20th May, 2016

Do you have to weave your way through a jungle of tropical plants on your way to the photocopier, or is your office a foliage-free zone?

The topic of today's blog is 'Plants in the workplace' and I'll be answering some of the questions you never thought you'd ask about how plants can influence productivity, health and overall 'good vibes' in a workspace.

Firstly - did you know that research suggests that plants can actually boost productivity? Dr Craig Knight of the University of Exeter found that by enriching a lean, 'clutter-free' office space with a few houseplants, the productivity of the workforce could be boosted by up to 15% (reference: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/featurednews/title_409094_en.html) – a fairly dramatic increase when you consider the minimal cost of a couple of 'Swiss Cheese' plants from your local Homebase.

As well as boosting productivity, Plants also have the power to make workplaces healthier! Apparently, the average workplace is subject to all kinds of chemical fumes that are emitted from apparently harmless items of technology and stationery. That printer sat next to your desk is a major culprit, releasing xylene and trichloroethylene and all kinds of other nasties into the air. Even the box of tissues on your desk is a source of formaldehyde. But fear not! Research carried out for NASA in 1989 'A study of interior landscape plants for indoor air pollution abatement') determined that Spider Plants can effectively filter formaldehyde, xylene and toluene from the air, and Japanese Peace Lilies can effectively filter benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, trichloroethylene and ammonia. Looks like it is time to invest in a Peace Lily – unless you have a cat or dog, as they are toxic to pets I'm afraid... Spider Plants aren't though!

When it comes to the issue of plants in your home or workspace, Feng Shui also has something to say about it! For example, in order to feel the benefit of a vibrant 'Chi' or energy from a houseplant, the plant needs to be happy and healthy (read: not dead). Plants positioned in the East, South-East or South of a room work best, as do plants that are nice and smooth. Apparently, the energy produced by a cactus is spiky and therefore not conducive to a positive and calming work environment (http://fengshui.about.com/od/fengshuidecorfaq/f/Good-Feng-Shui-Plants-And-Bad-Feng-Shui-Plants.htm).

So if you are looking for a quick and simple way to boost your happiness, health and productivity at work this week, try investing in a plant. Don't forget to water it though - you don't want any bad Chi.

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