Plants vs Zombies: Plants Win

Stay alive at work!

No-one wants to work with zombies. I don’t mean the type who actually want to eat your brains, but the type of co-worker who can function at work, but doesn’t seem to be fully ‘alive’. They are not exactly the living dead, but they don’t seem to be at their best either. The good news is that office plants can help combat office zombies, by enabling employees to concentrate better and enjoy work more. Introducing plants also makes office workers up to 15% more productive.

If you’ve ever played the video game Plants vs Zombies, you’ll know that it involves arranging a variety of different plants on your front lawn, in order to prevent an army of zombies from entering your house and…er…eating your brains.

This rather dumb (but addictive) entertainment seems an unlikely source of business wisdom. After all, your competitors aren’t thirsty for your actual blood…are they? But it turns out that the game’s mindless premise – that plants can kill zombies – is backed up by academic research. Who would have thought?

The research

According to a study published in 2014 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, introducing plants into an office makes workers less zombie-like, because they are able to concentrate better and enjoy work more. It also makes them up to 15% more productive.

The study, which involved two experiments in London offices and one in the Netherlands, compared employees (doing the same work) in different parts of the same office. One part was set up as a minimalist ‘lean’ office, which advocates for stripped-back work spaces, without plants (or indeed anything else that distract you from the job in hand. (Can you tell that this concept came to prominence before most people had internet in their office?) The other part was set up as a ‘green’ office (containing plants).

The study had three main findings:

Office plants make you happy (and focused)

‘A consistent pattern emerged….whereby enriching a previously lean office with plants served to significantly increase workplace satisfaction [and] self-reported levels of concentration….

Moreover, these improvements were sustained over both the short-term and the long-term.’

Workplace satisfaction was up, disengagement was down, and employees felt they could concentrate better. Bam!

Greening your office makes it feel less stuffy

Employees in the green offices had a better perception of the air quality in their work environment than their colleagues in the lean office did. While actual air quality was not measured in this study, other trials have shown that office plants remove air pollutants and refresh the air (by removing carbon dioxide). In turn, these effects reduce the number of sick days employees take.

You work better when there are plants in your office

According to the study:

 ‘Simply enriching a previously spartan space with plants served to increase productivity by

15%—a figure that aligns closely with findings in previous studies.’

 Participants who worked in a green office space were more productive than their counterparts in the lean office space. Their tasks were completed faster and without any accompanying rise in errors.

 In a nutshell

If you want a happy, healthy and productive workforce – plants will help you achieve that. And they look good. And they fight zombies. Like an actual zombie, it’s a no-brainer (boom boom!).