Working in nature boosts productivity
Have you noticed feeling different when you’re outside? A little calmer, perhaps happier and lighter? That refreshed feeling isn’t just in your head, it’s actually in your DNA.
At our core, humans have a biological connection to nature. ‘Biophilia’ (which translates to “love of life”) is our innate, biologically-driven need to seek connections with nature and other living things. It’s why we grow flowers in our gardens, decorate rooms with houseplants, bring pets into our lives, and prefer the hotel room with a sea view. We are instinctively drawn to, dependent on, and fascinated by the natural world. By giving ourselves even a small bit of nature in our daily life, we can recharge our brains and make ourselves more productive.
“Nature is fuel for the soul” – Richard Ryan, lead author and professor at the University of Rochester.
Connecting with nature is essential to wellbeing
Too much time looking at screens causes “nature deprivation” which can decrease your overall wellbeing and make you feel isolated, restless, and lack concentration. By incorporating elements of nature into the work environment you can reduce stress, enhance creativity and increase productivity. Even the smallest bit of nature in your day can make a big difference.
Research has shown that employees who work with a view of trees or landscapes take fewer sick days.
7 Ways nature improves our productivity
- Fixes our mood – the outdoor environment helps us get rid of tension, reduces anxiety and makes us more enthusiastic.
- Improves memory – spending time outdoors, or even just looking at pictures of nature, is proven to improve short-term memory function by 20%.
- Relieves stress – being in a natural setting lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, having similar effects on your brain and body as meditating.
- Encourages team building – exposure to nature is known for bringing people together, motivating and building trust between them for better collaboration and sharing ideas.
- Boosts our energy level – ditch the caffeine habit, take a breather! Getting 20 minutes of fresh air gives you the same amount of energy as a cup of coffee.
- Improves sleep quality – chemicals in our brain are activated when we’re outdoors that help us to sleep better at the end of the day. Having a good night’s sleep makes us more productive at our work.
- Regains our focus – having even a small bit of greenery to look at is shown to aid mental stamina and focus attention. As a kind of visual meditation, when your brain is filled with calming nature images, you’re able to think more clearly. If you get stuck on a problem, take it to nature and see what happens!
Here at Earth Trust, we’ve noticed when corporate visitors are using our outdoor spaces for meetings that people seem to have a sense of freedom, and conversations are had in a different way, as though they’re literally free to air opinions.
Amy Rowland, Commercial Functions Coordinator
Our top tips to boost productivity
Working outdoors isn’t a practical option for many people with desk-based roles, but here are some easy ways you can bring the outdoors in to your working day.
- Green your space – put plants around the office to bring the comforting feel of nature in.
- Take ‘nature’ breaks – 15 minutes a day away from your desk would be a start towards a healthier lifestyle and gives you a chance to connect with nature.
- Take a ‘soft gaze’ – if you can’t get outside then get to a window and give your brain some relief from staring at screens, completing tasks and being hyper switched on. Look outside and gaze off into the distance to restore your brain to better, slower functioning where deeper work becomes possible again.
- Hold meetings outside – this encourages creativity and thinking (quite literally) outside the box.
- Walk and talk – walking together dissolves power differences and defensiveness which makes tricky conversations easier, but it can also spark creative group discussions when everyone is encouraged to leave the room behind.
- Arrange a staff away-day to a natural setting – the outdoor surroundings make employees more willing to listen, accept new concepts and adapt to new rules.