Employees may put in extra hours, work weekends, and take on more responsibilities in hopes of climbing up the corporate ladder to get a promotion. However, the presence of a houseplant on a work desk could boost those chances that could open doors for job opportunities. Office plants in the workspace may improve staff productivity and staff well-being by 50 percent, increasing the possibility of a promotion, according to a study.
Plants no longer serve as just aesthetic appeal and comfort, they can also enhance well-being and a person’s overall health. The presence of plants have a calming influence producing a friendly, breathing environment conducive to a positive workspace. Contrary to popular belief, indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air, having significant health consequences, says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). High carbon dioxide levels in an indoor workspace can cause drowsiness, headaches, and even affect concentration. However, through the process of photosynthesis, office plants can absorb the carbon dioxide and release oxygen reducing air pollution, stress, and a short attention span.
At the annual Chelsea Flower Show in the UK, the Identity Realization research group at the University of Exeter in collaboration with Indoor Garden Design, conducted a study to measure plants’ effects on creativity, happiness, and productivity of people across different types of business spaces. The researchers underwent 90 experiments in four differently designed work environments across the span of a week involving a total of 350 participants. The volunteers were asked to intervene in the arranging workspace so that it included plants.
The series of experiments conducted proved the presence of plants and art can not only improve psychological and business performance, but also negate the effects of a controlled, lean office, or consistently inferior workspace. The employees’ design decisions were found to improve creativity, productivity and overall well-being. In general, the researchers found houseplants at work aided concentration, boosted productivity, and staff well-being by 47 percent. When the staff was allowed to make design decisions with an office plant, creativity increased by 45 percent and productivity by 38 percent, the Daily Mail reports.
“The results from the Chelsea Flower Show experiment indicate that plants, in a well-designed and personalized office environment can boost business effectiveness through improved staff productivity and creativity,” said Dr. Craig Knight, psychologist at the University of Exeter, in the news release. “This gives company managers a real incentive to share control of office space with their staff and create meaningful, less didactic, and more grown-up space.”
The findings were revealed during the National Plants at Work Week as a means to raise awareness of the need for plants at work. The presence of the little green friend on a work desk is especially ideal during the winter and summer months due to extreme weather conditions outside that prompt the use of a central heating or air system. According to Save As, the recommended humidity range for human health and comfort is anywhere between 30 and 60 percent. Plants can help employees feel more comfortable contributing to optimal levels of humidity.
Ian Drummond, creative director of Indoor Garden Design emphasizes the importance of plants in the workspace. “So much of what we do is about putting living nature into offices — the health benefit of plants is so important in the workspace,” he said in the news release.
In a similar study by a Texas A&M University research team, both women and men were found to experience an increase in innovative thinking, creative performance and problem solving with the presence of plants and flowers in the workplace. The men generated 15 percent more ideas while women came up with more creative solutions to problem. "To businesses, it should be equally as important to understand what features can improve performance at work and make employees more productive,” said Dr. Roger Ulrich, researcher of the study and Behavioral Scientist, director of the Center for Health Systems and Design, Texas A&M University in College Station.
Plants offer an array of health benefits, especially for those who spend more time indoors. In the office, one to three may suffice to reap the benefits of the creativity and productivity booster.
To learn more about the health benefits of plants, click here.