How plants help improve office well-being
There's something undeniably soothing about being surrounded by plants. In this article, we dive into the delightful world of plant power and discover how it can help elevate corporate well-being.
In a fast-paced and stressful corporate environment, enhancing office well-being is crucial to fostering emotional health. . One effective (and often overlooked strategy) for achieving this is to incorporate plants into the workplace.
From Facebook to Uber, some of the most successful companies in the world are now incorporating plants into their office layouts and designs. And that’s because we, as humans, have an instinctive connection to nature, which scientists describe as biophilia.
Over 90% of people would picture themselves in a natural setting if asked to imagine a place where they felt calm and relaxed. Our mental and physical well-being depends on spending time in a natural environment, and this influences our productivity and general well-being. With that being said, it’s no surprise that exposure to plants and nature in a corporate setting can have a significant effect on the productivity and attitude of employees. But how does having plants in the office impact the bottom line, and how can businesses leverage the potential benefits? Let’s take a look.
1. Stress reduction
Looming deadlines, endless meetings, time management, and intense reporting. Let’s face it, nobody is completely stress-free in today’s hectic office environment. Fortunately, nature is a powerful cure for stress. Research has shown that being around nature, even in small doses, can help to reduce stress and improve overall well-being.
According to studies carried out by Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor at The University of Vermont, plants that are placed in strategic areas in offices reduce stress by 12%, and plants have a positive effect on an employee’s disposition.
His research also showed that absenteeism dropped by 14% when an attractive display of greenery was placed in the work environment, and offices with plants have 60% less mold than offices without plants.
Another study conducted by Green Plants for Green Buildings indicated that 10% of absences are due to architecture with no connection to nature.
While adding some plants in and around an office space may not lead to an entirely stress-free work environment, it can reduce feelings of anxiety among employees and provide a sense of calm and tranquility, which ultimately, results in reduced stress and lower absenteeism.
2. Improving air quality and increased humidity
Plants act as natural air purifiers by absorbing pollutants and releasing oxygen, which can improve overall air quality in an office. Trees in an office can also help to cool the place on those hot sunny days. One study showed that the cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.
While air conditioning is sometimes necessary for office buildings, it can also substantially reduce humidity in a room. Incorporating plants in an air-conditioned office space releases moisture into the air, which can help to increase humidity levels and reduce dryness. Studies show the moisture released by plants in office environments creates a humidity level matching the human comfort range of 30% to 60%.
3. Sound reduction
Chatter among colleagues, squeaking chairs, the incredibly loud coffee machine, and phones constantly ringing: noisy and distracting environments have become the norm in modern offices. It takes only minutes for noise to distract and disengage employees, which all adds up to a costly problem from a cognitive, psychological, and behavioral standpoint. 80% of workers state that they are easily distracted by office noises.
The solution to distracting noises in an office is found in nature - a plant's acoustical properties insulate against noise, vibrations, and sound penetration.
As sound waves reflect off flat surfaces, the biomass of indoor office plants can absorb echo and dampen reverberations.
With office plants, you'll be able to significantly alter the acoustics in your office by absorbing and eliminating noise, increasing productivity and morale - all the way to the bottom line.
4. Plants in office spaces combat sick building syndrome
Headaches, nausea, dry eyes, and fatigue are just some effects of unhealthy air in office buildings. Research proves that sealed office buildings are often 10 times more polluted than the air outside. The poor air quality in office buildings often results in sick building syndrome. In a nutshell, sick building syndrome occurs when your office is filled with contaminated, recycled air from air conditioning and heating systems.
Sick building syndrome can be an expensive liability for businesses because of high absenteeism rates and decreased productivity. Once again, nature comes to the rescue. Plants are an ideal way to combat sick building syndrome as they cleanse the air of harmful pollutants, such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. They also keep the humidity of the air at a healthy level (as mentioned earlier) which can reduce upper respiratory complications for some people.
Apart from increasing profitability and productivity, plants can foster community and collaboration among coworkers. Taking care of and maintaining plants in the office can serve as a team-building activity and create a sense of shared responsibility.
To sum it up, plants are more than just a trendy addition to office spaces, they're a practical and beneficial investment for any business. By adopting natural environments in your office spaces, employees can get back in touch with nature and foster positive emotional experiences, which is just what we need in today’s pandemic-sparked emphasis on healthier workplaces. So, next time you're thinking about ways to improve employee well-being and improve productivity and your bottom line, consider a biophilic design in your office building.