Plants in the office reduce illness

Q: I work for a small media agency and while the location of our company is very handy, the inside of our offices leaves a lot to be desired.

I don't think they have been given a lick of paint in a long time and our furniture has definitely seen better days. We always go out for meetings at our clients' offices, so it's embarrassing when media owners come to visit us. I have asked our boss if he will at least get some plants for the office, which as well as cheering the place up, might disguise some of the peeling paintwork.

My boss is saying no: he reckons that having plants in the office will be a distraction because we will have to spend time watering them and so will have less time for looking after our clients. What's your view on horticulture in the office?

A: I'm not sure if it's a view, but I have heard that one can lead a horticulture, but there's no guarantee it will change her life.

Although I am the last person who should advise on having plants in the office, owing to my lack of green fingers, I can confirm that having greenery in the workplace can make a difference.

In your case, not only will it improve what must be a most depressing working environment, but, believe it or not, plants can also reduce levels of absenteeism.

A few years back, Professor Dr Tove Fjeld conducted a series of studies to ascertain whether the presence of indoor plants could improve office workers' health and reduce incidents of minor illnesses and ailments.

Having taken two identical offices and placed foliage plants in containers in one of them, the three-month trial discovered that the office workers who had the plants in their room showed a 30% decrease in fatigue-related complaints and a 37% decrease in coughs.

Those working in the vicinity of plants were also more likely to remain at their workstations rather than find excuses to wander around the building during the day.

If the above piece of research does not persuade your boss, then bring him in a plant as a present and place it on his desk.

My bet is that within a short period of time it will start to grow on him and eventually your office will resemble a mini Kew Gardens, which will be a hell of a lot cheaper than redecorating.

I'm off to B&Q now to replace the plant my secretary sat on. Next time, I'll be far more careful where I place my palm.

David Emin is director of advertising at Mirror Group Newspapers. Send your dilemmas to

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