A number of studies (we have reviewed only a few here) report a variety of positive effects of plants both within the office environment and when visible to employees through windows to the outdoor landscape. Not only do plants improve employee morale, attitude and productivity, but they also reduce the reported incidence of employee illness and fatigue. A study by Professors Rachel and Steven Kaplan at the University of Michigan found that workers with a view of trees and flowers experienced less job pressure and were more satisfied with their jobs than those who had no outside view or only a view of buildings. The employees with views of plants also reported fewer headaches and illnesses.
Plants Improve Productivity, Attitudes and Morale
Similarly, a study of office conditions by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found that productivity, employee attitudes and perceptions were positively correlated with the amount of plants in the work place. The most negative employee response was found in an office setting with no plants, an improved employee response was found in a setting with a moderate number of plants, and the highest positive response was in an office with many plants. (Larson et al., 1998).
View with Plants Boosts Satisfaction
A European study of employee satisfaction looked at three variables connected with windows: The general illumination levels, sunlight penetration and the view through the window. The study found that sunlight penetration and a view of natural elements (trees, vegetation, plants and foliage) had a positive impact on employee job satisfaction and morale. The general illumination level provided by the window was found to have no impact (Leather, Pyrgas, Beale, & Lawrence, 1998).
Plants Reduce Illness and Fatique
As Kaplan and Kaplan found in their study of employees, Fjeld, Veiersted, Sandvik, Riise, and Levy (1998) from the University of Norway horticulture department found that plants in the workplace actually reduced reported symptoms of illness and fatigue 23 percent to 30 percent in a controlled study of office environments with and without plants.
Plants Reduce Absenteeism
These studies report a variety of positive effects of plants both within the office environment and when visible to employees through windows to the outdoor landscape. Not only do plants improve employee morale, attitude and productivity, but they also reduce the reported incidence of employee illness and fatigue. A 2005 survey by CCH Inc., a Riverwoods, Ill.-based provider of information services, found that unscheduled absences cost companies $660 per employee per year. A reduction in this cost by interior plantscaping can offset the cost of plant maintenance and lead to better morale in the workforce.