Employees are greening their offices to take advantage of the health benefits indoor plants provide. Office ergonomics isn’t just about the equipment we use, it’s the whole environment. Indoor plants can make us feel less stressed, improve the quality of the air and visual appeal of an office.
The Health Benefits of Indoor Plants
Office employees spend the majority of their day indoors. Research has shown, indoor air quality is often far more harmful than outdoor air. The air indoors can be polluted with everything from dust, allergies, mould, VOCs, toxins and chemicals. The pollutants can irritate our airways, cause skin problems and general poor health. Building-related illnesses include Legionnaires’ disease, asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis and humidifier fever. A study conducted by NASA in the late 80’s revealed that certain indoor plants act as a natural filter, removing some of the harmful toxins in the air.
Research has also shown that adding plants to an office can make employees happier, increase workplace satisfaction and lift productivity by 15%. Some researchers believe humans have a need to be connected to nature called biophilia.
The Best Indoor Office Plants
Some people make the mistake of choosing the plant they like the look of, rather than choosing a plant based on its suitability. Just like in our homes, most offices have areas of natural light, artificial light and a lack of all light sources. You should consider how much light (artificial or natural) it will receive. A plant that does well in one spot in the office may curl up and die in another place, so you also need to consider the heating and air conditioning. Lastly, you need to evaluate how much up-keep is needed to maintain your indoor plants. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the best air purifying and stress reducing indoor office plants you can introduce.
#1 Ficus Benjamina (Weeping Fig)
Not only is the weeping fig a beautiful plant with its glossy dark green leaves and slender trunk, it is one of the best small indoor trees for improving air quality. It has one of the best removal rates of toxins including formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene.
Our respiratory and skin health can improve with natural humidifying plants, particularly in winter and dry climates. The Dracaena is also one of the best indoor plant humidifiers. They can grow 2-3 metres tall, but you can control its height by pruning the colourful, strappy canes.
#3 Fiddle Leaf Fig
Arguably the most popular house plants around the world, the trends for Fiddle Leaf Fig plants will surely continue. Its attractive big green leaves and ability to cope with artificial office light means it’s perfect in any location.
#4 Bamboo Palm
If you want to feel you’re in a mini forest rather than the office, try a few bamboo palms. Keep in mind they can grow tall and wide quickly, even in low light conditions.
If you like the idea of surrounding yourself in a vine, try a vining Philodendron with a good supporting structure to climb on otherwise there are a few non-climbing varieties to choose from. Set the plant in a spot with bright, indirect sunlight. The Philodendron adapts well to inside conditions and thrives all year round.
#6 Zanzibar Plant (ZZ Plant)
The winner of the easiest plant award would have to go to the Zanzibar. It can cope with complete neglect, needing water only once a quarter and can cope with the darkest spot in the office.
#7 Peace Lily
Glossy green leaves and frequent white flowers that prefer humid conditions, away from direct sunlight. Research conducted by NASA revealed the Peace Lily as one of the best indoor plants for air purification. The tropical plant has the ability to break down toxic gases like benzene, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide. If you’re positioned well away from a window, or in an office that has no natural light, the Peace Lily might not be the plant for you. You will want a plant that thrives better under artificial light.
#8 Mother in Law’s Tongue (Snake Plant)
Upright leaves that can grow as tall as two metres and survive a variety of conditions. A good office plant with plenty of health improving qualities. According to NASA the Snake Plant purifies air during the day and emits oxygen at night.
#9 Aloe Vera
If you’re bored with seeing the same office plants, why not try something different? Not just for soothing sunburn and bites, a small Aloe Vera Plant can do well on an office desk. The best part is it purifies the air of carcinogens and emits oxygen.
While it’s not a traditional office plant, its aromatic, soothing properties make it worth a try. Lavender plants need hot, bright light to thrive - set your plant closest to a window to give it as much sunlight as possible. A study found that inhaling lavender scent for 10 minutes decreased feelings of depression and confusion.
You’re more likely to see basil in the kitchen garden than the office desk, but what could be easier than growing a herb in a glass of water rather than a pot of soil? A compound in basil called linalool reduces the activity of genes that go into overdrive when we’re stressed. You can even break off a sprig to add to your leftovers at lunchtime.
One of the best indoor desk plants is Mint. Grown in a pot or a glass of water, the aroma of mint can lower levels of frustration and boost awareness, perfect for the mid-afternoon slump.
Tips for Keeping Indoor Plants Alive
Follow these simple tips to keep your plants alive and happy!
Keep it in the Same Spot
Once your indoor plant is in its spot, don’t move it. Some indoor plants like the light and heat conditions to stay the same. If your plant is leaning towards the window, it’s fine to spin it around regularly so it isn’t on a lean, but moving it to a new home can be a problem.
Refresh the Soil
Unlike plants in the ground, potted plants need fresh soil for nutrients. Either top up your pots once the soil level drops or becomes compacted. The fresh soil is less hydrophobic, so you’re less likely to see water seeping out from under your pot after watering.
Replant in a Bigger Pot
Once your plant has increased in size, it’s likely the roots have too and are at the risk of becoming root bound. Buy a bigger pot and a good quality potting mix to repot it.
Wipe Down Leaves
Plants with flat leaves like a regular wipe with a damp cloth. When dust collects on the leaves, it impacts the plant’s ability to photosynthesize (how the plant feeds itself).
Keep a pair of scissors handy and trim off any spent leaves or dead stems. With these gone, the plant is more likely to put its energy into growing new leaves and stems.
Leave it to the Plant Experts
If no one is willing to take on the plants in the office, call in the experts. There are companies available that supply office plants and return regularly to water, maintain and replace any sick plants.
If you have any queries about office ergonomics, visit the Ergolink showroom, or call us on (08) 9240 7066 or contact us online.