Benefits of Plants in the Workplace: Part 2

8 mins read

This article discusses the next 3 benefits that can be experienced by introducing plants into the workplace: Cleaner Air, Reduced Noise Levels, and Boosted Creativity.

Imagine your favourite outdoor space. There is nothing quite like the feeling you get when you take that deep breath of fresh air, surrounded by nature and all the life it brings. Well, it turns out there is a name for that. Scientists hypothesize that we have an instinctive tendency to seek connection with nature and other forms of life, which they refer to as “biophilia”. The term biophilia was used by German-born American psychoanalyst Erich Fromm in The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1973), which described biophilia as “the passionate love of life and of all that is alive.” The term was later used by American biologist Edward O. Wilson in his work Biophilia (1984), which proposed that the tendency of humans to focus on and to affiliate with nature and other life-forms has, in part, a genetic basis. Knowing now that connecting with nature is essential for us as humans, you are probably wondering how this relates to the workplace!

Biophilic Design is a term used for indoor spaces that incorporate natural elements in order to boost occupant’s health and well-being. This concept is used in the building industry to help connect the building occupants more closely with nature through the use of natural design elements such as natural lighting, ventilation for airflow, and natural landscape elements and features. However, biophilic design can also be easily applied to workspaces by incorporating living plants! Many studies have shown that simply adding living plants to the workspace can have benefits for both employees and employers. Let’s take a look at the next 3 benefits that can be experienced in the workplace by integrating living plants.

1. Cleaner Air

Oxygen is essential for our survival, and the air quality of the building we work in plays a huge role in our overall health and wellbeing. Cleaner air with less harmful chemicals is better for everyone in the workplace, and will also help in reducing health issues and sick days. One of the main things that plants do for our air is removing carbon dioxide through the process of photosynthesis. In this process, plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air and combine it with water and light to produce energy – that’s a true win-win situation!

Scientists at NASA also discovered in a study in the 1980s that plants are proficient in removing other chemicals from the air such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. Dr. Bill Wolverton, who helped out greatly with air quality studies for NASA, also has early data published telling us that several common species of common indoor plants have the ability to remove 50-75% of the total toxic organic compounds from the air such as hexane, formaldehyde, and benzene. Plants pull air down around their roots when they transpire water vapour from their leaves, which supplies their roots microbes with oxygen. It is these root microbes that filter and convert toxic chemicals in the air into a source of food and energy – what an unbeleafable phenomenon!

2. Reduced Noise Levels

Another great perk of having plants in a workspace, which is rarely thought about, is their ability to reduce noise levels! Open-concept office spaces are currently dominating the workforce, and noise levels can be one of the number one distractions for employees. While the noise distractions are not always noticed by employees, for the ones that do, helping to solve this with plants is likely to increase their productivity. Having plants in the workplace can change the acoustics of the space by reducing the amount of time sound reverberates within the space. The plants act as insulation absorbents, where the sound level in the room is decreased by reducing the reflections of sound waves that ricochet off the surfaces around the room. This is especially true if your workspace has hard surfaces such as exposed concrete walls or stone floors, as they have less capability to absorb the noise. The best way to help out with noise reduction is to place large plants around the edges and corners of a space.

For a more deep-rooted look into the effectiveness of using plants to reduce noise levels, check out pages 17-19 of this paper presented at the “Plants for People” symposium in 1995, written by P. Costa, C.Eng. and Prof. R.W. James from South Bank University, Borough Road, London.

3. Boosted Creativity

Having a creative block is definitely not good for work or business! Whether we are stuck on the same task for too long, or struggling to think up fresh ideas, indoor office plants can provide that spark of inspiration we need for new ideas to bloom. Leafy buddies with vibrant smells and bright colours can be the key to attaining that positive impact on creativity. Stopping to smell the roses now has a whole new meaning to it! Taking the time to smell the flowers can literally help to pull you out of a slump and get the creative juices flowing once more.

This concept is largely supported by the Attention Restoration Theory (ART), which was developed by Stephen and Rachel Kaplan in the late 1980s and early 1990s. ART hypothesizes that nature has the capacity to renew attention after exerting mental energy, such as after spending sleepless nights preparing for a presentation or working tirelessly on a project or assignment. This theory also shows that people experience the benefits not just from being in nature, but also from looking at scenes of nature.

Take a Leaf of Faith

Who knew plants could bring such great benefits to the workplace?! Cleaning the air, quieting the noise and boosting creativity are just some of the many advantages living plants can provide to your work environment. So, maybe it is time to consider buying some office plants and see the results for yourself! We will leave you with one question to consider: Are you ready to take a leaf of faith?

If you liked this article but the idea of incorporating plants in your office space hasn’t grown on you quite yet, don’t worry. We have even more benefits of plants in the workplace to share in Part 3 in our series on “Benefits of Plants in the Workplace”.

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