5 reasons why you need plants in your (home) office.
Apple’s Californian headquarters, named ‘Apple Park’, has over 9,000 trees on site, and Amazon’s ‘The Spheres’ in Seattle has around 40,000 plants from over 30 countries. Whilst a part of these colossal examples of biophilic design (design which aims to increase connectivity to nature) is to do with creating beautiful, pioneering spaces, it’s equally to do with the scientific benefits of having plants in the workplace. From boosting creativity and productivity to reducing stress and fatigue, people and businesses are waking up to the fact that having nature around the office is not just good for looking pretty, but it has dramatic benefits on performance. And as unfamiliar remote working setups are integrated into more and more businesses’ post-pandemic plans, optimizing your own workspace is crucial. So, here are five reasons, and a few green suggestions, why you need plants in the (home) office.
1. Alleviate stress
Stress is a familiar foe being an entrepreneur but having a few plants near you whilst you strive forwards can help a lot. In a recent study in Japan, researchers gave 63 full-time, office-workers a selection of plants, one of which they could have on their desk. When they felt fatigued, they were told to take a three-minute break; looking watering and caring for their plant. The study found that both active involvement (caring for a plant) and passive involvement (simply having a plant on your desk) contributed to measurable reductions in the office-workers stress and anxiety levels. And having small plants both on desks and in communal spaces is economical and accessible; try a few easy to look after Philodendrons or Peace Lilies and see how the smallest green change can boost your workforce.
2. Power productivity
Minimalist, open-plan offices are everywhere. We’re obsessed with lean startups, lean business plans and lean strategies, but allowing that mentality leak into the work environment doesn’t come with the same benefits. Lean workplaces don’t encourage productivity, even if they look modern. But what does increase productivity is plants. One major study on the benefits of plants in the workplace saw a 15% increase in productivity when plants were introduced to the office and when everyone could see a plant from their desk. Would you deny a Swiss Cheese Plant a home in your office if it could return the favour by optimising your performance?
3. Reduce costs
Absenteeism due to poor health means severe costs for a business, especially a newly fledged startup. But presenteeism, when employees are working but not functioning fully because of health reasons, incurs arguably even more. Employees who work whilst ill can see their productivity drop by a third, and collectively presenteeism costs the US businesses $150 billion a year. Healthy workers that show up are essential for your business, and plants can help. Wageningen Environmental Research found that plants could reduce sick days by a fifth and global study on wellbeing and office design showed that those with greenery in the office reported 15% higher levels of well-being.
4. Boost creativity
In an article about the benefits of connecting with nature, National Geographic cited a study that showed people who went backpacking for three days came back with higher levels of creativity and cognitive abilities. Given puzzles to solve that demanded creativity, the hiking group could solve 47% more puzzles than the group who didn’t go on the hike.
Whilst going off for several days in the mountains isn’t accessible for everyone, biophilic design brings some of that connectivity into the workplace. And the same link between increased creativity though connection with nature was echoed in another study, where those who had greenery in their work environment felt 15% more creative. Try ZZ plants, Chinese Evergreens or a Weeping Fig and let your creative juices flow.
5. Reduce fatigue
Running a business always comes with fatigue at some point but allowing it to morph into chronic fatigue is detrimental to you and your business. Decreased productivity, reduced cognitive function, hindered ability to tackle stress as well as links to chronic health conditions can all result from a lack of sleep. And with 30% of employees sleeping less than six hours a night, the physical and economical costs of workplace fatigue are real. But luckily, yet again, plants can help. Researchers found that having plants present in the office led to a 38% reduction in fatigue and in another study, plants had a noticeable effect on relieving attention fatigue when performing demanding tasks. So perhaps a Devil’s Ivy would not only look beautiful in the office, but it might keep you from nodding off at your desk as well.