BP Consulting

The Benefits of Indoor Plants in the Workplace

Discover More
plants, blog

As Michael Bublé reminds us on an almost daily basis, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” For many, the holiday season provides those in the energy sector some temporary distraction from the ongoing UK energy crisis. 

Anyway, back to Bublé. Michael goes on to sing: 

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Toys in every store

But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be

On your own front door” 

This got me thinking. If it’s the holly on our doors that gives us the prettiest sight, then why stop at Christmas? Maybe we should think about how plants in our homes or offices can contribute to a positive work environment, providing us with some light relief in an otherwise stressful environment.

How do plants contribute to a positive work environment?

Whilst there are many benefits to having indoor plants, we’ve compiled a list of five reasons why plants are good, specifically in the workplace.

1. Plants improve the quality of the air.

Sitting in a hot, stuffy office is a common feature for many workers. Poor air circulation can make it feel like there is little fresh air coming through, leaving employees tired and lethargic. 

Poor air circulation is compounded by the office environment. Electrical hardware uses fresh air in order to keep cool before pumping out hot air. However, it’s not only electrical hardware that impacts the quality of air in an office. Carpets and even paint can absorb the fresh air present in an office, reducing the overall air quality in the office. 

The reduction in air quality can also magnify the number of pollutants and particulates in the air. Exposure to air pollutants like asbestos, benzene and mould can leave people with dry eyes and skin. 

Two excellent plants known to promote better air quality are the Peace Lily and English Ivy, which absorb pollutants through their roots and leaves. One study found that a room with plants has 60% less airborne moulds and bacteria in the room compared to a space without plants. 

If you can’t get your hands on Peace Lilies or English ivy, then don’t worry; the introduction of most plants raises the general humidity of the room. Humidity reduces dust particulates in the air, mitigating against common dust allergies.

2. They Improve people's moods.

Biophilia, a term popularised by Edward O. Wilson, is the belief that humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature. One aspect of this is through bringing plants into the office or home space. The imposition of vibrant colours and foliage into offices helps fight against the sanitised and dreary appearance of office interiors, elevating people’s moods.

3. They boost productivity and creativity.

Dr Chris Knight, from Exeter University, noted that offices without pictures, souvenirs and other distractions are “the most toxic spaces” a human can work in. 

If plants help improve someone’s mood, it is logical that their productivity and creativity will increase. Dr Knight noted, “If you are working in an environment where there’s something to get you psychologically engaged you are happier and you work better.” Indeed, Knight’s study found that employees’ productivity increased by 15% when plants were introduced into the workplace.

4. They reduce stress.

There is a growing consensus that the presence of plants, flowers, and foliage in living spaces directly impacts the stress of individuals operating in those spaces. A paper in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that active interaction with indoor plants, such as touching or smelling, can reduce stress and anxiety. The science seems clear; plants release a chemical called “cytokines”, which stimulates the brain to produce serotonin, an active chemical in the brain that promotes happiness.

5. They reduce sickness and absences.

As an employer, galvanising your workforce, making the workplace a positive environment, and avoiding the dreaded presenteeism – when workers turn up to work, do the bare minimum and collect their wages – is a tough task.

One aspect of creating a positive working culture is to have a space that people want to come to. Obvious, right? Well, apparently not. With their stripped-back aesthetic, cold tube lights and colourless rooms, many offices create an environment closer to a hospital ward than a warm, inviting, and creative space. 

One of the consequences of this cold aesthetic is Sick Building Syndrome. Yes, it’s a real thing, and the NHS even lists it. Sick Building Syndrome is the name for symptoms you get while in a specific building, typically an office. 

Symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Runny nose
  • Dry skin
  • Coughing
  • Rashes
  • Tiredness

Many of these symptoms come from dust particulates and poor air quality; as already discussed, plants can radically improve the air quality and significantly reduce the particulates in the air. The potential for plants to help reduce Sick Building Syndrome and keep your employees happy and present at work is significant and well worth investing in.

What makes a good office plant?

If you decide to incorporate plants into the office environment, it would be pertinent to think about what plants you want in the office and which plants would do well in an office environment. 

At BP Consulting, we have found that plants that require a low level of light do particularly well. 

Furthermore, consider the growth rate of plants you want in the office. Fast-growing plants will require more attention, maintenance, pruning and space; this can change an otherwise calming presence into a burden that acts as a distraction from regular workplace activity. 

Finally, whilst blooming plants look great, they require more sunlight and more watering than other plants. Furthermore, by keeping blooming plants indoors, the bloom will be shorter. 

We hope whatever plants you go for provide you with some light relief in these stressful times. With that, we would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas, and we look forward to seeing you in the new year!

Skip to content