What a few plants in the workplace can't do. People get sick less quickly and function better. No fewer than six positive effects emerged from research by Wageningen University. In collaboration with Fytagoras, they have worked with a number of institutions and companies in recent years on this research.
Green in the workplace provides more than just a positive state of mind. It ensures greater satisfaction among employees about their own performance and less absenteeism due to illness. Plants are a good if not better alternative to increase humidity in workspaces or to cool rooms in the summer. And people find a workspace with plants more attractive than a space without plants.n.
The research was conducted at various companies and healthcare institutions. At every company, there is always a space with workplaces equipped with plants, with a comparable workspace without plants next to it. At healthcare institutions, living rooms or general areas are equipped with plants. Researchers placed sensors in both rooms to determine the physical differences in the indoor climate. The employees who worked in those areas gave their opinion about the workplace, the indoor climate, the working atmosphere, their state of mind, well-being and health, both before and after placing the plants. Concentration tests were also taken and the cortisol level (a stress hormone) of the participants was determined.
Six positive effects
The study revealed six positive effects that can be linked to the presence of plants in the workspace.
- Humidity: the relative humidity in rooms with plants is on average about 5 percent higher than in rooms without plants. In winter, up to 17 percent improvement has been measured.
- Thermal comfort: employees are less likely to experience the temperature in an office space with plants as too hot or too cold.
- More attractive: people rate their workplace as more attractive to see after planting (an increase of 26 percent).
- Mood: the mood of employees is more positive after planting than before. Employees of a company also worry less about their work outside working hours.
- Satisfaction with functioning: after the planting, employees are more satisfied with their own functioning than they were before. This also applies to their expectations about how satisfied the employer is with this performance.
- Less absenteeism: people who work in a room with plants call in sick 20 percent less often. This amounts to an average of 1.6 less sick days per employee per year.
Which and how many plants a work floor needs depends on several factors, such as the size of the room and the amount of natural light that comes in. The Grass Lily (Chlorophytum comosum) is often used as a reference plant to calculate the required amount of leaves, says Tia Hermans, project leader of Wageningen Environmental Research. "Then you need about one per 2 square meters, assuming a pot size of 10-12 centimeters."
The costs of purchasing and maintaining plants can be recovered within one year. Mainly due to the lower absenteeism and better functioning of employees, the researchers say. After that, the investment in plants actually yields money.
There will be a follow-up study to further work out the payback period. Tia Hermans: "We know that entrepreneurs and employers will only switch to large-scale application of plants in companies if they see a convincing business case. We are now going to further develop that business case at several locations. In this way we want it for employers, but also facility services and human resources, more attractive to invest in a green indoor climate in the workplace.""
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