An office decorated with lots of desk plants

Office Plants: The Link Between a Green Office and Staff Motivation

Could office plants make all the difference to your company culture and profitability? Recent years have seen a surge of people bringing plants into the home. Self-proclaimed ‘plant parents’ are on the rise, enjoying the benefits of household greenery. Plant ‘influencers’ are all over social media. But why limit plants to the home? This week is #HouseplantWeekUK. So, we’ll be taking a close look at the benefits of office plants; investigating the link between a green office and staff motivation.

Read on if you’d like to know more about:

  • How office plants can help minimise stress, reduce sickness and boost productivity
  • Why desk plants improve working environments; buffering noise and ‘cleaning’ the air
  • Which plants make the best low-maintenance additions to your workspace

Houseplant Week UK takes place in the second week of January and encourages the public to discover the many benefits of indoor gardening. The idea is to introduce new houseplants to fill the empty green space left by the Christmas tree. So let’s explore how bringing plants into the office could improve the lives of our employees:

How Do Desk Plants Really Make a Difference?

Desk plants are the perfect way to bring life and energy into your office. Even the most plain and sterile workspaces can be brightened up with the addition of a few plants. The addition of greenery is a simple and cost effective way to improve working conditions. But desk plants do more than look good! Did you know they can also help to reduce stress levels, improve health and even boost productivity and creativity at work? Let’s take a closer look at some of the key benefits of desk plants:

Helps Reduce Stress

Evidence shows that people who work in offices with plants have lower stress levels and improved mood compared to those without. One study showed that active interactions with indoor plants can reduce feelings of stress.

The presence of plants leads to suppressed sympathetic nervous system activity, as well as lower blood pressure. Microbes hosted by indoor plants have been found to stimulate the production of serotonin. So, just like spending time outdoors, introducing desk plants is an easy way to give staff a boost of natural antidepressants.

Helps with the Perception of Clean Air

Research is ongoing when it comes to the effect of indoor plants on air purification. We all know that plants provide humans with an invaluable service – producing oxygen via photosynthesis. One school of thought, based upon a famous NASA study, is that plants also remove pollutants from the air that we breathe. So, many people like to bring plants indoors to improve the air quality in their homes or workspaces.

However, newer studies suggest that the air purifying effect of indoor plants is actually a myth. Research has shown that to make an impact on their air quality, your office would need to look more like a jungle!

These studies do show, however, that plants help with the perception of clean air. Those who live and work around plants, perceived the air quality to be improved by the presence of plants. We’ll leave the experts to battle this one out – but even if it’s all down to perception, the presence of plants can help workers to feel more energised and healthy!

Helps Buffer Noise

In open-plan or noisy offices, desk plants create screening and can help to reduce excess noise. When placed in the right locations within an office, plants help to absorb, deflect and refract sounds. This reduces echoes and creates a quieter, more serene workspace.

Plants with broad or dense leaves are particularly effective at buffering noise. Think Ferns, Fiddle Leaf Figs and Rubber plants if noise is a consideration in your workplace.

Office plants can also act as great ‘zoning’ areas to mark out space for different teams or departments. Plants look so much better than boring screens, and can be much cheaper, too!

A woman works at a desk with a plant next to her.

Increases Productivity & Creativity

Reducing noise with the help of plants can help with concentration and reducing distractions. The result? An increase in employee productivity and creativity. Office plants work their magic in other ways, too. In fact, a 2014 study from the University of Exeter found that adding plants to an otherwise ‘lean’ office, led to a 15% increase in productivity. According to the study, employees who worked in plant-enriched spaces, felt more comfortable within their environment. In the long-term, employees experienced improved physiological and psychological health. This meant an equal increase in the profitability of the business.

When it comes to creativity, desk plants are key. Another study showed that the colour green was the most likely to spark creativity. In this study, test subjects were exposed to different colours before completing a task. It was found that exposure to green helped them to think the most creatively.

Another theory is that plants creativity-boosting properties are actually evolutionary. Some psychologists believe we’re channelling our ancestors, who, when surrounded by an abundance of nourishing plant life (i.e. food) felt calmer and safer. As a result, we’re able to focus and be creative when around plant life.

Reduces Sickness & Absence Rates

It may seem like a dubious claim, but it’s true… office plants can help to reduce the amount of sick days staff take.

Employee sickness and absence can really take their toll on a company’s financial health. It also affects team morale and stress levels – especially in the winter months. The majority of illnesses that cause absences are common colds and coughs. Stress, anxiety and depression are also key culprits.

We’ve already discovered the many positive psychological effects that office plants can have on staff. A recent Norwegian study also found that the introduction of greenery saw a reduction in fatigue, headaches, sore throats and even dry skin among office workers. As a result, absences were reduced by 30-60%.

Best Office Plants That Won’t Die (At Least Not Easily)

So, we’ve identified the benefits of office plants. Now it’s time to get your workspace converted into a green paradise.

If you’re worried buying office plants just to have them die a week later, fear not! Here are five of the best office plants that (almost) anyone can keep alive.

Monstera Deliciosa (Swiss Cheese Plant)

Monstera Deliciosa or ‘Cheese Plants’ are a firm-favourite with low-maintenance plant lovers. They’re easy to care for and grow large quite quickly – so they’re super rewarding. Keep in indirect sunlight, water every 1-2 weeks and watch your Monstera grow into a jungle!

Caring for your Monstera.

A Monstera Deliciosa plant in a white pot.
Monstera Deliciosa (Cheese Plant)

Peace Lily

The Peace Lily is a great desk plant for beginners. They’re easy to care for and their beautiful flowers blossom time and time again. They make wonderful ‘welcome’ gifts for new employees and are an attractive, calming addition to any desk.

Be careful though – Peace Lilies are poisonous to dogs and cats so not ideal if you have office pets.

Caring for Your Peace Lily.

Zanzibar Gem (ZZ Plant)

The ZZ Plant is the perfect choice if your office lacks sunlight. In fact, its leaves can scorch in direct daylight. This leafy, hardy desk plant is so easy to care for, it’ll even grow in dark corners. It’s toxic to people and animals, though, so don’t eat it!

Caring for your ZZ Plant.

Sanseveria (Snake Plant)

These babies really do take some serious neglect to kill them. Sanseveria or ‘Snake Plants’ are perfect for more forgetful indoor-gardeners. They bounce back amazingly well, even if you neglect the watering for a while. They’re a real all-rounder, adding textures and patterns to your workspace with their structural foliage. Snake plants can grow nice and large, too, so you certainly get your money’s worth!

Caring for your Sanseveria.

Devil’s Ivy

Don’t be alarmed by the sinister name! Devil’s Ivy is an absolute must-have for your green office space. It grows ridiculously well, very easy to keep and rewarding to maintain. It’s the perfect choice if you’re looking to add different heights and dimensions to your workspace décor. It’s a climber, so looks amazing either growing up a pole or as a trailing plant, suspended from the ceiling.

Caring for your Devil’s Ivy.

So could desk plants make all the difference in your office?

It’s easy to see the benefits of introducing greenery to your team’s workspace. They’re not just beautiful to look at, they help improve employee health, productivity and motivation. As a result, they can make your business more profitable and less likely to be affected by staff absences.

The benefits don’t stop there: office plants also make employees feel better about their work environment. They’re a cost-effective way to show your employees that you appreciate them and care about their wellbeing. This drastically improves overall job satisfaction!

So if you want to keep your staff happy, energised and engaged in their jobs, it might be time to introduce some desk plants. Why not make it part of your employee engagement, motivation and wellness strategy? And reap the benefits of a green office.

Need to add more than plants to your office? We’ll help you find the right people for the right job.