Plants on a Desk

Thoughts and musings

Plants on a Desk

Lewis | March 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

I would love to say that the title of this blog is the latest spin-off of the Samuel L. Jackson film Snakes on a Plane! Maybe it’s something they can look into, but I digress…

It is a genuinely serious premise. In an online post from Pro Landscaper Magazine, a publication we have a subscription to, a study from a UK-based workplace health and safety law consultancy firm called revealed that office workers who have a plant on their desk or relatively near to their station take fewer sick days, and generally tend to be happier and more productive. Mark Hall, a spokesperson from the company, pointed out that “it’s all about feeling involved with your job, and somehow a plant on your desk makes all the difference.” Despite this reinforcement, I was initially still sitting on the proverbial fence! I was wondering: what actually was the underlying factor or factors behind workplace plants that improves an office worker’s day?

However, this was answered almost immediately for me upon reading further. haven’t been the only researchers into this, some might say, phenomenon. A Cardiff-based researchers concluded in 2014 that workers have a greater sense of responsibility if they have something to care for within their vicinity; this was directly correlated with productivity, and the decrease in the number of sick days, so much so that an insurance clerk said: “I feel guilty if I take time off work now.” This is because she would have to make arrangements for her plant to be watered!

This may seem like a direct benefit for those who sit further up the business hierarchy. But for employees themselves, there are startling health benefits, too. A study in Australia into the effects of plants in the workplace have on office workers revealed that:

  • Tension and/or anxiety was reduced by 37%;
  • Depression and/or dejection was reduced by 58%;
  • Anger and/or hostility was reduced by 44%; and,
  • Fatigue was reduced by 38%

These benefits in relation to common problems and illnesses are quite something. However, we understand that not everyone is going to believe figures; everyone may have a different reaction to a plant in the workplace. However, spoke to some office workers in different office atmospheres. A civil servant said: “Our office now looks like you’d almost like to be there now. We’ve even got a plant care rota, and that’s made us more of a team.” This further cements the potential benefits of plants in the workplace for the firm themselves.

However, despite the mutually-exclusive benefit, some of the people interviewed by revealed that they had to “fight” to get plants in their office. A team leader said after asking for plants, the powers at play brought in plastic ones “which are universally hated and effectively used as rubbish bins”. They went on to say that they “ended up bringing their own in as a form a guerrilla gardening! Another company even sorted a subcontractor to come in a water their plants, leaving their employees outraged.

As it’s clear plants have some beneficial effects on an office workplace as a whole, it seems silly some companies would put up a barrier or two, or downright oppose the scheme altogether, especially considering a defining point put by Hall: “With reduced sickness and increased work rates, it is obvious that getting some greenery for the staff offers a massive return on investment.”

Hall goes on to add that there are more advantages that some may not have thought of, which include the appearance of a more welcoming workplace for visitors, and a relaxed environment for better communication. It seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?! What do you think? Do you have plants in your office? Have you noticed any effects similar to the ones outlined above? Let us know in the comment section below.