How a Single Desk Plant Can Reduce Work Stress

Most of us have experienced the soothing effects of nature, and you can bring that soothing effect into your office with a single indoor plant. A recent study found that even the sight of an indoor office plant can reduce stress in employees, whether the employee cared for, gazed at or simply saw the plant on a regular basis.

Study Details

The study, published in “HortTechnology,” was led by researchers from Japan’s University of Hyogo. Rather than performing experiments in a lab setting, the researchers tracked the stress reduction of office workers when plants were placed in actual office environments. The study involved 63 office employees throughout Japan, with workers asked to take a three-minute break at their desks when they felt tired.

Phase one of the study was the control period, where no plants were introduced to the environment. Phase two introduced the workers to a small plant, which they were able to view and care for. Plant choices included:

  • Air plants
  • Bonsai plants
  • Echiveria, a type of succulent
  • Foliage plants
  • Kokedama, a ball of soil covered in moss and containing an ornamental plant
  • San Pedro cactus

Each participant selected one of the types of small indoor plants, placing them near the computer monitor on their desk.

Study Results

The State Trait Anxiety Inventory was used to measure psychological stress during both phases of the research. Once plants were placed on their desks, the workers’ pulse rates were significantly lower after three-minute breaks interacting with their chosen plants. Anxiety notably decreased when the plant was on the employees’ desks, showcasing the calming effects of even a single plant kept in view of a worker.

Reduced stress and fatigue was the outcome, regardless of the type of involvement or interaction employees had with their chosen plants. This included:

  • Passive involvement with the plants, which simply meant being able to routinely see their plant on their desk
  • Active involvement, with the opportunity to care for the plant
  • Active interaction, which consisted of intentionally gazing at the plant

Study results likewise remained consistent across the board regardless of the workers’ age group or specific plant they selected.

Additional Office Plant Benefits

Other studies have also found that plants in the office can bring on a bevy of additional benefits for workers. Adding plants to a formerly Spartan office environment has been shown to increase:

  • Worker productivity – by up to 15 percent
  • Workplace satisfaction
  • Levels of concentration
  • Perceived air quality

Researchers suggest plants in the office serve to boost work engagement, making employees more cognitively, physically and emotionally involved in their jobs.

Plants for Driving Anxiety and Driving Fears? 

Although the office plant studies did not specifically look at driving fear or driving anxieties, any reduction in stress may help alleviate specific anxieties and fears. In addition to adding plants to your work space, you may also want to experiment with keeping plants your home. Evidently, even a little bit of nature can do amazing things, regardless if it’s inside or out.