In recent years, personal plants have risen in popularity. From small succulents to potted perennials, employees have been decorating their workspaces with plants. Many studies show the positive effect the green, oxygen-producing organisms have on productivity; they have been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, anger, and other negative feelings by between 30% and 60%. Because increased productivity leads to increased profitability for businesses, many have been supportive of the trend. The Florida Department of Management Services (DMS) is not one of them.

Workers in the DMS office buildings were recently informed of the impending change; apparently, several employee complaints had been filed regarding the negative impacts caused by the flowers, house plants, and cacti others had been using to decorate their desks and offices. Though the ban is not yet official, Tom Berger, director of the agency’s real estate management division, sent out a memo acknowledging the problem.

“DMS is committed to providing cost-efficient, accessible, clean, and safe work environments for all,” he wrote in the May 16 memo. “However, if safety and/or health concerns arise before the policy is fully established, we may ask that plants be removed from the workplace.”

In addition to reducing stress, plants in the workplace have been found to curtail sickness and absence rates, and are even believed to boost creativity. NASA took control of the science side of things, and discovered that they help clean the air of harmful substances found indoors such as formaldehyde and ammonia (both are commonly found in cleaning products). Many of the 28 million small businesses in the U.S. have embraced these positive qualities with open arms. That being said, the organization admitted that they also bring nuisances to the workplace, including mold, bugs, and mildew; this is the main argument posited by DMS.

“(It’s) part of our ongoing efforts to ensure an accessible, clean, and safe working environment for all tenants in buildings we manage,” said David Frady, DMS spokesman. “House plants can contribute to mold growth, damage desks and windows in offices, and encourage pests such as flies and mites when not properly cared for.”

The argument is logical, but still a bit of a disappointment. Though no employees from the organization commented on the ruling, a few people found humor in the situation when the memo was posted to Facebook.

“They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our house plants,” wrote one poster.


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