The power of the humble pot​ plant

A bit of greenery around the office could be a cheap and simple productivity solution, with new research suggesting employees working in "green offices" are both happier and have a 15 per higher work rate.

In the study, researchers from the UK found companies may be able to boost employee productivity simply through the addition of potted plants to an otherwise "lean" office. Study co-author Craig Knight told Reuters Health that whatever the environment is "generally speaking, it's a better environment if it's enriched and plants are a very cost-effective way of enriching your space".

The researchers timed how quickly both groups of employees completed their tasks and noted a 15 per cent increase in speed for those in a green environment.

The idea of a lean office space, Dr Knight said, was to remove from the office space everything except what employees needed to do their jobs, thereby creating a distraction-free environment, and leading to better productivity. But when put under the microscope the idea did not stand up he said.

"There is no animal on the planet that thrives in a lean space, whether it's an ant or a gorilla, it doesn't matter, if you put anything in a lean space it suffers," he said. 

Knight and his team performed three experiments in real office spaces across the UK and the Netherlands with the aim of comparing lean vs green office-spaces. Employees that worked in, or even near, green spaces reported better workplace satisfaction, higher concentration and improved air quality compared to their lean-space counterparts.

The presence of greenery does more than just enhance mood, added Charlie Hall,Texas A&M University's chair of horticultural sciences. Their presence has also been shown to help boost creativity and memory in the people around them, as well as filtering volatile organic compounds given off by paints and carpeting out of the air.

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