What they do and why we need them
Office environments can compound and intensify the symptoms of mental fatigue. Our brains can feel overwhelmed by competing demands for our attention; both consciously (from our colleagues and workloads) and unconsciously (from the busy and artificial environment). Most offices are opposed to nature by design, with little access to natural light and fresh air, in favour of blue light and the hum of technology. Such environments deplete our reserves of concentration and focus, and make us vulnerable to mental fatigue.
But research shows that when plant life is introduced in this context, individuals become more productive and more efficient. It’s not so much that plants stimulate us, rather that they allow us to restore, recuperate and think more clearly. So if you’re in need of some headspace, but are out of annual leave, plants might just do the trick!
The other key benefit of introducing plants into the workplace is air-purification. As part of photosynthesis, plants have tiny pores on their foliage which allow them to take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Through the same process, unwanted pollutants can be filtered out of indoor environments, purifying the air and keeping it fresh and healthy. Plants in offices also release water vapour which humidifies the air, relieving headaches and improving concentration. Cleaner, healthier air means a healthy office and less sick days taken, as comparative research studies have shown.
On top of this, workers in environments with a higher density of plant life report higher levels of positivity and job satisfaction. Plant’s proven ability to lower the body’s response to stress (specifically the hormone cortisol) is another great reason to green-up your office. We might associate the sweating, vein-popping man in a suit with money-making productivity, but research carried out by the American Medical Association cited stress-related illnesses as the number one cause of sick days, among chronic conditions. Plants can make us more resilient attitudinally, and make us recuperate from stress more quickly.
A huge bonus of introducing plants into offices is that it can help build a community among colleagues, especially when plant care is shared. This can lead to a more integrated workforce; one that feels safer and has a better shared morale. Bloombox Club are in the process of developing materials that will help offices look after plants collectively, encouraging this fruitful community building.