In recent years, many offices have transformed from drab, old-fashioned, cubicle-style layouts to modern, open-plan hubs which foster collaboration. In fact, according to Deloitte, office refurbishments outnumber new builds by more than two to one.
An important element of the workplace refurb revolution is the continued push for office design to promote mental and physical wellbeing. We’ve seen Biophilia – the theory that humans have an innate need to connect with the natural environment – incorporated in many interior design decisions, for example by letting in more natural light or through the addition of foliage to ‘bring the outside in’. We’re also seeing the trend of green living walls continue to rise, a biophilic design option which can turn urban or indoor spaces into something natural and beautiful. I predict we will see a big increase in moss walls in the next few years as people look for more distinctive and authentic forms of greenery.
This injection of natural elements in the workplace is even more important when we consider that employees are spending an alarmingly limited amount of time outdoors. A study of 1,000 office workers by Ambius found that 35% spend less than 15 minutes outside each day, excluding their commuting time.
A simple way for office managers to create a productive and relaxing environment is through the addition of foliage. We know that plants can reduce stress and anxiety, but that is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the benefits they can deliver. Here are five plants which will help contribute to improved productivity and wellbeing in the workplace:
Snake plant: Snake Plant or ‘Sansevieria’ is potentially one of the most tolerant indoor plants available, handling low light conditions with ease, and needing minimal watering. What’s more, research shows that Snake Plants are able to help keep the air inside an office clean, removing toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene.
Peace Lily: An excellent low-maintenance option, Peace lilies are also known for cleaning the air, helping to create a healthier work environment. They’re tolerant of low light, so a good option for those spaces with limited windows.
Devil’s Ivy: This evergreen vine is a very easy indoor plant to maintain, whether grown in a hanging basket or trailing down from a high shelf. It adapts well to a variety of office conditions, whether low light or in direct sunlight, and is guaranteed to bring that splash of colour needed to improve workplace wellbeing.
Ficus Benjamina: Commonly known as the ‘weeping fig’, is a versatile plant which looks attractive as a standalone or when incorporated into a display. The tropical properties of this plant mean that it struggles with cold draughts or darkness, so be sure to place them in a draught-free spot with access to filtered bright sunlight.
Aloe Vera: Like most succulent plants, evergreen Aloe Vera plants do best in dry, bright conditions. For best results, water deeply, but infrequently (around every three weeks), and ensure there are drainage holes in the pot, so it doesn’t stand in water. A lovely, easy-to-care-for addition to any office space.
From helping to reduce stress to improving wellbeing and productivity, there are many benefits to biophilic design in the office. And as refurbs become more popular and workers spend more time indoors, it’s something office managers can ill afford to ignore.
Jackie Cooper – Interior Service Supervisor – Ambius