Whilst the majority of people agree that plants may “look nice” in an office and add a little life
Whilst the majority of people agree that plants may “look nice” in an office and add a little life and interest to a workplace, they may not realise the science behind why plants can actually have significant benefits for our health and wellbeing, both physical and mental.
The concept of Biophilic Design is an innovative way of designing places where we live, work and learn. It is a design philosophy that encourages the incorporation of nature into the design of the built environment. And it is based on the principle that contact and exposure to nature is a basic human need, as opposed to a cultural amenity or an individual preference.
Whilst this is not a new idea, our cities and offices have often been designed in a way that alienates us from nature. Including plants in the design of our workplaces can have a positive impact on happiness, creativity and productivity, which is why we’re predicting that plants will be an even bigger trend in office design this year.
Boosts aesthetic value
While open-plan workplaces are generally the most common office layout, there is a danger that they may become too uniform and sterile. One of the most obvious benefits of office plants is that they look good, adding points of visual interest. Working in a visually stimulating environment, rather than a sparse one, will help employees foster creativity.
Reduces stress levels
Spending time outdoors is important for our mental health but, with a 9-5 office job (and British weather to overcome), it can be difficult to find time to spend outside. Incorporating plants into your workspace is one way you can reconnect with nature and bring the outdoor world inside. One study found that daily interaction with plants helps to reduce psychological and physiological stress.
Creates a quieter environment
The acoustics in an open-plan office can lead to a high volume of noise and lack of privacy for confidential conversations. Plants help to absorb excess noise and can also help to create different ‘zones’, where employees can escape to a quieter part of the office if they need to concentrate.
A number of studies have shown that incorporating plants into workplace design can also have a positive effect on perceived productivity. The 2015 Human Spaces report, which studied 7,600 offices workers in 16 countries, found that nearly two-thirds (58%) of workers have no live plants in their workspaces. Those whose environments incorporated natural elements reported a 15% higher wellbeing score and a 6% higher productivity score than employees whose offices didn’t include such elements.
Having plants in the office can help you create a clean working environment. Indoor air can become polluted and stale (photocopiers, printers and even opening a window if you’re based in the city), but plants remove some of these toxins. Clean air will also help to reduce employee sickness as people will be working in a healthier environment.
Green-certified offices lead to a 26% boost in cognition, and 30% fewer sickness-related absences among employees.
An important trend for 2019 will be ‘experience-driven’ workplaces. With that in mind, you can use office plants to get experimental in your workplace. Portable living green walls are a great way to create an immersive office experience, as well as providing visually appealing ‘separators’ to break up an open-plan office.
If you’re looking for office plants that benefit wellbeing but are easy to look after, spider plants and peace lilies are two great options. They thrive in all kinds of environments, add peaceful serenity to the environment, and can help to remove toxins from the environment.
However you choose to go about it, plants are a simple and effective way to optimise your office space and improve workplace wellbeing.
WorkWell is our dedicated workplace wellbeing service which combines our knowledge of workplace trends and occupational health and wellbeing. Discover how we can help you to create a positive change in your office.