Throughout history, budding (pun intended) gardeners have brought plants inside to practice their skills and enjoy their ornamental and decorative qualities. With the Chinese cultivating plants in the home as early as 1000BC as a symbol of wealth, it’s no surprise that indoor gardening still maintains its popularity.
Biophilia, is defined as ‘an innate and genetically determined affinity of human beings with the natural world’. Unfortunately, our homes and offices do not always reflect the need of people to be close to nature. And, whilst your workplace needn’t mirror the mythical Hanging Gardens of Babylon, there are certainly a myriad of reasons to get planting in the office.
Wellbeing is the watchword which has become an important part of most office design. Affecting everything from space planning, lighting and acoustics, happiness it seems, is also strongly influenced by a little office flora.
A study by Exeter University examined the impact of both lean and “green” offices. The study concluded that employees were 15% more productive with just a few houseplants placed in the office. The studies author Dr Chris Knight noted that – “What was important was that everybody could see a plant from their desk. If you are working in an environment where there’s something to get you psychologically engaged,you are happier and you work better”.
The Health and Safety Executive (the UK governments workplace body) reports that 0.5 million workers suffer from work related stress, with this being a major cause of long term absence and resulting in a total of 11.7 million working days lost.
With reduced blood pressure, improved mood and energy levels being just a few of the benefits, inviting greenery into your office seems a simple solution too good not to implement.
It’s a well-known fact that plants absorb carbon dioxide, cleaning the air around us. The NASA Clean Air Study results showed that not only do plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, but that some plants are able to remove toxic agents too. These include a long list of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as Benzene (found in some plastics, fabrics, pesticides and cigarette smoke) and formaldehyde (found in some cosmetics, dish detergent, fabric softener and carpet cleaner).
The research also showed that benefits were found with as little as one plant per 100 square feet of home or office space.
Perhaps the least known quality of the indoor shrubbery, is that it has acoustic properties. Plant parts absorb and reflect sound, with the most effective being those with rough bark and dense fleshy leaves. Just like acoustic products, plants reduce the reverberation time with this particularly noticeable in areas with hard surfaces such as stone or marble floors.
Plants and containers can also be used as screens or partitions in open plan offices to divide areas and create more personal or private spaces.
So, with a whole host of plants ready to survive the care of even the least green fingered of workers, why not get started on your own office garden?
Written by our Project Coordinator – Rachelle Dare