Sprouting Parking Lot Gardens: Plants Increase Employee Happiness
Orange is AMP’s color, but lately, it’s complimented with shades of green, violet, red, and yellow. Equipment Manager, Mark Sharon, has sprouted a parking lot garden here at AMP and all employees are happier because of it.
I am writing this blog on the deck that is nestled at the back of our building. A month ago, the deck looked a little sad with not much more than a picnic table, plastic chairs and a lot full of AMP production vans and recycling bins. Today, I am cozied up to a water feature where a small pond is housed in a salvaged galvanized steel container. Plants from the nearby urban lake blow in the breeze and the small pump hums along circulating the water while our newest AMP team members, Pancho and Lefty, swim among the leaves. Across from our little container pond is a pot full of colorful succulents and ferns, and in the very back of the parking lot rests a secret garden with an aromatic rosemary, sun-loving pentas, and butterfly and mason bee houses. For a tree climbing, tree hugging, green thumb like myself, this is a little piece of heaven. I love working out here as do my co-workers.
"Maintaining a connection to nature, either through the presence of indoor plants or artwork depicting the natural environment, has been shown to decrease stress levels and stimulate healing. Newly published research suggests it may also make us better people."
This all started one day, as Mark and I were eating lunch at the picnic table bemoaning our lack of green space in our urban office setting. Mark used to work for a nursery and talked about how peaceful he felt at the end of the work day. I shared my passion for plants and my latest adventures in beekeeping at my home.
It was that moment when the idea sprouted.
Mark asked if we might be able to allocate some funds for an AMP garden project. I was all over that with a resounding YES! We could use resources from the wellness budget (yes, plants ARE wellness). Mark got right to work and the next day as I walked past the formerly sad and dusty deck I stopped to find a beautiful array of succulents and the plastic chairs arranged around the plants.
I went out a couple of hours later to find co-workers taking a coffee break around the pot of succulents. The same thing happened at lunch. I sat with the marketing director and sipped a Topo Chico and discussed marketing ideas AROUND the succulent garden. I noted that more people went outside that day, talked to each other that day, smiled that day and Mark was a bit of a green hero!
So why do green things make us happy?
Science and research have my back on this one. A large body of evidence exists proving that plants inside the office benefit employees. In addition to lowering physiological stress, increasing attention span and improving well-being in employees, working around plants also leads to higher levels of productivity. Plants clear toxins from the air and actually boost our creativity. A few studies showed that productivity was boosted as much as 15% simply by introducing plants into the office space.
Every week a new little feature sprouts up in our parking lot garden. It is a place to work, eat lunch, visit, meditate and connect with life. I glance down at our goldfish, Pancho, and Lefty as my fingers scurry across my laptop keyboard, I am grateful for my workplace.
Time outside and away from the fluorescent lights and hum of the air conditioner; time in the sunshine taking in the green is time well spent. It gets the creativity flowing and engenders wellness. Check out these GoPro stills of Pancho and Lefty.