Going green in city spaces

It can be hard to come across green spaces in large towns and cities. Commutes might involve public transport and pavement walks where greenery is decidedly lacking – but these spaces are important to our physical and mental health.

Urban green spaces provide biodiversity for cities and help mitigate the effects of air pollution. They also provide social hubs and help employees feel like they are part of a larger community.

Gardens and greenery can be hard to visit on a regular workday, so On Verve has been working at customer sites throughout the UK to bring some greenery to their employees.

Helping local wildflowers bloom

On one site in Manchester, there was a rooftop space lying dormant. It wasn’t accessible for building users, but we came up with a way to use the roof to its full potential. Our team constructed a wildflower garden, promoting biodiversity and creating a home for the honorary Manchester Bee.

We wanted to be as effective as possible, so our DayMakers spoke with the local council and wildlife experts on how to attract bees and local bird species to the garden. We then made planters from old moving pallets from the building’s basement. Once we’d planted all the seeds, we used a flower tracker and displayed weekly progress pictures in the reception of the building, so everyone could feel involved.

We are now planning to build a second planter to be stationed in the reception. Everyone will have the chance to paint and decorate it, helping our community come together. We’re also looking to upgrade our tracker to a wildlife camera with a birdbox later this year, so the garden and its local wildlife can be watched live in the reception area.

We always want to push the boundaries of what we can do with limited space and how we can creatively bring nature into the workplace.

Getting clients directly involved

In other spaces, office occupants have been able to put their own green fingers to use. For a customer in Scotland, our DayMakers looked for ways to enhance an empty space and created a herb garden in the outdoor area at the office.

Occupants were encouraged to come to the garden and plant herb seeds themselves, as a personal project. When the first roots started to sprout, it felt like new life was injected into the office. The herb collection was welcomed by employees, and we encouraged them to take herbs home for cooking. They were also used by on-site catering teams for breakfast and lunch.

Bringing in greens in a greener way

When communal gardens or larger spaces aren’t possible, we still find ways to add some greenery. Flowers bring colour and beauty into workspaces but maintaining constant, fresh cut flowers isn’t as sustainable as we’d like, and leads to a lot of waste.

Our flower partner regularly came to sites to deliver new flowers, care for current arrangements, and remove the old ones. These trips produced more emissions than preferable, so we decided to rethink our approach to flower decorations.

In our Manchester office, we partnered with Citiblooms to have flowers planted in soil and cared for on a permanent basis. The Citiblooms team tend to plants throughout the week, and as a local supplier, they come to the office on foot. This has massively reduced our waste and travel emissions.

We are trialling silk flowers at other sites. A reusable and beautiful alternative to fresh flowers, these can also be changed on rotation. This has cut down on waste and has reduced our spending by 50 per cent, all while maintaining the beauty and vibrancy in the office.

Bringing greenery into office spaces promotes mindfulness and wellbeing, and it should be a key element for businesses to consider. Wildflowers and herbs aren’t usually considered when people develop office spaces, but they stand to significantly improve the working environment – for your people and the planet.

Learn more about our guest services and how we can improve your workplace.