After a year of working remotely from home, the American workforce is returning to the office. While it is a welcome change for many -- one recent survey by Glassdoor indicated that 72% of the respondents are looking forward to a return to the workplace -- most express a desire for modifications that protect their health and wellness. Safe distancing, deep cleaning and health screenings are at the top of the list of expected office precautions, but for employers who want to make a real difference in their employees’ lives, there is another even more beneficial option -- bringing the office outdoors.
For more than twenty years, research study after research study has shown the benefits that spending time outdoors has on an individual’s physical and mental health. We know that engaging with nature reduces the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies, elevates our immune system, boosts levels of vitamin D, improves the quality of sleep, increases longevity, improves our mood and enhances the overall quality of our lives.
What researches are now discovering are the positive impacts that time outdoors has on productivity and creativity. A Stanford study focused on the effects of walking for problem solving and idea generation. Subjects who walked outside generated the “highest quality ideas” and experienced “enhanced creative thinking.” A University of Utah study showed that walking outdoors increased problem-solving skills by 47%. Other studies show participants have higher degrees of concentration, improved memory, more ability to collaborate and less mental fatigue when they work outdoors as compared to time spent working in a traditional office setting. Bluntly put, the quantity and quality of work produced is higher when nature is part of the work day.
Forward thinking employers realize that it takes more than a salary and benefit package to attract top talent today. Employees, especially millennials, are especially concerned about their work environment. Realizing how many hours a day they spend “at the office,” workers are looking for companies that will help them thrive not just professionally but also personally. Offering access to outdoor work and leisure space demonstrates a company’s commitment to their employees health and well-being; it communicates a culture of whole person wellness.
The beauty of creating outdoor spaces for your employees is that it doesn’t require acres of open ground or massive construction costs to begin. With the right design, even small patches of outdoor space tucked between buildings or next to a parking lot can be transformed into inviting nooks for tackling projects, tossing around new ideas or even just taking a brain break.
With summer quickly approaching, now is the time to show your employees the door -- the one that leads to their outdoor work space! Join us next time as the experts at Embassy share ways to transform your untapped outdoor space into an oasis of creativity, productivity and renewal.