During the summer and early autumnal months, most of us like to spend our weekends outdoors. Whether hosting a BBQ, going on a walk or catching some rays, being outside makes us happy.
The link between being outdoors and improved wellbeing
Studies have shown that being amongst nature helps to combat stress by lowering cortisol levels, reducing inflammation, blood pressure and heart rate, whilst also improving concentration.
In Japan, for example, the practice of ‘forest bathing’ to boost mental and physical health is widespread.
Indeed, a new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research claims that spending just 20 minutes in a park is enough to improve wellbeing.
Poor wellness costs businesses dearly
With research showing that poor employee wellness could be costing the UK economy as much as £73 billion per year, workplace wellbeing initiatives could be a significant contributor to improved business performance and a more productive economy.
Vitality’s 2018 Health at Work Survey found that employees who consistently participated in programmes designed to support physical and mental wellbeing tended to be healthier and more productive.
Good wellbeing improves your bottom line AND staff productivity
Similarly, 61% of respondents to the 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey agreed wellness and wellbeing programmes improved employee productivity and bottom-line business results.
Given these statistics, it is unsurprising that wellness and work-life balance programmes are becoming increasingly commonplace, with 88% of businesses now offering them, according to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report.
As well as introducing wellness initiatives, the office environment itself has the potential to make an enormous difference to workers’ moods.
The introduction of natural elements into workplace interiors has been shown to boost productivity.
Natural light is the most desired feature employees look for in the workplace, according to the UK Green Building Council, and studies have shown that workers with good natural light can be as much as 40% more productive.
Why office plants boost wellbeing and productivity
Plants can also improve air quality, leading to the growing popularity of biophilic design, which encourages the incorporation of nature into the built environment.
This concept is based on the principle that exposure to nature improves wellbeing and, in turn, productivity. In fact, a study by Exeter University found that workers were 15% more productive when surrounded by just a few indoor plants.
So, why not take this one step further? The Mental Health Foundation advises taking everyday activities outdoors to feel the wellness benefits of nature.
Meanwhile, a growing number of people are choosing to go freelance or start up their own business, meaning schedules – and workplaces – are becoming increasingly flexible.
Likewise, advances in technology allow employees to work remotely. So, rather than bringing the outside in, workers can take work outside, getting a change of scenery, natural surroundings, fresh air and activity, helping to reduce anxiety and stimulate the brain.
The pull of outdoor workspaces
Many workspace providers are recognising this and increasingly offering attractive outdoor spaces that are set up for working or having meetings al fresco. Our sites at Rotherham, Basingstoke, Theale and Dorking are cases in point.
But technology today means that, with a bit of thought, working outside is possible for most of us. Choose a spot with WiFi or 4G connectivity where you can sit comfortably without slouching or craning your neck; ensure laptops do not run out of power by bringing a portable charger, and prevent the sun from obscuring laptop screens with an anti-glare screen film.
With more and more people working flexibly, or for themselves, now is the time to rethink our approach to wellness.
By taking what we know about the benefits of nature to the next stage, entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes can make work more fun – and more productive – by venturing outside.
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