Healthy, productive workplaces: Towards a case for interior plantscaping

Smith, Andrew James, Tucker, Matthew and Pitt, Michael (2011) Healthy, productive workplaces: Towards a case for interior plantscaping. Facilities, 29 (5/6). pp. 209-223. ISSN 0263-2772

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The purpose of this paper is to investigate office users’ perceptions of their working environment in relation to the addition of plants.

Office users’ perceptions were examined using a survey, administered to an experimental group and a control group before and after the installation of plants. The results were analysed to determine any statistically significant differences between the two groups and between the pre-test and post-test surveys for the experimental group. Absence data was analysed to establish any changes in absence rates.

Significant differences were found between the experimental and control groups for the work environment contributing to pressure, health concerns, morale and preference for plants. There were also perceived improvements in productivity, pressure, privacy and comfort although these were non-significant. Sickness absence reduced substantially in the area with plants and increased slightly in the control area.

Research Limitations
It would be useful to extend this research over a longer time frame and in a greater range of buildings to validate the results.

Practical Implications
By providing well designed workplaces, including living plants, organisations can potentially improve employee perceptions, leading to performance gains and reduced absence. This paper suggests that significant savings can be achieved in comparison to the cost of plants.

The role of indoor nature has received relatively little attention compared to the number of studies on outdoor nature. Additionally, this paper applies the research to a real working environment as opposed to experimental designs, which have formed the majority of previous studies.

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