Top tips for keeping that much loved Christmas plant alive. We've tested a plant sensor and mixed it up with some good old gardening knowledge...
Imagine this: you’ve been sentenced to spend forty years sitting in an airless room, facing the same direction and clicking certain small buttons over and over again in a set order. You have nothing but a hard, bare table and an uncomfortable chair. If you don’t click enough buttons you’ll be disciplined.
Welcome to the office.
On average, Britons spend 42.7 hours per week working. That’s a huge proportion of our waking hours and higher than the average working hours across Europe. And yet we rarely consider how the environment in which we work affects our health, happiness or productivity.
Offices are increasingly built to higher energy efficiency specifications, which is a great way to save energy and keep warm, but can have an impact on indoor air quality. In turn, this is one of the factors that may lead to Sick Building Syndrome, which mostly affects office workers in modern buildings without opening windows. Symptoms include headaches and dizziness, nausea, fatigue, aches and pains, eye and throat irritations and poor concentration.
During the process of developing technologies to allow humans to live in environments like the International Space Station, NASA discovered that plants can help to filter the air in closed environments. A number of plants were tested by the University of Hawaii, which found that plants such as bamboo palm, dwarf date, florist’s mum, the gerbera daisy and rubber plants are particularly effective at removing chemical vapours.
Given the whole host of ailments outlined above, it will be of no surprise that there is a link between having plants in the office and increasing productivity. One study, in which participants had to undertake random assignments in a controlled laboratory experiment, showed that the participants who did the assignments in an office setting with four indoor plants had a better attention capacity than those who did the tests in the same setting without plants.
Even in a completely windowless environment, plants can make a significant different to employees’ happiness. In a survey of office workers in Texas and the Midwest, 69 per cent of those who worked in windowless offices with plants said that they felt ‘content’ or ‘very happy,’ compared with 58% of those who worked in offices without windows or plants. (A similar pattern was witnessed for those with windows – 82% of those with windows and plants were happy, compared to 60% of those who had just windows.)
Admittedly, some plants fare better than others in a windowless environment – if you don’t have windows, consider options like lemon balm, philodendrons or peace lilies.
There could be loads of other benefits to having plants in the office, if you’re creative:
- Team bonding through collaborative plant growing (try amaryllis, lemons or cacti) – you could even have a competition between teams!
- Starting conversations between different teams by encouraging people to share cuttings or seedlings (like spider plants, money plants or even tomatoes).
- Improved employee retention – encourage them to grow corporate bonsai. It takes years to shape the trees so, if you’re in luck, they’ll stay for longer to tend the plant.
- Savings on office décor – if you have a particularly unattractive feature, why not cover it with a big tree?
- New romance with the person who waters the plants – inspired by Music and Lyrics
Maybe, just maybe, with the addition of a few plants, you’ll be happier, healthier and more productive. Which might mean you stop seeing your job as a life sentence and start actually enjoying it.
If not, don’t blame us. We’re plant experts, not career advisors…