Benefits of Indoor Plants

Thinking about adding indoor plants to your office? The benefits of indoor plants and flowers are many, and include the following:

​* Improve Indoor air quality. Research conducted by the Plants and Environmental Quality Group at the University of Technology, Sydney has shown that just 3-8″ potted plants reduced the total Volatile Organic Compounds in a 1500 cubic foot office by 50-70%.

* Almost every material used in office– equipment, wood, plastic and paint, in particular – release volatile organic compounds that, even in very low doses, can lead to headaches, lack of concentration and tiredness. Some, such as benzene, are linked to cancer.

* Greater productivity. Putting plants, and/or art, in any office will improve productivity by 16%, according to Dr. Craig Knight, a psychologist, who has completed studies with more than 2200 office workers since beginning his PhD in 2006 at the University of Exeter. Knight started out evaluating whether productivity improves with “lean” office design – the trend towards clean desks, free from personal effects, papers, plants and family photos. But he found the opposite was true. Comparing people who worked in a “lean office” against those in a space enriched by plants and art, the productivity difference was stark – the “enriched” space increased productivity 16%. Intriguingly, productivity doubled again to 32% when staff were given the autonomy to place the office art and plants where they liked (in consultation with each other).

* Improved sense of well-being and job satisfaction. A study led by Tina Cade, an associate professor of horticulture at Texas State University, and Andrea Dravigne of the San Marcos Nature Center Determined that Workers are happier when offices have plants and windows, a new study found. American office workers spend an average of 52 hours a week at their desks, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, “We pretty much found out that if you had windows and plants or even if you just had plants in your office, you were more satisfied with your job,”. “We thought it was important for offices because a lot of times people are looking for ways to keep employees happy and do all these expensive things like put in a daycare or a workout room. Maybe for less investment they could put in a few plants in strategic places. “The team surveyed 450 office workers in Texas and the Midwest, asking questions about job satisfaction and work environments. They found that people who toiled in offices with plants and window views reported they felt better about their job and the work they performed compared to those in windowless offices without shrubbery around.When asked about their overall life quality, 82 percent of people who work with plants and windows around said they felt “content” or “very happy.” Only 69 percent of those who work with plants but without windows, and 60 percent of those who have windows but no plants, said they felt this way.The group of people who work without plants or windows were the most dissatisfied, with only 58 percent of them saying that overall they were “content” or “very happy.” While no one who works with plants, windows, or both reported they felt “miserable,” 0.8 percent of those who work in offices devoid of either said they were “miserable.”“I was really surprised that having a plant in your office appeared to be more beneficial than having a window in your office,” Cade said. “Everybody says, ‘I need a window!’ but actually it seemed like a plant could be a suitable alternative.”The scientists hope their research may influence employers, architects and urban planners to remember to keep flora around.“Based on what we’ve found, it needs to be considered in planning,” Cade said. “A lot of times these things are seen as luxury items, but this speaks to the importance of trying to keep spaces green, both inside and outside.”

* Reduced stress levels.V irgina Lohr and Caroline H. Pearson-Mims, professors in the Dept. of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Washington State University conducted a study to identify the benefits of plants in an office environment. The venue for the study was a computer lab and the experiment measured stress levels in people using computers. Subjects were randomly assigned to be tested in the computer lab when plants were absent or when they were present. In the lab environment where interior plants were present, the plants were placed around the sides of the room. The study monitored subjects’ blood pressure and emotions while they performed a slightly stressful computer task that measured reaction times in response to seeing and decoding the shape of a simple object on the screen. When plants were added to the lab, the subjects were more productive (12% quicker reactions on the computer task) and less stressed (systolic blood pressure lower). They also reported feeling more attentive when the plants were present.

* Reduction in sick days. University professor Tove Fjeld in Oslo, Norway, studies have shown that plants improve employee health in offices, schools and hospitals. Plants were included or not in offices during various periods for employees. When plants were present, ailments such as fatigue, headache, sore throat, coughs, and dry skin were all reduced. The mean reduction of 12 ailments with plants present, compared to without, was 23 percent. U.S. researchers Fisk and Rosenfeld of the Berkeley National Laboratory have quantified this into a $58 billion annual savings from sick-building illness with the use of plants, 40 percent of all sick days related to poor indoor air quality in their study. In addition, they estimate an additional $200 billion could be saved using plants indoors from improvements in worker performance