The Covid Pandemic has brought to light how important green spaces are to people’s mental health. As a landscaping company working full out this spring, we know for sure that people are desperate for a daily dose of nature. While creating curb appeal to attract business and staff has long been a great idea, today green-space is also vital for employee productivity, physical and mental health. Now that the world has learned to adapt to stay at home orders, working in an office everyday might seem unlikely, but so too does working from home everyday. In some ways home offices have had a negative impact on people’s mental health by increasing the number of online hours, seemingly endless Zoom Meetings and blurring boundaries between working and non working time. Staff carry feeling of guilt if they take midday walks or breaks. So it seems that there is going to have to be a reshuffle and review of how we work. Attracting people back to company fold and the corporate office (even if only part time) means addressing the concrete work spaces that neither give back to the planet or contribute to positive state of mind.
Here are 10 things a business can do to improve company morale, employee health and productivity
1. Create outdoor patio/eating areas with shade and permeable materials.
2. Provide walking paths around gardens and increase number of trees. This will provide habitat for birds and beneficial insects
3. Rooftop gardens and patios where possible, including dwarf trees and raised garden beds
4. Install a water feature to provide meditative and calming environment that can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and give an overall feeling of wellbeing
5. Grilling stations so that staff can cook meals rather than purchase fast food.
6. Provide Bicycle lock up to encourage staff to ride to work or to ride for exercise during lunch breaks. This will improve staff health and wellness leading to less sick days and better cognitive function.
7. Install Electric charging stations for electric vehicles such as cars and scooters.
8. Provide an herb garden bed or urn for shared lunchtime cooking/grilling
9. Purchase Earth boxes (self watering vessels) for vegetable garden option
10. Decorative Urns and colourful garden beds full of annuals for limited urban spaces still provide curb appeal and a sense of employee pride
The benefits of these Landscape ideas include increased curb and hiring appeal, more productivity, less turnover, less sick pay, and better company culture. But what may not be obvious are the benefits to the environment which are no less important.
For example reducing the amount of concrete in exchange for permeable materials, gardens and trees…
1. Helps to reduce Urban Heat Island effect
2. Absorbs storm water run off and therefore reduce pollutants in our lakes and rivers
3. Provides green spaces for employees, residents to eat, rest and recharge
4. Adds more C02 into the atmosphere and help offset Carbon emissions
5. Encourages environmental lifestyles. When you connect people to nature they want to protect it. Staff are more likely to create green spaces at home and practice behaviours like composting
6. Reduces burning of fossil fuels when employees have the ability to ride their bicycles or scooters to work.