Why You Should Have Plants in Your Office (and Which Ones!)

Besides wooing the talent of younger generations, here’s why you should have plants in your office (and which types!).

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Why You Should Have Plants in Your Office (and Which Ones!)

Here's what you need to know:

  • Plants help battle “sick building syndrome” and have a positive impact on employee well-being and productivity
  • A plant-filled office can help attract talent
  • The best plants for office spaces include the ZZ plant, peace lily, aloe and other cacti, and more

Has biophilic office design caught your attention? Maybe all of the time inside that the pandemic demanded of us has turned you into a plant person and you want to bring that joy into your workspace, too.

Perhaps you’re interested in creating the best possible office space in order to attract top talent? Whatever the reason, plants in offices are on the rise.

Plants have always been in offices, but the trend has been growing in recent years. Millennials have been a driving force behind the recently renewed interest in plants. Besides wooing the talent of younger generations, here’s why you should have plants in your office (and which ones!).

Plants help battle “sick building syndrome”

In 2008, a researcher published a study on sick building syndrome. The syndrome is a general feeling of being unwell that’s linked to the time spent inside a building.

There’s not 1 specific illness to pinpoint. Instead, it’s a collection of symptoms like headache, dizziness, nausea, and eye, nose, and throat irritation among others. The study found that these symptoms are relieved soon after leaving the building.

But in the meantime, the illness that workers experience has a major impact on productivity and efficiency. This is, in part, because it increases absenteeism. People experience these symptoms and understandably assume that they’re sick and take time off.

Many of these symptoms are caused by buildings that lack a connection to the outside world. Think little to no natural light and plenty of fluorescents beaming down from overhead. Think recycled air.

While plants cannot eliminate sick building syndrome on their own, they can help mitigate it. Plants clean the air we breathe and offer a connection to the natural, outside world.

Office plants can reduce stress among employees

The color green and the strong associations it has with nature alone is psychologically associated with feelings of tranquility. A 2010 study by researchers in Australia found that plants have a stress-reducing power that goes beyond just their color.

The authors found that 37% of workers studied reported a drop in their anxiety after plants were introduced to their office space. The introduction of plants into the office also led to a 58% drop in depression, a 44% drop in feelings of anger and hostility, and a 38% drop in feelings of fatigue.

The best part? This can be achieved by putting just 1 plant in each work space.

A plant-filled office can help attract talent

“The benefit of design inspired by nature, known as biophilic design, is accumulating evidence at a rapid pace,” Professor Sir Cary Cooper said of a 2015 report on productivity, well-being, and office design. “Up to one in five people have no natural elements within their workspace. And alarmingly nearly 50% of workers have no natural light. Yet a third of us say that workplace design would affect our decision to join a company.”

Especially for younger generations who are demanding more in the way of wellness from their jobs, office design has a role to play.

Especially for younger generations who are demanding more in the way of wellness from their jobs, office design has a role to play. Why not do what you can to attract top talent, especially when it’s as simple as adding a few plants to your office space?

Plants boost productivity among employees

A 2014 study looked at the benefits of green office spaces versus lean office spaces and concluded that plants are better. The researchers looked at the trend of stripping offices of decorative elements in order to accommodate flexibility.

But, the researchers note, “the practice is at odds with evidence that office workers’ quality of life can be enriched by office landscaping that involves the use of plants that have no formal work-related function.”

Their findings? That workers are roughly 15% more productive when there are plants in the office. That’s a big boost in exchange for the minimal effort of introducing plants to the office and watering them.

Plants support more than just employee productivity, though. That same 2015 report also included some startling findings related to employee creativity. Those in office space with natural elements like plants reported a 15% increase in creativity.

What are the best plants for office spaces?

Are you sold on the benefits of bringing plants into the office? Great! Maybe you’re not so sure where to start — and that’s OK!

Perhaps you have a bit of a brown thumb and you’re not confident that you can keep your new plant investments alive. Don’t worry. There are plenty of resilient, low-maintenance plants that thrive in office environments, even those with very little light!

ZZ plant

The Zamioculcas Zamiifolia plant, or ZZ plant for short, is one of the easiest and most adaptable plants around. They can thrive in even the most low-light conditions and don’t need much watering or care.

The needs of each plant depend on the unique environment they’re in, but in general, ZZ plants only need to be watered every 2 or 3 weeks. You’ll know that they need to be watered once the soil is completely dry throughout.

These plants can be toxic to cats and dogs, though. So, if you have pups in the office, just be sure to keep these plants out of reach of furry friends.

Snake plant

Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, these tall plants can handle pretty much everything except for overwatering. They also grow slowly, so you don’t have to worry about pruning.

Aloe and other cacti

While north-facing windows might not provide enough light, aloe and other cacti will thrive in pretty much any other window, especially a south-facing one. Great for tiny offices without much space, these little guys love living life on a windowsill.

Peace lily

Peace lilies are super easy to take care of because they tell you when they need to be watered. No guesswork required! These plants will droop dramatically when they need to be watered.

Once you give them what they need, they perk back up almost instantaneously. This plant is also toxic to dogs and cats, though. So, make sure they’re kept out of reach in a pet-friendly office.

Bamboo

Bamboo grows super well in just water alone. Just replenish the water once a week or so, and the plant will be set. This is another one that thrives in even the lowest light settings. Plus, because bamboo grows so slowly, you don’t have to worry about it outgrowing your desktop.

Pothos

These ivy-like plants are office favorites. If you hand them, their leaves will trail out of the pot and add plenty of green to your office.

Pothos are not only also suited to low-light environments, they actually do better in lower light conditions than in bright light conditions. Pothos plants are also resilient — they’ll be just fine if you forget to water them every now and then.

Chinese evergreen

This easy plant is nice because it comes in a variety of colors. It prefers dry and shady environments to bright, humid ones.

Spider plant

Spider plants are not only low-maintenance, but they’re very easily propagated. They sprout their own little baby plants.

Simply cut them off, leave them in a cup of water for a couple weeks until they sprout roots, and replant them. Buy 1 spider plant and you’ll soon have an office full of them if you want to.

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Which are the best plants for your office?

These are just the easiest and most adaptable houseplants. There are tons to choose from in pretty much any size and color. All you have to do is decide where you want to start and go from there.

But starting with these easier plants is a great way to get your feet wet. Then, once you start to get the hang of plants, you can introduce more finicky species into the space.

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