Why green shoots lead to recovery

Apparently having plants in your office is the key to steering your business through the recession...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Here at MT we’re not particularly green-fingered; our team plant, which is inexplicably called Pete, is certainly in no danger of being over-watered. But apparently we’re missing a trick: according to campaigners Plants for People, having an array of green plants in your office can reduce stress and absenteeism, improve productivity and cut down your energy bills. In fact, the group insists, in the current economic climate, ‘plants could just be the answer you’re looking for’. Who needs efficiency drives and smarter spending – just surround yourself with aspidistras...

Plants for People argues that having a bit of greenery in the office means cleaner air, and this means your employees will spend less time off sick. They’ve even got some statistics to ‘prove’ it: apparently two studies conducted in Norway and Scotland found that the introduction of plants to specific departments reduced the absenteeism rate by 60% and 50% respectively, even as the rate was rising elsewhere in the organisation. And it’s not just about air quality: PFP reckons plants also lower our blood pressure, reducing stress levels. A Dutch study found that workers were less fatigued and stressed when they could see plants (including the ones they famously sell in their cafes, no doubt).

Productivity is a hot topic at the moment, of course, as businesses try to maximise their existing resources. And the good news is that if employees are less likely to pull a sickie, and find it easier to concentrate while they’re sitting at their desks, you’ll be able to get a bit more out of everyone. PFP quantifies this productivity boost at (a suspiciously precise) 12% per person – so if you have an eight-person team, you basically get an entire extra person. And all for the cost of one trip to the garden centre.

It’s hard not to be a bit cynical about figures like these – and about PFP’s claim that plants save you money on energy bills by cooling the office when it’s hot, and preserving heat when it’s cold. But at the same time, we do think it makes an office much more pleasant if there’s a bit of greenery about, if only on an aesthetic level. And it does seem relatively logical that the nicer your working environment is, the more productive you’re going to be. With a summer heatwave apparently looming, maybe it is time for some root-and-branch reform.

In today's bulletin:

Fasten your seatbelts - BA nosedives to record loss
Non-Standard and Poor outlook for UK economy
Editor's blog: Why this new Puritanism is pointless
Why green shoots lead to recovery
Resigning in style, with YouTube

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