2nd August 2018
How much time are you spending outdoors on average every day? (And, no, we’re not talking about your commute!) If you’re anything like the majority of the 1,000 office workers that recently took part in a survey, your outdoor time is worryingly limited.
Why worryingly? Because there are a multitude of benefits from being exposed to nature and spending time outside. But the findings of this particular survey revealed that most people who work in an office spend less time outside on a daily basis than those in prison! See, in accordance with UN guidelines, prisoners should be given a minimum of an hour a day to spend outside. And only 26% of the survey’s respondents said that they spent more than 60 minutes per day in the great outdoors.
So if our office workers are getting less exposure to nature than those who are incarcerated, how does this impact on a business? It’s no big secret that the wellbeing of employees has an effect on their ability to be productive, engaged and creative. And time spent outside will boost that sense of wellbeing.
Your workplace may not be nestled deep in lush countryside but getting outside still has its advantages. For example, simply getting some fresh air each day will, on the whole, make us feel less stressed and anxious, and happier and healthier.
But while big companies have the resources to create gyms, yoga rooms and outside spaces for their staff, the options are obviously more limited for smaller enterprises. However encouraging your employees to get a little fresh air is easier than you think.
Creating a ‘greener’ workplace can have a positive effect on wellbeing. Plants are the obvious place to start – place greenery around the office and pot plants on each desk. Ensure communal plants have a designated ‘waterer’ and encourage staff to look after their desk plant.
When the weather allows, open windows to let air circulate, and always keep blinds pulled up to let as much natural light in as possible. If you’re lucky enough to have access to an outdoor space, make sure it’s inviting and encourage staff to take meetings and eat lunch there.
Even if you don’t have an outside area, implementing outdoor ‘walking meetings’ is a great way to get people moving. Encourage staff to step away from their desks and go for a walk during their lunch break. Find out if there are any causes you could support through step counting for charity. Or why not issue pedometers and promote a company-wide initiative to see who can amass the most steps on a weekly basis? It’s a fun way to get people walking more that will boost camaraderie and appeal to competitive streaks.
However you encourage your staff to spend more time outside, the knock on effects for your business will be positive: happier, healthier and more productive staff can only be a step in the right direction – and yes, the pun was intended!