It’s funny how our bodies respond instinctively to the air around us. Wander into a dense forest foliage and you’ll naturally find your body relaxing and your lungs getting ready to take a deep breath in, savoring the crispness of the air around you.
But in the office? Not so much. Can you even remember the last time you felt like taking a deep, relaxing breath…of stale, poorly-circulated office air?
Doesn’t happen often. And many of us just sort of take it all for granted.
Until you remember that we spend a huge portion of our lives – 8 hours a day, 5 days a week – breathing in that air. Then it start to matter – a lot.
Especially since we can improve the quality of this stale office air as well as transform our total working environment pretty darn easily – simply by adding more plants.
As it turns out, plants are a lot more than office decor – these leafy greens have the ability to improve productivity, oxygenate the room and keep us feeling happier in general.
They’re actually even more useful to the workspace than coffee!
How so, you ask? Let us count the ways – here’s 8 reasons why plants are an absolute essential in the office for both you and your coworkers!
Everyone knows that without oxygen one can’t breathe, let alone function. When one is deprived of oxygen, one has less energy.
This is the main reason we yawn when we feel tired – the body tries to suck in a larger amount of oxygen from the air to keep us going!
Moreover, oxygen has been shown to have many more amazing health benefits.
Now here’s where the plants come in.
All plants naturally take carbon dioxide from the air (that’s the stuff you breathe out) and produce oxygen from out tiny openings in their leaves.
Most plants however produce an average of 5ml (0.01 pints) of oxygen per day, whereas us humans need at least 50 liters (13.2 gallons) per day – I bet we don’t even get that much thanks to air pollution!
Still, even incremental increases in oxygen will help. There are also some amazing species of plants (see in the section at the bottom of the article) which produce up to 12 litres per day! Those are the ones you need in your both your home and office space to help keep you healthy with an abundance of oxygen.
The prevalence of air pollution in every city is undeniable, from industrial smoke stacks, car exhaust fumes, and even regular home cleaning products like air fresheners and bug spray.
Air pollution has been linked to a significant increase in lung cancer, respiratory conditions, allergies and even death itself.
On the bright side of things, our green friends of the plant world are highly evolved and have adapted ways to counteract these toxins that humans seem to accept living in.
Many plant species can absorb common air pollutants such as Formaldehyde, Ammonia, Benzene, Xylene and Trichloroethylene.
Spruce up your office space with the help of your green allies, who are more than willing to absorb all the nasty stuff from cleaning agents and city pollution!
Yep! Plants will even improve the way you go about your work by enhancing your focus and productivity.
In a study carried out by Washington State University, a group of workers was placed in an office environment with plants and a group without. The experiment showed that those with the plants were 12% more productive than the control group.
Furthermore, 10% of the workers felt that the plants helped them to focus better on the tasks at hand. Just by sitting there, a plant can help you get more work done and do it better with more focus!
Looking after a plant actually imparts a sense of responsibility on the owner of the plant. If you don’t water it when required and give it some attention every now and then, the plant will likely die.
A good example of this is often used with alcoholics and drug addicts in recovery, who have a hard time maintaining commitments. The first task assigned to them after they’ve been dry for some time, is to care for a plant or two. It helps them to maintain consistency and develop diligence, which often falls away during their addictions.
Fostering a relationship with your green buddies in the office can help you to improve your diligence and help you to stick it through with other commitments in your life.
Our green friends come to the rescue, yet again!
A few studies have shown that plants can reduce stress levels.
One particular study revealed that those who worked at computers in a windowless environment with plants had significantly reduced blood pressure, compared to those that didn’t have plants in the same setting.
Having high blood pressure is often linked to stress and many other conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and more.
Having plants around means that you will experience less pain and feel more satisfied with your surroundings.
In a test done on 80 women who had undergone thyroid operations, half of them were placed in a room that had beautiful flowering plants.
Of those that were exposed to the plants, the hospital noted that their hospitalization time was reduced, they needed less pain killers, they experienced less pain, stress and tiredness, and they were far more satisfied with their experience than the other plant-less group.
If you feel unhappy in your work space, tired or in pain, try buying some plants to literally liven it up!
Did you know that plants even help you to feel more comfortable?
I bet you also didn’t know that humidity plays a role in human comfort and that we need an ideal humidity of 30-60%.
Plants placed in and around office spaces contributed about 5% humidity. While this is small, it was just enough to boost the humidity levels of a computer lab in Washington State University from 25% to 30%, placing the users in an ideal humidity zone.
So we’ve been through all the benefits of plants, except for one that is largely overlooked: the color green itself.
In an intriguing experiment done on anxiety patients, an appropriate medicine was given in capsules of 3 different colors: red, green and yellow. In the group that had the green tablets, symptoms of anxiety were most improved and the amount of phobias the group had were reduced significantly.
Green was also shown to be more arousing, in terms of keeping one awake. All the more reasons to have a green plant next to you at your desk!
Now that you know why you should have green companions by your side in your work space, check out these green beauties that are easy to grow indoors, emit loads of oxygen and suck up harmful toxins out the air!
A Snake Plant or more commonly, a Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, can give off 1/6th to 1/8th of your daily oxygen supply at night!
It’s also very effective at drawing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene from the air, all of which are toxic to human health.
If you thought the Snake Plant was impressive, just hold on a moment! The Areca Palm is capable of emitting a quarter of your daily oxygen supply alone.
Get four of these in your office space to fully oxygenate your air, add some green and absorb harmful toxins.
Peace lilies are gorgeous, easy to grow and only need a small pot to be happy.
These beautiful flowering plants smell great too, but their best qualities are the way they absorb Ammonia, Benzene, Formaldehyde and Trichloroethylene from out the air!
Chinese Evergreens have most commonly been adopted in China for their potent ability to take out vast amounts of pollution from the air.
They also require very little maintenance, enjoying shade and just needing a bit of water every so often to keep the soil moist.
If you feel intimidated by the idea of having a plant and don’t know if you have a green thumb, have no fear! The Golden Pothos is a small but very forthcoming plant that grows exceptionally easily.
It can take many chemicals out the air too and is a common first time garden plant for those who are just starting out. Give it a go!
You can also put one of these in a hanging basket if you’d prefer and they will trail down like a vine. This can increase their total surface area and amplify their toxin-absorption rate.
Gorgeous plants, right? And they even boost the oxygen supply, suck up pollution and improve the quality of your life for the greater good – and all they ask for in exchange is some water and sun. You won’t get a better deal from any other living creature, trust us 😉
So what are you waiting for? Pop down to the nursery today and acquaint yourself with some frondly buddies!