Planting for success: how to introduce plants into the workplace
By Charlie Albone, landscape designer Inspired Exteriors
Charlie Albone offers insight into creating the best greenery next to your desk
The average Australian spends much of their waking week in the workplace. For many of us, this means being potted (like a plant) in an office behind a computer screen for long stretches of time, which can leave us feeling weary and weathered. Thankfully, all those hours spent at the day job don’t have to be removed from nature completely. Introducing plants into the office is not only a great way to improve the overall look and feel of a workplace, it can also help to reduce things like stress and absenteeism, as well as boost employee productivity and creativity.
Of course, as with all things botanical, choosing any plant and hoping it’s ok for indoor use, is never the best policy. Here are some things to consider to successfully introduce plants into your workplace.
Ink on the fingers, green on the thumb
Desk plants are a great starting point for bringing greenery into the office. Whether it’s to style your own desk or gift a team member, there are specific plants you should look out for.
- Small desk plants are a great way to start your green office journey and are a fantastic way to welcome a new employee giving them some ownership and pride in their new space.
- The closer your plants are to you in the office, the more the benefits can be felt as they clean the air around them, improving air quality and increasing focus.
- Spider plants, Walking Iris and Pepperomia all make good desk plants along with succulents.
Plants can carve out intentional office spaces
Think beyond your desk and use plants to create intentional spaces
Indoor plants don’t necessarily need to be only those that fit on your desk. You can be exotic. Trees such as Fig do well indoors and has evolved to be in the understory of a jungle. Having a tall vertical accent will completely change the feel of your office space.
Plants are a great way to carve out an area of the office, when it’s open plan. For example, creating a coffee catch up area using plants in each corner of surrounding furniture. Did you know that quality coffee helps facilitate difficult conversations *, so why not use plants to create more private catch up areas for your meetings with your manager?
Charlie encourages employees to bring a bit of the outdoors in, to boost culture.
There’s something in the air
Plants help clean the air and in turn help with clarity of mind at work, but it’s important they don’t polarise the office with highly scented varieties. Avoid plants that expel pungent scents. The ideal balance is one that evokes a connection with the natural world without feeling like you’re working in a greenhouse.
- Plants have an incredible way to clean the air and remove volatile organic compounds which in turn increases clarity, focus and productivity. Be careful that you don’t pick varieties that are scented as you may cause a stir in the office.
- Your plants can give off a bit of a foul odour if you don’t keep the fresh water up to them and remove and drain the stagnant water in the drip tray on a regular basis. You don’t want to undo all the good work your plants are doing for you!
Give office waste a second life
Consider bringing some second life spirit into the office via your plants.
Right next to that Nespresso capsule recycling collection point in your kitchen, start yourself a green waste bin. Place all the green waste from the kitchen in a compost bin and mix it through with old tea bags. You can easily take it home and add back to other plants surrounding your life to ensure maximum oxygen output and healthy greenery. Or take from your office kitchen and place directly into a Bokashi desk composter to create liquid fertiliser directly in your office.
Create a plant foster roster
Looking for ways to bring your teams together? What better way than to encourage ownership of caring for office plants and instilling it as part of the culture. Create a plant watering roster, naming competition, or give an award to the “gardener of the year”!
Reaping the benefits office plants give you is not a soulless act. They require love and care to perform and look their best. Regular watering, leaf cleaning and remove of dead leaves all needs to be prioritised.
Rostering the work is one way to ensure all the jobs get done but making it a competition for the biggest, brightest plants ensures everybody looks after their own.
Plant with care
It’s important to understand that very few plants are able to thrive in low natural light, with a lack of rain-water with dry, air conditioned air.
Here are my tips on looking after your plants in the office – it’s simple.
- Look for plants with large leaves. Generally, these thrive the best indoors
- Look for plants that communicate, like the Peace Lily which tells you when its thirsty by drooping its leaves
- Some succulents grow well in the dry, air-conditioned office environment
*Nespresso Professional Research conducted across Australia by Research Now SSI in March 2018, including 154 of Australia’s upper management and C-suite decision makers within all businesses.