How to Add Plants to an Office to Make Employees More Focused and Productive

Sourced from Entrepreneur

Earlier this year, Amazon opened The Spheres, a group of three glass dome greenhouses near the company’s Seattle headquarters. The Spheres are home to more than 40,000 plants of more than 400 species, hailing from 30 countries around the world. The idea for the spaces stems from the science-backed design concept of biophilia. The point of The Spheres is to give Amazon employees access to nature during the workday.

Plant-filled spaces “inspire creativity and even improve brain function,” Amazon explains on a company blog. Effects like these contribute to the philosophy of biophilia, popularized by biologist Edward O. Wilson in his 1984 book of the same title. When people spend time around plants, benefits abound, according to various studies: They’re less stressed, more focused and more productive.

Biophilia guides the work of interior landscaping company Ambius, whose designers have shaped the vegetation for offices at companies such as Pinterest, Cushman & Wakefield and Segment.io.

Kenneth Freeman, Ambius’ head of innovation, has been with the company since the 1990s and has since evolved his understanding of why humans are drawn to keeping plants in indoor environments and why doing so improves health and well-being. It’s not that they produce oxygen, he says. Office plants can’t generate enough to replenish the stale air of an office space. Rather, the mere presence of plants elicits a subconscious reaction.

“We have a deep-seated psychological need to connect with nature,” Freeman says of our animal instincts and co-evolution with nature. “When you place animals in an alien environment, they show signs of stress. Animals are happy when you provide enrichment and you make their environment as natural as possible.”

“You can’t put people in sterile conditions and expect them to do a day’s work,” he adds.

Freeman provides five tips for companies looking to add plants to their spaces to maximize their benefits.

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