Smell the Roses at Work

Nature can hold the secret to productivity at work

A recent study suggests that flowers and plants are catalysts for innovation and ideas in the workplace. Having flowers in the office can boost problem-solving skills, idea generation and creative performance for both male and female employees.

A ten-month study of the link between flowers and plants and productivity conducted at Texas A & M University revealed that both men and women working in environments with plants and flowers showed more innovative thinking than those without decorative objects.

Men who took part generated 15 per cent more ideas when working in an environment with flowers than men in offices without plants or flowers. And, while males generated a greater abundance of ideas, females generated more creative, flexible solutions to problems when flowers and plants were present.

Giving flowers worked too! Participants said they felt less anxious, depressed and agitated after receiving flowers, and enjoyed life more.

"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."

If you thought that flowers in the office represented an unnecessary expense, think again.

Speaker, workshop leader and facilitator Karen Schmidt recently posted some fascinating statistics about the benefits of plants in the workplace on her 'Notes from the Workplace Garden' Blog at www.letsgrow.com.au:

  1. A 2004 study by Dr Virginia Lohr of Washington State University found that students working in a computer laboratory that contained plants were 12 per cent more efficient than students performing the same tasks in a room that was completely free of foliage. The blood pressure levels of the students in the "green" lab were also lower.
  2. Studies from Oxford University indicate that plants have positive effects on employee perceptions and dispositions, which may lead to increased employee retention. If an organisation provides a pleasant working environment by caring enough to have indoor plants, then potential employees believe they will also care about them.
  3. Research findings from The Foliage for Clean Air Council concluded that the proper selection and placement of indoor plants can lower building heating and cooling costs by as much as 20 per cent.