Here at CONRIC, we were lucky enough to recently move into a brand new office, featuring a gorgeous outdoor deck that members of the team can spend time at. We have all fallen in love with the beautiful scenery and the time spent working in the fresh Florida air, and have thoroughly reaped the benefits of spending time in nature.
Here are three good reasons why you should follow our lead and spend more time outside:
- Nature Deficit Disorder is real
Health experts have reported an increase in what they call nature deficit disorder: anxiety or depression that stems from spending too little time outdoors. Harvard physician Eva M. Selhub, co-author of Your Brain on Nature, says a drop of nature is like a drop of morphine to the brain, since it “stimulates reward neurons in your brain. It turns off the stress response which means you have lower cortisol levels, lower heart rate and blood pressure and improved immune response.” While Selhub says spending 20 minutes a day outdoors is recommended, studies have shown even looking at photographs of nature can deliver some of the same cognitive benefits as physically being outdoors. A 2008 study at the University of Michigan showed students who looked at photos of nature performed better on tests of attention and working memory than those who looked at photographs of urban scenes.
- Humans + inside environment = stress
In the book Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life, co-author and Yale professor Stephen Kellert states that connecting with nature is essential not only to our well-being, but our ability to be productive and high-functioning at work. In fact, it’s so important to Google, the company has built it into its workspace design.
Lab animals live in a perpetual state of stress. Not because their mortgage payments are too high, or their workloads too overwhelming. Instead, they’re stressed because the work environment is so different from their natural habitat. It goes to say that humans and animals are not naturally meant to live in a room filled with fluorescent lights and computer screens, and that when we do, our stress levels rise.
- Sitting is the new smoking
Sitting for extended periods of time during the day can drastically increase your risk of disease and even death. By working in nature, you will intentionally disrupt your tendency to sit all day, complying with your biological, fundamental need to move around.
Starting to feel trapped behind four white walls in your office? Here are some realistic ways to combat nature deficit disorder:
- Get portable
It’s darn near impossible to drag your desktop computer, keyboard, desk and chair to the local park, so instead, power up your laptop/tablet and hop out of the office. In this day and age, most of us live in a digital workplace, meaning that we’re free from the endless piles of paperwork and that it’s easier than ever to take your work outside. Lettuce, an online inventory and order management software company located in Venice, Calif., encourages employees to take their work to the company’s rooftop lounge to enjoy the panoramic ocean view. “When we take time in our day to step away from the desk to enjoy where we are, we come back re-energized,” says CEO and co-founder Raad Mobrem. “It’s helped us to come up with more creative solutions and maintain a generally upbeat and united office environment.”
- Take meetings out of the conference room
We promise, your coworkers will be pleasantly surprised when that weekly board meeting is relocated to an outdoor spot. Additionally, this removal from your familiar office surroundings helps you literally step outside the box and be better able to brainstorm ideas. Amit Bendov, CEO of SiSense, a business-intelligence and analytics-software company, invites a different employee each day for “walk and talk” meetings. “It’s a great way to get people away from their computer screens [and] it provides employees with a safe environment to bring up concerns, a positive atmosphere to brainstorm and a literal and metaphoric breath of fresh air,” says Bendov.
- Get fit on your way to the office
Jason Ovitt, CEO of Asylum Public Relations, cycles to work every day and at the end of each day, he and co-founder Laura Baumgartner ride for 30 minutes together to go over accounts and to-do lists for the next day. “It’s a great time to solve problems while de-stressing because we aren’t stuck in the office glued to our computer screens and phones and there are no technology distractions, incoming emails or phone calls to take us off topic,” says Baumgartner.
- Dine within nature
Eating at your desk is bad for your health, and what better opportunity to get a breath of fresh air than during lunchtime? PMBC Group, a health and technology public relations firm, organizes 20-30 minute lunchtime walks two to three times a week and brown bag outdoor lunches every Thursdays. “Eating outside together bonds us as a team,” says Ola Danilina, CEO and founder. She says moving between the indoors and outdoors gives her team more energy and improves productivity.
- Bring the outside, inside
On our busiest days, we may not be able to find the time to hop outside for a little. By having a window view of green spaces and simply surrounding your office with plants, or even animals (our Creative Director has a pet fish named Griffin) you can still reap some of the benefits as spending time outdoors.
Altogether, it has been proven that spending increased time outdoors can positively benefit your health. It reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and improves immune function. Additionally, research has shown that incorporating elements of nature into your workday can give your brain a boost, resulting in increased focus, productivity and creativity. Studies show that to be satisfied and productive at work, you need more than a cool office and unlimited vacation time. Instead, we need something far simpler: changes in air, temperature, or scenery. We need to have meaningful stimulation that interrupts the often stoic office environment, along with the ability to interact with the outside world.
Check out Entrepreneur and The Muse to learn more about the benefits of working outdoors, and how to do it.
Come visit us (and have a cup of coffee on the deck) at 6216 Whiskey Creek, Suite B. Fort Myers, FL 33919.