When you search for workplace designs, you might notice a trend—greenery in some form, big or small, a few desk plants, or actual living walls. It makes sense because plants’ lush, vibrant colors make workspaces prettier and livelier.
But studies show that office plants give us benefits beyond aesthetics. If you don’t have them in your workspace yet, it’s about time you should. We’ve come up with this science-backed article to show you why every home office should have plans.
You will find that a biophilic design in an office or even your workstation at home is healthier for your well-being. Here are some reasons why:
Having plants in the office may reduce stress.
Plants are calming and may reduce stress levels–one interesting study shows us the potential of this notion. Researchers tracked the heart rate and blood pressure of 24 participants after completing two tasks. One group worked on a typical computer-based task, and another tended to indoor plants. They switched tasks the next day.
It was found that the participants had “positive feelings when interacting with indoor plants.” In contrast, they felt “uncomfortable, awakened, and artificial,” which showed through the “increased diastolic blood pressure and sympathetic nervous system activity” after working with the computer. The researchers then concluded that working with plants can reduce stress, as they promote “comfortable, soothed, and natural feelings.”
The greenery sharpens your attention.
In color psychology, green is often associated with calmness, optimism, and safety—and the reason, perhaps, is the strong connection of green to nature. The restful energy that emanates from the color, especially from the vibrant green of live plants, has a restorative effect on people. This helps us feel sharper and more attentive.
One study, for example, looked at the brain activity of people as they took a 25-minute walk through three areas of Edinburgh: an urban shopping street, half a mile of green space, and a busy commercial district. Through mobile electroencephalography (EEG), the researchers found that the participants showed “lower frustration, engagement and arousal, and higher meditation when moving into the green space zone; and higher engagement when moving out of it.”
This shows us that nature captures our attention while providing space for reflection—helping us rest, feel more focused, and ready to engage in tasks. There is indeed true potential for plants to sharpen our attention at work. Taking a short break while in the presence of lush, green colors might do the trick.
All that vibrant color makes your office inviting.
Some offices lack warmth—bare, neutral walls and aesthetically frigid. Ideally, workspaces should be where people want to spend time, at the same time, look inviting to new applicants.
Bringing in some greenery is a simple way to transform your “cold” workspace. Plants add warmth to an otherwise rigid indoor environment and help people reconnect with nature. Aside from breathing life into a dull workplace, having plants may also boost your brand by showing visitors or clients you’re all about positivity and good vibes.
So, get creative and mix and match different types of plants to create a stylish display. You could even take it to the next level and create living green walls. Draw inspiration from Google, Facebook, or Apple workspaces, where greenery is integral to office design.
Indoor plants make you feel more satisfied with your space.
How many of us who work are genuinely comfortable and satisfied in our space? If you feel like something is missing, having plants around can help. One study can show us that people indeed feel more satisfied, even happy, in spaces with plants.
During the experiment, participants spent time in an office with and without plants. After spending time in each, they were asked to report their comfort and satisfaction with the environment.
It was found that participants were more content in an office that had plants. Most of them were satisfied or even very satisfied with the environment, noting that they felt happier and more pleasant than those in the office without plants.
Various parameters were also measured, including EEG, ECG, oxyhemoglobin saturation, fingertip blood flow, skin resistance, and respiration rate. These parameters showed notable changes in response to environmental changes and are considered potential indicators of human comfort.
They help you cope when you’re cooped up indoors.
During the pandemic, all of us had to stay indoors. At that time, interest in indoor plants spiked. Is this a coincidence? A study revealed that this wasn’t a mere chance.
A group of researchers conducted an online survey among 323 students in health-related programs in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Those with access to greenery–potted plants at home, a view of greenery from windows, home gardens, and neighborhood greenery–experienced reduced depression and anxiety symptoms. The findings stated, “The mental health of homebound young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic was better if greenery was present.”
The presence of indoor greenery was found to positively impact mental health, as it provided a sense of escape within one’s own home. Meanwhile, outdoor greenery had a restorative effect and also promoted social support.
Plants help purify the air indoors.
Many articles suggest indoor plants have air-purifying properties, usually citing a NASA study from 1989 as evidence. The study involved plants placed in small chambers and exposed them to various gases, demonstrating their ability to reduce VOC levels.
Note that the experiment was conducted in a sealed laboratory to test the potential benefits of plants for humans in closed space environments. It’s different from typical indoor spaces in apartments and office buildings.
A National Geographic article in 2019 showed how we might be overestimating our houseplants’ capability to purify the air. While plants are known for their air-cleansing abilities, the reality is that they work at a very slow rate and can’t keep up with the air exchange in buildings—where your office or home workspace is at.
According to the article, you’d need 10 plants per square foot to make a serious dent in VOCs. So, in a 500-square-foot apartment, you’d need a whopping 5,000 plants.
While indoor plants don’t purify the air as much as we believed, having them around makes us feel that the air quality is better. And this is just as important.