% of people feel more productive in an office that has plants, new research by facilities management specialists Direct365 found.

Plants are known to have a positive impact on our wellbeing, and are said to boost productivity levels and create a calmer work environment. Consider how unhappy an animal in a zoo would feel if they lived in a bare enclosure with no plants and greenery – turns out that humans really aren’t that different after all.

Is there any science behind this? Besides making the environment look more pleasant, plants release oxygen into the atmosphere, helping to clear the air and make people feel more relaxed. In addition to this, natural imagery induces a positive state of mind in people, allowing you to tackle the day with an improved outlook.

We contacted Alice Doherty, Academic Lead for MSc Psychology and MSc Ergonomics at the University of Derby Online Learning (UDOL), who explained the situation in more detail:

“Research has shown that contact with nature is associated with increased happiness and wellbeing. It is a human tendency to be attracted towards living things – which may be a result of evolutionary processes: a good affiliation with nature would have implications for survival in the natural environment. Plants also create oxygen so from a purely biological perspective, having living plants around increases the oxygen levels in the air helping people feel more alert and awake.“

Productivity-boosting plants

One of the easiest ways to refresh minds and boost productivity is to have a variety of pot plants around the office.

Dr Stephanie Wilkie, a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Psychology at the University of Sunderland, told us why it’s so important to have plants in a work environment:

“The brain needs ‘downtime’ from the demands of daily life, either in terms of recovery from physiological stress or from the cognitive fatigue that results from long periods completing tasks which require us to focus our attention. When people are exposed to nature, it draws their attention but in a manner that does not require them to focus hard. In doing so, they benefit from a reduction in stress and/or fatigue through a process called ‘restoration’ whereby the brain has time to restore its resources for future tasks.” 

As a rule of thumb, every desk should be able to see a plant, but not every desk should have one on it. The research isn’t suggesting that you should recreate Jumanji in your workspace, it is simply encouraging you to create a space where your employees can feel at home.

Here are a few of the plants that can survive effortlessly in your workplace:

Jade – These small plants with flowers require minimal watering, so they are perfect plants that live carefree in the office over the weekend.

Chinese Evergreen – Can survive in low light and cleans the air.

Snake plant – The dark green and yellow lines of this plant naturally attract the eye, while a line of them will be tall enough to make a natural partition to reduce distractions.

Spider plant – One of the easiest plants to grow indoors.

Weeping fig – Can extract pollutants from the atmosphere, such as formaldehyde and benzene, helping to create a cleaner, healthier space.

Aloe – These are small enough to fit on every desk, plus they have air filtering qualities much like the weeping fig and the sap inside can be used to treat burns and cuts. No more paper cuts!

However, don’t worry too much if you can’t fill your entire office with nature.

“There is mixed evidence regarding the effect of presence of plants in indoor environments on mood. There is strong support for the benefits of having a window view across a range of settings, particularly when this view includes natural features. The benefits of a ‘micro-restorative’ experience, or a brief break from our activities are clear. It could be that a short time spent looking out of the window is enough to provide this benefit,” Stephanie Wilkie added.

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