How it benefits companies and employees
We’ve all seen the studies that getting outdoors is a boost for our mental and physical health; microbes in the soil improve our moods as we garden, ocean spray increases our energy levels, time in the forest lowers blood pressure.
What is it about being in nature that affects our well-being? Why do we feel calmer, more clearheaded, and rejuvenated having spent time in the fresh air?
Our affinity to nature is called Biophilia – a term coined by Edward O. Wilson – and while the idea of incorporating nature in our daily existence has been around for a long time (think of architect Frank Lloyd Wright), only recently has serious research been done to understand what happens to us when we spend time in the outdoors.
In books, such as Biophilic Design: Theory, Science and Practice, authors explore in-depth the science and benefits of nature incorporated in the design of the places in which people live. Companies, both big and small, are taking notice of the positive effect of incorporating biophilia in the workplace. L.L. Bean has a pop-up outdoor working space, Microsoft has treehouses for meeting spaces, Amazon has spheres with waterfalls and 40,000 plants. Smaller companies, like Grooa, are also making efforts to showcase the outdoors and built an Inspiria Center in the middle of nature with the intention of having workshop space both indoors and outdoors, including a nearby private forest. Laura Lozza, of Grooa, says “We hold our workshops here, including Shinrin Yoku (forest bathing), and also let outside companies book our space to allow them the benefits of working in a natural setting. As a matter of fact, we are participating in Outdoor Office Day so that others can have the opportunity to enjoy the experience.”
Why are they doing this?
University of Michigan psychology researchers Berman, Jonides, and Kaplan found memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent after people spent an hour interacting with nature.
In an article by Oliver Heath Design, some of the benefits listed include:
- Office design: productivity can be increased by 8%, rates of well-being up by 13%, increases in creativity, with reduced absenteeism and presenteeism
- Education spaces: increased rates of learning 20-25%, improved test results, concentration levels and attendance, reduced impacts of ADHD
- Healthcare spaces: post-operative recovery times decreased by 8.5%, reduced pain medication by 22%
What are some practical ways to incorporate these ideas?
- Create spaces to work outdoors with wifi, tables, chairs, and patio umbrellas
- Bring the outside in with plant-filled areas; wallpaper of outdoor views; natural lighting bulbs
- Schedule events or work trips in the nearby countryside
The bottom line is that companies benefit by providing their employees with nature in the work environment. Meeting outside can boost the morale and productivity of your employees; and now, more than ever, people desire to get out of the confines of home offices and cubicles.
For information on the Inspiria Center outside of Eindhoven, The Netherlands visit https://www.grooa.com/who-we-are/inspiria/
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