Allison Hutton

Improving Office Health: The Benefits of Indoor Plants at Work

When employers are looking for ways to improve productivity, morale and wellness, a list of the best office plants may not be the first thing they Google. But while more conventional programs around diet and exercise can certainly be effective, a bit of workplace greenery can bring some surprising benefits.

On Earth Day this April 22, here’s what you need to know to make office plants work for you and your employees.

Benefits of Indoor Plants for Employees

Sure, a few plants here and there might perk up a drab office space — but it goes beyond decor. Scientific research from a number of institutions reveals the significant positive effects office plants can have on your employees. According to people management firm CIPHR, these benefits include:

  • Major reductions in anxiety (37 percent), depression (58 percent), hostility (44 percent) and fatigue (38 percent)
  • Increases in productivity of up to 15 percent
  • Decreased employee absence due to illness
  • Possible protection against sick building syndrome by adding more oxygen to the air
  • Potential boosts in creativity

And sprucing up the workplace with indoor plants may have a side benefit, too: It makes the office space more attractive to visiting job candidates and clients.

Are Office Plants Right for Your Workplace?

When choosing plants for the office, don’t forget to keep important considerations like employee allergies in mind. And if there are children or animals in the office, be mindful of plants that are toxic when ingested or have spiny leaves that can cause injury.

Once you’ve addressed any potential health concerns, determine who will care for the plants — after all, office plants will probably reverse many of their positive benefits if they’re left to brown and wither. Decide whether employee volunteers will water and care for the plants or whether your cleaning or maintenance staff might handle this service.

Along with these considerations, be sure to account for:

  • The amount of natural light available to the plants
  • Office space available for bigger plants or trees
  • The cost of the plants, pots, soil and any other accessories needed
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Choosing the Best Office Plants

According to Toggl, there are a variety of plants that can thrive in an office environment, provided they receive the care and light they require. Some common plants chosen for the office include:

  • Desk plant — bonsai: While bonsai can be particular, they offer employees the general benefits outlined above while providing special mental well-being through the grooming they require.
  • Hanging plant — pothos: Requiring only weekly watering, this plant thrives in low- to medium-light environments. Because it’s a trailing plant, it does well hanging in a corner.
  • Plants for low-light environments — snake plant: Many office environments don’t offer sunlight in all areas. Instead of trying to force a plant to survive in poor lighting conditions, choose one that thrives in them. The snake plant only needs to be watered monthly and can survive just fine without much light.
  • No-soil plants — tillandsia: Known as an “air plant,” this wonderful plant is extremely easy to care for, requiring only minimal filtered sunlight and needing only to be misted with water a few times a month.

Talk with your employees to determine if allergies will be an issue. Ensure that you do this in a way that protects employee privacy. If there are no relevant restrictions within your workforce, encourage employee participation for both the selection and care of the plants. Adding some oxygen and color can brighten the workplace and boost health and productivity.

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