“Stuck in airless offices, every fibre of our being seems to cry out for freedom. We’re reminded of being stuck in double maths while the birds sing outside”, author Tom Hodgkins makes a very compelling case for greening our office spaces.
The trend of having green spaces in offices has really caught on. Not only is it environmentally friendly, it also has a tremendous impact on the occupants’ psychological well being. Apart from reducing pollution levels, including formaldehyde, benzene and nitrogen dioxide, plants help control temperature and noise levels, all the while improving the aesthetics of the workplace. The calming and restorative effects of green spaces and its positive influence on employee productivity is also well chronicled. Additionally, green spaces improve cognitive process and boost creativity and independent thinking.
A well planned green space is balanced, in proportion and keeps in mind the type of area and its usage. For example, larger green projects can be implemented in collaborative spaces, receptions, halls etc, while smaller plants can be used for individual desks. Also, care should be taken while planning the type of flora and fauna to be brought in.
While one can plan elaborate green spaces like Amazon's Seattle headquarters, where the office space is as good as an indoor forest greenhouse or Google’s Dublin office with an entire floor containing plants and wooden décor; one can still incorporate green spaces at a later stage through placement of indoor plants within the office premises. It could be a planter or a green wall or even the use of terrace. Depending on the company’s requirement, one can choose the type of model to opt for. Right from plants to moss walls to urban farming- choices are aplenty. Not only are companies greening their office spaces, they are also encouraging employees to play a part in this greening venture, giving them options varying from customizing their own space, to partaking in growing one’s own food.
Benefits apart, what is essential is that green spaces need to be complimentary to existing offices, are cost effective and easy to maintain, while ensuring flexibility so that any new green areas can grow with the company.