Plants for a Low-Cost Boost in Productivity

Recent study shows having plants in the workplace not only cleans the air, but improves worker productivity.

The mentioned study, Restorative Elements at the Computer Workstation: A Comparison of Live Plants and Inanimate Objects With and Without a Window View, looks at how these different plants and objects change the productivity and behavior of employees. It was published on the Restorative and Behavior section of Sage Journals. Throughout the study, employees had live potted plants nearby, some with windows, and others without. There were 88 participants in the study, doing repeated tasks for hour-long sessions.

Following the study, researchers found that just having the plants nearby caused employees to become more productive. They paid more attention to their work and were able to have better focus and concentration when working on repeated tasks. It is also a healthier alternative, as live plants filter the air from bacteria and mold.

Another study, as reported by Mail Online, looks at the statistics of productivity boosts with live plants in the workplace. Researchers from the University of Exeter saw a 47 percent work, concentration and productivity boost in the workplace with plants nearby. They also found by letting the staff make design decisions with the plants, productivity increased by 38 percent. This study was performed at the Chelsea Flower Show.

That’s not all.Another study in 2011, which was performed by a Norwegian team, found participants were able to sit at a simple desk and perform reading tasks with foliage and office flowers and read faster and more sufficiently than without them.

As Ruth K. Raanaas of Norwegian University of Life Sciences said, “Most people spend a large proportion of their life at work, so even small effects may have great practical significance when aggregated over employees and time of employment.”

Through this study, nature seemed to add attention restoration to employees throughout their workday, even through the typical “afternoon crash.” The plants helped restore their energy, when it would normally start dwindling during remedial, repetitive, or indirect tasks. Similar studies have also found plants and foliage help workers reduce their stress, thus improving their work performance.

Plants to Include in the Office

Just about any plant can restore energy and improve productivity, but there are some particularly useful. Some great plants to include in your office include aloe, English ivy, rubber tree, peace lily, and bamboo palm. They are all small and medium plants that can easily be placed in an office, as well as being low maintenance and doing well in different climates.

If you are finding your employees are losing their focus and their work is suffering from it, consider adding some office plants. Place them strategically around the office, not so much to cause distraction, but enough to improve their productivity.

For further reading, check out our Wasting Away: The State of Workplace Productivity Infographic.