Artificial Plants - As Good As The Real Thing?
It is well documented that we humans crave a connection to nature, particularly within the workplace environment where there are expected to be productive, creative and pragmatic. Having plants and other elements of nature in the office has been proven to reduce stress, improve cognitive performance and increase idea generation.
However, not all workplaces are able to offer the conditions that live plants desire. Even some of the most hard-wearing plants struggle to survive in sealed office blocks. Until recent times, research into the benefits of natural elements at work and beyond have focused on real, living plants, but researchers are discovering that 'nature simulations' could offer their own range of perks too. Simulated nature could refer to images, high resolution videos and perhaps more poignant, artificial plants and foliage walls. Whilst the results are not as dramatic as the real thing, the visual connection with nature can improve performance in an enclosed office.
Research carried out by the University of Washington, cited by Bill Browning, had participants take part in an experiment designed to test their perception. Subjects were subjected to one of three recovery period conditions: sitting at a desk facing grey curtains or a wall, facing a wall with grey curtains with one open to reveal a window with a view of a water feature and trees or facing a wall with grey curtains with one open to reveal a high-definition television the same size as the window and with a real-time video of the view. The team assumed that replicating the view through the use of a monitor would have the same cognitive affects as looking at the actual display, however it did not.
Following this, it could be argued that artificial plants may be a more conducive way of introducing simulated nature to the workplace - studies have shown that having greenery in the eye-line allowed workers to complete tasks up to 12% faster and as high-quality artificial are incredibly similar to the real article, some people may not even be able to tell the difference.
Artificial plants are a brilliant alternative to the real article - they require no maintenance, survive in any office conditions and allow you to decorate the office with stunning, exotic greenery you may not have been able to have before.