Can plants increase our productivity?

Plants and producitivity

We all feel inspired when we are out and about for a walk, especially if in nature. Our mood feels uplifted, our overall perception on things slightly changes and we start having these new ideas which we didn’t have access to while sitting in front of our computer. 

Green spaces seem to have a positive impact on our overall wellbeing and in the way our brain works. 

Enough research has been done to confirm this line of thought. In fact, researchers found that walking through a wooded area, rather than along a four-lane road, significantly improved memory and cognitive function. One study found that by spending one hour outdoors interacting with nature, you could improve your memory function by an astounding 20%.

Given all this awareness and knowing how our body and brain function reacts to being in nature, why not bringing nature inside our homes?

With the past lockdown and the surprisingly increased desire to work from home, as well as overall being glued to our computers for 8+ hours a day, having on our radar some greenery will not only benefit our response to different stressors during the day but also keep our mood in check. 

Plants have great impact on how our work, studies show, if added to our working space. Be it in the office or in your home, having a plant (even if it’s a fake one!) next to your working space will significantly increase your productivity, ability to focus and more! 

This study shows an increase of 15% in your productivity when you have some plants near your working area.

But let’s go deeper and break this topic down a bit! 

Findings indicate that physiological stress, or arousal (as measured by heart rate, blood pressure, and/or skin conductance) is often lower after exposure to plants and nature as compared with urban settings (Hartig et al., 2003; Laumann, Gärling, & Stormark, 2003; Ulrich & Simons, 1986; Ulrich et al., 1991). Do we want to ignore these researches and what our natural body’s response to nature is? 

The studies go further showing us how the chemicals in our body also react positively to being in proximity to plants and green spaces. As a matter of fact, plants can refresh the air by absorbing carbon dioxide(CO2), which means that we have access to more oxygen, leading to a greater amount of O2 in our blood, following an increase of brain power. 

These studies were initially led by the German Bürolandschaft movement (office landscaping). Bürolandschaft assumed that plants would make an environment more collaborative and humane (Sundstrom & Sundstrom, 1986). Going beyond the research, a great way of finding whether this is true for yourself is noticing how you feel when you are around green spaces. Start with a plant that doesn’t require too much care, one which will survive even when you forget watering it!

Researchers recommend specific plants to consider for their look, hardiness, and hypoallergenic properties. Options include Bamboo Palm, Devil’s Ivy, Kentia Palm, Mother-in-law’s tongue, or the Peace Lily. A cactus will do just fine though.

Start small and keep adding to it, by observing how it feels within your body and the way you react to stressful situations during the day. Get curious and freaky. Do your own research and let me know how you found it!

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