Flower Power: Firms See Return on Green Investment
Article date: Tue, 25 Jan 2011 16:43 GMT
Businesses in the North West are creating "green spaces" to make pleasant, inviting and healthy places to welcome their visitors whilst motivating staff, increasing productivity and ultimately improving the bottom line.
The trend follows statistics from the CBI that found stress caused at work is the second biggest occupational health problem in the UK. In the UK alone, 75 per cent of all sick days are due to stress and back pain, costing UK businesses around £15bn a year.
David Fitton, landscape and floristry specialist, believes businesses in the region are now looking beyond the aesthetics of adding greenery to a building and recognising scientific research that proves greenery in the workplace reduces stress, adds moisture to the air - without the need for air conditioning - and enthuses staff.
Fitton, who founded UKFast Green ten years ago, says, "Business owners are accepting that by changing the working environment they can get more from their teams. They'll be more productive, there will be less absenteeism and people will be happier to be in the office."
Fitton's Manchester-based business is enjoying a positive start to the new year with a growing number of enquiries from business owners hoping to improve their existing workspaces without spending big on a complete refurbishment or an office move.
UKFast Green recently completed an installation at the Place Hotel in Manchester that has created new opportunities for the hotel and been deemed a huge success.
The Place's Winter Garden is thought to be the only one of its kind in the North West housed within a commercial hotel/leisure building. Its design is inspired by the Sheffield Winter Garden - one of the largest temperate glasshouses to be built in the UK during the last hundred years and the largest urban glasshouse anywhere in Europe.
In keeping with the Victorian character of the property - it was originally a seven-storey railway house - The Place Hotel now has a large indoor garden, complete with a bonded gravel-effect floor and Victorian-style lampposts and seating.
Sourcing plants and materials from all over the world, the garden has been created over many levels and with hardy plants which can tolerate all kinds of conditions. A one-of-a -kind 2.5m natural stone cascading water feature has also been installed, creating natural sounds of water that enhance the relaxed atmosphere.
The Hotel has been working with the company for over six years, and decided to embark on the project as part of a redesign of an extended reception area.
UKFast Green was tasked with transforming a void area beside the reception that the hotel's chairman considered wasted and in need of improvement.
Fitton says, "It started with the potential to put a couple of planters in and it turned into a focal point within the hotel. We are extremely proud of the installation of the garden and the opportunity and trust shown by our client in tasking UKFast Green to complete the design and build.
The Place Hotel's chairman now chooses the Winter Garden over his office as an area to meet clients. Guests who've booked weddings at the hotel have been delighted with the space that presents fantastic photo opportunities.
In 2010 IT hosting firm UKFast formed a partnership with Fitton that saw the landscaping and floristry firm develop into a standalone division of the UKFast business. The deal allowed UKFast employees to benefit from an installation of plants, flowers and artificial grass in the firm's 28th floor office in Piccadilly's City Tower.
Lawrence Jones, UKFast's managing director, says: "It's all about creating an environment that people want to spend time in. If they're happy here, they will perform better - we see evidence of that all the time. Whether it's real or artificial, the greenery has a huge impact - I think the team appreciates our investment in improving the space that they work in."
About UKFast Green
Established ten years ago by directors Clair and David Fitton, UKFast Green specialises in interior and exterior landscaping, delivering and maintaining corporate fresh flowers - for sale or rent - and providing exhibition and show displays of contemporary floristry across the country.
It works closely with construction companies, building facility/office managers, hotel groups, restaurant chains, architects, interior designers, hire companies and the public sector to supply immaculate and contemporary projects that optimise available space. UKFast Green welcomes requests of any size and individualism and relies on a team of fully-qualified horticulturalists with creative flair to deliver results that meet the clients' specifications.
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