Here’s how to increase your office productivity by 15 percent. It’s going to take a little bit of green. Not money, though. Plants. Those good ol’ oxygen-producing-carbon-dioxide-consuming friends of the world.
Researchers studied the difference between “lean” and “green” offices and found that those with plants had higher worker satisfaction scores, which led to increased productivity.
“Our research suggests that investing in landscaping the office with plants will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity,” said Marlon Nieuwenhuis, the study’s lead researcher from Cardiff University’s School of Psychology. “Although previous laboratory research pointed in this direction, our research is, to our knowledge, the first to examine this in real offices, showing benefits over the long term. It directly challenges the widely accepted business philosophy that a lean office with clean desks is more productive.”
Not only were the workers in “green” offices more satisfied, they showed an increase in self-reported levels of concentration and perceived air quality.
“Simply enriching a previously Spartan space with plants served to increase productivity by 15 percent—a figure that aligns closely with findings in previously conducted laboratory studies,” Nieuwenhuis said. “This conclusion is at odds with the present economic and political zeitgeist as well as with modern ‘lean’ management techniques, yet it nevertheless identifies a pathway to a more enjoyable, more comfortable and a more profitable form of office-based working.”
Plants can help lower physiological stress, increase attention span, and improve well-being, said Kenneth Freeman, head of innovation for Ambius, a landscaping company.
“This is the first long-term experiment carried out in a real-life situation which shows that bringing plants into offices can improve well-being and make people feel happier at work,” Freeman said. “Businesses should rethink their lean processes, not only for the health of the employees, but for the financial health of the organisation.”
Looking to buy a plant for your office? Here are 12 suggestions.