The motion-sensing lights sense nothing. The swivel chairs do not swivel. Only one sign of life remains in the abandoned corporate floor plan: potted plants.

Intended as a note of vibrancy amid bland surroundings, workplace greenery now seems an eerie symbol of the suddenness with which workers abandoned their routines.

Yet the cactuses and philodendrons we left behind have not been forgotten. During the pandemic, some have had their own essential workers keeping them alive. So-called interior horticulturalists water — and occasionally pet — the plants every few weeks, tending to a patch of the American economy.

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