According to the UK Department for Business Innovation & Skills, worker stress costs the UK approximately £6.7 billion each year in lost revenue. In our new series, Workplace Well-being, we look at how you can make your working environment more healthy and productive, and less stressful. This time, we look at the advantages of indoor plants.
Whether you work in an office, a depot, a workshop or frankly any indoor environment, there’s no denying that your surroundings can often affect both your mood and productivity.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), an independent UK workplace health watchdog, says that work-related stress accounts for a third of all new incidences of ill-health each year.
As an employer, not only do you have a duty of care towards your employees, but it makes sounds business sense to ensure that they remain happy, healthy and in work.
When it comes to fostering a more comfortable and stress-free working environment, it’s all about the details.
Small things make all the difference, and by making a lot of simple changes you can drastically improve the workplace experience for your employees.
A great place to start is with the addition of indoor plants. The benefits of having plants in the workplace are well documented, so there is little doubt as to their stress-busting, health-improving qualities.
Here are a few reasons why plants are a great addition to any workplace.
Stress-busting and increased productivity
The stress and anxiety reducing quality of plants is especially effective in health care environments and for workers sat at a desk all day. As such, office plants are fairly commonplace, but their maintenance and upkeep is often overlooked.
A recent Norwegian study revealed that in controlled tests, contact with vegetation generated a consistent positive pattern of effects that diminished when plants were absent. The positive effects experienced were:
- Psychological and physiological stress reduction
- More positively toned moods
- Increased ability to re-focus attention
- Mental restoration and reduced mental fatigue
- Improved performance on cognitive tasks
- Reduced pain perceptions in health care settings
Bottom line here: indoor plants make employees less stressed, happier and more focussed.
Improved air quality and health
The affect that plants can have on indoor air quality is significant, and of great benefit to anyone working in the immediate environment.
First of all, as anyone who studied biology in school will know, plants remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and release oxygen – which can only be a good thing considering we need it to function.
Obvious comments aside, oxygen from plants is a great addition to any workplace, because although air conditioning units circulate fresh air, it can carry with it volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which may have an adverse affect on health.
Aside from producing oxygen, NASA has proven that plants actually serve to remove some of these VOCs from the air. The plants do this by pulling VOC’s into the soil where the plant converts them into food for itself.
Too many VOCs and too much CO2 in the air can cause drowsiness, lowered concentration, headaches and eye, nose & throat problems.
Fill up with foliage
All this points to one conclusion: if you’re not already sporting a selection of foliage in your workplace, you’re probably missing an opportunity to improve the overall health, productivity and wellbeing of your employees or colleagues.