Smaller studies have suggested that plants lower stress and improve morale, but the first major long term study in real-world office environments should cause any managers dedicated to sleek, clutter-free surfaces to rethink their approach to office space.
A research team lead by Marlon Nieuwenhuis of Cardiff University’s School of Psychology monitored productivity in two large offices in the UK and the Netherlands. They found a remarkable 15% increase in productivity when the workspace was greened up with plants.
Self-reported levels of concentration and perceived air quality also rose in the office when plants were added to the interior landscape. The research team lead, Marlon Nieuwenhuis, sums it up:
"Simply enriching a previously Spartan space with plants served to increase productivity by 15% - a figure that aligns closely with findings in previously conducted laboratory studies. This conclusion is at odds with the present economic and political zeitgeist as well as with modern ‘lean’ management techniques, yet it nevertheless identifies a pathway to a more enjoyable, more comfortable and a more profitable form of office-based working.”
So, bosses of the world: feel free to psychologically manipulate us, as long as it only involves filling the office with bright, green (and non-allergenic) plants.