Flowers and Plants in the Workspace Promote Innovation and Ideas

Key Findings Shed Light on Environmental Psychology of the Workplace

In today’s economy, it is more important than ever for businesses to gain the competitive edge. Constant fluctuations in unemployment, productivity, consumer confidence and other major economic factors make it imperative for businesses to implement the right strategies to stay ahead of their competition.

According to business experts, the key to gaining the competitive edge in the modern economy is easy to understand – a happy, productive workforce. And, while sometimes the easiest notions can be the most difficult to achieve, a recent scientific study conducted at Texas A&M University finds that nature can hold the secret to business success. The research demonstrates that workers’ idea generation, creative performance and problem solving skills improve substantially in workplace environments that include flowers and plants.

“Our research shows that a change as simple as adding flowers and plants can be important in the most meaningful way to businesses in the modern economy,” said Dr. Roger Ulrich, lead researcher on the project. “People’s productivity, in the form of innovation and creative problem solving, improved – which in certain circumstances could mean the difference between mild and great business success.”

Research Findings: Overall and Men vs. Women

In an eight-month study, the Texas A&M University research team explored the link between flowers and plants and workplace productivity. Participants performed creative problem solving tasks in a variety of common office environments, or conditions. The conditions included a workplace with flowers and plants, a setting with sculpture and an environment with no decorative embellishments.

During the study, both women and men demonstrated more innovative thinking, generating more ideas and original solutions to problems in the office environment that included flowers and plants. In these surroundings, men who participated in the study generated 15% more ideas. And, while males generated a greater abundance of ideas, females generated more creative, flexible solutions to problems when flowers and plants were present.

“We know the importance of learning, for example, how natural surroundings affect drivers, school children, and hospital patients,” said Ulrich, who has conducted extensive research on the effects of environments on psychological well-being, stress and health. “To businesses, it should be equally as important to understand what features can improve performance at work and make employees more productive.”

 

Research Background: Dr. Roger Ulrich

The Impact of Flowers and Plants on Workplace Productivity Study was conducted by Roger Ulrich, Ph.D., Behavioral Scientist, Director of the Center for Health Systems and Design, Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Dr. Ulrich is a professor of landscape architecture and is an internationally recognized expert on the influences of surroundings on human well-being and health. His interests concern applications of environment-behavior knowledge to healthcare buildings, landscape architecture and urban design.

For The Impact of Flowers and Plants on Workplace Productivity study, Dr. Ulrich worked in cooperation with Professor Dr. James Varni, who also is internationally recognized for his research in psychology and medicine. The research lends weight to growing scientific evidence that flowers and plants, as well

as other aspects of nature, have a beneficial impact on state of mind and emotions. The Society of American Florists worked in cooperation with the Texas A&M University research team, bringing an expertise of flowers and plants to the project.

Plants Improve a Home Aesthetically, Emotionally, Physically and Economically

Think about it! We all recognize how our mood can change when we are surrounded in an environment with living vegetation. It’s the reason we take trips to the park, spend time in our backyards, desire the coveted corner office with windows or have a yearning desire to be out in nature. Plants have an immediate and documented impact on our happiness and long-term positive effects on our moods-specifically making us feel less stressed, less anxious and less depressed. The scientific term for this connection is biophilia, which describes the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with living systems (Wikipedia). Considering that 90% of our time is spent indoors-and maybe more in the summers of South Texas-bringing the outside inside is deeply rooted in our biology.

Given our affinity for nature, it is hardly surprising that many large facilities invest in bringing the outdoors in. By creating indoor parks with large trees, plants, water features, daylight and comfortable retreats, they are able to impact the experience we have while in the facility. Builders, developers and commercial realtors would not invest in this if they didn’t believe that such amenities have positive payoffs.

In most cases, plants are often placed within spaces merely for their aesthetic benefits: to soften hard surfaces and to provide ambience. A few well-placed plants in a room can dramatically change the look and feel of a space. Plants can be that final touch that ties everything together and makes a space more inviting and comfortable. It is that intangible benefit that we pick up on when we enter the room that renders a subconscious attraction to the space.

The bottom line is the most important interest of most home buyers and sellers. Also, as the agent trying to sell a home at a fair price, you have to find that edge over your competition. What are you doing to create an environment that produces a positive experience to a prospective buyer aesthetically, physically and emotionally while benefiting you economically? Plants cover them all!

A Clemson University study documented the impact of landscaping on the resale value of single family residences. A house that obtained an excellent landscape rating from a local landscaping professional could expect a sale price 4 to 5 percent higher than equivalent houses with good landscaping. Homes with landscaping ranked poor relative to neighboring homes with excellent landscapes could expect a sale price 8 to 10 percent below equivalent homes with good landscaping appeal.

Other research finds that plantscaping both inside and out can add as much as at 14% to the resale value of a building and speed its sale by as much as six weeks. You can see that small improvements with plants can produce large economic returns to the seller. And, of course, you know the importance of the first impression, so just imagine how magnified the improvements by plants are on the front porch.

Interior plants are a very cost-effective way to dramatically change an indoor environment. When you evaluate what it costs for remodeling a space or to install new furniture and fixtures, the return on an investment is much greater with the addition of plants, due to their relatively low cost. We recommend at least two significant, healthy plants per 12′ x 16′ room.

Notice the word healthy. We find that most people tend to over-care for their plants. In other words, they tend to give them too much water too frequently, feel the need to re-pot the plant when it is not looking well, over-fertilize it when it does not need it, or stick it outside where it is often baked by the sun. Due to the much lower available light inside (100-500 foot candles indoors vs. 8,000-10,000 foot candles outdoors), your plants are photosynthesizing at a much slower rate inside your home. The water requirements of interior plants are dramatically lower than exterior plants for these reasons. A Google search can give you many options of plants that work well inside; some favorites are Aglaonema, Spathiphyllum, Dracaena deremensis and Zamioculcas zamifolia.

So, convince your buyers and your office managers not to overlook the vital role plantscapes have in your success of enhancing the prospective buyers’ and clients’ experience aesthetically, emotionally and biologically. Plants Work!

 

Joshua Senneff, CLP, CLT, is Director of Operations for Plant Interscapes, a San Antonio-based interior horticulture firm servicing San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Houston and Corpus Christi. For more information visit www.plantinterscapes.com or www.greenplantsforgreenbuildings.org or contact Josh at 888-284-2257, ext. 111 or jmsenneff@plantinterscapes.com.

Plants Boost Creativity & Keep Employees Healthy

INDOOR PLANTS BOOST CREATIVITY & KEEP EMPLOYEES HEALTHY

Don’t see red when you’re stressing out at work, go green.

Studies have shown that indoor plants boost productivity and reduce stress levels, so now there’s every reason to beautify your desk, feel great and perform better too!

It’s true – a study conducted in a computer lab at Washington State University among subjects who were performing a slightly stressful computer task showed that their blood pressure was lower after plants were added to the lab and they showed a 12% improved in reaction time on the computer task. Now doesn’t that sound like the easiest way possible to get ahead!

Other studies from the UK, the Netherlands, Australia and the US also established that office plants can have a positive effect on the work environment, reduce absenteeism, as well as improve employees’ wellbeing and productivity. Greenery is a very simple and most effective way of making a positive impact on the work environment.

Further studies revealed additional health benefits of working in a ‘green’ office. Plants have a cooling effect, they reduce noise and they improve air quality – so instead of working in ‘sick’ buildings, why not put the pressure on to work in a healthy ‘greenhouse’ instead?. On a much bigger scale, an investment in indoor plants and gardens could be just the ticket to getting that edge over the competition. If staff are happy, healthy and productive – that’s first prize towards success in business. Clearly, nature holds a key to success in business and savvy organisations should be on the buzzer to their local florist or plant provider to sharpen their competitive edge, say a leading florist in Perth, Western Australia, Angel Flowers.

And it’s not just for the girls – as evidenced by an 8-month study by a Texas university which researched men and women. The study showed that in ‘green’ environments, men generated a greater number of ideas while the females came up with more creative and flexible solutions to problems.

Some top varieties for indoor environments are peace lilies, yucca plants, ficus, aspidistra, African violets and maidenhair ferns. Other factors to consider are lighting (low or bright light), indirect sun light, dryness etc so it’s worth consulting a professional florist for the best suggestions.

Healthy solutions for inspiration, emotional health and wellbeing come from Mother Nature for the outdoors as well as the indoors. How much more evidence do we need that interior plants not only beautify our workspace, but have a tangible benefit to our emotional, physical and intellectual wellbeing?