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How & why to use plants in the workplace

Annabel Thain Content Marketing Executive
Design

Plants in the workplace have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason too! A few office plants can transform a boring workspace into a beautiful green paradise while bringing along some surprising benefits to yourself and your colleagues.

How & why to use plants in the workplace

If there’s one thing that can instantly transform the look and feel of a space, it’s plants. 

Whether it’s a well-placed palm tree, desktop plant friends or some hanging baskets to spruce up your entrance, a few green additions can turn even the dullest workspace into a botanical oasis in next to no time!

But before we get into the ins and outs of how and where to use them, here are the benefits of using plants in the workplace.

1. Plants are proven to reduce stress & absenteeism

Work-related stress accounts for 35% of sickness and 43% of absenteeism, costing businesses an estimated £29 billion a year. 

So how do we fix this? 

It’s called ‘biophilia’ and it’s proven to reduce stress, improve wellbeing and boost performance.

Biophilia literally means “love of life” and it’s a term used by scientists to describe our innate instinct to connect with nature and be surrounded by life. But sadly, most workplaces nowadays tend to be the same shade of grey with a lifeless and uninspiring atmosphere.

When researching the impact of biophilic design in the workplace, the University of Technology Sydney found plenty of data to show its positive effects.

  • 37% less anxiety

  • 44% less anger

  • 58% less depression

  • 38% less fatigue

  • 30% less confusion

  • 65% less overall negativity

  • 50% less overall stress

  • 60% less sick leave

This proves that you can make a big impact on your wellbeing, reduce absenteeism, lower stress and save money by simply adding a few office plants to your workplace.

2. A boost in productivity & job satisfaction

It seems that when it comes to your workspace, less is sometimes...less.

77% of office workers reported that the quality of their workspace has an impact on their sense of personal fulfilment

The relative benefits of green versus lean office space: three field experiments. - Dr Chris Knight

In a study, 77% of office workers reported that the quality of their workspace has an impact on their sense of personal fulfilment and three quarters agreed that a more attractive office would make them more likely to stay put.

In another study ran by psychologists at Exeter University, Dr Chris Knight noted: "If you put an ant into a 'lean' jam jar, or a gorilla in a zoo into a 'lean' cage – they're miserable beasties," he said. People in "lean" offices are no different, he added.”

After studying the issue for 10 years, the psychologists concluded that staff were 15% more productive when workplaces were filled with a few houseplants here and there. 

3. The psychological effects of plants in the workplace

A few plants around the office doesn’t only look nice, studies show that the colour green has positive psychological effects. 

Bland grey, beige and white offices induced feelings of depression and sadness.

In a study run by the University of Texas, bland grey, beige and white offices induced feelings of depression and sadness.

The two most common colours in Mother Nature, green and blue, improved efficiency and focus, with green also reducing anxiety and eye strain.

What’s more, it’s not only staff who are affected by a bit of greenery in the workplace. Studies show that having plants in your reception or foyer give your company the perception of being:

  • Trustworthy

  • Warm and inviting

  • Stable and balanced

  • Well-run

  • Patient and caring

  • Concerned for staff welfare

  • Comfortable to work with

  • Prepared to spend money on added beauty

4. They reduce noise & distractions

basjoo tree

Ringing phones, the Monday morning catch-up and everyday chatter can all become a distraction, especially in large open offices where there's space for sound to bounce around.

By adding some large leafy plants to the open spaces, corners and edges of your room, they'll help to act as a sound barrier, softening up your space, absorbing some of the extra noise and helping yourself and your colleagues to perform better.

Choose plants with lots of large leaves to help absorb the sound like monsteras and fiddle leaf fig trees, which also happen to be very on-trend right now!

How to use plants in your office

It’s easy to pick your favourite plants, hit the buy button and forget about them, but sometimes there needs to be a little more thought into where they’re going to go, which plants will benefit your staff and what to pair them with...

Bring life to an open-plan office

Open-plan offices are deemed the worst for negatively impacting wellbeing with 40% of office workers feeling that they lack privacy in an open-plan office. 

“Whenever you’re in a ‘crowd’ or public setting, the body’s fight-or-flight mechanism is on permanent standby, even if you’re completely unaware of it impacting on your adrenal glands (and the knock-on effect on the immune system) which is why lack of visual privacy heightens stress levels and causes sickness” explained Stockholm scientists.

To combat a lack of privacy, opt for screening plants like bamboo or hedging to create borders around desks and work areas. Use a few to create a botanical wall and give your office a more cosy feeling, while breaking up big open spaces with large office plants like tropical palm trees.

Enrich cubicle offices

The cubicle office layout is the design that’s found to best suit staff happiness.

Enhance each cubicle by adding smaller houseplants to desks and even better, let your colleagues choose their own plant.

A business owner in Canada let their staff choose their own desktop plant-buddy. Rather than becoming a distraction, they noticed that there was about 30% more business from each staff member.

By letting their staff choose their plant and label it as their friend, they were well-tended and brought joy to each persons day.

You can also dot a few larger plants around to give your office a jungle feeling and break up boring white walls with trendy living wall mats. Lastly, opt for hanging plants to draw your eyes upwards, creating the illusion of a more open space.

Create a space to relax

Dedicating a corner of your workspace to make a calming area filled with colour and greenery, could help to keep stress levels low and boost your creativity.

More companies are including wellbeing spaces, similar to the NHS's 'wobble room', in an effort to give staff a space to reflect, collect their thoughts and take a quick break. Alternatively, a small reading nook could help to inspire staff and incite creativity.

Try filling a corner with calm-inducing plants like bamboo, lavender, aesthetic succulents and ferns, along with comfy seats and perhaps a bookshelf or two.

Beautify your home office

Pink artificial vanda orchid on office desk

Whether you work from home full-time or enjoy a hybrid work style, keeping a few plants around is just as important as it is in the office, and they match perfectly with both soothing neutrals and bold interiors.

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Add curb appeal

The entrance of your workplace is the first thing people see, so it's worth giving your curb appeal a boost to make a good first impression.

It could be as simple as a hanging basket or two, a tropical palm tree or maybe even some hedging for a professional look.

A few stylish bamboo trees and vibrant flower tubs can bring joy to an outdoor seating area, while a pair of elegant topiary trees and window boxes can work wonders at the front of your workplace for a bright, cheery and welcoming entrance for both you and any visitors.

Choose the right pot

Artificial Boston fern in hallway

Choosing the right pot is almost as important as picking out the right plant!

There's plenty of styles to choose from depending on your personal taste and office style. Bright pops of colour will help to bring your space to life and create an eye-catching feature, while materials like wood or seagrass baskets will offer a more natural, rustic feel. 

Real vs faux

Finally, it's clear to see that plants can make a surprisingly big impact on your workspace, but there are some hurdles to overcome.

Live plants bring the need to take a regular wander around with a watering can, prune foliage and make sure each plant has enough sunlight and humidity to survive.

If you want the benefits that real plants bring, while saving money and time spent on the plants that would inevitably wilt away, why not opt for faux with our range of maintenance-free artificial office plants?

Sold on plants?

We've curated a list of plants perfect for office spaces. Choose from small desktop plants, to big monsteras.

Shop office plants

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