As we inch into Spring and the budding foliage brings greater life to the streets, HRM looks at the benefits of giving your workplace a “green-over”.
Indoor plants liven up the look of a workspace, but they are much more than just decor. Not only do they reduce carbon dioxide levels, boost oxygen and balance the bacteria present in an indoor space, studies show they can also lift mood and creativity. And, as reported on The Conversation, they make employees more productive.
They combat nasty indoor pollutants
Did you know that your work-place is full of bacteria and chemicals, and that this has nothing to do with cleanliness? As recently reported in the Huffington Post, chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene and trichloroethylene are floating around due to the presence of common materials such as plastics, paints and carpet. Unsurprisingly, impurities in the air are not great for your health, and have been linked to headaches and eye irritation. A study by NASA showed that having a few plants indoors is the best way to filter the air and reduce the level of pollutants.
They reduce workplace illness
As well as cleaning our air, plants also increase humidity, which prevents the flu virus from spreading. In addition, as more Australians continue to live and work in cities, we are exposed to less environmental bacteria which weakens our immune systems. Having plants in your workspace increases the contact with different types of bacteria which in turn boosts immunity.
They make you happy (and more productive)
Humans are said to be inherently “biophilic”, meaning we naturally seek out connections with nature. A study conducted by Washington State University found that having indoor plants can have a positive impact on mood and productivity. Of plants, Researcher Virginia I Lohr says, “they make our surroundings more pleasant, and they make us feel calmer. Interior plants have been associated with reduced stress, increased pain tolerance, and improved productivity in people.” In terms of productivity specifically, the study found that reaction time to tasks was increased by 12 per cent when people were around plants.
There’s even evidence to suggest that just looking at high resolution images of plants can be beneficial. In a recent study talked about on The Conversation, brain scans showed that looking at a picture of a green meadow shifted subjects into a “relaxed mode”.
How to introduce plants to your workplace
When Lendlease moved to Barangaroo in 2016, they introduced a six metre high living wall complete with 500 plants which removes 24 litres of carbon dioxide from the office space every 24 hours. Don’t have the space for a living breathing wall? Here are some other ways plants can be effectively used in the office:
- In reception – plants have both a decorative and calming function which will also make a positive first impression.
- Partitions – plant patricians can be used to divide sections of the office and as cubicle walls.
- Sound barriers – when placed around an open plan office, plants help to muffle loud noise.
- Hanging plants such as Philodendrons or Spider plants don’t take up much space and are low maintenance.
Don’t have a green thumb? There’s always the humble cactus.