Humans have an inherent connection to nature through a phenomenon called biophilia. It’s why we all love having gardens, or indoor plants, and why luxury is often associated with lush greenery. Until the industrial revolution, humanity worked outdoors, or incredibly near to it. Over the last 200 years, we’ve all steadily moved indoors, working in ergonomic yet urbanised environments.
For those working in offices, connecting with the outdoors during the workday can be tricky, especially in city centres. However, there are numerous benefits to working and connecting with the outdoors during workdays for both employers and employees. Not only does it boost creativity, but it also helps to improve productivity and develop connections with other employees.
Implementing outdoor working might be as simple as having outdoor chairs, but there are so many other ways that employers can encourage wellbeing through working outdoors.
The outdoors is not only a physically greater space but it provides a wide-open area where there is no limit. The saying “the sky’s the limit” holds some actual truth, as when not confined by walls and ceilings we can think and create more.
Some of the best ideas in history haven’t been created sitting in an office conference room, they’ve been had outdoors or in places that aren’t boardrooms.
And it’s not just for those in creative roles either, those who have customer facing roles can often have better discussions in outdoor meetings, as there is room to breathe and a gentler environment to allow thinking space.
For those in high paced jobs, or even just those who need time every now and then to switch off, spending time outdoors is the ideal way to relieve some stress and recentre yourself before continuing with your day.
Researchers at the University of Michigan found that going outside, no matter the time of year, actively improved memory and attention span. Short term memory was boosted by 20% when walking down a path vs an urban street. In fact, being in nature consistently showed an improvement in memory, whereas being in urban areas showed no improvement at all.
If you have an outdoor space that can be used for meetings, whether that’s a city centre rooftop garden, or a large decking area with a table, make this a ‘meeting room’ and allow it to be booked like you would other meeting rooms.
Obviously weather permitting, this is a simple way to show employer support for working outdoors and also introduces a secondary space for people to connect. Whether this is a 1-2-1 meeting, a kick off with a development team or even a client meeting, having an outdoor meeting space can be incredibly beneficial.
As well as providing employee technology such as laptops and headsets, you can create an internet access point and provide anti-glare screen covers to employees, which make working outdoors easy.
You can also use an internet phone solution so employees can take calls on their laptops, rather than needing to be near a wired phone at all times. Simple changes like this not only enable outdoor working at the office, but also prepare you for remote working at any point.
For those who currently have access to outdoor space, but perhaps have a basic table and chairs, proactive improvements to your outdoor space will make it fully ready for outdoor working and encourage it to happen.
This could be as simple as adding screening bushes to protect from the prying eyes of passers-by or creating a plant display to make a more welcoming area.
Regardless of the amount of space you have, soft landscaping creates numerous benefits. From introducing perennial plants to providing colour year-round, to considering biodiversity and creating microhabitats, these small things quickly add up to a workable and pleasant outdoor space that all employees can enjoy.
Here at Grounds Care Group, we regularly work with facilities managers and office providers on their outdoor areas with our commercial soft landscaping and grounds maintenance services. We have experience both with urban office space and out of city business parks, covering small rooftops and large expanses of ground. Why not see how we could enhance your existing outdoor space? Get in touch.