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March 2018

Plants and office wellness: 8 reasons this is a match made in heaven

Written by Nicole Horne
Environment and Green Hygiene

Have you ever thought about the impact that plants can have on your work environment?

Biophilia, a term that originated with German-born American psychoanalyst Erich Fromm, is the idea that humans possess the innate tendency to seek connections with nature. Because natural materials are typically in short supply in most workplaces - think plastic chairs, metal desks and allergen-loaded carpets - it is no surprise that office-bound colleagues have a strong desire to connect with natural environments.

Research has shown that indoor plants are beneficial for both buildings and people in a various ways; more ways than you can imagine, actually! Below are some of the reasons why plants are vital contributors to office wellness, and how both you as an individual - and your business - can benefit.

1. Plants are visually pleasing

One of the most obvious points is that while plants are pretty to look at and do wonders for your interior decor, they also create a warm and welcoming ambiance. Plants have a positive impact on visitors’ perceptions, creating the impression that the company in question cares about their staff and clients.

Interestingly enough, there is a school of thought which maintains that along with blue, green is the best colour for creating a calm atmosphere.The green of indoor plants is believed to stimulate both the brain and the digestive system, and even reduce stress factors that lead to shaking, tremors and twitching. A study conducted in 1984 revealed that hospital patients that had a window with a view over a park or greenery recovered twice as fast as those who had a window overlooking a neighbouring building.

2. Plants provide health benefits

A study carried out in Norway by Prof. Dr. Tøve Fjeld of the Agricultural University of Norway, Ås/Oslo between 1994 and 1996 (“Do plants in Offices Promote Health?”) showed that the presence of indoor plants decreased colleagues’ feelings of fatigue and headaches by around 30%. Health problems caused by the indoor atmosphere occurred less frequently.  

3. Improved air quality 

In conjunction with the above, plants are great for improving air quality, which in turn improves our health.The quality of air indoors  is often as poor – if not worse – than that of air outside, especially in large office buildings where pollutant gases (including formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethane) are released in small quantities by a whole range of materials and human activities.

As nature’s air purifiers, plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and absorb Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) through their leaves, cleaning the indoor air of toxins.VOCs are often found in various building materials and cleaning products, and are the primary cause of acute and chronic diseases including cancer and neurological failure. A study conducted by Dr B. C. Wolverton, of NASA  in 1989, (“Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement”), indicated that indoor plants can remove up to 87% of VOC’s from an indoor environment over a 24 hour period.

4. Plants reduce dust levels

Another plus for health: plants attract dust, which means that their presence can reduce airborne particles by up to 20%, thus reducing the most common cause of headaches and asthma.

5. Noise reduction

Making use of plants in your office as natural space dividers can create a lush garden experience as well as absorb noise.Noise absorption, especially at high frequencies, offers stress reduction, privacy and ultimately an improved workplace environment.

6. Plants foster feelings of well-being and lowers stress

There is a continuously growing body of research that says indoor plants make people feel good about their work and their workplace.Norwegian and Swedish researchers have conducted studies in offices to determine the effect of plants on sick leave, productivity and work stress.The results of these studies have shown that the presence of indoor plants generally improve feelings of well-being and reduce work stress levels, resulting in happier, more productive employees.

7. Plants promote better mental health

Scientists have for some time now been investigating the link between urbanisation and mental illness.Whilst urbanisation comes with many benefits, it also comes with increased levels of mental illness, which may be explained by decreased contact with nature.

A study by the National Academy of Science revealed that a 1 and a half hours’ walk in a natural setting decreases self-reported rumination (a maladaptive pattern of self-referential thought), whereas a 90 minute walk in an urban setting had no such effect.The conclusion scientists are drawing from these results is that the ability to experience nature is a necessity for mental wellbeing in our rapidly urbanising environment.  

8. Plants in buildings reduce energy consumption

Plants can be used very effectively to cool buildings and thus cut down on the energy required to run air-conditioning units.

Small plants near windows can negate the need for blinds, whilst still creating a beautiful view.In atriums and other large indoor spaces, plants and trees can be used to provide climate benefits such as cooling through evapotranspiration, further reducing the need for air-conditioning.

The fact that plants are not only aesthetically pleasing, create an inviting atmosphere and  make us feel good, but also contribute to an environment that decreases illness-related absenteeism means that adding office plants to the workplace makes sounds business and financial sense.  

Looking for an indoor plant service for your business? Visit Ambius’ website for more information

Contact us for a consultation on Hygiene Services from Initial and let us guide you on making your business more hygiene centric.

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Image credit: Growup

Nicole Horne

Nicole Horne

Nicole is a Digital Marketing Executive at Rentokil Initial Hygiene in Johannesburg. A self-proclaimed germaphobe, her love for hygienic environments and curiosity of all things “beneath the surface” fuels her enthusiasm for writing about the impact of germs in the workplace. She is passionate about creating awareness and sharing her knowledge on the impact of good hygiene practices. Follow Nicole on Twitter and LinkedIn for updates on the the good, the bad and the germy.

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