We work inside. We eat inside. We sleep inside. In fact, we spend 87 percent of our lives inside buildings. It’s deprived us of sunlight, fresh air and a connection to nature.
Working day after day in drab offices under unrelenting fluorescent lights while breathing in recycled air can take its toll. That’s why there’s been a major push recently to not only add plant life and greenery to workspaces, but to make them more elaborate and expansive than ever.
It’s not just a nice-to-have, it’s smart business.
People exposed to plant life at work are 6% more productive, 15% more creative, and report a 15% higher level of well-being. Plants in the office reduce depression by 58%, anger by 44% and anxiety by 37%.
Amanda Goldberg is helping some of the most progressive employers in the world not only add plant life to the office but create “living walls.” She’s the CEO and founder of Planted Design in Emeryville, Calif., which creates vertical gardens, maintenance-free moss walls and unique plant arrangements. Since founding the company in 2015, Goldberg has worked with companies like Twitter, Salesforce and Gusto. She’s been featured on Property Brothers spin-off Brother vs. Brother on HGTV and she’s racked up an impressive Instagram following.
We talked with Amanda to learn what Silicon Valley office designers are looking for, what trends she’s seeing in the industry and why natural elements are so crucial for employee productivity.
Why are natural elements like greenery and sunlight so important to employee well-being?
For years office designs were clean, sleek and modern—almost sterile looking. Plants are a nice way to welcome others into your space by adding warmth and color. Plants help with air purification and removing carbon dioxide. Bringing plant life into your workplace also feeds the whole idea of nurture vs. nature. Having to care for something that you’re helping to grow has major benefits. It’s nice to cultivate that relationship with plants, especially when we’re glued to technology all day, and direct contact with humans and nature is often scarce.
Can those natural elements also increase employee satisfaction, energy and productivity?
Absolutely. Everybody wants to work in a space where they feel healthy and inspired. In Silicon Valley especially, we’re spending a lot of our time inside so having plants and natural lighting are great ways to bring the outside in and make employees feel good. It’s crucial to spurring creativity and helping employees function on a high level.
You work with some of the most progressive employers and office designers on the planet. What are some of the design needs they’re looking for?
They’re looking for something functional that’s going to stay with them long term or be able to evolve over time. The living walls purify your air, improve acoustics, and have psychological benefits in terms of biophilia. Some workplaces don’t have green thumbs or enough light to support a full living wall, so they choose our moss walls because they’re maintenance free and don’t require any attention. We’re seeing progressive companies of all sizes choose to add natural elements to their trade show booths and special events.Our design-forward clients want plant walls that can be enjoyed, then packed away for a year and are still lush and vibrant months later for a new campaign, product launch or different customer experience. The moss walls have been really great for that because they’re maintenance free.
Many of your clients incorporate their names or taglines into living walls. How does that help with branding?
A lot of clients are looking for unique ways to brand themselves. They use our services to write their name in florals, or apply their logo to a plant wall with wood or acrylics. We’ve used lighting and detachable flowers to create a backdrop that changes as the company changes. It becomes another way to market yourself. Plants are authentic, useful, energizing, beautiful—everything a brand should be!
Many business leaders may want to make their offices greener but don’t know where to start. What advice do you have for them?
Start with the pothos plant. It’s one of NASA’s top purifying plants and it’s one of the most low-maintenance plants available. You can have it in an office that doesn’t have any natural lighting at all. They can thrive in spaces that only have overhead fluorescents. A spider plant is also great. They’re pretty tough to kill, very resilient, and a great air-purifying plant. They come in a variety of different colors as do the pothos plants.
Any other advice?
The biggest piece of advice is don’t overwater. That’s an issue we run into with some of our clients. They love their plants to death and want to be as diligent as possible. But you want to water plants on a schedule. Let soil dry out in between waterings. Stick your finger in the soil—if it’s wet don’t water it, if it’s dry water it.