Plants for productivity: The best plants for the office


When it comes to office interiors, plants = productivity. Indoor landscaping can really transform a space, adding life and contributing to a more peaceful and tranquil feel. But what are the other benefits of plants in the workplace?

Well, they’re air-cleaning, mood-boosting and, visually, an all-around simple and inexpensive way to add a little colour and vibrancy to an otherwise corporate, stuffy, indoor environment.

Office greenery – or biophilic design – can actually help reduce sickness and absence. Studies into the long-term effects of office plants have shown major increases in workplace satisfaction and a significant boost in productivity.

Greenery also helps to avoid a sense of deprivation for those arriving at the office early and leaving late, by bringing the outdoors in and boosting morale. In fact, The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace study showed that people who work in spaces with plants reported 15% higher levels of overall well being.

From a design point of view, they can also be great for filling space, noise reduction or creating boundaries in open plan areas. Plants (or even faux plants!) are ideal barriers as they provide privacy and soften acoustics but without completely cutting anyone off enough to make them feel isolated.

Plants don’t always have to be an afterthought or a standalone item either. We frequently work to build dividing barriers that double as planters, as shown in this large wall feature we created for LCF Law (below).

Even if you’re not the most green-fingered, you can avoid the pitfalls of ending up with a sad pot of dry twigs or a small plant cemetery on your desk by choosing faux or low-maintenance plants that will thrive with little attention, low light and a missed watering (or three).

You could also ask members of staff to each choose a plant that they will care for, to share the responsibility and instil a sense of pride and achievement in maintaining their plant.

Adding a plant to a meeting room we designed for Sovereign Wealth in Leeds.

If the real deal is what you’re after, before you pop off to the garden centre, consider what type of plant might work for your office.

Ask yourself:

  • What size is the space available and what is it usually used for?
  • Does it get much natural light?
  • What’s the temperature like?
  • Will someone see it daily and be able to easily water it?

We’ve grouped some plants into three simple categories to help highlight the pros and cons of different types of plants and hopefully help you narrow down the selection for your office.

Low-maintenance plants

Perhaps the best type for the workplace, these plants need very little time and affection – which means you get all the benefits with less of a daily impact or time investment. You certainly don’t want to be adding plant care to someone’s already busy to-do list.

Sansevieria are a very hardy option, in fact, they’re almost indestructible. The main thing to remember is that they don’t like to be overwatered. They can live in either a well-lit or a darker space and will even cope with temperature changes.

Aloe Vera is also pretty easy to look after and will tolerate most office environments. As with the Sansevieria, they’re happy to grow in low light levels and don’t mind being near a draught. They don’t need watering often – in fact, it’s best to let them dry out in between.

Succulents also don’t need much watering but they do like a light space and don’t like to be too cold.

Plants for smaller spaces

Not all offices will be big enough to warrant their own jungle but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little green plant buddy here and there. You can still reap many of the benefits without having to go overboard.

Pilea Peperomioides is also known as the Chinese money plant – that certainly sounds like something you want to keep around! Named after its coin-shaped leaves, this plant grows quickly and only needs watering once a week.

The Ficus Ginseng is a little bonsai tree that gives big tree energy, creating a real indoor garden vibe but on a miniature scale. They last for months and months and barely need watering, making them ideal for a busy employees desk or perhaps break room.

Statement plants

Adding a really large plant or a group of colourful plants gathered in one area is a quick and effective way to jazz up a space and add a bold element to the overall design.

These bigger plants are better used for adding colour and structure, may be used for zoning areas of the office off or drawing attention to a particular space.

The Monstera is the plant of the moment for homes and offices alike. These green beasts have large and distinctive leaves and like a well-lit spot. They should be well watered at least once a fortnight but will grow big and proud and become a real focal point over time.

It’s not exactly hard to see why an Orchid would make great statement plants. They manage to transform the look of any room, beautiful in a boardroom, elegant on a reception desk and stylish in a breakout room.

Orchids are ideal if you need to impress, although they are slightly trickier to keep alive and can be a bit, well, high-maintenance.

Faux plants

If you’re still not convinced on the ‘keeping plants alive’ part and real, living responsibilities really aren’t your jam, there are some excellent faux alternatives on the market these days so you could always opt for a touch of fake foliage.

That way you can happily fill planters and pots with fake greenery and it’s highly unlikely that visitors (and perhaps even colleagues) would be any the wiser. This has become an increasingly popular option with a lot of our clients and we’d always recommend it!

You and your staff will still get many of the benefits of adding plants to your interiors that we’ve mentioned above, but without worrying that they’re going to dry up and die over Christmas break, and they can be a nice, cost-effective alternative to the real deal. You can get some very realistic plastic plants these days.

Plants for Productivity - Ben Johnson Interiors

A planter filled with faux foliage used on a dividing wall in the LeoVegas offices we worked on in Newcastle upon Tyne.

If you think we could help you work some greenery, real or faux, into your office space as part of a redesign project, get in touch.

We’d love to find out how we could work together to add a little more plant life into your workspace.