The term "go green" is typically associated with renewable energy and environmental activism. But it also describes an office model that savvy business owners and managers are incorporating to gain an edge over the competition.
A study released last month by Dutch researchers at Wageningen University found that offices with a lot of green plants had 20% less absenteeism versus offices with no plants. The same study also found that workers were more likely to report comfortable temperatures in the office, and found their workspaces more attractive.
There is seemingly a new study every year that reinforces the idea that plants have a positive effect on workers in many ways.
A 2014 study by Exeter University is perhaps the most oft-cited when Human Resources personnel are trying to convince office managers to go green. Researchers measured worker productivity in a call center that had no photos or paintings on the walls, and of course no plants. They added a few houseplants to the office and worker productivity jumped 15% in a matter of days.
The study concluded that the plants got workers actively engaged in their environment and thus made them more productive. This particular experiment did not require a complete office makeover either. One plant per square meter of office space produced the positive results. One house plant on all corner desks and a few larger ones towards the center of the room is more than adequate.
Office spaces are becoming more open with less walls and doors in 2019. That means workers are side-by-side, and can hear each other typing away on keyboards and rocking in their creaky desk chair.
The reason wooded areas full of green plants and botanical gardens in cities feel so tranquil and serene is because green, leafy plants have the ability to absorb sound. Granted plants do not block noise altogether like sound-proof walls. But think of plants in the office like a windscreen or foam cover on a microphone. The soft material acts as a buffer so your p-words and b-words roll smoothly off the tongue instead of producing that popping noise.
The three best plants for noise reduction are the Peace Lily, rubber plant, and the weeping fig.
Everyone has heard the term "green room" as it relates to actors and other performance artists. It's the place they go to relax and unwind before going on stage or doing the third take of a movie scene. These relaxation rooms got their name because the walls have historically been painted dark green.
The color green has many psychological effects on the human mind. Therapists associate green with good health, good luck, and fertility. Not only were wedding gowns in 15th century Europe green (before the traditional white gowns took over), but also green M & M candies have long been associated with sexual attraction.
Snake plants, Jasmine, and English Ivy are known to have some of the best stress-reducing, anti-anxiety effects on offices.
No matter how much we try and separate ourselves from the rest of the animal kingdom, Homo sapiens are in fact animals. Humanity has an innate desire to be outdoors and connect with nature. Plants in the office satisfy with subconscious craving, while making employee a little more environmentally conscious.
Make certain when choosing plants that they can thrive in low-light settings if there are few windows in your office space.