By Sherkiya Wedgeworth

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Why your office should 'go green'

If you want a happy workplace with reliable and loyal workers, you can spare yourself the bonus gift cards and corner office upgrades. Just buy a plant.

British researchers say that workers who have a plant on their desk or even just near their workstation take fewer sick days and tend to be happier and more productive.

Researchers at the University of Exeter and Cardiff University’s School of Psychology in England looked at the effects green offices had on staff's perception of air quality, concentration, productivity and overall workplace satisfaction. They found that filling two large offices in the UK and the Netherlands with live plants increased productivity by 15 percent. 

A green office also improved employees’ work engagement by making them more physically, cognitively, and emotionally involved in their work.

“Our research suggests that investing in landscaping the office with plants will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity,” said lead researcher Marlon Nieuwenhuis of Cardiff. Nieuwenhuis said the study is likely the first to examine the green effect in real offices and show a long-term benefit.

Kenneth Freeman, the head of innovation at an interior landscaping company, who was involved in the study, said organizations should take note of the benefits of green offices.

"We know from previous studies that plants can lower physiological stress, increase attention span and improve well-being," Freeman said. "But this is the first long-term experiment carried out in a real-life situation which shows that bringing plants into offices can improve well-being and make people feel happier at work. Businesses should rethink their lean processes, not only for the health of the employees, but for the financial health of the organization.”

A similar Australian study found that live plants in the workplace reduced tension and anxiety by 37 percent; depression and dejection by 58 percent; anger and hostility by 44 percent and fatigue by 38 percent.

But take note, happiness cannot be fooled: the study also found that there was no noticeable benefit if the office was filled with fake plastic plants.

The study was published by the American Psychological Association.

Posted by Sherkiya Wedgeworth on May 19, 2015 at 2:05 PM

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