Spring may not yet be here, but it's not too early to start thinking about how to plant the seeds of a happy working atmosphere. Adharanand Finn recommends getting your hands dirty.
Sue Beesley spent 25 years working in the IT industry before leaving to become a gardener. "I spent all my time craving some green space, something green to look at," she says. These days she designs gardens for offices, to provide spaces where workers can relax during their lunch-breaks. "It's a real sensory lift, a pick-me-up, having a garden to wander out into on a sunny day," she says.
Gardens don't fit easily into the world of work. Amid all the strip lighting, computers and concrete you can be lucky to find much more than a few shrubs planted between car parking spaces. Trying to convince a hardnosed, time-is-money employer of the value of a garden may be as pointless as preaching the value of vegetarianism to a lion. But for the enlightened few, the benefits are bountiful.
At the design company Wolff Olins, in the concrete jungle of London's Kings Cross, workers often arrive at the office early, particularly in the summer, to work on the sizeable vegetable garden on the roof. Wolff Olins's building manager, Stuart Robertson, says the garden makes being at work more enjoyable. "Rather than just going from a house to an office, it gives you some interaction with nature during your day," he says.
The garden is maintained on a day-to-day basis by a staff club, but everyone in the company is encouraged to join in when they can. As well as providing employees with an opportunity to get their hands dirty, get outside and mix with colleagues from other departments, the garden also provides plenty of fresh, organic produce for the staff restaurant. From a PR point of view, the garden is a visible symbol of the company's commitment to both environmental issues and employee welfare.
For The Office Group in London, which rents out office space, having a garden has brought financial rewards. "The roof garden definitely helps us rent the offices out," says Charlie Green, co-owner of the company. "People love it. They have meetings up there, it has Wi-Fi, they can help themselves to freshly grown vegetables. It's one of the first things we show prospective tenants." The company's garden is maintained by a charity called Global Generation, which involves young people in environmental projects in the community.
Of course, not every firm will be able to rustle up a gardening club or find a local charity willing to take on the demands of looking after a full-scale vegetable patch, or have a sizeable roof terrace to hand. But even a small courtyard with some plants and benches can create a place for staff to escape and breathe in fresh air – as long as it isn't colonised by the smokers.
"Being outdoors is good for your soul," says Beesley, a former BBC Gardener of the Year. "You feel better and are more productive. It puts you in a better frame of mind and you work better." So if you do have some outside space that is not being used, or you can convince your bosses of the benefits of turning a few car parking spaces into a garden, how do you start?
Designing a garden is not as straightforward as it seems, and it might be worth enlisting expert help. "It needs to work ergonomically," Beesley says. "Just like the inside of the office." Beesley's "Lunch hour garden" in the RHS Tatton Flower Show last year, for example, had two separate parts; a social area with benches, and a solitary area where people could enjoy a moment of quiet or make a phone call.
To help "raise the spirits", Beesley advises using scented shrubs such as lavender or rosemary, and lots of colours. "But remember, you will probably have people wearing suits and smart shoes using it, so you'll need paved areas and seating that dries easily."
If you can't find anywhere obvious to put a garden, look harder.
2010-05-16 22:34 编辑：kuaileyingyu
Are you kidding me? 跟我开玩笑啊？ Back in a moment! 马上回来！ Come to the point! 有话直说！ Do I have to? 我一定要做吗？ Don't count on me! 别指望我！ Don't get me wrong! 你
When lay-offs and redundancies are on the rise, it generally follows that people trying to make a living from home, working for themselves, or over the Internet are on the increase