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Office plants can increase productivity by 15% and improve overall well-being

Worker health

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(NaturalNews) The University of Exeter in England coordinated a study that concluded late summer 2014 on increasing office productivity by placing indoor plants in actual working offices. Since NASA (National Aeronautic and Space Administration) did similar testing a few years ago, this may seem redundant.

But NASA's focus was on optimal health while isolated indoors for long stretches, as in space stations or space shuttles. It wasn't on commercially enterprising offices and how it affects productivity. This one was. Some researchers from Australia and the Netherlands joined in with the Exeter team for this study.

Lead researcher Marlon Nieuwenhuis, from Cardiff University's School of Psychology, said: "Although previous laboratory research pointed in this direction, our research is, to our knowledge, the first to examine this in real offices, showing benefits over the long term."

Two large commercial offices, one in the UK and the other in the Netherlands, were studied and monitored for several months. The researchers experimented with indoor plant placements in otherwise lean, Spartan offices. They wanted to see if green would replace lean for higher productivity and morale among the office workers.

The accepted office dynamic concept is that the bare, clean, Spartan look invites higher productivity. This study determined that productivity increased overall by 15 percent, with office workers reporting better focus and elevated moods when there was more green than lean.

Nieuwenhuis added: "This conclusion is at odds with the present economic and political zeitgeist as well as with modern 'lean' management techniques, yet it nevertheless identifies a pathway to a more enjoyable, more comfortable and a more profitable form of office-based working."

It's not just the aesthetics of indoor plants; it's also how well they clean and purify the air

A 1989 study entitled "Foliage Plants for Removing Indoor Air Pollutants from Energy-efficient Homes," conducted by NASA in association with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA), focused on the enhanced air quality, even determining which plants removed which toxic chemicals commonly trapped indoors.

You see, as insulation and air conditioning improved for office buildings, indoor air became more easily trapped, as in stagnant or stale. Inside air in tightly enclosed office spaces is often more polluted than outside air.

Within that type of air, indoor pollutants remain and thrive. Those AC filters don't fully clean the air. They hardly touch off-gassing from building, carpeting and office furniture materials.

Off-gassing, in this case, refers to indoor toxic chemical vapors releasing into the enclosed area from building materials, carpeting, insulating materials, pressboard furniture materials, plywood, glues, sealants and finishes.

Some of these vapors are volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and if allowed to remain they stick around for years, gradually wearing away at occupants' immune systems with their toxicity.

That's where plants come in, or should come in. Otherwise, you'll be trapped in an office that produces "sick building syndrome," where unventilated air produces long-term adverse health effects and many missed days due to illnesses.

VOCs include: trichloroethylene (TCE); benzene; formaldehyde, which is probably the most ubiquitous VOC, since it is used as part of particle boards for furniture, while urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) is used in flooring and other areas.

Indoor plants are hardy enough to thrive in conditions that offer little sun exposure. They manage well with good topsoil and watering. They are capable of absorbing those VOC gases along with CO2 and producing oxygen.

The NASA/ALCA study discovered several normal indoor houseplants available in most nurseries that could purify the air from different types of VOCs and create oxygen as part of the deal.

Each plant should be placed to handle around 100 square feet. An 1,800 square foot office area should contain 15 to 18 plants. Here's where you can find out what those plants are and how they work.

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