Professional Fitness for the 21st Century

A touch of green: Why Employers should consider office plant life an integral party of their corporate wellbeing strategy…

A touch of green: Why Employers should consider office plant life an integral party of their corporate wellbeing strategy…

As humans have evolved, and large green spaces taken up by large cities, we are exposed to less and less plant life. Genetically we are hard-wired to live in open green expanses, yet many of us confine ourselves to the urban environment which is often lacking in most types of plant life. A token tree at a met stop is often the best we can hope for. Similarly our offices are often arrangements of wood, plastic, metal and carpet. Very little plant life to speak of.

Most people would play down the role of the humble office plant in promoting workplace wellbeing. This article will outline the reasons more employers should be looking at in-office plant life as an integral part of their workplace wellbeing strategy. It will outline the impacts it has on mental health, physical health (Field, 2002) and all round productivity – the 3 pillars of a happy, healthy working environment!

A study (Craig, et al. 2010) conducted to test the effects of plant life on employee wellbeing, produced some very interesting results, particularly in the area of stress reduction. The test group found that plant life reduced anxiety and tension by 37%, depression by 58%, anger and hostility by 44% and fatigue by 38%. Just one plant per work space provided a very large lift to staff spirits and so promoting wellbeing (Burchett, et al. 2010), job satisfaction (Dravigne, et al. 2008) and productivity (Lohr, et al. 1996, Malik, 2014 and Daily mail Reporter, 2014).


results plant

Figure 1 – results of study from (Craig, et al. 2010)

The effects on air quality were also to be noted (Burchet, et al. 2009). A ratio of 1 plant per 3 employees reduced CO2 by up to 50% as well as a reduction in dust, bacteria and mould which would otherwise be inhaled by the employees. Toxins from plastics, paint, furniture and carpet were also significantly reduced, which can reduce what Plantculture.com, (2016) calls ‘Sick Building Syndrome.’ A ‘…serious and expensive liability…’ The issue is that energy efficient, sealed buildings have less exchange of fresh outdoor air for stale indoor air, thus causing the higher concentrations of toxic chemicals in indoor environments.

In terms of performance in general, Absenteeism reduced by 50% and minor illnesses by 30%. This in conjunction with a 15% increase in creativity means the potential for plants to increase the productive output of an office should not be overlooked. Dr Chris Knight from Exeter University and his fellow psychologists, who have been studying the issue for 10 years, concluded that employees were 15% more productive when “lean” workplaces are filled with just a few houseplants, as employees who actively engage with their surroundings are better workers (Malik, 2014).

So when one considers the impacts of plant life in the office as stated above, the question should really be can you afford to not have pant life in your office. The outcome can only be positive. There are a number of companies out there that offer in office plant life. One of note is Oasis Interior Landscaping who have a number of case studies that I would encourage any employer to look at if they are serious about increasing the amount of plant life in their office!

References:

Barry (2013) CIPHR Blog posted 6th August 2013 ‘8 Benefits of Plants in the office’ found at – http://www.ciphr.com/blog/plants-in-the-office/ on 08.03.2017 at 17.34

Burchett MD, Torpy F and Brennan J, (2009), Towards Improving Indoor Air Quality With Potted -Plants A Multifactorial Investigation, Final Report to Horticulture Australia Ltd.

Burchett MD, Torpy F, Brennan J and Craig A, (2010), Greening the Great Indoors for Human Health and Wellbeing, Final Report to Horticulture Australia Ltd.

Craig et al. (2010) ‘The positive effects of office plants’ The Nursery Papers, Issue Number 6, July 2010  http://www.ngia.com.au/Attachment?Action=Download&Attachment_id=1430

Dravigne A, Waliczek TM, Lineberger RD, Zaljicek JM, (2008), ‘The effect of live plants and window views of green spaces on employee perceptions of job satisfaction’, Hortscience 43, 1, 183-187.  

Fjeld T, (2002), ‘The effects of plants and artificial daylight on the well-being and health of office workers, school children and health-care personnel’, Proceedings of International Plants for People Symposium, Floriade, Amsterdam, NL

Lohr VI, Pearson-Mims CH and Goodwin GK, (1996), ‘Interior plants may improve worker productivity and reduce stress in a windowless environment’ Environmental Horticulture, 14:2, 97-100.

http://www.ambius.com/indoor-plants/office-plants/benefits/index.html

Malik (2014) ‘Plants in Offices increase happiness and productivity’  Found at – https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/aug/31/plants-offices-workers-productive-minimalist-employees

Daily Mail Reporter (2014) ‘How plants in the office workers flourish: Greenery in the workplace can increase production by 15%’ (2014) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2739429/How-plants-office-help-workers-flourish-Greenery-workplace-increase-production-15.html

Plant Culture, Inc. (2016) ‘Why Go Green? Essential FAQs’ Found at http://www.plantcultureinc.com/whygreen.html

 

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