Recently I made the leap from pyjama wearing freelancer to suited and booted desk jockey. With career improvement in mind, I’ve taken a job in the corporate world, or to be precise a business school.
The move to back-office academia aside, the thing that I’m finding immediately difficult is going from my home comforts of plants and a roof terrace for most of my working day, to uninspiring mass-produced office furniture and peeling paint interiors. The office is as offices are; built without comfort in mind. And yet we spend a substantial amount of our lives in them.
A few years back NASA did a bit of research into plants that help the indoor environment as part of their wider Clean Air Study. As most of us, myself now included, have to spend a large proportion of our time indoors, it isn’t a bad thing to start looking at how a few basic plants can massively help improve air quality.
The main winners in the 30 strong list of plants were things like the Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’) and the Florist’s Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium) which both help to strip out benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene and ammonia from the air around us. NASA’s research helped to suggest that removing these toxins from our office environments (and other indoor spaces) might help the overall health of the workers – something that can’t be a bad thing. For best results, one plant per 9 square-meters should roughly do it.
However, this is a growing blog, so although improving your air quality and the look of your office is one thing, actively growing things on your desk isn’t out of the realms of possibility either and should (depending on your line manager) be actively encouraged.
Chillies are one plant that will happily thrive inside, and are hardy enough to survive a weekend without water. If you’re lucky enough to have a window in your office then the combination of the warmth from your CPU and the rays through the glass can make for a great growing location.
Micro-greens and wheatgrass can also be easily grown on a desk, and can help the spruce up the office lunches to boot.
Sure, I am realistic and don’t suggest that you build a raised bed in the break-room, but there are certain things you can do to get your growing fill. The snazzy Boskke Sky Planter contains a reservoir and keeps soil out of the way of your keyboard; it could be a great space saving solution for those with a messy desk. Added to that, basil and other herbs thrive in it, and the pot itself would be easy to hang from a suspended ceiling.
For those with a neat desk or a more regimented office policy, traditional pots, repurposed pen holders or even 2ltr soda bottles can make happy places for plants. Ultimately it is about getting the green inside, which research suggests can make you a happier person on the whole.
So how do you make your office a little more green? I’d love to hear your tips and hints, so please leave a comment below. And once you’ve done that get yourself down to the garden centre, so you can start letting the greenery into the ultimate urban space – the office.