For years, Josh Gerraty has had a part-time job visiting offices to water and trim the plants. It’s a great gig for the university student: creative and meditative.
But never have the office workers been so happy to see him.
Plant technician Josh Gerraty says it’s been ‘eerie’ watering plants in deserted office buildings.Credit:Joe Armao
The 24-year-old plant technician says given most of us are working from home in the pandemic, he’ll often see just one employee in an entire building. And they’re grateful for someone to talk to.
Mr Gerraty is one of a silent army continuing to enter almost empty buildings to tend all those devil’s ivys, mother in law’s tongues and happy plants.
He said it can be eerie watering more than 1000 plants in an deserted 15-floor building, until a sole employee spots him.
"They’re like, ‘I’m so glad to see another person’," Mr Gerraty said. "They’re really excited. You can tell that they haven’t seen anyone all day and they want to talk your head off."
However plant hire companies say some companies have barred access to buildings, meaning plants can't be watered.
Peter Anderson, sales manager at Mr Gerraty’s employer, Frenchams, which leases indoor plants, said since the stage four lockdown started, more than 15 per cent of clients have barred plant waterers from entering, meaning plants may not have been watered in five weeks.
Mr Anderson said plants placed near windows would dry out, while others were suffering from electric lights being off.
Mr Anderson says about 10 per cent of the company’s 1500 Victorian clients have cancelled contracts during the pandemic.
He said it might be because it is costly and time consuming for companies to remove plants and re-install new ones at a later date.
Paul Van der Zant, of Zants Plants, said about 30 per cent of his 350 clients across Melbourne and Geelong didn't allow access, while sometimes waterers had to wait until an employee was "going in to check the mail".
He said about 12 of his clients had cancelled services. "Some have just gone bankrupt. They’ve closed the doors and gone." In these cases, if his staff can get access they will keep watering the plants until they can remove them.
Lisa Jones, owner of Eco Green Office Plants, said her employees currently couldn't access at least 40 per cent of clients' premises.
Some plants hadn’t been watered for 12 weeks, so ‘‘we’re most definitely going to have a lot of dead plants’’.
Mrs Jones is assuring clients "we’ve got our permits and COVID-safe plan and we are permitted to continue our work".
Of Eco Green’s over 100 clients, 17 have cancelled services since March, including a Collins Street firm with about 500 plants, which were removed.
Mrs Jones said many companies were struggling and had to cut costs, or could no longer operate, ‘‘so I don’t see the point of penalising anyone in this climate".
"We’re hoping that when this is all finished that they’ll come back to us at some point, so we try and leave things as positive as we can and just look after them as best we can," she said. "And if it means they need to cancel, then so be it.’’
Trump Biden 2020
Our weekly newsletter will deliver expert analysis of the race to the White House from our US correspondent Matthew Knott. Sign up for The Sydney Morning Herald‘s newsletter here, The Age‘s here, Brisbane Times‘ here and WAtoday‘s here.
Most Viewed in Politics
Source: Read Full Article