2020 has been a year to usher in many "new normals" and one of those being the home office. Many of us had home offices before the pandemic, but let's be honest, they were usually just a room with an old desk cluttered with bills, an old printer which usually doesn't work, and perhaps a disorganized filing cabinet. But with many of us being forced to work from home now and the regular use of Zoom for video conferencing, all of our colleagues can see our homes in their glory. Sure you can use the cheesy backgrounds offered by the conferencing software, but wouldn't you prefer to make yourself a beautiful workspace you actually don't mind working in?
In this week's blog, we are going to talk about using houseplants as a part of a wonderful home office design, which plants are great candidates, and what are some benefits of houseplants in the workplace. And yes, I am going to give you the data to support this because there is a lot of pseudosciences out there these days.
Why are houseplants beneficial for your well-being in a home office?
This might sound like a bunch of millennial rubbish, but plants have been shown to reduce stress in the workplace. I promise it isn't! The German Bürolandschaft movement (office landscaping) has been in practice and studied since the 1950s. The results from numerous studies throughout the decades have shown time and time again that greenery and plants in the workspace relieve stress. This is likely because foliage in the workplace reminds us of being outside in nature. Many of us find an afternoon in the park or a nice long hike restorative to the mind and body. These activities are shown to overtime lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, resulting in lower stress levels. Studies of greenery in the office show similar results.
Who likes staring at a blank wall? I can guarantee no one and if you had to that would be depressing. Greenery in the office provides another source of stimulus beyond the white screens and walls of our space. The exact mechanism is still being discussed between experts; however, the data support the hypothesis that greenery provides psychological well-being and stress recovery.
Have you ever noticed on days that you are overwhelmed you seem less productive? You require more breaks, you pick-up your phone more often to look at social media, and you just can't seem to get in the groove? A study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology "Views to nature: Effects on attention" found that students who had views of nature while studying retained more knowledge and had better performance on tasks that required attention. Other studies have studied this same phenomenon in offices with workplaces finding the same results.
While this seems like an odd reason to want to add plants to your home office, it actually makes sense. Decreased humidity by in-home heating and cooling systems can lead to irritated sinuses, sore or hoarse throat, itchy skin, and other physical symptoms. Plants increase the humidity in a space by transpiration and through their need to be watered regularly. Studies show that when plants were introduced into the workplace, there was a 30% reduction reported in symptoms like cough and fatigue and a 23% reduction in nasal and skin symptoms.
Plants That You Should Use
Depending on the size of your space, you can use a variety of houseplants for your home office. Hanging plants, tabletop plants and large freestanding plants can add visual variety.
Spider Plants have to be the number 1 beginners plant. They are easy to care for, adaptable to a variety of light sources and best of all they are great for filtering the air. In the 1980's NASA found that Spider Plants could improve air quality by filtering out VOCs (volatile organic compounds) such as those emitted by carpeting, upholstery and cleaning products.
Add one to your room as a hanging plant or as a potted plant on a bookshelf.
Pothos are wonderfully luscious and easy to care for plants that come in a variety of foliage colours. These trailing plants are tolerant of lower light conditions and like moderate watering. Place it on a bookshelf to disguise some unattractive books or ugly but necessary office supplies.
If you are short on space but still want a splash of green in your home office consider a dish garden! These are a mixture of tropical plants artfully arranged in a ceramic planter. We sell them in a variety of sizes, light types and with or without flowering plants in them. These arrangements are a fantastic way to inject personality and greenery into a tight space.
Drought Tolerant Plants
If you are new to the world of houseplants or if your office gets a lot of light you might want to consider low maintenance plants like cactus, succulents and other hardy sun lovers like Olive trees. Cactus and succulents both like sunny locations, while succulents require lower amounts of water and cactus even less so.
For the Zoom Crowd
At the beginning of this blog post, we discussed the increase in the use of Zoom and other video conferencing software. So don't forget about the part of the room you have your back to! Use large tropical plants like Monstera deliciosa on a plant stand to take up a lot of visual space, or a vining plant like a 'Mini Monstera' Raphidophora tetrasperma to add some vertical interest in a corner. Other options that are great for medium to highlight are Benjamina Ficus and Fiddle Leaf Ficus, while Peace Lilies and Snake Plants are great for low light spaces. Shelves with small 2" pot succulents like Jade and Bear Paws add interest to an otherwise plain wall.
Monstera deliciosa, Raphidophora tetrasperma and hanging Monstera adansonnii
Benjamina Ficus, Fiddle Leaf Ficus, Snake Plant, Peace Lily
Pots with drainage are always optimal for most houseplants; however, they can spell disaster when placed within leaking distance of expensive electronics. We suggest you forgo the pots with drainage (while following these guidelines) or at the very least use saucers underneath your plants to prevent accidents.
While on the topic of pots, you should consider the colours of your pots for your space. As a general rule, I prefer to go with a neutral palette of black, white and terracotta for a more classic and chic look. If you are looking for a lively bohemian look try to mix in a few coloured pots throughout your space. If you are using rattan baskets for your larger houseplants, be sure to use a tray inside of it to catch any drips or leaks from watering.
Consider the light in your space before buying plants. If you have a west-facing window that needs to be closed 99% of the time so you can see your screens, you will need to opt for low light plants.
Challenge yourself with your houseplant choices. If you are a serial underwaterer, this might be your chance to try a houseplant that requires more water! This is because you will have your eye on those plants more regularly than before and therefore will recognize their drought conditions more readily.
So now that you are feeling inspired, head over to the store where our helpful staff can aid you in picking out your new coworkers!
Cheers - Heather Youl, Digital Media Content Creator