By: MJ Gilhooley
No longer just a pretty face, plants are hard at work in offices throughout America. Until recently, we lacked the research necessary to investigate and quantify the economics between plants, employees and bottom line corporate America. However, we now have access to data that is shifting the way businesses think about plants in the workplace. Plants enhance productivity by 12% while deflating the mounting prob to.org/";lem of workplace stress. Live interior plants capes actually lower Operating & Maintenance (O&M) costs – energy and cooling as well as grounds maintenance expenses. Interior plants capes are dramatically improving both the recruitment and retention of top employees in today’s tight, mobile job market. Interior plants increase aesthetic value, enhancing customer and employee perception of the property. Plants have proven to be an economical way to manage the growing risks and liabilities associated with poor indoor air quality (IAQ). And finally, plants absorb sound, contributing to heightened productivity levels.
Plants offer a means to decrease stress while enhancing productivity by twelve
Office anxiety levels are high as our current economy and security uncertainties place added stress on American workers. According to research conducted by Integra Realty Resources, New York, NY, and Opinion Research Corp. International of Princeton, NJ, 23% percent of today’s workforce has been driven to tears as a result of this workplace anxiety, with 10% working in an atmosphere where physical violence has occurred. 29% percent of workers have actually raised their voice at co-workers themselves. One of eight workers (12%) has called in sick because of workplace stress, and one of five American workers (19%) has left a company in the past year because of stress.
According to Wayne Hansen, a member of the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal. OSHA) and an editor for the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) publications, human assets are the most valuable and expensive assets of any business. In terms of cost per square foot, the human asset is approximately 10 times the total building operating cost and nearly 100 times the energy cost. No matter how it is expressed, when a business can give rise to personal productivity, the business wins. It is widely known through the respected research done by Dr. Roger S. Ulrich of Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas), Helen Russell, University of Surrey (West Sussex, England) as well as the recent studies conducted by Dr. Virginia Lohr of Washington State University (Pullman, Wash.) that plants significantly lower workplace stress and enhance productivity.
In Dr. Lohr’s study participants were 12% more productive and less stressed than those who worked in an environment with no plants. The study took place in a simulated office setting. Common interior plants were used in a computer laboratory with 27 computer workstations. A computer program to test productivity and induce stress was specifically designed for these experiments which incorporated one hundred symbols and time-measured readings of participants’ reactions. They were presented in the same randomized sequence to each subject. Blood pressure readings recorded while using the program confirmed the program was effective in inducing stress. Emotional states and pulses were also measured during the experiment. Plants
present and plants not present were the only variables that participants experienced. When plants were present, they were positioned so that a cluster would be in the peripheral view of each subject sitting at a computer terminal, but would not interfere with the subject’s activity. In addition to demonstrating significant increases in their posttask attentiveness, subject reaction time in the presence of plants was 12% faster than those in the absence of plants. The results indicating an influence of plants on blood pressure are consistent with research conducted by Dr. Ulrich. Visual exposure to plant settings has produced significant recovery from stress within five minutes. As many performance based incentives to enhance employee productivity also give rise to stress, this rare capability of raising productivity while lowering stress is extremely valuable. Progressive human resource executives are finding they cannot afford to.org/"; to ignore such an efficient method of human asset management.