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The $4 purchase that will drastically improve your remote work life

Close-up of senior female hands counting one and two dollar coins in hand.  Selective focus, horizontal, marble background.
This is one small investment with huge benefits. Image: Getty

Australia has had weeks of social distancing and remote work and there will be at least another four more weeks to come, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed this week.

For many, working remotely is an entirely new mode of work and can present some major communications, balance and technology challenges.

But there’s one cheap and easy way to improve your work life.

According to NASA research released in 1989, indoor plants significantly improve the quality of the air we find indoors.

This is good news, because other research finds poor quality air indoors can limit productivity and even lead to burnout, Deakin University has noted.


The CSIRO found the cost of poor indoor air quality could be as high as $12 billion a year due to health and environmental impacts.

Tech giant and workplace innovator Atlassian even builds a requirement for plants into its work-from-home guidelines.

Atlassian employees working from home receive a kit, global head of talent Bek Chee told Yahoo Finance.

“That [kit] says, ‘Hey you should probably have fresh plants in your room. Here's some advice on how you set up your home office,’” Chee said.

“We would – as part of our design kit – encourage people to have live plants kind of on either side of their monitor, right at home, while they're looking at their screen.”

Atlassian puts this down to the improved creativity and happiness benefits plants bring.

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology also found that decking out your desk with plants can boost productivity by 15 per cent.

And a study published in the HortTechnology journal earlier this year studied the effects of office plants on workers in Japan. It found that workers who took just three minutes to look at and care for a desk plant were less stressed than they were at the beginning of the trial.

“Our study indicates that having opportunities to gaze intentionally at nearby plants on a daily basis in the work environment can reduce the psychological and physiological stress of office workers,” the researchers said.

Cheap plants

The good news is plants don’t have to cost a bomb.

Bunnings sells succulents for as little as $4 with prices for indoor plants going up from there.

You’ll need around two plants to have an impact on an average-sized room, but some plants are better than others.

According to a study published in the Polish Journal of Environmental Studies, rubber plants, yucca plants, crotons, gloxinia and basil are among the best at reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment.

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