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Go Green: Increase Productivity by Adding Plants to your Workspace

Incorporating plant life into your office décor has myriad benefits beyond design

We invest a lot of time making our living areas at home as comfortable and as aesthetically pleasing as possible, because we see the value of creating a calming space we can enjoy in a space where we spend so much of our time. Interestingly enough, we often fail to do the same at the workplace.

Perhaps it’s the restrictions of a small space, or a reluctance to invest in an area we look forward to leaving at the end of each day. But the average American will spend over 90,000 hours at work over the course of their lifetime, and many list their job as one of the biggest stressors in their life.

Whether you dwell in the corner office or a cubicle, adding some plant life to your work area is an easy way to pretty up your space while benefitting from some of the unexpected advantages of connecting with nature.

The plus side of plants in the office

Plants feel welcoming and serve a valid purpose as décor pieces, but good feng shui isn’t the only reason to incorporate greenery into your workspace. A few simple touches of green can have a host of benefits.

Better indoor air quality

During an experiment on using swamp plants to eliminate Agent Orange from water samples, environmental scientist Bill Wolverton discovered that growing plants indoors helps eliminate volatile organic compounds (also known as VOCs) from the air.

Plants are capable of absorbing gases through the pores on their leaves, which facilitates the photosynthesis process. However, plants can absorb more than just carbon dioxide. Scientists studying the air-purification capacity of indoor plants have discovered that they can also absorb VOCs such as benzene, formaldehyde, and other gases that are found in plastics, fabrics, pesticides, cleaners, and other substances.

Increased productivity

The presence of plants can also improve focus and lead to an increase of productivity, according to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture. Workers were asked to complete a simple computer-related task in a room full of plants, or in a room without plants. Findings showed that productivity increased by 12 percent in the presence of plants, and participants with plant exposure reported feeling 10 percent more attentive after the task.

Stress reduction

Plants are widely perceived to reduce stress, but a study by environmental psychology student Helen Russell put that theory to the test by asking participants to take a challenging test in a room filled with plants. She then compared their heart rate, blood pressure, and skin conductivity with a control group that took the test in a room without plants.

Her overall findings demonstrated that plants eased stress and helped participants recover from stress more quickly. Any amount of stress reduction at the office could have wide-reaching benefits.

Pick your plant

Plants are a low-cost way to improve your environment and all-around well-being. Incorporate them into your workday by choosing a species that can thrive indoors while providing air-improving, mood-boosting benefits. Some good options to consider include:

  • Spider plant: Thrives in partial light or shade and is resilient enough to withstand infrequent watering.

  • Lemon balm: Fragrant without being overwhelming, and hardy in full sun or full shade.

  • Philodendron: Carries the distinction of being almost impossible to kill and requires a modest twice-weekly watering.

  • Peace lily: Thrives in shade, has attractive flowers, and improves air quality.

  • Golden pothos: One of the best indoor plants for low-light situations, with lovely heart-shaped leaves.

Adding plants to your office area is a way to improve not only the aesthetics of your workplace, but also the quality of your life. Choose a hardy indoor plant, spend some time nurturing it, and enjoy the benefits of better air quality, reduced stress, and increased productivity.

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