Office plants: the role they play in boosting productivity

It’s well established that the quality and conditions of a workplace have a strong impact on the productivity of the workers. It’s the reason that workers who are confined to dangerous and unpleasant environments are paid extra loadings, as in the case of underground mining workers. But what isn’t common knowledge is that most work environments in Australia’s metropolitan areas are subject to many of the same issues, and employees and employers alike are suffering from the effects: workers are subject to myriad unpleasant health complaints, and their decreased productivity and performance is having a devastating impact on the financial wellbeing of our businesses.

The conditions in our workplace environments are often the direct cause of health-related complaints—complaints that translate directly into decreased productivity. There’s a growing number of studies that show a close correlation between sick leave and building-related health complaints: in fact, up to 30 percent of absences from work can be attributed to complaints about the buildings in which people work. Luckily, there’s a simple and inexpensive way to combat the effect these issues have on a business’s economic performance: by incorporating indoor plants.

Plants inside an office
Beautiful green plantscape
Plantscape design example

 

How workplace quality affects productivity

Dutch researchers estimate that an average of 3.6 lost work days per employee per year are due to complaints about workplace quality. When poor indoor air quality creates discomfort, employees tend to call in sick sooner, and stay away from work longer. In economic terms, this one day away from work amounts to a 100 percent decrease in productivity for that worker.

What’s surprising is the direct inverse relationship between sick leave and a healthy workplace: a healthy indoor climate decreases absenteeism by as much as 2.5 percent. In simple terms, poor workplace quality increases absenteeism, which in turn reduces productivity; but a good work environment decreases absenteeism and increases productivity.

Many factors affect the quality of the work environment, and in turn, its productivity. Workers have difficulty concentrating when they feel unwell, and any number of factors in the modern workplace—poor temperature control, poor air quality, and consistent exposure to volatile organic compounds from synthetic materials in the space—can contribute to this experience of suboptimal health and stress-related discomfort. By contrast, a work environment designed to buffer noise levels, and provide comfortable temperatures, lighting, humidity, and air quality improves workers’ concentration levels, job satisfaction, and job performance.

What’s more surprising is how easy it is to control these environmental influences: all it takes is an educated assessment of the space, and the thoughtful placement of some inexpensive yet naturally powerful elements—indoor plants.

 

How indoor plants improve productivity

The impact of plants on the productivity and satisfaction of workers has already been quantified in a number of peer-reviewed studies. Research by Dr. Virginia Lohr of Washington State University in the United States shows that people in workplaces that have live plants were 12 percent more productive that those who worked in plant-free environments. There are multiple reasons cited for this improvement in performance, but among them are the facts that greenery improves air quality, makes indoor spaces more attractive, and reduces stress levels. And, because plants increase relative humidity, they lessen the most common workplace complaints—complaints about dry air and the resulting coughs, dry eyes, headaches, and skin irritation it causes.

A study of productivity in a tax office in the Netherlands found that indoor plants improved concentration, the feeling of wellbeing, and productivity. Another study found that people who work at a computer four or more hours a day are more productive when plants are nearby. Additional research has shown that good indoor air quality alone can increase productivity up to 15 percent. Even subjective effects are now being substantiated: there is a growing body of evidence in support of claims that plants help people to concentrate, increase their capacity for creative thinking, and encourage workers to generate new ideas. Plants influence workers’ perceptions of their workplaces and improve their attitudes toward their jobs, all of which affects their feelings of wellbeing and their productivity.

Office plant near window

 

How plants can help your business’s bottom line

With a steady increase in densely populated workplaces in developed countries like Australia comes the parallel increase in health-related complaints. They’re issues that can’t be taken lightly, given the unstable nature of the global economy, where businesses need to watch every influence on their bottom line in order to survive.

The quality of the work environment is now a core business issue, with measurable business outcomes. It has a quantifiable impact on any business’s operations, and ultimately, on their long-term success or failure. As such, employers must now consider fostering a positive work atmosphere as part of their business strategy rather than a minor consideration, and take measures to ensure that their work environments are conducive to health and prosperity.

It’s not an impossible task. The installation of live plants is a cost-effective and mutually beneficial way to enhance the work environment: employees enjoy the contributions to their comfort and health, while employers appreciate the resulting improvements in productivity and profitability. It’s also a cost-effective solution, especially when compared with the average levels of sick leave: with as few as one potted plant per employee, industry experts estimate a return on investment of 300 percent or more. In these tight economic times, introducing plants into the workplace can give a business the margin it needs to stay afloat.

Plantscape design in office
Three green plants in corridor
Red office plant near window

 

When you hire a professional to take care of your plant installations, your business will also enjoy measurable improvements in its image, with benefits like improved attractiveness to potential clients. At Prestigious Plantscapes, our plant design specialists are experienced in assessing work environments, and formulating solutions to the factors impacting on the health and wellbeing of workers that both look beautiful and are proven to be effective.

 

Contact us anytime to find out more about how we can foster the health of your workers and your business, and we’ll be happy to help boost your financial future with our striking plantscapes.

 

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