plants outside office

It is common knowledge now in this industry that interior design has the ability to influence an individual’s mood, attitude and even their actions. There is a deep and complex psychology behind the interiors that most of us take for granted every day, and by understanding this, designers can create spaces that are truly influential.

Oftentimes, however, colour and furnishings are the main focus that designers use to create a mood. This is only logical, due to the highly visible and high impact nature of these two interior design features.

However, one surprisingly subtle addition to our interiors is proving to lift both the mood and productivity of those in the space.

That is the common plant.

In the self-explanatory report ‘Interior plants may improve worker productivity and reduce stress in a windowless environment’ by Virginia I. Lohr, Caroline H. Pearson-Mims, and Georgia K. Goodwin of the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Washington State Unversity, this increasingly influential topic is explored.

The report covers a study that the authors performed by which plants were added to a college computer lab. Blood pressure and emotions were monitored of those participating in the study who used the the room both before and after the plants were added. The outcomes were incredibly surprising.

plants in office

They found that by including the plants into this confined, bland and incredibly function orientated space that the participants showed a 12% quicker reaction time in the computer tasks they were undertaking and their systolic blood pressure, on average, dropped by one to four points. They also reported feeling more attentive with the addition of the plants.

In essence, they were more productive and less stressed just by entering a room that had the small addition of plants.

This is however not the first time studies of this nature have been undertaken.

The report also explains studies that were undertaken in Germany in the 1960’s where employee morale was lifted, absences decreased and work efficiency increased all due to the addition of plants in ‘traditional, unplanted offices’.

Further studies have shown that including windows that show flora can actually improve our health, so it stands to reason that being in the presence of plant life would at a bare minimum improve workplace productivity.

Including a plant into an office’s interior is possibly one of the least invasive and simplest design additions that can be made. In order to get the  best out of these interior spaces long after the design and construction stages are over, designers have to truly understand the function of the building, and just what they can do to maximise this, especially if that can be achieved through the easiest of means.


By Jane Parkins

24-Feb-12 5:00 PM