Office plants boost health, focus, and creativity

James Murphy
Plant lover, social entrepreneur, and mental health advocate James Murphy

By James Murphy

An office garden or office plants can be your refuge from a stressful work environment outside world, and for many people they are a source of great joy.

Introducing certain plants to your office will bring improvements to your health and overall happiness.

Plants can elevate your mood and help with loneliness and depression. Caring for a living thing gives us a purpose and is rewarding.

Cleaner air to breathe

Office plants are good for your health — and not just for their visual beauty. Why? They do the opposite of what we do when we breathe: release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. This not only freshens up the air, but also eliminates harmful toxins.

Air quality can be improved within the office by introducing a ratio of one plant per three employees. The right plants can bring about 50 per cent reduction in CO2, bacteria, and mould, which would otherwise be inhaled by employees. Dust levels in the workplace can be reduced by up to 20 per cent when plants are introduced.

Man-made toxins within an office created by plastics, paint, furniture, carpets, and certain cleaning products can be reduced significantly by plants.

Reduced stress and increase productivity

Houseplants can remove up to 87 per cent of air toxin in 24 hours, according to extensive research by NASA.  They calls plants “nature’s life support system.” Indoor plants improve concentration and productivity, reduce stress levels and boost your mood.

In one study, plants were seen to increase creativity by 15 per cent. Plants being present invoke our ancient instincts that there is food nearby and so we relax, become calmer, are happier and more creative, according to another study.

Reduce sickness and absence

Filling your workspace with plants could help combat sick days and reduce stress levels, researchers have found. Those who work in high-rise office buildings will know all too well just how easily illnesses can spread.

Absenteeism has been reduced by up to 50 per cent and reduce minor illness by 30 per cent. Placing plants in key locations can reduce the dry air caused by air conditioning and slightly increase humidity -making illnesses such as coughs are much less common.

One lesser known advantage of plants is their ability to reduce ambient noise within an office, as much as five decibels. background noise, which could otherwise be distracting, is reduced allowing employees to concentrate on their work.

Health, happiness & connection to nature

Scientifically significant increases in people’s health, happiness, and connection to nature have come about from being close to plants. As well, our green friends induce active nature behaviours, such as feeding the birds and planting flowers for bees

Plants help with mindfulness mindfulness – your ability to be present in the moment, aware of where you are, and conscious of the place and thing that you are doing.

This seems like a simple concept. Except that it’s not really . Your phone’s insistent rings, dings, and alerts distract you. There’s work stress, relationship issues, politics. So how do you centre yourself, breathe deeply, live in the moment and raise as houseplant?

Like anything else, caring for yourself and your plants begins with practice as a habit, and it soon becomes ingrained. Think of your plants as vital to your well-being – which they are – and you will soon enjoy taking care of them and feel the rewards of their growth and blooms.

If you keep indoor plants in your home and office, you already know their power. In addition to looking great, they keep you connected to the great green world outside. And they remind us that the world is a place of growth.

Clients will love them

Office plants not only improve office surroundings for employees, they also provide a more welcoming place for clients.

Some amazing facts about plants:

  • 85% of plant life is found in the ocean.
  • Brazil is named after a tree.
  • Stress relief can be achieved with chemicals in freshly-cut grass, according to scientists but sadly the smell of freshly-cut grass is actually a plant distress call.
  • Over 70,000 plant species are used for medicine.
  • There is a plant in the Philippines that can devour rats.
  • More than 20% of our planet’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rainforest.
  • Dandelion is completely edible, from the petals to the roots.
  • Humans can eat about 80,000 species of plants.
  • Plants can recognise their siblings and give them preferential treatment, competing less for valuable resources like root space compared to when surrounded by plants that are strangers.
  • Plants dislike human noise.
  • Olive trees may live to be as old as 1,500 years, the average lifespan is 500 years.

Plant lover and Engage International founder James Murphy

James Murphy is a lover of plants, and also passionate about collaboration and innovation within employee engagement.

Based in London, U.K., he is founder of Engage International, The Lotus Awards, and the Inspiring Positive Change in our workplaces and society.

Find out more about James on Linkedin, and follow him on Twitter.

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Sheelagh Caygill

Sheelagh Caygill is an award-winning content marketer, communications practitioner, and journalist. Based in Toronto, Sheelagh has worked for media outlets including The Edmonton Journal and The Northern Echo, as well as the corporate and non-profit sector in Canada and the U.K.

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