How to Green Up Your Workspace

workspace productivity

Have you ever noticed that you feel different when surrounded by nature or when there are plants nearby? New research conducted by the University of Exeter shows that employees are happier and up to 15 percent more productive in work environments with plants than in environments without any greenery.

Green Is Good for Productivity

Academics from the University of Exeter, the University of Queensland, Australia, and the University of Groningen in the Netherlands carried out a long-term experiment comparing employees in two large commercial offices in the UK and the Netherlands. They monitored one office with plants and one without plants and measured employees’ perceptions of air quality, workplace satisfaction, concentration and productivity levels. The results show significant increases in all three areas of employee perception in the work environment with plants and a 15 percent increase in productivity. Researchers believe that the plants help employees to be more physically, cognitively and emotionally involved in their work.

Furthermore, rooms with plants have 50 to 60 percent less bacteria, mold and toxins because the plants’ leaves and soil absorb the unhealthy elements from the air, explains the University of Vermont. This means that plants can contribute an overall value to employees’ mental and physical health. A study conducted in Norway found that employees also complained less about headaches, fatigue, sore throats and coughs when plants were around.

Types of Plants and Flowers for the Office

Plants that are easy to grow in an office include pothos, philodendrons, spider plants and snake plants (also known as mother-in-law’s tongue). These plants work well because they all grow well in low light levels and don’t need frequent watering. Some plants that help remove toxins like formaldehyde from the air include bamboo palms, peace lily, areca palms and corn plants. Other common plants that are attractive and easy to grow include English ivy, Boston ferns and rubber plants. An option for employers who don’t want to maintain live plants is to order cut flowers regularly for common areas like reception desks or coffee stations.

How to Green Up Your Workspace

Where plants are placed in your office will have an effect on their growth and health. Put flowering plants and plants that need a lot of light by windows where they will get a lot of sunshine. Consider setting up a window box or table near windows for these plants, and, of course, leave the blinds open. If your office doesn’t have many windows, be sure to get plants that will survive in low light or shade. Plants also should be situated within reach for easy maintenance, but also out of heavy traffic areas where they might get knocked over or be in the way. Common areas such as reception desks, break and lunch rooms and entryways are good locations to add plants and flowers.

To make sure your plants survive, you might want to hire an interior plant maintenance service to install and keep plants watered, trimmed and healthy. Otherwise, establish a committee of employees to handle plant installation and care.