We all know plants do a mighty good job at keeping we humans alive, and as if this wasn’t cool enough, research has discovered some amazing benefits to lush internal gardens in workplaces and offices. Not only do people love the visual of a splash of greenery, but there are actually a tonne of health benefits from having an office nursery. So, what do plants do exactly?
A study by NASA in 1989 found that plants can remove up to 87% of nasty cancer causing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air. This includes substances like formaldehyde which is present in those old office carpets, rugs, vinyl, cigarette smoke and plastic bags. Man-made contaminates such as benzene and trichloroethylene (which form part of ink, paint and solvents) can also be removed by the help of our green office friends. Even trapped VOCs inside air-tight buildings are absorbed into the soil and converted into food for the plant through the root system, thus helping to purify the air.
The Peace Lily is the perfect plant for removing these toxins from your work environment plus they’re super easy to care for. Place your Peace Lily away from direct aircon and sunlight, and water when the soil is dry or when the leaves start to droop.
When you breathe your body absorbs oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. During photosynthesis plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, making humans and plants perfect partners.
Some plants, such as the Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’, also known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, not only release oxygen during the day, but they also release oxygen during the night when most plants cease photosynthesis. They’re also extremely resilient, thriving off neglect; all they require is occasional watering and a well-lit place to work their magic. Place the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue within two metres of where you normally work to gain the maximum benefits.
Over the past decade scientific studies have revealed how harmful air fresheners, electric plug-ins, candles and oil diffusers (that use artificial scents) are for your health. Even though the effects are usually unnoticed day-to-day, they still contain VOC’s, formaldehyde, phthalates and allergens which could have long term effects on your health if you inhale them regularly.
The Citrus Hystrix, also known as the Kaffir Lime Tree, is a great chemical-free alternative to keep your work environment smelling fresh. You can use the leaves in cooking, or brew a tea that helps relieve the symptoms of colds and aids digestion. The Kaffir Lime Tree is easy to care for as long as it gets a few hours of full sunlight each day and has well drained soil.
According to the 2015 Human Spaces Report, offices incorporating natural greenery reported a 15% higher wellbeing and a 6% higher productivity score than offices without plants.
Studies also show that a small dose of nature within the interior landscape can also reduce tension, depression, stress and fatigue.
A psychological study from the University of Exeter tried to measure how well workers performed in contrasting office environments - from stripped down minimal décor to an office decked out in green foliage. The researchers found that workers only needed a few visible plants to see an increase in productivity. If we relate this to colour theory it could make sense - the colour green has natural relaxing and calming effects so if you can’t be outdoors during work, why not bring the outdoors indoors to create a happier office atmosphere and higher job satisfaction?
The plants we’d recommend for indoor environments are the Fiddle Leaf Fig, Cyclamen, air plants, Zanzibar, Calathea and the Dragon Tree. If you’re not digging any of these, there are loads of options in your local nursery or garden centre, where you can suss out some green foliage to brighten up your work space.
Here at Superdream, bringing the outside in contributes in a big way to making our workspaces both lovely and productive. From our Aussie MD’s tropical jungle of an office, to the sunflower and chilli plant seeds we give to all our new Dreamers in the UK.