Is it worth having plants in the office? Here, a medium sized potted plant sits on a table next to a blue watering can. An out of focus office scene is in the background.

Big or small, most business face the same key issues. How do I increase productivity? How do I decrease downtime?

And if you’re like us at GoGet, you’re also asking questions about the sustainability of your operation. How can I reduce my office’s carbon footprint? How can I project sustainability to my clients?

The good news is you can get the first without compromising the second. This is the first in a series of articles on how to increase productivity in your office, while boosting your company’s green credentials

It’s not easy being green. Except it is. With plants.

The best way to look green is to be green. And besides Kermit the Frog themed dress up days (which we recommend) the best way to look green is to get some office greenery.

It makes sense anecdotally. Over the last few decades, most industries have moved toward open-plan office designs, and some firms have moved away from dedicated desks altogether. As a result, offices have tended towards being stark and uncomfortable places.

So is a reminder of the beauty of the outside world an inspiration or a distraction?

Green, the colour of productivity! (well, it should be)

It ends up plants in the office results in increased output and well-being. Research consistently finds adding plants to the workplace decreases stress and increases productivity.

A UK study found bringing plants into the workplace increased productivity by 15%. Meanwhile, a US study found 10% of employee sick days could be explained by a lack of nature and natural light in the office.

Just being able to see nature has proven impacts too. In an analysis of 10 UK studies, every paper found greenery had a positive effect on mood. It also found being around nature gave a big live to self-esteem, especially in young people.

A small Buddha statue holds a GoGet smart card between two green office plants. An out of focus office scene is in the background.

Office Plants and Fresh Air

So, plants produce a boost in mood and productivity. But they’re also responsible for jacking up the quality of the air (which yes, may be part of the other benefits). Plants are natural air filters, removing carbon dioxide and releasing pure oxygen.

But plants can also filter out other nasties. Synthetic office furnishings are responsible for releasing a slew of different chemicals into the air, including benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde.

A peace lily sits on a white table inside. There is a white brick wall and a white chair in the background. The lily looks like it could be an office plants.A NASA study found indoor plants were highly effective in filtering offices of these chemicals. This resulted in cleaner air, less irritants in the environment, and more settled employees.

Researchers recommend specific plants to consider for their look, hardiness, and hypoallergenic properties. Options include Bamboo Palm, Devil’s Ivy, Kentia Palm, Mother-in-law’s tongue, or the Peace Lily (pictured).

The Growth of Green Buildings (figuratively and literally)

Though it might be beyond your ability to increase the green rating of your entire building, it’s worth mentioning the impact of green buildings on employees.

Thanks to environmental ratings groups, such as the Green Building Council of Australia, developers are opting to build more sustainable complexes. These buildings use 66% less electricity, produce 62% less carbon emissions, and consume 51% less potable water than the average building.

But the benefits flow on to people working there too. A series of Harvard studies found working in a green building increased cognition by a massive 26%, reduced sick days by 30%, and increased sleep quality by 6%. Check out the video from that study below.

Office Plants and the Green Revolution

So what should you make of these numbers? Well our suggestion is pretty clear – get some green on your team! It’s not a massive investment, and even if you get just a fraction of some of the gains the research says you might, it’d be a very worthwhile experiment.

 

Stay tuned for more articles from this series. We’ll be sharing them on LinkedIn and Twitter – subscribe to those feeds to get the links as they’re released!