Plant leaves

HOW WILL WORKPLACE PLANTS IMPROVE EMPLOYEES’ WELLBEING?

Read Time: 3 mins

You’re undergoing your workplace refurbishment and the designer you’re working with has filled your space with lots of greenery and planting. It looks great but you can’t help thinking… ‘is this is just a nice-to-have? I could do with making some cost savings.’ Plants are the first to be cut from the design because naturally, you prioritise furniture for your employees’ to work at.

With that being said, plants in the workplace are crucial for improving your employees wellbeing and we have studied the stats that explain why. Objective data shows how plants aid the human mind and can make you cost savings in the long run by reducing sick days and improving productivity.

According to a study of 7,600 employees from 16 countries by ‘The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace,’ 58% of offices have no plants, whilst 30% had no access to natural light. Yet, during the same study, plants in the workplace ranked the second most wanted element in a new office space.

Workers exposed to plants were up to 38% more productive than those with minimal access to plants. Higher productivity levels mean more work output, but it’s not just that your staff will get more work done, they will be less stressed too. Participants were found 12% less stressed in an office with plants than those in an environment with no planting at all.

In Great Britain, more than 130 million days are lost to sickness absence every year, resulting in working-age ill health costing the national economy £100 billion a year. A 1% reduction in sick days would save £1 billion to the economy. Plants have been proven to increase staff wellbeing by up to 47%, therefore reducing sick days and communication disruptions and increasing work output. The presence of plants can reduce staff illnesses such as fatigue, headaches, sore throats, coughs, and dry skin by 12%. A visual connection with nature can lower blood pressure and heart rate.

Rich biodiversity is reportedly more beneficial to our psychological health than the quantity of plants. So, you’re better off having a range of different plant species than a whole office full of ferns! Unlike non-nature, repeated viewing of real nature does not significantly diminish the viewer’s level of interest over time. Your employees will get more out of having plants on the wall in their workplace than a photo frame that they probably won’t even register after a couple of weeks.

Humans have an innate desire to connect with nature that has evolved and adapted over thousands of years of existence. Now more than ever, in this digital age, it is imperative for our mental health to connect back to nature and benefit from all the wellbeing improvements. The pandemic has particularly highlighted people’s yearning to be immersed in nature and we have realised now that employees are moving back to the office, they want similar experiences at work.

So, what is so special about the plants that cause them to be so effective?
Indoor plants remove pollutants from the air by absorbing gases through their leaves and roots. The microorganisms that live in the soil of potted plants also play an instrumental role in neutralizing VOCs and other pollutants. The amount of leaf surface area influences the rate of air purification. As little as two “good sized” plants per 100 square feet of interior space can make an impact. Two of the best plants being a Spathiphyllum and a Sansevieria.

The Well Building Standard™ certification, ratings and membership is a way for companies to show they are serious about hitting wellbeing criteria. There are seven concepts that form the standard. One of the seven is ‘Mind’ which breaks down into ‘Nature and Place’. Plants are a requirement for the standard and/or water features and nature views. They require a living wall area, equal or greater than 2% of the floor area and outdoor areas must be covered in 70% planting, including tree canopies.

There are many ways that you can incorporate planting into your office. It doesn’t just have to be a standard pot plant! From receptions with living walls, to plant room dividers, to ceiling trellis with hanging greenery, there are so many ways to incorporate plants into your space, creating a fun and interesting place to work. Plants can be a pretty undervalued tool in the workplace but making them a priority can make your company long-term savings and help your employees to love where they work.

WONDERING WHERE TO START?