Image: Adam Grzesik, Nordia Poland, Workplace Solutions.
All photos courtesy of the Silverado Roundtable
I opened my first flower stand in downtown San Diego in 1977. It’s always been my passion to enrich peoples’ lives by adding nature using plants. Within just a couple of years, I expanded Good Earth Plant Company’s focus to include workplace greenery design, installation, and maintenance to our core business.
We take someone’s plant vision and assess the functionality and application in and on every type of building imaginable: offices, hotels, restaurants, biotech and tech companies, construction firms, and retail. Today, I am working with clients and their architects and interior designers, figuring out what’s feasible and affordable to accommodate the new reality of the post-pandemic workplace, all while their buildings still sit mostly void of people.
Empty offices. Unused roof top amenity areas. I’ve read a multitude of surveys, studies, and white papers addressing Covid safety concerns that come at the problem from the same viewpoint: barriers, and temperature checks. One-way hallways. Space markers on the floor. Tools so you don’t have to touch elevator buttons.
This treats the immediate symptoms, but do we really want to see this become the norm in office and building design?
Objective scientific studies showed the presence of plants at work reduced absenteeism and improved productivity, and even caused hospital patients to recover more quickly.
To expand our perspective and share it, my workplace greenery colleagues in the Silverado Roundtable, all with significant experience, collaborated in reviewing new research on the post-pandemic workplace. We conducted interviews with forward-thinking architects, social scientists, and psychologists.
The Nature of the Post-Pandemic Workplace
Key findings from The Nature of the Post-Pandemic Workplace:
- One-third of office workers say the design of an office would affect their decision to accept a job offer.
- Top items desired in office space by employees: Natural light, live indoor plants, and quiet working space.
- Healthy workplaces are no longer negotiable. Access to fresh air, natural light, adequate personal space, and cleanliness affect the perception of safety.
- Creating a nature-based environment with plants and natural materials is essential to post-pandemic business survival.
- One month of workplace greenery maintenance can cost less than buying lunch for employees once a month.
According to the World Health Organization, 19% of factors affecting our health and wellbeing are directly related to the built environment. Not surprising as we spend upwards of 90% of our time indoors.
Workplaces built to maximize space efficiency are no longer desirable. The reconsidered workplace will foster collaboration and communication in environments with a focus on creativity and inspiration in a healthier way. Companies must cultivate their culture, creating a comfortable place where people want to gather and work together to contribute to a greater purpose.
Creating a nature-based environment with plants, living walls and natural materials over plastic is not only feasible, but essential to business survival.
People overwhelmingly prefer workplaces with natural light, but plants require it for their survival. Plants act as the canary for the healthy modern workplace. If there is enough light for plants to thrive, then people will thrive, too.
A well-designed space with natural elements makes it easier to recruit talented employees and can better provide those employees with a workplace that is energy lifting, instead of energy zapping. Building owners, landlords, and employers have an opportunity to bring life and a story into a workplace environment. Companies have a chance to develop the culture of their dreams.
Green building and design professionals can help companies create working spaces with a renewed emphasis on health and safety, while also enhancing and emphasizing workplace culture, which will contribute to the return of a robust economy and improved lives for everyone involved.
~ Jim Mumford, CLP, GRP
Jim Mumford, CLP, GRP is Owner/President of Good Earth Plant Company and Resident Horticulturist. Jim, a long time San Diego resident, began his career in 1977 with the opening of Good Earth Plant & Flower Company, a flower “bucket stand” in downtown San Diego.
Four decades later, Mumford is an award winning plantscaper, green roof and living wall designer, a sought after speaker and a recipient of numerous local and national awards. He is a Certified Landscape Professional, Accredited Green Roof Professional, licensed contractor and a nationally recognized plantscaper. Mumford is currently studying the relatively new fields of biomimicry and biophilia.
In March 2008, Mumford launched GreenScaped Buildings, an addition to the Good Earth family of companies, specializing in green roofs, living walls, bio-filtration and rainwater harvesting systems. His headquarters houses a “living laboratory,” testing new growing systems and products from around the world to ensure the success of his clients’ projects in the arid Southern California climate.
Frequently featured as a green building expert by local and national print and broadcast media including CNN and FOX Business, Mumford is also profiled for his entrepreneurial skills. He was named a California “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; one of San Diego’s “Top Influentials” by the San Diego Daily Transcript; and was recently a featured speaker at the TEDx Youth Conference in San Diego in November 2012.
Mumford is widely recognized for his work with the architectural and design communities, and is well known for his innovative leadership in the industry. Mumford contributes his time and shares his knowledge and experience through industry leadership roles. He is a past president and current board member of the Plantscape Industry Alliance (PIA); board member for People for Livable Places (PLP); and is an active member of the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA), American Institute of Architects San Diego (AIASD) and the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). Mumford currently serves on the Downtown San Diego Partnership’s Sustainability Committee.
Due to his pioneering efforts and leadership role in the plantscaping industry, Jim Mumford brings skill, creativity, and beautiful environments to local and national clients including hospitals, resorts, universities, restaurants, and private homeowners. It’s for all these reasons he was named an “Eco-Warrior” by San Diego Magazine.
Publisher’s NOTES: The Silverado Roundable’s The Nature of the Post-Pandemic Workplace fits perfectly with my #8 Category in the Greenroofs.com’s 2020 Top 10 List of Hot RESILIENT Trends in Greenroof & Greenwall Design: New Ways to Work Healthily in the Wake of COVID-19!