Plants as a workplace coach

New PhD thesis establishes that plants and flowers have a positive impact on the office work environment

While it is a well-known fact that plants can improve the indoor climate, researchers have only to a small extent studied just how plants and flowers affect the work environment - and this despite the fact that plants and flowers are a natural part of the design of many office workplaces.

Plants as social support
Now Jane Dyrhauge Thomsen, an innovation consultant at the technological service institute AgroTech, has analysed how plants affect the psychosocial work environment through studies conducted at two Danish office workplaces.

"Plants and flowers have special symbolic value, which means that they can be used to show social support in the daily work at the office - both among the employees, and between the management and employees," says Jane, and continues:

"Work environment research has shown that social support is important to employee job satisfaction, and it also helps to prevent health problems such as depression, stress and cardiovascular disease."

"So, to put it another way, the good news is that plants promote employees' general health and wellbeing."

Plants support communities
The results of the PhD project also demonstrate that the use of plants among employees, for example when employees look after each other's plants, or give each other flowers and plants, helps employees to perceive the workplace as a positive community.

Suggestions for suitable plants for the office:
Asplenium
Chlorophytum
Dracaena surculosa
Epipremnum
Hedera
Hoya
Phalaenopsis
Philodendron
Sansevieria
Scindapsus
Spathiphyllum

Caption:
Plants contribute to employee wellbeing and health. At Energy Fyn in Odense, plants are a natural part of the office landscape.

Facts:

The concept of office landscapes dates from the sixties, when plants were introduced to large offices to improve the work environment and promote employee satisfaction.

The PhD project "Plants for a Better Life" was supported by Danske Prydplanter, the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, and the Research School of Horticultural Sciences, and was produced in collaboration between the University of Copenhagen and Roskilde University.

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