Struggling with employee sickness? Office plants can help…

By Daniel Atherton


Everyone knows plants make an office look better, but did you know they can make the people in your office feel better too? And that could make a real difference to your business’ productivity and profitability.

The UK has one of the highest sickness rates in Europe. According to a report by the CBI we take around 160 million sick days every year, costing businesses over £14billion. Minor illnesses, such as coughs and colds, are the biggest cause of absence, although employees also have 15 million days off due to depression, anxiety and stress.

But there is an easy way to help keep your employees happy and healthy. Numerous studies have proven that by just having a few plants in your office space, you can improve the overall health and well-being of your team and reduce the number of sick days taken.

How can working in an office make me ill?

Sick Building Syndrome has been a recognised problem in the workplace since the 1980s. It’s caused by modern building techniques along with air-conditioning, ventilation and heating systems that allow the build up of pollutants and allergens within our workspace.

Chemicals known as volatile organic compounds or VOCs are a particular concern for health professionals. Two major culprits are formaldehyde and benzene; these can be found in everything from office furniture and carpets through to paints, textiles and general office products.

The good news is, plants are very effective in removing these toxins.

How can plant displays make such a big difference?

One of the key factors is the impact plants have on air quality. A study by John Moores University in Liverpool showed that plants are beneficial in removing most indoor air pollutants. In addition, offices with plants have 50-60% fewer moulds and bacteria in the atmosphere than offices without plants.

A recent Norwegian study tested what happened when plants were placed into and then removed from offices. When plants were present fatigue, headaches, coughs, sore throats, and dry skin all reduced. A range of studies around the world have found similar results:

  • Absenteeism reduced by 30-60%
  • Minor illnesses reduced by 30%
  • Dry skin reduced by 20%
  • Coughing reduced by 37% (due to improved humidity levels created by plants)

How many plants and where should I put them?

It does vary depending on the impact you’re trying to have and any specific issues you’d like to address. But if you can, aim to have one plant for every three people. Just one plant on or close to a desk has been found to improve mood. Having plants within our line of vision can help reduce blood pressure and lessen stress within just five minutes.

Plants are a very cost-effective way to improve your office environment, and they don’t take up much room either – simply place on the corner of a desk, on top of a filing cabinet, or have floor-standing pots in the corner of a room.

To find out how you can have a professional indoor plant design & maintenance service from just £15 per week, call the Inleaf team today.