Go Green At Work: Health Benefits Of A Workplace Full Of Plants

Go Green At Work Publié le 11 June 2021 Par

Is your workplace feeling stale and lifeless? When you choose to go green at work and add colourful plant life and greenery, it provides many positive benefits for employees and employers alike.

How can you enhance employee productivity, feel better, and improve your mood? Numerous studies have shown that including living plants in office spaces can have numerous positive health effects, ranging from calming the eyes to reducing blood pressure. In a “green” office, it is easier to generate ideas and creatively solve problems. The beauty, aroma, and natural shades of plants help the mind relax and can make people feel happier and more positive. 

A Connection With Nature

The desire of humans to be close with nature has actually been analyzed and studied. There is a theory known as the biophilia hypothesis, popularized by American biologist Edward O. Wilson, who published a book by the same name in 1984. It states that “humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life.”

In simple terms, the theory tries to explain why we feel good deep in forests, at the top of mountains, or out at sea. Considering that our ancient ancestors had a wide understanding of the natural world around them which was necessary for survival, this connection has a deep psychological and evolutionary character. 

There have been multiple studies supporting the benefits when employees go green at work. A study by the University of Exeter found that employees who work in a green office are 15% more productive than those who work in a bare office. In another experiment conducted by researchers in Tokyo, subjects were shown 30 pink roses in a glass vase for 4 minutes. It turned out that parasympathetic nervous activity intensified at the moment when a person looked at flowers. Subjects were in a relaxed and open state more often when viewing the roses than compared to non-green control moments. 

This further demonstrates how flowers and other types of greenery can be an effective way to reduce stress and improve the health of office workers. With cases of employee burnout on the rise, it’s important for businesses to do whatever they can to help workers feel relaxed and calm. Even an ordinary potted plant on a desk or near the workspace can have a profound psychological effect on a person.

Flowers and plant life can bring tranquility and a sense of balance, which can be the missing ingredient for rational thinking, creativity, and harmony, an excellent reason to go green at work

Natural Air Filters

When we spend eight hours in the office, we don’t often think about the fact that we lack clean air for a large portion of the day. Office buildings and workplaces without proper ventilation are far too-common.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, lists several common contaminants that can be found in indoor workplaces, including carbon dioxide, dust, asbestos, formaldehyde, toxic vapours, volatile organic compounds, cleaners, solvents, disinfectants, glues, fungi, mould, bacteria and smoke.

One health reason to go green at work is that flowering plants act as natural air filters, absorbing indoor toxins. Additionally, they release moisture, creating a humidity level that exactly matches the recommended range of human comfort of 30-60%.

This also has benefits for commercial property owners and managers, as when the relative humidity is too low, expensive materials such as wood can dry out and become damaged and cracked. When the relative humidity is too high, condensation on windows and exterior walls can lead to structural damage from water and incur significant repair costs.

How Can Plants Improve The Workplace?

Some microcomponents and contaminants almost certainly inhabit every office and workplace, and in higher concentrations than would be found outside. Even the furniture in a traditional office can release emissions from plastics and synthetic components, while the breathing of office inhabitants affects the level of CO2. All of these components can pollute the air, make it harder to breathe and negatively impact the health of employees.

The clean air produced and filtered by plant life, however, has a positive effect on the body’s cardiovascular and nervous systems, therefore helping to create a healthier, happier and more efficient work environment.

Additional Benefits Of Plants In The Office

  • Increased productivity – Heart and brain function is improved mainly because plants reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, making it easier to breathe. Thus, the body and mind can function effectively, allowing for clear and quick thinking so that employees can work at their best.
  • Less absenteeism and illness – With plants in the office, employees are more likely to experience improved health and are less likely to require sick leave. It also reduces the chance that employees will work through an illness, known as absenteeism, and only make themselves sicker. 
  • Good environment – Greenery in the office creates an eco-friendly natural backdrop that can be organized and featured in unique ways. It is also good to arrange greenery in offices where client meetings are held, as it creates a welcoming atmosphere. If these places are dark, then you can make use of LED grow lights that mimic sunlight and help your plants thrive. 
  • Air purification – Plants reduce dust, bacteria, and toxins. Depending on the amount of greenery, dust can be dramatically reduced. This means that people with allergies and sensitivities will be less likely to have an unpleasant reaction and experience congestion and other unpleasant symptoms. In addition, it is a good idea to add plants along to a workplace with the air conditioners, as the latter will make the air dry, while the former will add a little moisture. This increases comfort for everyone.
  • Less noise. Plants can help to absorb sounds that cause distractions and make for an aggravating workplace. Certain plants have been found to reduce internal noise by as much as 5 decibels.

What Plants Are Best For The Office?

There are a wide variety of plants that can be placed in your office when you decide to go green at work. Some of the most popular green choices include colourful and aromatic flowers, small trees and shrubs, aloe plants and even cactus plants for those who want something low maintenance. 

In workspaces with enough space, employees can even work together to set up miniature gardens and green spaces using custom greenhouse tents that control temperature, humidity, and lighting inside. Employees should be free to customize the plant life in their own workspace, as long as it does not interfere with the health of coworkers due to allergies and sensitivities.

Deciding to go green at work is a low cost and effective way to increase employee happiness and create a more stimulating and productive work environment. 

Conclusion

Forget about offices that are stale and lifeless. People have an innate desire to connect with nature, and businesses should find ways to encourage this by incorporating plant life into the workplace. Plants evoke joyful emotions, enhance a sense of life satisfaction and positively affect our well-being. By choosing to go green at work, employees will enjoy cleaner air, reduced negative emotions, and an all-around more positive and enjoyable work environment.