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Working in a closed office space can mean if there’s flu or bug going around, everyone gets it.

While the problem is usually associated with poor air ventilation, other health issues can arise such as those that are caused by certain chemicals used in office furniture.

According to researchers Eddie van Etten and Pierre Horwitz for The Conversation, adding some greenery to your workspace offers a whole range of benefits, including preventing sick days and reducing stress.

Adding household plants to an office environment comes with a whole host of benefits (stock image (stock image)

The researchers explained most people are used to working in an office that comes decked out with synthetic furnishings, including partitions made of particle board, vinyl carpet, a particle board desk and a plastic or synthetic office chair.

And while adding indoor plants can help brighten up a dull workspace, they can also help purify the air of toxic chemicals.

Nasty substances, such as formaldehyde, are one of the many compounds released by these sorts of furnishings which have been shown to cause health problems, the article states.

Problematic chemical compounds, such as formaldehyde, can cause a host of health issues including eyes, nose and throat irritation (stock image)

Those exposed to the compound say their eyes, nose and throat feel more irritated, and they often experience more headaches, and in some cases skin irritations. 

Other harmful chemicals in the office may include benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene, and even ammonia from cleaning products, the researchers continue.

A NASA clean air study has shown adding plants to an office environment can help purify the air of pollutants and remove a number of harmful compounds, including formaldehyde. 

According to the research, plants that have larger leaves do the best job at removing pollutants. For optimal spacing place one medium-sized plant per 2.2 square metres.

Household plants can enliven a dull workspace, and help filter the air of pollutants (stock image)

Offices are also a known breeding ground for bacteria – with people bringing a whole host of viruses, germs and microbes into the environment.

Because these spaces are closed, and reliant on ventilation, new habitats for microbial communities can spring up, some of which may not be good for your health.  

‘Beneficial bacteria on indoor plants and in their soil are an important addition to the office, stabilising the ecology of the built synthetic environment,’ the researchers state.

Offices with poor air conditioning are often a breeding ground for flus or other sick bugs (stock images)

The article continues: ‘Plant-associated bacteria could also help to avoid outbreaks of pathogens by and balancing the complex network of the ecosystem. 

‘A wholesome balance may reduce the incidence of viral illness and the number of sick days among staff.’ 

Keep in mind that larger potted plants offer greater root mass and soil surface, for helpful bacteria and root microbes.

Studies have proven that seeing greenery and nature can promote greater feelings of relaxation and calmness (stock image)

The best indoor plants for Australian offices 

Bromeliads – the frequency of watering depends on the office climate

Peace Lilies – they prefer moist conditions and keep away from direct sunlight

Mother-in-law’s Tongue – perfect desk plant for those with little time as it can withstand most conditions

Devil’s Ivy – This plant will grow in virtually anywhere, a cutting will even grow in a glass vase

Bamboo Palm – Will grow in low light and is a great air-purifying plant

A roomful of people breathing out carbon dioxide can also add to that ‘stuffy’ office feeling, especially if air conditioning is a problem.

Though adding more plants to the environment can help purify the air by adding more oxygen, green spaces have also been shown to significantly help with beating stress.

Studies have proven that seeing greenery and nature can help promote greater feelings of relaxation and calmness, which can, in turn, benefit your everyday mood.

If you’re considering introducing plants into the office, consider those varieties that that are easy to maintain, non-flowering (for colleagues with potential allergy issues) and will survive for a few days without water.

Options such as Bromeliads, Peace Lilies, Devil’s Ivy and Bamboo Palm are all great choices.