6 Keys to Getting the Green-light to Green-Up Your Office
As the Facilities or Operations Manager, your job is a delicate balance of keeping the company running smoothly and managing what seems like tighter and tighter budgets. Upper management expects you to ‘do more for less’ year after year and at some point, a priority needs to be made on the company workspace aesthetics and sustainability.
After all, a well-heeled reception area and conference room can project an image of a company that prospects want to do business with and employees want to work for. Interior and exterior plantscaping is not just the “living art” that beautifies a space, it can also create a work environment that improves air quality, reduces absenteeism and increases both productivity and employee morale.
Where do you ‘walk the talk’ on the whole green and sustainability movement? Well-chosen and cared for potted plants in your building, adorning your wall (living walls) or greening your roof (eco-roofs) are an easily recognizable symbol of a “green thinking” and “green operating” company. Just a few recycled containers placed in the lunchroom isn’t enough to satisfy green partners, employees and clients. Buying a few Costco plants and asking the receptionist to care for them may cost you even more in the long run when you add up materials, labor and a potentially negative perception.
At Good Earth Plants, we’ve successfully worked with so many of our clients whose initial reaction to a professional plantscaping service is “we can’t afford that” or “we are too small for that.” Because we keep your budget in mind and propose cost-effective plantscaping strategies designed for your specific needs, most clients are pleasantly surprised that they can add office plants and all the benefits of a turnkey maintenance program for a lot less than they think. Would you like a beautiful blooming orchid on a receptionist’s desk? For only $1.50 a day we can make that happen for you!
The bigger challenge in this business climate is getting the buy-in of senior management to dedicate budget to adding plants and greenery to the office. Over the years, and in our quests for greener workplaces, Good Earth Plants has assembled the following tips to help you sell your upper management team:
- Think Like Your Audience – In this current business climate, when presented with new ideas, forward thinking Senior Management is focused on what is termed the “triple bottom line.” How will it generate revenue and/or save resources? How will it affect the people? What does it does it do for the planet (sustainability)? Bottom-line focused CFOs will hit you with the financials and may view this as an unnecessary expense. Productivity-centric COOs may have concerns with greenery interfering with operations. When proposing a plantscaping plan, green wall or rooftop garden, be sure to have the facts on the cost-benefit analysis. Dig into your budgets and look for cost-savings that can be tapped.
- Plant the Seeds – While formulating your presentation, consider the various responsibilities of the Senior Management team. The VP of Marketing and Sales can certainly relate to making an inviting, professional meeting space to “sell” clients. HR Managers are looking for ways to make the workspace of employees and recruits inviting. And of course, anyone who has been charged with “greening up the workspace” will be able to relate to the eco-friendliness of living plants in your office. Be sure to touch base with them prior to asking for approval and budget dollars to confirm their motivations and how you plant to help them with your proposal. Also make sure to enlist the help of the company committees responsible for employee relations, safety and wellness. It is also a good idea to contact your corporate communications department and research any internal and external publicity opportunities that may be possible with your plantscaping plan.
- Know the Facts, Details and Expenses – Good Earth Plants and its sister company GreenscapedBuildings can help a lot in this area providing you with resources and research that validated the benefits of plantscaping in the workplace. By doing your due diligence with other departments and committees, you’ll be better prepared for the questions posed by your executive management team. By anticipating questions and researching answers prior to presenting your proposal to the senior management team, your ideas will be perceived as well-thought out and company-focused.
- Protect the Company – Make sure you worked with a reputable plantscaping company that has insurance, experience, credentials and good references, Do they have liability insurance? Workers’ Compensation? Do they have Certified Landscape Professionals (CLP) on staff? Do they have a contractors’ license? Conduct the due diligence ahead of time to narrow down the plantscaping companies to your final selection. Make certain that the plantscaping company also does background checks and drug testing on the employees who would be servicing your company’s plants and performing regular maintenance.
- Be Brief and Concise in Your Request – Time is money in the minds of upper management, and your proposal needs to be to the point. Start with your specific request and immediately launch into the benefits. Communicate the coordination with other departments citing any specific benefits they have given in response to your proposal. Finally, wrap up wit the estimated investment and be sure to restate the benefits. Sometimes it is helpful to present the costs as a percentage of the facilities budget, other times as a monthly number, either way present the entire investment in an easy to calculate manner. And show lots of pictures!
- Don’t Take No as the Final Answer – Even if they don’t buy-in to your whole proposal, they may consider doing parts of it. Specifically ask if there are aspects of the proposal that they would consider. If it is still “no,” be sure to get the reasons for the denial. The very reasons for the no may be the way to get the approval in the future.
Of course, our Good Earth Plant and Greenscaped Building design consultants are always available to help you specify a cost-effective plantscaping plan, living wall or green roof program and plan and will be available to help present the ideas to your upper management. For a free consultation and assistance in selling your executives on plant services and maintenance, contact Jim Mumford.