Being Green For Your Productivity!
About a week ago, a couple of coworkers were having conversations about bringing plants into the office. One of them was petitioning for the plants because of our air ventilation. See, our office is notorious for being a petri dish of illness year-round. It starts with one person and circulates around over the course of a month, hitting some of us more than once. This coworker said that she believed the rapid spread of this was probably aided by the ventilation in our air ducts, and that plants would help clean the air.
I had never heard of this before.
Yes, I have a brown thumb…a black thumb? Either way, it’s most definitely not green. I’ve never really owned plants because I can never figure out which plants need how much water and sunlight, grooming, loving care, etc. I somehow keep myself alive, as well as two dogs who can’t talk to me, but can at least whine or act oddly if there is something wrong. Plants? No concept. But I’ll do anything to stop being sick as often, so I started looking into it.
Eric Jaffe wrote first on Fast Company, and then again on LifeHacker extensively about the positive effects of plants in the workplace. Not only do plants have a natural way of cleaning out our air, but Jaffe argues that plants in our desk environments induce a relaxing and productive state for us as well. This is part and parcel of what is called “attention restoration theory:”
The gist of “attention restoration theory” is that our brains expend a lot of energy on tasks that require direct attention. This mental fatigue can only be restored when we give our direct attention a break. Sleep can do the job, but when we’re awake, we can also refresh direct attention by shifting our minds to an indirect, or effortless form of engagement. Nature offers just this type of absorbing, restorative distraction.
Studies have been done repeatedly to show that plants on our desks are actually nature’s little aids in creating a more action-oriented work environment:
In the first study, published in 2011, some of the test participants performed the reading task while sitting at a basic wooden desk with nothing around it. The others did the same task at a desk surrounded by office flowers and foliage. Results of the experiment were quite clear: workers at the desk with plants improved their scores on the task the second time around; workers at the empty desk did not.
At the end of the day, I can always use more tools to help me feel more relaxed, more efficient, and less sick…so it sounds like I’ll be needing to get in touch with nature a bit more. I guess it’s time to see if this thumb changes color with water.