Why Office Plants Are More Than Just Decoration

While some companies may think plants cost too much to maintain and can make the workplace look cluttered and unprofessional, we at CBS, along with many current studies, believe that plants are an important feature in any office design.  In fact a workspace enriched with foliage has many emotional and physical health benefits for staff which translate into productivity and benefits for employers. So the Lean Office or the Green Office?  Read on and decide for yourself.

The concept of the “lean office”

The idea that productive work requires a space clear of any interferences was formally implemented by Josiah Wedgwood back in the 18th century and later in 1911 expanded by Frederic Taylor who applied the principle of scientific management to the organisation of office space.

The concept “lean office” emerged in the 1990s. Managers insisted that workspaces must be clear of plants, pictures, anything that is not directly required for the job at hand, as it was believed to be the best way to maximise productivity. In other words, all decorations including plants in the workspace were perceived as a distraction and a reason for decreased productivity. However, recent studies have shown that office space enriched with plants is a better solution for a long term business success.

Enriched office interior design

An opposite perception to the lean office, known as “green” or “enriched” office, supports an idea that plants can considerably improve productivity. Plants are not only beautiful, but can have a major effect on staff health and well-being.  Research has shown that plants in the workplace can stimulate productivity and creativity by tapping into Biophilia, the human affinity for nature. Staff also feel more appreciated and valued when companies take the time to provide a more attractive working environment.  Just as importantly, plants have been shown to significantly improve the air quality inside buildings by absorbing toxins and raising humidity. Research also shows that plant-filled rooms contain 50-60% fewer airborne moulds and bacteria than rooms without plants.  Plants create a mini microclimate, absorbing heat and reducing the level of air conditioning required.  All of these factors improve your staff’s well-being, therefore reducing absenteeism.

Key findings

Based on the research The Relative benefits of Green Versus Lean Office Space: Three Field Experiments by Nieuwenhuis M., et al, the results has showed that:

– The levels of absenteeism in the lean office were much higher compared to the enriched workspaces

-Workers in green office spaces had positively increased levels in concentration, overall workspace satisfaction and perceived air quality

– Increased levels of engagement in the green office might be caused by the fact that people are becoming more cognitively, physically and emotionally involved in their work

– Enriched office space improves overall productivity based on the facts that the space is more enjoyable for employees and is better for concentration

– Green office leads to a better engagement amongst employees – which has a positive impact on work satisfaction within the workspace.
So how can you incorporate plants into your office interior design scheme?

Apart from the factors showing that workspaces enriched with plants can have a positive effect on productivity, they can also improve the visuals of the workspaces – adding an extra dimension to office and workspace design.

Adding emphasis

Architectural planting, using plants with strong bold outlines, can provide a focal point to enhance design features drawing attention to key points and filling in spaces.

office plants office interio design at cbs office interiors berkshire


In MD Phil’s office CBS Office Interiors used this neutral planter with green foliage to complement the green highlights in the décor.





Brightly coloured flowers or foliage help create a visual contrast or soften and break up stark lines.

CBS loves bright green planter in our Breakout Area.  The vivid colour makes a real statement against the monochrome colour scheme.


Planters are now available in almost any colour, and many shapes and sizes.  Combined with a wide choice of foliage and flowering plants, putting together schemes to match corporate colours or particular design effects is now easier for designers.  The resulting effects are both dramatic and brand-reinforcing from the moment a visitor steps into a company’s office.

Plants in open spaces

The use of particular colours and planting schemes can link different functional areas within open plan offices.  Research has also found that plants absorb noise though leaf surfaces, making planters a viable alternative to partitions in preventing noise transmission. Find out more about office acoustics solutions here.

Reception areas

Plants provide an economical alternative to cut flowers, providing all year round colour.

If you don’t have room or the budget for large planters, smaller plants can look equally good and have important benefits for your office.

All in all, pretty compelling evidence to “go green” in your office and install some shrubbery! However, choosing the right plants requires careful assessment as different plants thrive in different conditions.  Many factors affect the health of a plant including air conditioning and lighting, so make sure you look after them as they look after you.  There are a number of specialist companies available to do this and CBS Office Interior Designers use Green Team Interiors to supply and maintain plants.  For more information about the benefits of having plants in your office contact us here or call 01344 290290 for a chat.

2017-08-08T10:45:03+00:00March 9th, 2015|