The Power of Thinking Outside the Office
Remember when you used to tell your parents you felt sick in hopes they would let you miss school, and then they would respond with the dreaded ‘“go get some fresh air”? Well, whether you would like to admit it or not, they were onto something.
Many of us can relate to that feeling of being in a rut at work, whether its creativity block or you just feel a bit stir crazy from the fluorescent lighting. There are now studies that show a direct correlation between connecting yourself with nature and a higher work productivity. So much so that companies like Google, L.L. Bean, and LinkedIn are now making outdoor workspaces.
By changing the air, temperature, and scenery it gives workers fresh inspiration rather than being stuck in a stagnant offi ce. Being surrounded by nature is not only proven to reduce stress, but believe it or not, people actually tend to work harder and stay concentrated for longer. It reduces mental fatigue and improves our physical and mental health. Just by taking a nature walk it has been proven to boost creativity and problem solving skills by 60%. So in other words, we thrive in nature.
As humans we are designed to have a connection to nature and other living things, this phenomenon is called biophilia. It helps explain why we crave a seat with a window when working or enjoying dinner. It also helps explain that feeling of bliss we get when we step outside to a nice breezy and sunny day. Many of the countless benefits of spending time outdoors can also directly boost work quality and satisfaction. For example, walking among trees is shown to increase short-term memory by 20%, and being in fresh air for 20 min provides energy equal to a cup of coffee.
By simply scheduling time in your day to get fresh air you may make a significant impact to your health and wellbeing. Casual meetings or phone calls can be scheduled outside in fresh air, you may be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. The outdoors provide a more comfortable setting for conversation, where you might find more things will get accomplished. Also interviews can be conducted outside of the office, you might find that you will be able to see more of the interviewee’s authentic self this way.
Unfortunately we don’t all live in Southern California where the weather is mostly sunny, and most of us don’t have the resources, or power, to create a biophilic workspace. So instead take a weekend retreat to a place like Woodloch Resort which offers various activities that will reconnect you with nature and allow you to immerse yourself in fresh air. Studies show that nature boosts our mood, goodwill, and trust, which are all things most offices wouldn’t mind having more of4.
“Forest Bathing” is another alternative to a biophilic workspace that provides many benefits to the mind and body, and allows us to connect our senses to nature. The sound of the forest, birds chirping, sunlight peeking through the trees, and fresh air gives us comfort and eases our mind so we are able to think more clearly. According to a study sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency the average American spends 93% of their time indoors. The best part is that forest bathing is free, all you have to do is find a rich natural environment or park and relax.
Another great thing to do with the office outdoors are team building exercises. This may help you and your co-workers bond, laugh, and possibly even conquer. Yes, we all like to feel like a kid again sometimes so why not do it in front of your entire office in the beautiful Pocono mountains? It may even bring some
spunk back to the office upon your return!
The bottom line is that generally people are healthier, happier and more productive when they are connected to nature. It’s really just a win, win situation. So do not hesitate to take your work outside and even play a little!