greening the office

A large decorative plant placed in the corner of the office.
A small potted plant placed on the desk.

We often see plants in our workplace. But why? “It looks good” or “It’s healing,” we may say. Many of us only have a vague impression. Research indicates that greening the office actually reduces fatigue.

Plants Make Space Feel Brighter

Scientists blocked sunlight coming through the window by placing partitions and plants to see if it made a difference in impressions. Even though plants blocked the sunlight and made the room darker, results showed that it gave off the impression of a brighter room. On the other hand, using partitions clearly gave off a darker impression when placed in the same position. Scientists think that this is because greening the space by placing a plant evokes more of a ‘psychological brightness’ in our perceptions.

A Little Bit of Greening for Relaxation

Some of you may think, “I don’t all have enough desk space for plants!” To see if size matters, an experiment measured fatigue levels in participants provided with three different plant options to put on their desks. Each participant received a large plant, a small plant, or nothing at all. Participants with large plants and small plants ended up showing signs of relaxation. Participants with no plants showed no signs of relaxation. In other words, the size or number of plants doesn’t matter when greening your workspace.

Smaller plants were also found effective in suppressing drowsiness for viewers. Researchers believe this is due to participants having more visual contact with smaller plants throughout their work hours and breaks. The more attention they gave to the plant, the brighter their work environment was perceived.

Different Plants, Different Effects

different types of plants for greening

A wide variety of plants are ideal for interior decoration. Some plants have leaves that are lush and round, while others are mixed with colors ranging from green to red. People have different tastes, but no matter what you choose, the impressions we get viewing them seem to be pretty consistent.

Research with 102 college students using 16 kinds of plants tested the impression different plants gave off. A large number of students chose; Weeping Figs, Corn Plants, and Lemon Cypress as plants they’d want in their room. Many of them claimed that it made the room feel luxurious, refreshing, and restful.

On the contrary, Garden Crotonas was most mentioned as the plant that made them feel a little restless when placed. Respondents described the plant as cold and tense. The lack of comfort may be coming from the fact that the leaves are mostly red on this plant.

Uplift your mood at the office today, by placing a small green plant on your desk. Whenever you feel tired, try gazing at it for a while. The power of the plant can assist you in reducing your fatigue.

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Asaumi, H., Nishina, H., Namba, R., Masui, Y., Hashimoto, Y. (1995). Evaluation of Impression of Ornamental Foliage Plants and Psychological Rating of Rooms with Ornamental Foliage Plants by Means of Semantic Differential Method. Shokubutsu Kojo Gakkaishi, 7(1), 34–45.

Hasegawa, T., Shimomura, T. (2010). Comparison of psychological effects on workers between a small interior plant and a large interior plant. Journal of the Japanese Society of Revegetation Technology, 36(1), 63-68.

About the Author


As a writer, worked on many medical-related articles based on academic papers. Specializes in articles on mental health and stress care.

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