Air, Sun, Innovation - Top Benefits of Working Outdoors
Working outdoors can improve efficiency, output, and happiness. Take your workforce outside every now and then for a much-needed boost.
Search the web for “stress management/relief tips” and watch the typical suggestions roll in. More than a few sources will recommend yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and a host of other helpful (but sometimes difficult to implement) activities. One stress management suggestion, however, rises above the rest: the simple state of being outside.
Study after study affirms the almost immediate benefits of spending time in the great outdoors. By all accounts, getting out can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and standing heart rate, and even improve sleep and mood. “That’s all well and good,” you’ll say, “but how can we work in the office while outside of the office?”
From terraces and patios to scheduled cafe days and park visits, there are numerous ways to take your work out into the sunshine. However you do it, the benefits of taking work beyond the office limits are clearly worth the effort. Here are the principles and practices you can institute to give your workforce a little organic relief each week.
Being outside works wonders on our stress levels. Natural settings have a way of reducing the physical symptoms of the stressful “fight or flight” response. When we’re more relaxed, we’re also more receptive to new ideas and collaboration. We’re also less likely to burn out employees, improving both daily productivity and employee retention.
If you have an outdoor area, consider investing in an outdoor working surface and some comfortable chairs. If you don’t have an outdoor workspace, consider conducting a weekly “walking meeting” around the perimeter of your office. Walk, talk, and settle in on a nearby bench or under a tree with a blanket to talk shop.
As the American workforce shakes off the pandemic, many are realizing their dissatisfaction with office spaces for the first time. The average risk of anxiety and depression has risen considerably. It goes without saying that anxious workers aren’t likely to summon their best efforts in their daily work. And depression can bring productivity, innovation, and employee satisfaction to a screeching halt. At the end of the day, the mood of your employees dictates (more than nearly anything else) the success of your venture.
When mental health is an issue, smaller groups are generally ideal. Consider implementing a 1:1 outdoor meeting with employees on your team each week. In 15-30 minute sessions, invite your employees to coffee at a nearby outdoor space or arrange to meet at a nearby cafe terrace or park for privacy, intimacy, and some much needed vitamin D.
Lethargy and fatigue can affect even the most health-conscious workforces. Seasonal affective disorder can cause havoc in our typical energy cycles. To break free of seasonal burnout and intermittent fatigue, consider doubling your outdoor efforts during especially harsh winters and hectic work periods. Nature is the pressure release your workforce needs to re-energize.
Consider diversifying your office’s light sources with creative and striking 3Form fixtures. You might also consider bringing the outdoors inside during colder months by investing in potted plants, green spaces, and lamps that simulate natural sunlight. A trip to a local botanical garden or greenhouse can also boost energy when the weather is draining.
Out and About
However you integrate a nature break into your workdays, the benefits far outweigh the hassles. Here are a few more practices you might consider when it comes to the physical and mental wellbeing of your employees:
- Use parks or open green spaces for training/team meetings
- Extend your WiFi for use on patios, terraces, and porches
- Conduct weekly or monthly lunches at restaurants with large outdoor spaces
- Start an office walking club for brief walks during lunch breaks
- Conduct potluck picnics once a month or quarterly
- Rearrange your office to provide more window views
Don’t be afraid to get your workforce involved in the decision-making process. When everyone has a hand in their own wellbeing, they’re more likely to make the most of the opportunities they devise together. For better work and better living, consider taking your workforce into the great outdoors today!
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