Gone are the days when spending every hour in the office is a marker of success. Nowadays, more people demand work/life balance – and prioritise working for companies that have strong brand ethics.
Increasing engagement with nature offers an ideal route to enhanced employee satisfaction, alongside opportunities to help the world.
A growing body of research suggests that connecting with nature can have profound effects on your life. Here are just a few of the benefits.
Nature Drives Creativity
Researchers found that just four days in nature increased performance on a creative problem-solving task by 50%.
Another study found that having plants in the office increased creative ideas by 15%. And there are many more studies showing that spending time outdoors can boost your creativity.
If you want to use nature to give your imagination a boost, try taking a five minute wildlife spotting break.
Better yet, eat lunch outdoors or have a brainstorming meeting outside to ensure everyone benefits. You could also get a sustainable growing kit for the office kitchen and grow your own salad for lunch.
Nature Reduces Stress
If you’re feeling fatigued, nature can help. Forest bathing has recently been in the media, and there’s a wealth of research into its benefits.
Even something as simple as having plants in the office can help soothe stressed staff.
Take photos of your favourite nature scenes and set them as screensaver on your phone or computer.
And if you feel frazzled, head outside rather than grabbing another coffee. Take a plant to work too: I’m a big fan of rosemary as it smells great and has pretty flowers.
Nature Increases Focus
An urban environment can be full of distractions, but some research suggests that nature can enhance attention restoration.
The addition of a green roof can help boost employee productivity too – as can looking at pictures of nature for as little as 40 seconds. Time to change you screensaver for a natural scene…
If you need to solve a tricky problem, go for a walk rather than working all hours: at this time of year, you may get lucky and catch the last of the blackberries. Take breaks to improve your productivity – and health.
Nature Boosts Mood
Spending time connecting with nature has been shown to enhance happiness and soothe anxiety. An Australian study found that exposure to plants can reduce anxiety by 38% and depression by 58%.
Nature connection has been shown to reduce ‘rumination‘ too. There are also microbes in soil that have antidepressant qualities, so get gardening for an even more effective nature fix.
A staff garden can be a great way to enhance everyone’s health – and growing together can really build a sense of community. If you’re more of a solitary person, keeping a nature diary can provide a mood boost.
Nature Enhances Health
Repeated studies have shown that exposure to nature is good for the body. It gives you an easy route to ‘invisible exercise’ (where you’re so busy having fun that you forget you’re getting fit). Having plants in the office has been shown to reduce sick days and enhance heart health.
You can reduce the CO2 inhaled by employees by 50% by having one plant in the office for every three employees – and cleaner air leads to healthier staff.
Nature exposure has also been linked to reduced inflammation and numerous other benefits.
To get a nature fix at work, try cloud watching – ideally outdoors, on a break, but through a window if you don’t get a chance to feel the air on your skin.
If you have more time, and work close enough to a pond or canal, feed the ducks.
Best of all, add a nature walk to your daily routine. Even noting three things in nature each day has been shown to have benefits: imagine how much benefit a daily 15 minute walk outdoors could have…
With so many advantages, connecting with nature is an obvious way to build your business and have a happier, healthier life. Get outdoors (and bring the outdoors indoors) to reap the rewards…
If you need ideas for ways to connect with nature, along with the latest research into the benefits of nature exposure, buy Go Wild! Over 200 Ways to Connect With Nature. I’m donating all August profits to the Wildlife Trusts.