‘Greening up’ is good office politics, too
Appearing professional these days often goes well beyond what you wear to the workplace. It also includes how you landscape it. Going green is becoming good office politics.Along with beautification, the right mix of office plants can give a whole new meaning to the term “corporate wellness.””It’s a breath of fresh air to have something nice around you. And I mean that quite literally,” says Amber Freda, a landscape designer from New York. “Many plants improve air quality.”Freda, who delivers seminars about office plants at the New York and Brooklyn botanical gardens, cites studies indicating plants can be more than morale and productivity boosters. They also can neutralize potentially harmful gases, molds and bacteria while filtering the air flowing within office buildings.Certain plants are able to absorb indoor pollutants into their leaves, sending the toxins downward into the roots where they’re neutralized, becoming just another food source, scientists say.Some of the most effective plants for removing potentially harmful formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide from the air include bamboo palms; Chinese evergreens; English Ivy, and corn plants, among others, a NASA report says.Typical office plants differ from standard houseplants in that they can thrive under artificial light, Freda says.”People are often surprised that 20 to 30 different kinds of plants don’t need any sunlight at all. So long as the fluorescents (lights) are on 10 to 15 hours a day, most of these plants will be fine.”Another desirable trait common to many office plants is that they’re low maintenance.”You’re not at the office to baby-sit plants,” she says. “You shouldn’t have to be concerned about pest control, repotting, watering, fertilizing or pinching back.”If you’re away on weekends or travel a lot, you want to look at (buying) plants that don’t need a lot of watering or you can get containers that are self-watering.”Aside from serving as indoor air scrubbers, there’s nothing wrong with having another pretty face or a number of faces in your cubicle. “It’s good to have something nearby that looks nice, increases your comfort level and stimulates your imagination,” Freda says.America’s fast growing stay-at-home workforce – the telecommuters and self-employed – have even more plant options. That often means introducing blooming plants to their workstations, which require slightly more care.”When working at home, you appreciate a blooming plant more because you can keep up with it better,” Freda says. “Christmas cactus and orchids come to mind.”Another great thing about office plants is that many are fragrant, she says. “That goes for a lot of orchids. Some foliage plants, the Ming aralias, for example, smell like musky incense when you rub the leaves. You can find aralias as small as 8 to 12 inches tall, suitable for a desk top, or as large as 6 to 8 feet tall. Small plants grow slowly and can easily be pruned to size.”Plants also can be appealing to the touch. “The purple passion plant is one; the string-of-pearls is another. You can’t believe it’s living. It looks like a piece of jewelry; a work of art.”It’s one thing to display plants at the office. It’s quite another to display them well.”You want to present a professional look. It’s important not to be hodgey-podgey with containers. Match the containers to the space you’re in. Terra cotta doesn’t work as well at the office as at home. Take one or two design styles and work with those.”Plants are a good workplace addition no matter whether they’re brought in by individual office staff or if they’re company sponsored.”Employees love it. They make a great difference in the looks of an office. You feel like your employer cares enough to invest in aesthetic things and it make you feel better about coming into work.”
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