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Improve your brain power with this tool

Carl Lowe: If you want to be happier and more productive, research in Europe shows that a simple, non-electronic addition to your workspace can help you work smarter and more effectively.

The productivity booster: Green plants.

The study shows that having a plant in your office can increase your workplace satisfaction, concentration levels and even make your air seem more invigorating.

According to the scientists, when you enrich a “lean” office with plants, productivity grows by 15 percent. The study was carried out in two large office buildings in England and The Netherlands.

“Our research suggests that investing in landscaping the office with plants will pay off through an increase in office workers’ quality of life and productivity,” says researcher Marlon Nieuwenhuis, from the Cardiff University School of Psychology in Wales. “Although previous laboratory research pointed in this direction, our research is, to our knowledge, the first to examine this in real offices, showing benefits over the long term. It directly challenges the widely accepted business philosophy that a lean office with clean desks is more productive.”

The researchers believe the plants help because they make you more emotionally, physically and cognitively involved in your work.

Nieuwenhuis says: “Simply enriching a previously Spartan space with plants served to increase productivity by 15 percent — a figure that aligns closely with findings in previously conducted laboratory studies. This conclusion is at odds with the present economic and political zeitgeist as well as with modern ‘lean’ management techniques, yet it nevertheless identifies a pathway to a more enjoyable, more comfortable and a more profitable form of office-based working.”