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Healthy plants mean a healthy office

Filling your office with plants can have more than just decorative benefits – it can create a healthier workforce.

How? And why? Studies have repeatedly shown that surrounding yourself with plants can improve mood, productivity and help reduce stress.

But new research now also reveals they can also stop the spread of germs, meaning healthier employees and reduced sick days.

The art of using plants indoors is called biophilic design. It is a trend which, according to Google search data, is at an all-time high. And it is emerging from right here in Cheshire.

Richard Rowlands, of I Want Plants in Ashley, is one of only a handful of biophilic design specialists in the UK.

He has completed the giant green wall at Barons Quay in Northwich, and worked with property giants Bruntwood to install a fake tree and treehouse ‘meeting room’ in an office.

He said: “We live and work in synthetic structures. The foam of a plastic seat, particle walls and synthetic carpets give off nasty gases such as formaldehyde, which can irritate the eyes, nose and throat. Plants help to stabilise the artificial ecology of the office environment, creating an eco-system which actively scrubs nasties from the air.

“Connecting people and plants has long been proven to have an amazing effect. In the workplace, employees are more creative, productive and less stressed.”

A NASA study on office plants such as weeping fig, peace lily and cornstalk dracaena showed they actively ‘scrub’ volatile compounds such as ammonia and formaldehyde from the air, purifying it. And scientists at Edith Cowen University in Australia say the healthy bacteria found on plants and soil can combat pathogens and viruses.

Project leader Danica-Lea Larcombe said: “A wholesome balance may reduce the incidence of viral illness and the number of sick days among staff.”

Richard added: “With the rise of biophilic design and more awareness about its benefits there has been a real surge in demand from employers who want stunning displays that not only look great but really enhance their employees working day. People need to be connected to nature and businesses are quickly realising it.”

Launched in 1974, the business was the brainchild of Keith Rowlands who believed corporate landlords would rent plant displays. When the bank refused his loan, he sold the family car to buy a van and his first batch of plants. Three years later, the same bank became his biggest client.

Fast forward 43 years and Keith is still very much involved in the business, but it’s son Richard who is at the helm and the driving force behind a new generation of products.

 Pictured: Members of the I Want Plants team


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