Green is the new smart: what plants can do for office people

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Green is the new smart
© xijan / istockphoto.com

At Matrix42, we’re always asking ourselves how we can make our working environment smarter. After all, it’s important that everyone feels comfortable. And that everyone can work as productively as possible. Usually, our thoughts are focused on IT solutions and organizational questions. However, there is also an analog way of contributing to a smart working environment without much effort or cost: green plants!

Dull grey or bright green?

We spend 80-90% of our lives indoors. And a large proportion of that in our offices. And despite the changes associated with the increasing mobility of employees, many working people still prefer the classic office workspace. That’s why creating smart working environments is about more than just digital solutions. We also need to apply our creativity to making our offices nicer places to spend time in. Numerous studies prove that boring, bleak offices with poor internal climates negatively effect our well-being, our health and our productivity.

© karandaev / istockphoto.com

© karandaev / istockphoto.com

Back to basics

It’s not necessarily about making big changes to office spaces themselves. It’s actually very simple: one plant per square meter is enough. Frowned upon for many years, more and more companies are realizing that office plants are not unnecessary luxuries. After all, the air in offices often leaves much to be desired. Especially in winter, when the heating is on, and windows are rarely opened, humidity often drops to below 30%. The optimum level is 50%. What else can adversely affect office air quality? Printer toner, carpet and furniture adhesives, wall paint and cleaning chemicals, as well as poorly maintained air-conditioning and ventilation systems. The consequences often reveal themselves in the symptoms of so-called sick-building syndrome. These include tiredness, listlessness, and headaches. It comes along with lack of concentration, eye, nose and throat irritation, and an increased risk of infection.

No cacti please

I am particularly fond of my “green colleagues”. And that’s not just because they clean the office air and reduce dust and noise levels. A few years ago, NASA conducted a survey to identify the best plants for cleaning the air in closed rooms. Spider plants, ivy, peace lilies and dragon tress were found to be best for a chemical-free fresh and oxygen-rich air. The miserable cacti seen on so many desks have had their day. Of course they are tempting because they don’t need much water or maintenance. But because they like dry conditions, they don’t release much moisture. It’s the same with my human colleagues. I prefer those who enjoy a relaxing after-work beer every now and again, rather than the deadly serious teetotalers!

Good for the soul

But plants give us a lot more than just cleaner air. Numerous studies have proved that plants contribute to our well-being and spiritual equilibrium, too. Offices with plants make employees happier and more productive. For example, one study from Cardiff University found that employees using workspaces with plants are 15% more productive. Unbelievable, isn’t it? They reduce stress, increase our attention span and improve our ability to concentrate. Plus, we can learn a lot from the expansion and competitive strategies of plants, and their stress resistance. That’s why I believe plants really are a ‘smart’ part of the working environment, and thus are essential for every office.

By the way: Did you know that a person can distinguish 2000 tones of green, but only a few tones of red?

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