It's No Myth: 3 Reasons You Get More Work Done When Surrounded by Plants

Vionna Wai, founder of @FelineJungle, works near her wall of plants in her home workspace

Vionna Wai

There’s just something about being surrounded by plants that calms me, makes me feel less stressed out, and dare I say it, more productive. Sitting at my desk I can count 14 plants in my immediate surrounding area. That may seem like a lot for an at-home desk, but it really isn’t for me. And the fact is, an American Psychological Association study shows you really do get more work done—around 10 to 15 percent more, in fact—when surrounded by plants. We spoke with a business owner and a plant influencer to shine a light on their experiences with plants and how they ultimately are beneficial in the workplace.

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    1. The Color Green Is Very Soothing

    Taylor Fuller's desk with 14 plants

    Taylor Fuller

    Yes, it sounds extremely simple, but science backs it up. It's why you see green in so many restaurant logos, why there are plants in so many restaurants, medical offices, and similar places.

    “Plants in the workplace can increase productivity because they are nature itself, and bringing nature into a technological environment like the office can greatly affect in a positive way the individuals around it," explained Sandeep Kumar Aggarwal, CEO of SKAOLOGY, a holding company for three subsidiaries in the New York City area.

    They "improve the mood of those around it for the better because, accordingly, green is regarded by color psychologists as one of the most soothing shades there is," said Aggarwal, who is also founder of SKA Medical Group. "And with so much to enjoy about Mother Earth, incorporating plants and greenery into your working space can only be a positive step. Along with boosting the emotions of those around them, it also allows creativity to flow and allows people to be more creative. Basically, it suggests that looking at nature, even just images of the natural world can shift the brain into a different processing mode, making employees feel more relaxed and better able to concentrate.”  

    Why It Works for This Plant Influencer at Her Home Workspace

    Vionna Wai is the proud owner of more than 100 plants and the NYC-based founder of Feline Jungle. She has a beautiful workspace surrounded by plants, which she uses for insipration, among other things.

    “My plant wall is a multi-use system that allows me to be surrounded by my plants while still giving me workspace," Wai said. "I like to be surrounded by plants when I’m brainstorming about more planty content for Feline Jungle. My partner named the plant wall“ the wall of distraction” because I seem to get lost checking up on my plants. But I like to think that I’m constantly drawing inspiration from plants even when I am taking a break from creating content.”

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    Study: The Mere Sight of an Indoor Plant Can Reduce Stress

    Vionna Wai's wall of plants in her NYC workspace

    Vionna Wai

    According to a study done by the American Society for Horticultural Science, having a small plant situated within view can help reduce stress. In the study, conducted at the University of Hyogo in Awaji, Japan, researchers directed 63 office workers to take a three-minute rest while sitting at their desk, initially without plants (the control), and later with plants that they could either simply look at or care for as well.

    Researches measured psychological stress in the participants using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. "The ratio of the participants whose pulse rate lowered significantly after a 3-minute rest with interaction with their desk plant proved definitive,” the study said. Each plant used in the study was chosen and cared for by the participant. They could either take care of their plants or just look at them. Both actions calmed them down significantly.“

    Wai said her plants are a beneficial way for her to hit pause while working her day job from home. “During my daytime profession, I work in a fast-paced environment of construction. When I’m taking a short break at work, I like to enjoy the small victories of new plant growth before getting back into the grind," she said. "I love the workspace I’ve created for myself at home where I can take a pause with plants by just looking at my plant wall. Even at the office, I like to bring a piece of green with me to remind me to take it easy.”

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    Plants Can Change the Feel of the Room, Study Says

    Vionna Wai, founder of @FelineJungle, works near her wall of plants in her home workspace

    Vionna Wai

    We know that plants can help reduce stress but they can also change the entire feel of a room.  The American Society for Horticultural Science published a study about the psychological benefits of indoor plants. It found that "indoor plants are seen as features of the indoor environment that attract attention without effort and evoke positive emotions that can respectively promote renewal of the capacity to concentrate and interrupt the stress process."

    Wai became attuned to this as college student, before she even began her plant journey. “My love for plants started in college when I studied architecture. I was always incorporating greenery in my design," she said. The class that sparked my interest in plants was about modular green wall design. In that class we had to design and prototype a green wall that integrated into the HVAC systems of buildings to improve indoor air quality and reduce energy consumption. In our prototype, we use plants with high air-purifying qualities such as the ZZ plant, the spider plant, and the snake plant. From our research, I recognized the impact that plants could have on improving our indoor environment quality. Currently, I work in construction for a living and I hope to add more greenery into our urban environment.”