Is your office looking a little forlorn? The benefits of office plants are legion; they reduce stress, improve wellbeing; reduce work absenteeism and provide a breath of fresh air.
A recent study by Dr. Virginia Lohr of Washington State University found that peppering the office with plants created a more aesthetically pleasing environment for employees, as well as improved the perception of the company by both employees and clients. The addition of plants resulted in a reduction of blood pressure levels and an improvement in stress recovery time. Subjects also displayed significant increases in attentiveness, while their reaction time was 12% faster. This helped to improve concentration and increase productivity.
Interestingly, incorporating plants into a building can have a significant impact on the way in which the building performs.
Plants cool through a process called transpiration and can reduce the internal building temperature by 10 degrees in hot summer months; lowering cooling costs by up to 20%. Transpiration also releases moisture and helps to keep a humidity of between 30-60%; perfect for human comfort levels. Increased humidity helps to reduce dry skin, scratchy eyes and a plethora of respiratory ailments. Wooden floors and furniture also benefit from the improved humidity levels.
Reduces the effects of Sick Building Syndrome
Sick Building Syndrome is caused by poor indoor air quality. Dirty ducting, chemical cleaners and the off-gassing of building materials and furniture work together to make the indoor air quality of buildings three to five times more polluted than outside air. In modern energy efficient buildings where the sealed building envelope reduces circulation, the indoor air can be as much as 10 times more polluted than outdoor air.
Sick Building Syndrome contributes to low productivity and increased sick days as employees suffer from symptoms like lethargy, allergies, respiratory ailments and more. Studies by Dr. Billy C.Wolverton from the Environmental Research Laboratory of John C. Stennis Space Center found that offices with plants contained 50-60% fewer airborne molds and bacteria. He also found that chemicals in the air were absorbed by plants so quickly that the plants could clean office air in as little as two days.
Studies by Tove Fjeld found that plants significantly reduced the symptoms of sick building syndrome, reduced absenteeism by up to 60% and improved employee retention rates.
Her studies discovered that the following Sick Building Syndrome symptoms were significantly reduced:
- Fatigue was reduced by 20%
- Headaches were reduced by 45%
- Sore/dry throat was reduced by 30%
- Cough was reduced by 40%
- Dry facial skin was reduced by 25%
Plants placed strategically around the office are able to absorb sound and act as buffers between work stations, increasing productivity and employee relations. As if that isn’t enough, dust levels are reduced by 20% in offices which contain plants.
Filling your office with plants may be the best career move you can make this year. Increase productivity, retention rates, employee satisfaction and improve health in one fell swoop. You can purchase the plants yourself or commission a landscaping company to take care of the plants for you. Remember that poor light and air-conditioning mean that not all plants will find your office a friendly environment, so swop plants out or purchase plants that are more resilient to these conditions.