Studies have consistently pointed to a theory called biophilia as the reason why people are happier with plants in their living spaces. Biophilia suggests that the very survival of the human species depends on being around vegetation, which makes sense: "We've always needed to be around plants for food, for fuel and shelter; our entire evolutionary history has been completely intertwined with being around plants," Freeman says.
"In the last few hundred years, when we started working in offices and working in factories and living in cities, we've been divorced from our natural surroundings, and that's why we like to try and recreate some of that nature by bringing plants indoors, back to where we spend most of our time. On a deep, psychological level, a deep, subconscious level, we probably get a lot of benefits from just being amongst foliage."
Reap the benefits of biophilia
Displaying plants in your work area dates back to the industrial revolution in Victorian England, when factory bosses built parks in their industrial areas for the workers. "Hard-nosed business men didn't put these parks in just for any old reason; they could see a benefit to giving their workers somewhere to relax on their one day off a week. It made them healthier and happier when they went back to the sweatshop on the Monday morning," Freeman notes.
The best part about biophilia is you don't need a lot of foliage to reap the benefits. Whether you have a single potted plant on your desk, change your screensaver to scenes of greenery, or are lucky enough to look out over a garden or park, just seeing some foliage will give you a boost at the office.