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About Us: Plants in the Workplace

Oct 8, 2012

by Michelle Traub

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

It’s Monday morning and the rush-hour crowds have you coping with the pangs of claustrophobia before you’ve even stepped into the elevator. Back to the grind, your laptop case weighs heavy on your shoulders — until you open the door to the Etsy office. A verdant tunnel greets you, transporting you to the serenity and focus of a forested vista. You suddenly feel refreshed, primed to sit down at your desk and tackle the day’s work.

Many a study has shown the benefits of plants in the workplace, whether based on productivity, air quality, or stress. And while Etsy certainly isn’t the first office to encourage office greenery, Hanna and Josh from our Facilities Team have manifested their lush vision with particular behavioral and ecological goals in mind.

Hanna’s design for incorporating a living wall and partslaborworkshop’s furniture for the Etsy greenhouse lounge.

As Josh and Hanna have developed Etsy’s aesthetic and functional expansion within Brooklyn HQ, they have considered the challenge an opportunity to express our values as a company. Josh reflects: “Construction is inherently wasteful. We wanted to show that there is an alternative way to grow as a business, that doesn’t involve ordering everything from the Herman Miller catalog or from Staples. We’re trying to explore what it means to be a business that transacts on a large scale with independent entrepreneurs and makers.” So when it came time to address the near-universal desire for office flora, they naturally turned to small business innovator Miguel Nelson, whom they first heard speak at the Hello Etsy conference last year.

Miguel developed his product, Woolly Pockets, with his brother Rodney, to address the growing need for DIY vertical gardening. Made from recycled plastic bottles and felt, Woolly Pockets enable dreams of living walls to become a reality. When Hanna first came to Etsy, she quickly observed a smattering of struggling, tiny potted plants from desk to desk. As Hanna admits, “The only thing sadder than not having plants is having lots of dying plants.”

And so Josh and Hanna invited Miguel to the office and enlisted the help of Admin from across the company to cultivate these green installations. Josh and Hanna have found the living walls offer a true breath of fresh air in what can often be a frenzied environment. “When you put a ton of earth on the wall, it calms the room,” Josh says. Acoustically, climatically, and socially — the walls continue to provide.

Etsy Admin Jakob, Tim, and Jessie are pretty pumped about helping to green the space.

“How can a workplace serve someone’s overall vision for their life?” Josh ponders. In every decision that the Facilities Team makes, they consider not just the best choice for Etsy HQ, but also the model they’re setting for each employee. Businesses, as the largest consumers in our economy, have the potential to act as hubs of information, lessening their own ecological footprint, and by doing so, create a ripple-effect change. After witnessing first-hand the accessibility of composting within the office, I have since taken up the cause at my apartment. With regular bicycle tune-up sessions during the workday, my colleagues have embraced alternative commuting as the norm. Just as we bring personal values to our work life every day, so too must we develop work values that we are eager to bring back home.

How do you make your work environment greener?

43 comments

  • vsc83

    Victoria from VictoriaCampAllison said 5 years ago

    How cool! Adding living plant life to your working environment is never a bad idea. I remember the Woolly Pockets guy as a guest speaker at the Hello, Etsy! event in San Francisco last year!

  • DCHStudio

    Denise from RufflesbytheMoon said 5 years ago

    My dining room window looks like a jungle and it's so beautiful

  • SnappingDragon

    Awun from SnappingDragon said 5 years ago

    Indoor plants have many benefits including cleaning the air. I have plants in every room of my house that has windows. Living somewhere with cold winters it is wonderful to be able to be around lots of greenery even when it's freezing outside.

  • LaECLECTICa

    LaECLECTICa from Laeclectica said 5 years ago

    I love plants and believe they are very important for maintaining balance in my life.

  • leanerneaner

    Lina from SeaOfLoveStudios said 5 years ago

    Love it! Wish I could keep so many plants alive! ;)

  • florasvintagecloset

    Madi from 15MadisonStreet said 5 years ago

    I love it! I also have plants in almost every room of my house.

  • jamiespinello

    jamiespinello from JamieSpinello said 5 years ago

    I have about 40 plants in my studio...makes up for the amount of time I stay trapped in here....

  • newhopebeading

    newhopebeading from newhopebeading said 5 years ago

    I got to see these in person when I was in the Etsy offices this summer.... they are even more cool in person... I so want them in my house!

  • BlackForestCottage

    Donna and Darrell Knish from BlackForestCottage said 5 years ago

    I want your jobs, looks like you get to sit around and have fun all day. I'm stuck in a paint booth with a mask on most of the time. I'm afraid my plants would die from the fumes lol. So..... who's quitting to make room for me?

  • doodlebirdie

    Patricia from DoodleBirdie said 5 years ago

    Nice! It's good to see green :)

  • lisakides

    Lisa Kides from NJVintage4U said 5 years ago

    Always good to see green! I always had a plant at my desk when I worked in the corporate world. Got one now that I work at home ha ha

  • crochetgal

    crochetgal from crochetgal said 5 years ago

    As much as I love plants, I keep them out doors because of the huge problems with allergies in the household. That way they can still be enjoyed but not cause any health issues.

  • AnyOldTime

    Robin from anyoldtime said 5 years ago

    I love plants in vintage planters. Lots of them for sale from fabulous Etsy vintage shops!

  • riskybeads

    Lori from riskybeads said 5 years ago

    love this! makes me smile!

  • Untwistedsister

    Terri from Untwistedsister said 5 years ago

    This is beautiful and a nice way to stay in touch with nature in the middle of a city. I feel so blessed to be able to work and look out my window at a tropical paradise.

  • carolemma

    carol emma from carolemma said 5 years ago

    I just added a few more plants to my studio this week. With winter coming on, it's even more welcoming to have lots of greenery in my work space.

  • VeronicaRStudio

    Veronica from VeronicaRussekJoyas said 5 years ago

    Wow... This is really cool! I would love to work in a space like Etsy's!!! I have to admit I do need more greenery in my home/workspace!

  • modflo

    modflo from modflo said 5 years ago

    gorgeous! there was a study of hospital patients who, when flowers/plants were in the room, did better in several ways, even if the flowers were delivered anonymously. plant life has such a great effect on us...just wish i weren't a serial plant killer, even succulents. *shame*

  • OhFaro

    Faro from OhFaro said 5 years ago

    Looks awesome. We have a little green house and rotate plants from inside to there and back again. It's a great way to keep our plants happy.

  • gardenmis

    Priscilla from Gardenmis said 5 years ago

    I love this!! Plants add so much to the value of life!! Way to go, Etsy! :)

  • krize

    Kristina Sabaite from krize said 5 years ago

    Plants are so important and so cute beings! :)

  • gardenjewels

    Julie DeGroot from JewelsInTheGarden said 5 years ago

    This is Simply Wonderful! Bringing the outdoors in ~ LOVE it! Thanks for sharing Michelle!

  • southcentric

    Jeannie from southcentric said 5 years ago

    More 0xygen can only help!

  • SuzisPillowStudio

    Suzi from ThePillowStudioShop said 5 years ago

    I love this! My studio has amazing sunlight- I try to keep all electricity off (until I need to use my sewing machine, of course).

  • littleshopkeeper

    Leanna K from littlestorekeeper said 5 years ago

    I wish I had more sunlight in my aparment for a wall of plants. Maybe a small box of air plants would do. Looks like a great place to work!

  • jenniferjarman

    Jennifer Jarman from palomitaragdolls said 5 years ago

    Awesome!! I want to do this in my bedroom. LOVE it! Thanks for sharing:)

  • TheHickoryTree

    Linda from TheHickoryTree said 5 years ago

    I love plants. My office at work is full of plants. After 15 years of living in a cube at work, when I finally got my own office with huge windows, I filled it up with plants. It seems to attract my co-workers to the space too. (that and the candy jar) Sometimes when I'm busy I'll push the big floor one in front of my computer so passerbys leave me alone so I can get some work done. Plants make a work space feel very green and welcoming.

  • CelesteCraft

    Celeste from CelesteCraft said 5 years ago

    What a wonderful idea! Too much concrete feels barren to me, so cities make this country girl feel clausterphobic. This seems liek a great way to bring life into unlikely places!

  • GracefullyGirly

    Kimberlee from GracefullyGirly said 5 years ago

    How fabulous! I have seen some vertical gardens that were just inspiring! I love plants (and have them in most rooms) but have not brought any into my studio because I didn't want it to tip over and get the fabric or materials I'm working on dirty or wet. I think I may get some air plants though as I've done well with them in other parts of my home. I love the hanging bulbs I've seen on Etsy and have had my eye on some for ages. Now I'm ever more inspired to take the plunge! Thanks!

  • RenataandJonathan

    Renata and Jonathan from RenataandJonathan said 5 years ago

    Excellent idea !

  • TwistedDesigns

    Lindsay May from TwistedDesigns said 5 years ago

    Every office I have ever worked in could have used that. With all of the computers you need to make up for all the negative ions in the air.

  • lamagagio

    Quor è iacobelli from Quor said 5 years ago

    Fantastic idea! I will try to do that in my Etsy lab as soon as possible :)

  • VillaCollezione

    Villa Collezione from VillaCollezione said 5 years ago

    fab work place!

  • roseandpin

    Ruth Cook from RoseandPin said 5 years ago

    This used to be my job, As part of my job working in a florist we used to go around a lot of local offices and put plants in to work spaces, We always had to be as quiet as possible and not make to much mess,It was not easy when to were replanting a 6ft Yucca plant but it also got us out of the shop and into some interesting work spaces, Plants are great for helping you to stay alert and awake during your working day.

  • ERiaDesigns

    ERiaDesigns from ERiaDesigns said 5 years ago

    Way to go, Etsy. When I worked in the "corporate" world, I hated the sterility of the walls, floor, ceiling and whole environment. I always said if I had my own business, I'd have windows, plants, and LIFE! This is terrific not only for the employees but for the Earth and future of workplace environments. Pass on your message to other businesses. You're right...not everything needs to come in a UPS box to create a good workplace:)

  • byKEONA

    Keona from byKEONA said 5 years ago

    I love plants! I even only prefer live flowers( especially orchids) if my Mister wants to give me flowers. My studio have a mini garden by the window and I couldn't tell you how they have helped relax me. Great job Etsy for providing this for team members! I would love to see it one day in person.

  • madebythecoopers

    madebythecoopers from madebythecoopers said 5 years ago

    How amazing! There was a great wall made up of greenery in the 2012 Olympic park. It's inspiring as they can be created even if there isn't loads of space.

  • elianne07

    Elizabeth French from Unpurled said 5 years ago

    I have an orchid in my home office. It probably will not live very much longer (I was not blessed with my mother's green thumb), but I will say that looking at it every once in a while does boost my mood. Good for you Etsy!

  • hrblexpressions

    Marsha Spangenberg from hrblexpressions said 5 years ago

    Wow! That's awesome! I have plants in almost every room also and I love it. Looks like you guys have a great working environment.

  • capraistic

    darcy from capraistic said 5 years ago

    I love the idea! Way to think outside the box, Etsy!

  • JennasRedRhino

    Jennifer Boaro from TheCatBall said 5 years ago

    Plants are pretty and create a relaxing environment. They also provide a new source of entertainment for office dogs and cats!

  • lewintory

    tory lewin said 5 years ago

    My work uses steam to heat the brewery, saving on energy. My school has a four-storey plant wall too

  • BourgeoisDesigns

    V Lynn from BourgeoisDesigns said 5 years ago

    Plants make the environment more warm and inviting.

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