What type of office environment yields the happiest and most productive workers? Different people might have different ideas on this issue – probably based on their own working styles and preferences. But solid research in workspace design psychology proves one thing beyond doubt: the presence of plants in the office can significantly improve performance and productivity.
When we feel too stressed or anxious, our ability to work is impeded. If you’ve ever experienced ‘brain freeze’ before a presentation, or felt yourself staying late at work only to lose concentration and make mistakes, you’ll know that stress reduction is likely to help you get better results at work – in addition to making for a happier and more relaxed workforce.
Introducing elements of nature in the workplace, including plants, natural light and ideally, views outside the building, is proven to help reduce stress. It’s not just in the mind, either; scientists studying workplace design psychology have found that indoor plants can actually have a measurable effect on your body, with blood pressure measurably lower where plants are present in the working environment.
If you can help your colleagues to think more quickly and solve problems more creatively, you’ll reap knock-on benefits for your business. One way to do this is by improving the air quality in your building. Pot plants are a natural, attractive and cost-effective addition to the office that also has the benefit of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide and pollutants in the air you breathe. Studies have shown that better air quality correlates with improved cognitive function, with test participants demonstrating superior strategic thinking, problem solving and response to crisis situations.
The benefits of plants in the office aren’t just related directly to productivity. Offices that look welcoming and feel relaxing are a reliable indicator of the wider company culture; a business that values its employees is will take the trouble to help them people feel at home when they’re at work.
Workspace design psychology is a powerful tool in retaining valued employees and attracting the talent you seek. When people feel appreciated, they are more likely to feel loyal to their employer – so making the effort to meet both physical and psychological needs will result in better staff retention.
The consensus is overwhelming; workspace design psychology can have a significant effect on the way our minds function – especially when plants are incorporated into the mix. But before you rush out to the garden centre, it’s worth considering which types of plants are the best for an office environment. This is likely to be based less on their psychological value and more on their suitability for the physical features and staffing situation in your workplace. If your offices don’t let in a great deal of light, you’ll want a plant that thrives in the shade. If you don’t have an eager volunteer to take charge of tending to your greenery, it’s sensible to choose a variety that won’t wilt if it goes without attention for a day. Good choices include the peace lily, which can survive well without daily watering, and succulents, which are extremely hardy and great for a compact space.