September 24, 2013

Adding Green Makes for Healthier Workplace

By Angel MedFlight Contributor

There's more green on display at Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance. Green in the way of ficus, palms, and bamboos. Always looking for the healthiest workplace,  the leaders in the medical flight industry have added a few more plants to the offices and hallways here at Angel MedFlight. Having plants around the workplace can have several benefits. 

First the obvious, plants can lead to  less stress in a work environment. When multitasking is getting to be too much and the nerves feel a bit frayed, a glance over at a plant can be a calming influence. There's research to back this up. A study by  Dr. Virginia Lohr at Washington State University showed that participants working in an environment with plants present were 12 percent more productive and less stressed than those who worked in an environment without them. Research done by Dr. Roger S. Ulrich of Texas A&M and Helen Russell at Surrey University in England also revealed similar results.

Plants can also improve the air quality in an office as they reduce levels of airborne bacteria and help with mold and dust allergies. Plants can help prevent what's called "Sick Building Syndrome," which is the result of  toxins in the air becoming concentrated inside sealed office buildings. Studies have shown that plants can suck those chemicals out of the air.

Kathy Luksich is a transcriptionist at Angel MedFlight and she has a keen interest in plants. She loves them so much she's studying Urban Horticulture at a local community college. Her  dream is to someday get her bachelor's degree. With two plants on her desk, Luksich says office plants  are "definitely good for the air in generating oxygen and they also give me a calm feeling."

What plants are good to have around the office? Luksich recommends a ficus plant like the ficus benjamina, which is commonly called the weeping fig. While the benjamina ficus does best in bright sun, it can grow in poor growing conditions and tolerates considerable shade. For a little extra color, Luksich likes the Peace Lily, a plant that NASA put on its list of "Top Ten Household Air Cleaning Plants."

If she's not careful, Luksich will get a reputation of  being the plant doctor around our office here in Scottsdale, Arizona. A bamboo palm was not doing so well in a hallway corner so Luksich volunteered to take it home to see if she could revive it. "I've re-potted it, cut off the dead foliage and it looks like it might come back pretty nice."  Luksich says bamboo palms can do well in an office because they can tolerate lower light and they do well indoors. Because we are in Arizona, there's an impulse to get cactus plants for the office, but Luksich says they're not the best choice because they need a lot of sunlight.

Plants are good natural sound barriers in office as they absorb sound.  Studies have shown that a small indoor hedge placed around a workplace can reduce noise levels by about 5 decibels. Less noise and less stress can only lead to a happier workplace and increased productivity.

Looking to reduce stress levels, workplace noise and improve the air quality? Take a tip from Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance and spruce up the office with a dose of green. 

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