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Can Office Plants Really Boost Workplace Productivity?

Working in a drab, sparse environment is conducive to misery, if recent studies are to be believed. An article on office happiness and productivity suggests that employees display better levels of engagement, happiness and productivity when placed in environments with houseplants or similar visual stimuli such as pictures or even other sensory factors such as changes in light or aroma. The main thing is that the working environment should not be minimal, explains Dr Chris Knight of Exeter university. Active engagament with surroundings is one major key to employee fulfilment it would seem.

Knight cites the example of an ant left in an empty jar or a gorilla placed in a cage bereft of stimuli; such animals are likely to be unhappy. This analogy does make sense although it does suggest that the modern office worker is akin to a trapped insect or zoo animal on display. (Perhaps then quite an apt analogy in some respects).

Research on the subject was conducted by Knight and his colleague in a variety of different workplaces including a Dutch call centre and a London based auditing firm. When plants were introduced to otherwise lean working environments, employees were demonstrably better at memory retention and other simple tests. The reasoning behind this is that happier workers perform better, eschewing the trendy motif of recent years "less is more." It seems that minimal working environments could therefore actually be detrimental to workplace performance.

If you work in an office or from a home office, it is therefore important to ensure your workplace benefits from some visual stimulation to keep you happy, productive and motivated. It's important not to go overboard; too much visual stimulation may become distracting however! This is what makes houseplants such a perfect addition to a workplace; they offer a natural beauty that is both sublime yet not constantly distracting.

Not only ideal if you are looking to enhance your own office space, plants also make for great gifts for colleagues. If you run your own company and are seeking new ways to motivate your own employees, decorating the office with plants could be the way to go!

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