By SARAH KIMMORLEY (www.businessinsider.com.au)
There’s nothing like some beautiful, fresh green foliage to break up the monotony of an office space.
But did you know plants can also affect your bottom-line?
According to research carried out by the University of Queensland, an office enriched with plants makes staff happier and boosts productivity by 15%.
Along with this, Professor Alex Haslam from UQ’s School of Psychology, also found that by adding plants to a workplace it became a more “enjoyable, comfortable and profitable” place to work.
Now some of the biggest companies in the corporate world are catching on, one being international commercial property services firm, CBRE.
Joining the 202020 Vision last year, the company has already introduced “green spaces” in 21 of its offices across Australia and New Zealand, and is aiming to increase these by 20% over the next six years.
Already there are reports that the business’s bottom line has seen a positive impact through the reduction of staff absenteeism and productivity.
CBRE’s head of sustainability for the Pacific region, Amanda Steele, says by choosing hardy, low-allergy and high air-purifying plant varieties, health benefits have been boosted and the feedback has been “overwhelmingly positive”.
“Plants provide an excellent way to ‘soften’ the surfaces in an office environment,” she said.
“They also purify the air, without the use of chemicals or energy, and provide an excellent connection to nature – enacting biophilia, or the positive feelings people get when surrounded by living systems.”
But integrating green spaces into the work environment also has proven mental benefits including more rapid recovery from stress, increased patience and overall satisfaction.
“Working in greener spaces is proven to boost our moods, creating a happier and healthier workplace, which ultimately leads to financially quantifiable results for a business,” Steele said.
Steele says in addition to the feel-good vibe, biodiversity plays a pivotal role in offsetting the urban heat island effect as a result of urbanisation.
“Plants reduce urban heat and are key to improving the climate resilience of our cities,” she says.
“What once was an oversight to not integrate plants into buildings and leave large amounts of open space on rooftops is now becoming a new area of opportunity in the property industry.
“This is pretty simple market economics- without the natural environment we don’t have a market. Fresh air, fresh water, sustained ecologies, all contribute to the economic growth of our communities.”
So far, CBRE reports that the small investment in the plants has been “completely worthwhile”.
“Studies are conclusive that the natural environment improves health benefits,” said Steele who could not release definitive results on the policy change as the company is yet to “crunch the numbers”.