Need a productivity boost? Here’s why you should try an office plant

Posted by
Sarah Biddlecombe

The average office worker in the UK will spend a massive five years of their life sat at their desk, so it's no surprise if they suffer from the occasional lapse of concentration. 

We're willing to bet even the likes of Hillary Clinton and Arianna Huffington have fallen prey to the odd post-lunch slump or pre-caffeine sleepiness (they're only human, after all).

And if your own supply of at-desk productivity is starting to dwindle, fear not: science, as ever, has the answer. According to a group of researchers from Exeter University, the simple act of placing a plant on your desk can boost your productivity by almost a fifth.

Placing a plant on your desk can boost productivity by a fifth

Placing a plant on your desk can boost productivity by a fifth

Craig Knight, a psychologist who led the research, told The Sunday Times, "the improvement in productivity from placing plants near to staff was remarkable."

"Plants not only boosted intellectual performance but also improved job satisfaction," he added.

Knight and his team investigated the impact of having plants in the workplace by comparing the productivity of staff in three separate offices in Finland. First, the staff were asked to complete various challenges while sitting in a bleak and empty office.

One group continued working in this environment while a second group were allowed to put plants on their desk, and a third group had their desks "greened" with a selection of foliage. Knight found the positive effect on workers of choosing a few plants for their desk was just as strong as having their desks "greened", demonstrating that people also placed importance on being able to control their environment.

Even a small office plant can be beneficial

Even a small office plant can be beneficial

"There is a fashion for minimalist, monochrome styling which pleases managers because it gives them a sense of control," Knight said. "But in reality it crushes the human spirit and we can now measure that.

"Adding plants makes people happier and productive."

So if you're looking to spruce up your desk, or even "green" it entirely, take a look at this list of Nasa-approved plants to help make your air cleaner: we recommend the hard-to-kill aloe vera.

You can also take inspiration from some of the most stylish, and plant-filled, desks on Instagram, below:


Tidy work space for the win and finally got my new shelf up!

A photo posted by Emma Highfield (@beaumondemama) on


Share this article


Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Features Editor at Stylist

Other people read

More from Life

More from Sarah Biddlecombe