4 reasons why you need to add more plants to your office space

By 7th February 2018 July 20th, 2020 Office design trends
4 reasons why you need to add more plants to your office space

Let’s face it, plants aren’t just a nice to have – they’re a necessity. Not convinced? Here’s a list of reasons why you should invest in more office plants.

Thinking of popping a fake orchid on your desk for some colour? Think again. While fake plants might seem like a low-maintenance alternative to the real thing, you’ll miss out on all the added benefits that plants bring to your workspace.

1. Plants add natural beauty to a space

South Africans love plants. It’s one of our unique characteristics as a nation – we just adore being close to nature (even if it means fighting over the only window seat in the office). While fake plants have come a long way (some of them could even fool you from a distance), they’re still fake.

Somehow you can actually feel the life that real nature brings into a room.

Image source: Etsy (Brooklyn Headquarters)

If you don’t want to waste precious floor space with potted plants, you can get creative with hanging plants or a vertical garden (also known as a green or living wall). You can even turn your plants into living artwork.

Plants can create a dramatic display in a room, livening up a dull space and providing lots of additional benefits (as you’ll see).

2. Plants improve your health and mental wellbeing

Businesses lose a frightening amount of their annual revenue each year to absenteeism. In fact, according to Initial Hygiene Services, your office is currently losing 100’s of days of productivity:

“Absenteeism costs the South African economy around R12 – R16 billion per year. This equates to around 15% of employees being absent on any given day. When one looks at it this way, one can understand why absenteeism is possibly the single most expensive problem affecting business both locally and internationally. Some researchers estimate that South African businesses are losing as much as 17% of their payroll every year due to absenteeism. In the current economic climate, what business can afford that?”

But what can you do about it? This is where plants step in.

Image source: GrowUp Green

Humans and plants have a naturally symbiotic relationship. We inhale Oxygen (O2) and exhale Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Plants absorb the CO2 during photosynthesis (converting light into energy to help them grow) – turning it back into Oxygen again. In essence, we rely on plants to survive and, in turn, they rely on us. We truly are one with nature.

Including plants in your office design will cleanse the air of harmful toxins, reduce dust, bacteria and mold (which cause breathing problems and asthma) and, improve the mood and mental health of your employees. These same benefits apply at home – so you may want to add some greenery there too.

The University of Norway conducted a study on the health benefits of indoor plants. Their findings were astounding. In offices where plants were present, staff experienced a significant improvement in common, office related ailments. These included:

  • 32% reduction in fatigue
  • 45% reduction in headaches
  • 22% reduction in dry or sore throats
  • 38% reduction in coughs
  • 11% reduction in dry facial skin

The improvement in air quality will also help improve everyone’s attention span and level of relaxation. Your staff will be happier, more motivated, more creative, and more productive.

All of these factors combined will save you money in the long term, making the effort of maintaining real, live plants worthwhile.

3. Adding plants to your office is socially and environmentally responsible

Plants are extremely talented when it comes to regulating room temperatures. They increase the level of humidity in the air (great for your skin) and also lower the overall room temperature by as much as 10°C. This helps you save energy in the sweltering Summers, because you won’t be as quick to switch on that air conditioner.

Image source: S Lucas Designs

How do they do this? After photosynthesising, plants excrete water from their stomata (their plant “pores”) in a process called evapotranspiration. Just like sweating cools the human body, evapotranspiration keeps the plant cool.

Unlike human sweat, however, evapotranspiration has the added benefit of cooling down the air around the plant. This helps keep the people (or animals) nearby cool too.

Adding plants to your office counts towards your business’ Green Star Rating.

The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) is an independent, non-profit organisation which facilitates green building in the South African property market. Their Green Star Rating System is used to benchmark environmentally friendly best practices in architecture, construction and interior design. The higher your Green Star Rating, the more socially and environmentally responsible your business practices are.

4. Plants can create privacy and reduce noise pollution

Sick and tired of the construction noises coming from the road outside? Plants can help with that too.

Image source: Ambius

Plants are the most visually-appealing method to reduce noise in a room. They’re able to do this in two ways: through sound absorption and deflection.

Plants with thick stems, rough bark or large, fleshy leaves can help to absorb sound. The more plants you have in a room, the better their ability to absorb sound will become. So, for example, if you had a green wall filled with Philodendrons in your meeting room, you’d find those pesky construction distractions far less of a pain.

Some of the best, low-maintenance plants for your office include:

English Ivy

This romantic-looking creeper is actually a relatively hardy species, and does extremely well indoors. It’s easy to propagate (just stick a cutting in a jar of water and wait for roots to sprout) and very low maintenance – making it a great choice for novice plant owners.

English Ivy is great for people with asthma or allergies.

Monther-in-Law’s Tongue (also known as Snake Plants)

Mother-in-Laws Tongue is a striking (extremely popular) plant. Often described as a “super plant”, this species produces oxygen 24/7 (unlike most plants, which only produce O2 during the daylight). This means that you’re getting double the health benefits, as Mother-in-laws Tongue works overtime to purify the air in your office.

Philodendrons (also known as Delicious Monsters)

If you’re trying to cancel out noise, you can’t beat a Delicious Monster. With their enormous, fleshy leaves, they’re perfect for absorbing noise in a bustling workspace.


Pothos is a low-maintenance creeper (much like English Ivy). It can survive in low-light conditions, so if you don’t sit near a window, you can still enjoy a potted Pothos on your desk. Apart from cleaning the air, Pothos has two surprising added benefits: it combats eye strain (very helpful if you spend hours staring at your screen) and masks bad smells. For this reason, you’ll often find Pothos in bathrooms.

As you can see, there are a multitude of reasons that you’d want to add more plants to your office space.

Not only are they essential to the aesthetics of your building, they also play a huge role in employee health and morale. The cost savings on absenteeism and energy alone make it well worth the time and effort that goes into maintaining the plants around your workplace. So, what are you waiting for? Get down to your local nursery and pick out some green desk buddies!

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Derek Stedman

Author Derek Stedman

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