Drowsiness, fatigue, headaches caused by bad air quality in a workplace. Who didn’t come across these problems at least once? Scientists found a simple solution. It doesn’t need to be manufactured nor dosed. It just simply is. All around us. The answer lies in simple plants.
Maybe you haven’t heard of biophilia, yet it may affect you more than you’d think. In essence, biophilia is the positive affinity towards nature. Most of us are naturally attracted to nature and we need to surround ourselves with it (at least once in a while). However, opportunities to satisfy our biophilia are becoming more and more scarce. Especially people living in cities daily find themselves surrounded by a concrete jungle, rather than the green variety.
Most time apart from nature is usually spent at work. In an office, between four walls, surrounded by electronics, furniture, and other people. We can all agree it doesn’t sound like the description of an ideal environment. There’s something missing. Something natural to people, that we can’t do without.
That’s why something called biophilic design is becoming the worldwide trend. Connecting office spaces with elements of nature – plants. Because green offices are healthy offices.
Biophilic design can even be used in an extreme form of entire „green” walls | Source: workdesign.com
Plants have a direct positive influence on the human organism. And not just from a purely medical standpoint. Studies have shown that abundance of vegetation in a workplace can significantly increase employee productivity.
Positive influence of plants in workplaces is no surprising news. A study has been published in 2010 by the University of Technology Sydney. Its findings claim that adding plants to offices had numerous benefits for employees:
37 % lower expressed levels of stress and anxiety,
58 % less cases of depression,
aggression and animosity between employees lowered by nearly a half,
employees expressed fatigue about 33 % less often.
A slightly newer study from 2015 – Human Spaces report – which concerned working environments, has shown however that 58 % of employees (in a sample of 7600 people from 16 countries) don’t have plants in their workplace.
At the same time, every fifth employee stated that plants in the workplace are among their biggest priorities concerning workplace needs. It’s no wonder, since the report claims people with plants in their workplace are 15 % healthier and report 6 % higher productivity.
Another research from 2014, conducted at the University of Exeter in England, also focused on work productivity. Results have shown that in a regular working environment, a few plants are enough to increase employee productivity by 15 %. One plant per square metre was enough to increase employee results even in basic tests aimed for example at memory.
“The important thing was for everyone to see the plant from their workspace,” says a researcher, Chris Knight. This confirms the fact that greenery in the workplace doesn’t just improve health, but also human psyche.
There are no limits for creativity of plant placement in an office space | Source: www.urbanplanters.co.uk
Research into the effects of plants in work environments is just one facet of the issue and you can always question sample size or methodology applied. There are, however, two concrete benefits that plants offer for sure. Without further discussion.
Plants help clean air. Plants absorb CO2, sunshine, and water and transform them into oxygen and energy‑rich organic compounds, e.g. carbohydrates. In rooms without air conditioning, plants can lower the concentration of carbon dioxide by up to 25 %. And they also remove other compounds like benzene or formaldehyde from the air.
Plants mitigate noise. Sound bounces off of hard surfaces and spreads further. The soft structure of plants and leaves in different angles can absorb some of the ambient noise. Conveniently placed larger plants (e.g. in the corners) can lower noise levels in busy open‑space offices by up to 10 %.
Before choosing plants, consider first:
availability of daylight in the workplace,
possibility of regular watering,
plant size in relation to available space and light obstruction.
Sansevieria. This houseplant isn’t difficult to care for either and is one of the most efficient plants to absorb poisonous substances from the air.
Peace lily. Nearly indestructible plant that will flourish even in dark corners of your office.
Gerbera. Beautiful flower with large, colourful blooms, often used in bouquets, is available also in a planter form. Apart from all the positive effects mentioned in this article, gerberas can also visually brighten office spaces. Just make sure nobody minds the quite powerful aroma of blooming gerberas.
Pothos. It can do without both sunlight and regular watering. Pothos with its large golden-green leaves also looks good in any office.