Spotlight on: plants in the workplace

Are you surrounded by foliage in your office? If not, you could be at risk of suffering from lower morale than those employees who work in an environment full of plants and natural light.

Interior landscape firm Ambius conducted a survey of 1,000 employees in March, which found that 40% of respondents believe their employer could do more to brighten up the office by placing a plant on every employee’s desk.

Miserable surroundings

Nearly 50% admitted to taking off six more annual sick days than the UK average because they are affected by their miserable office surroundings and 84% agree that their surroundings have a significant impact on their happiness and motivation.

Ambius managing director Jeff Mariola says: “It’s no surprise that a kind of ‘desk despair’ syndrome is setting in. Just 24% of workers describe their environments as stimulating.”

The survey found that seven out of 10 UK workers believe that a more pleasant working environment would make them 20% more productive, and Mariola says there is a strong business case for improving working environments by adding some greenery.

“Introducing plants into the office could make a significant difference to an employee’s sense of well­being,” he says. “Plants can decrease stress levels, improve morale, reduce sick days and increase productivity.”

Listen to employees

Decor is often the last budget priority for employers, but with the research revealing that it is just as important to an employee’s wellbeing as holiday allowance, Mariola believes that employers need to listen to what their employees want.

He stresses that employers don’t need to spend lots of money – introducing even just a few plants could make a significant difference to the atmosphere in the office. Plants vary greatly in size and price, so there are options to fit all budgets.

“To really make a difference and create a statement with your office greenery, it’s just as important to use attractive containers,” Mariola says. “We advise our customers to have their plant containers changed on a six-monthly basis, both to keep up with fashion trends and create new looks.”

Less is more

When choosing your plants, consider office temperature, lighting and how the plants look in the space available. “We often find that less is more from a design aspect,” adds Mariola.

Consider using plants in your reception area to create a welcoming feel use them along halls and corridors to provide visual cues that help visitors to identify where they are in the building and in social areas, such as meeting rooms, canteens and break areas.

Employees should be advised against bringing their own plants into the workplace, as they can potentially introduce bugs and horticultural diseases into the environment.

Green fingers…

The most popular plants in office environments tend to be palms and weeping figs, also known as the Benjamina, and the Dracaena.

When tending to plants in the office, remember to:

  • Never over-water your plants because it causes poor root development and encourages pests.
  • Provide good lighting – poor light stops photosynthesis.
  • Put plants in the right size of container with enough room for soil, roots and headroom for watering.

Source: Ambius

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