Whether you live in a city or not, access to nature is becoming more and more appreciated—especially in 2020 when most of us were locked indoors for so long. Did you wish for a little more green to surround yourself in, or desperately try to keep the plant you had previously neglected alive? We looked into what the most resilient houseplants are, the ones that can really weather our hot and cold daily routines.
First on the list is one for the over-waterers, in case the overexcitement of having a new baby in your care gets the better of you, behold the Chinese evergreen. Its temperament is in the name—native to tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and New Guinea, this little gem will drink just the right amount of H2O that it needs regardless of the daily drench, but it also can go without water for a couple of weeks, if you’re one of the lucky ones that takes a holiday this year. Keep it in a spot that gets some sun, and it’ll be as happy to be there as you are to have it!
If you want something a little unusual, and your apartment isn’t graced by as much natural light as you would wish for, get an asparagus fern, which isn’t actually a fern but looks like one. Native to South Africa, this fluffy friend adapts to any light it can call home, all you have to do is keep the soil moist.
Another home lover is the fiddle-leaf fig, from western Africa. With big branchy leaves, you’ll prize yourself a plant mamma without even trying to be one. It can grow up to 15 metres tall, but you can also keep it small if you keep it in a smaller pot. I left my flat for two whole months this year and came back to a bare twig, but within a couple of weeks of the odd watering here and there, buds eagerly began to sprout out. Now, I will never believe a plant is dead until it really is dead.
Do you have a house full of sunshine that we can all be jealous of? Then the yucca plant is right for you. Basically, you don’t have to do anything at all but keep it in the sun. Native to the hot and dry parts of the Americas and the Caribbean, treat it as if you imagine it in its natural habitat, and let it treat you to believing you’re on holiday somewhere really exotic.
If you have no soil or space for a pot at all, there’s a plant for that too, believe it or not, and it goes by the name of an air plant. All you have to do is dunk it in fresh water for two or three hours a week, hang it up or prop it up and you’re both good to go, with no mess involved at all.
There is hope for those of you that love flowers too, either opt for a bunch of lavender stalks that even dead, still look alive. But otherwise, the crown of thorns from Madagascar will quench your thirst for a pop of colour among the green, with no pruning needed. This flower doesn’t like much water, and isn’t fussy about where it sits.
Then, what is a no maintenance plant list without our ever reliable succulents. From aloe vera, to jade plants, these squishy leaved darlings will not let you down as much as you let them down. They are born for the dry desert, and have survived centuries of climate malfunction, that’s all that really needs to be said.
It’s safe to say there is a plant for every wishful green thumb out there, so no excuses. You could order all these plants online thanks to the digital age, or make the good old journey to a store. It is worth the effort, it’ll make you feel good to nurture something alive other than yourself.
Andrew Barnes, founder of the New Zealand based Perpetual Guardian, a company that manages wills and trusts with over 200 hundred employees, has recently made headlines for reducing his company’s work week to four days. The reason behind Barnes’ decision to cut one day off of work for his employees was to increase wellbeing in the workplace with a more balanced work-life routine and with that, boost productivity and reduce burnouts that result in sick days.
What Barnes initially referred to as a workplace experiment—where all employees had the opportunity to shed a work day from their week but maintain their five work week paycheck—ultimately stacked up extremely positive results. After a two month trial from March to April of this year, 78 percent of employees reported that they could manage their work-life balance as opposed to a prior 54 percent. Independent surveys that were conducted during the trial period by the Auckland University of Technology and the University of Auckland also show that employee stress levels reduced from 45 percent to 38 percent.
Since the dawn of ‘work and life’ culture synonymous with ‘digital nomads’, startups have attempted to iron out the old-fashioned creases from a standard office work week. From flexible hours, to working remotely and even trying to imitate a home environment within the office, the concept of a nine to five, Monday to Friday is going through an identity crisis—and not necessarily for the better. Because what has so far been lacking from the startup reimagination of work, and what makes Perpetual Guardian unique in its approach, is that the intention to truly reduce the hours worked has never quite been a part of the package to date. Sure, you can work from home or from a bench in a Canadian national park using solar panels, but have your Slack open, Trello blazing; Gmail notifications ON. By reducing the working hours and maintaining the pay the same, Perpetual Guardian has tested how productivity can be reassembled along the working week—and how hours in the office (or outside it) by no means correlate to hours worked.
There’s another positive twist to the plot. An additional day off means that a 240 strong company gets to rotate the days all of the employees are in the workplace. As Barnes says, “if you have fewer people in the office at any one time, can we make smaller offices?” ‘Yes’ is the definitive answer to that question. Following the trial and the positive surveys that followed, Perpetual Guardian is now seriously working through how it will implement the four day work week for good, while New Zealand’s Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway is encouraging more companies to tweak and adjust their own work week standards.
Employees and office spaces are the highest expenses of any company—yet the way they are treated, despite a startup revolution that seems to have disrupted, decentralised, and monetised any industry out there, has remained pretty much stagnant since the crack of dawn. Real change that isn’t disguised behind plants, meditation rooms, and work from home perks has now proved to have serious positive impact. “It was just a theory, something I thought I wanted to try because I wanted to create a better environment for my team,” Barnes tells The Guardian in an interview. What’s to follow is probably the true office work shake up we’ve been waiting for. No more plants. And please, no more Trello.