The green office began to appear in a number of European countries towards the end of the 60’s, open workrooms that are no longer split up into small cubicles, where the staff have their own place in the same large area. A well-designed office garden is therefore usually equipped with special, noise-reducing, thick floor covering, insulated ceilings, sometimes soft background music, and a large number of plant-troughs and tubs. In fact, it was this ‘sea of greenery‘ that gave such locations their name.
The presence of plants during working hours proved to be a resounding success; other offices and factories soon took up this ‘horticultural habit’. And nowadays there are very few workrooms and offices that have neither the place nor the money for plants. The use of plants is also often taken into account when a company renovates or extends its building.
Not every plant is suitable for life in an office. Even before making a choice, hardly anyone bothers to ask the staff whether there is anybody with green fingers who would be willing to take on the daily job of caring for all the plants. And if a plant-loving volunteer does step forward, this is no guarantee that the office greenery will flourish indefinitely, since not everyone remains in the same job all his life and people retire sooner or later.
With a sensible basic selection, one can create a veritable ‘landscape’ of plants that make a working environment very much more agreeable. Under ideal circumstances the stock of plants is increased, with young plants propagated at home. Many companies are now using special cultivating methods, such as hydroponics, water retaining devices and moisture meters, which indicate, by color, how much water a plant still has available.
A private workroom or work corner is easier to decorate with plants than a strictly functional office. At home you only have the location, furnishing, and your own taste to consider. Choice sometimes falls on a less austere desk, often accompanied by a not so functional chair and the decorations are more personal. A private retreat at home such as this can be made even more welcoming with an attractive display of plants. Living greenery softens the business-like effect and makes working at home a pleasant occupation.
It is important to choose the right plants for the right surroundings. Sometimes, for the sake of peace and quiet, a workroom is isolated from the rest of the house, and plants in such location are unlikely to be tended every day. It is therefore best to select only undemanding, sturdy plants, such as the Yucca family. The nearer the workroom is to the rest of the house, the greater the choice of plants becomes. In this case, the occupants are not as likely to be distracted by someone walking in with a watering-can.
There are those who really appreciate it if the first bowl of flowering bulbs is given a place of honor on their desk, while others may consider this an intrusion of their ‘inner sanctuary’, then plants are best kept out of the way. But whatever plants you choose, make sure they receive careful attention. Nobody likes to find fallen leaves and spilled water among the papers on their desk.
Authors: A. C. Muller-Idzerda, Elisabeth de Lestrieux, Jonneke Krans