At the RotaCloud office in Yorkshire, employees receive a yearly “plant budget” to spend on greenery for their desks. The result? An office jungle that looks fantastic – and promotes workplace wellbeing.
Forget houseplants – office (and desk) plants are having a moment right now, and we’re obsessed.
We all know how beneficial being in and around nature can be for our wellbeing, so it makes sense to bring plants into a space which tends to be a big source of stress for all of us – especially at a time when so many of us are struggling to manage our stress levels and dealing with burnout as a result.
Indeed, at the beginning of 2020, a study by a team of scientists at the University of Hyogo in Japan found that having a small plant on our desks can boost our mental health by reducing our stress levels.
So when we heard of a company which has introduced a “plant budget” for its employees to help bring more greenery into the office, it’s safe to say we were intrigued. RotaCloud, a staff management software provider based in Yorkshire, introduced the policy to give each its employees a yearly budget to pick out plants to put on their desks.
“We introduced the programme towards the end of last year and it has been going for almost six months now,” explains James Lintern, co-founder of RotaCloud. “In that time we’ve accumulated about 70 new plants in the office, so far.”
The policy itself, Lintern explains, was relatively simple to introduce – and applies to all new employees who join the office.
“The budget itself is very flexible – officially everyone gets £10 each year to spend on plants, however, we also have a partnership with a local York-based independent, exotic houseplant specialist called Botanic, and all new team members are encouraged to pop in when they start and pick up a plant or two to make their desks feel more homely,” he says.
“In addition, we have an auxiliary budget for even more plants that are either placed around the office, or employees can choose to adopt. We also have awards each month for the people whose plants are flourishing.
“When we first introduced the programme everyone was so excited, and the whole team has really gotten into it. Most people have a couple of plants on their desks now – although some staff have a lot more…”
As for the types of plants in the office, Lintern says there’s plenty of variety to be seen. From their PR manager who “is in love with asparagus ferns” to a software tester who has “a terrarium full of mosaic plants and Lego minifigures,” each desk is unique to its owner.
“We have cactuses, succulents, plenty of ficuses, peace lilies, kalanchoes, meadow spikemoss and gold dust dracaenas,” Lintern adds. “Miniature monstera deliciosas (swiss cheese plants) have also been very popular among the team.”
It’s clear that the plant budget has been a positive benefit to the office – but has Lintern seen any changes in the productivity and wellbeing of his staff? At the end of the day, could this be the stress-reducing, mental health boosting initiative companies across the UK are looking for?
“In terms of productivity, the sheer joy that the programme has sparked has contributed directly to the atmosphere of the office and the happiness of the team,” Lintern explains.
Referencing the Japenese study on the stress-reducing benefits of desk plants, he adds: “Our results are just anecdotal, but the feedback we’ve had has been so overwhelmingly positive that we’re convinced that this has had a marked improvement on the wellbeing of our team.”