Minimalism may be the office theme of the moment, but whiteboard walls and clean-cut furniture don’t necessarily make for the most productive working environment. A 2014 study suggests that having a plant on your desk may actually make you smarter.
Researchers introduced plants into two extraordinarily sparse commercial offices in the U.K. and the Netherlands. They found that having plants in view increased employees’ scores on a series of memory tests and tasks, resulting in a productivity gain of up to 15%. That’s in line with the findings of previous studies, which have showed that the presence of plants in the office can lower physiological stress, improve attention span and make people feel happier at work.
Plants may seem like the perfect creators of clutter. They must be watered (creating the risk of a spill), many shed their leaves with no regard for what they land on, and potting soil inevitably finds its way onto every clean surface. But the study’s authors suggest that natural decorations may be worth the effort. “It directly challenges the widely accepted business philosophy that a clean desk is more productive,” wrote Marlon Nieuwenhuis from Cardiff University’s School of Psychology, the lead researcher on last year’s study.
Or as one of Niewhenhius’s co-authors put it: “Sometimes less is just less.”
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Do you have plants at your desk? Why, or why not? Let us know using the comments section below.