Plants in the office and working comfort - surprising research results!
Plants have a positive impact on the comfort of office workers in Poland – there is clear evidence supporting this. 4Nature System – Wertykalni is sharing the results of a study conducted in cooperation with the Polish Green Building Council PLGBC and the Silesian University of Technology. The impact of plants on people and their needs was analysed for a period of 12 weeks at 10 large companies. The results turned out to be very interesting and they confirm the need for nature in the workplace: 86% of the respondents positively assessed the impact of plants on work comfort, whereas 92% of those individuals wants to have plants in their office in the future. Eighty-eight percent of employees wants to have plants as close to their workstation as possible.
Global scientific research* proves that direct contact with vegetation brings people closer to nature and has a positive impact on their bodies. But what does this look like with regard to office workers in Poland, who spend 80% of their time inside closed spaces? During a period of 12 weeks, with the participation of 93 employees and 34 plant prototypes containing 1444 plants, at 10 large companies (among others, at: Skanska, IKEA Retail, Tétris, WSP Poland, Keller Williams Poland, JLL, HB Reavis Vastint), 4Nature System – Wertykalni, the Polish Green Building Council PLGBC as well as the Silesian University of Technology conducted an analysis of the impact of live nature on office workers. Alterations in the air parameters were assessed and the feedback of employees was analysed. The results of the first stage of the research (employee perception surveys) have already been established and are presented below. The conclusions are very interesting and impressive!
The analysis of the parameters of indoor environments is still ongoing – the conclusions will be presented soon. However, we can already state that the studies confirm that the presence of live plants inside indoor spaces has a positive effect on the increase of indoor air humidity during the heating season. This indicates that this particular method has large potential for increasing the humidity of air inside offices.
The industrial research included measuring selected parameters of the indoor environment: temperature and humidity of the indoor air, concentration of suspended particulate matter and light intensity, as well as conducting surveys containing questions on the subjective feelings of employees regarding environmental conditions, health and work efficiency. The analysis was conducted from October 2018 to January 2019, during the heating season with increased pollution of the outside air. Prior to the installation of the test green walls inside the chosen offices, surveys on the studied spaces were conducted among employees and measurements of the physical parameters of air in the offices were taken. Then, for a period of 8 weeks, 34 prototypes with an automated irrigation system were installed in 10 chosen offices in close vicinity to employees. A total of 1444 plants were used. During this period, questionnaire surveys were conducted twice and the parameters of the indoor environment were measured once again. During the last stage, 2 weeks after taking down the test green walls, the participants of the study gave their answers in the final questionnaire and measurements were conducted in the interiors of the studied offices.
The studies were conducted on a group of 93 individuals working at 10 different companies with a total area of 694 m2. A total of 240 questionnaires have been analysed in order to develop the report. The significance of the observed dependencies was studied using appropriate statistical tests.
Questionnaire survey conclusions
There are a number of interesting conclusions resulting from the conducted questionnaire surveys. Above all, PRIOR to the study, 60% of individuals were DISSATISFIED with the number of plants inside their office. This highlights the scale of the issue that is so common in Polish offices: a lack of contact of employees with nature.
- After introducing the vegetation, there was a significant increase in the amount of people satisfied with their office.
- There was a significant increase in the level of satisfaction with the air quality in offices when the test modules were present in the work spaces.
- The installation of plants eliminated complaints about excessively dry air.
- The subjective assessment of one’s health condition was more positive when plants were present in the studied workplaces.
- There was a noticeable difference in feeling tired and concentrated among employees before the installation of plants and during the course of the study (for the benefit of the latter).
After removing the green walls from the workplace, the employees were asked to assess the impact of vegetation in various areas:
- the aesthetics of the office when there were green walls installed inside it were assessed positively by 94% of individuals;
- 86% of the respondents positively assessed the impact of plants on work comfort;
- according to 84% of the employees, there has been an improvement in the air quality;
- an improved mood was observed by 84% of the respondents;
- a positive impact on work efficiency was noticed by 62% of employees, whereas 34% assessed this impact as being neutral;
- an improvement of health was noticed by 52% of the respondents, whereas 44% of individuals assessed this impact as being neutral.
This data shows that the assessment of the plants was very positive, which seems especially important considering the fact that the respondents were no longer in contact with the plant modules used for the research when this survey was conducted.
Moreover, as much as 88% of the respondents have positively assessed the very fact that vegetation was introduced into their office, and 92% of those individuals want to have greenery in their office in the future. Eighty-eight percent of employees want to have plants as close to their workstation as possible – preferably no more than 2 meters away.
And how did the workers assess their office during the study? Prior to the installation of plants, the number of individuals satisfied with their office amounted to 52%, and during the study, this percentage increased to 77%. After the vegetation was taken away, the number of individuals who were satisfied with their office fell significantly to 28%. This suggests that removing the vegetation from the office resulted in the employees perceiving their workplaces in a much more negative way.
The future of green offices
All the above conclusions show how much potential lies in introducing vegetation to modern offices, where work ergonomics is very important.. Biophilic design is definitely a future trend in the design of office interiors. In the upcoming 5-15 years, considering the impact that plants have on work comfort will be a standard procedure during the design phase. This trend is proven by the Symbiosis with nature scenario contained in the report on the future of office buildings prior to 2050, developed by the leader of green buildings – Skanska as well as Infuture Hatalska Foresight Institute.
This is why 4Nature System thinks about a systematic introduction of nature to offices, using the latest technological solutions: managing plant care processes based on machine learning or integration with the building management system (BMS), which limit plant care to a minimum. A systematic and scalable approach to this subject matter as well as the results of the research described above will assist the company in developing a unique range of office furniture, which is associated with vegetation and the innovative technology of 4Nature System.
“This is exactly how we see the future of implementing the biophilia trend in office spaces. We firmly believe that by combining advanced technologies, reliable solutions and good design, we will be able to take care of the well-being of our employees – we will have an impact on health, work efficiency and life satisfaction, building an optimal work-life balance. We want to introduce nature as close as possible to the working individual, using office furniture as the medium, and thanks to technology and a systematic approach, we want to limit processes and upkeep costs to a minimum as well as make sure that architects and designers are not faced with any barriers when introducing nature to offices.” – said Beata Dziedzic, co-founder, expert in combining nature with new technologies at 4Nature System – Wertykalni.
*Human Spaces Report, 2015; Seppa?nen et al., 1998; Bako?-Biro? et al., 2004; Fanger, 2006; Kosonen & Tan, 2004; Wyon, 2005
The research on the impact of vegetation on the comfort of office workers is part of a research and development project by the 4Nature System – Wertykalni company, entitled “An innovative furniture system for commercial spaces with an inbuilt vertical garden system”. The project is co-financed by the European Union under the European Regional Development Fund as part of the Smart Growth Operational Programme 2014-2020.