Studies show that our brains process information – sights, sounds, etc. – differently outside. Even as we perform the same tasks, our minds work differently depending on our surroundings.
But this may not come as a surprise to you. How often have you walked outside after a long day at work and felt relief wash over you? There’s a certain reset button that nature possesses. It’s why the age-old parenting adage exists, “Put them in water or take them outside,” when a cranky baby just can’t be consoled. Our parents and caregivers have always known the magical powers of the outdoors.
So, when we begin thinking about the new developments that COVID-19 has brought to the forefront of office dialogue, how can we incorporate nature and the outdoors? How will this contribute to overall employee wellness? Will the outdoors – like the beach or a local park – become the new frontier for workplace collaboration?
What does workplace collaboration outside look like?
When you collaborate, you work together toward common goals. Often, you do this inside of a conference room, office, or other generic workplace. Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can just as easily work at a local park, on a rooftop, at a beach, or even on a quick walk to alleviate some of the workplace stress and gain numerous brain benefits in the process.
Spending time outdoors allows you to turn off the stress responses that technology prompts in your brain. This will help you improve your concentration, memory, creativity, and productivity. You can also reduce your mental fatigue. So, instead of feeling drained during a meeting, everyone will feel more productive. Suggesting a meeting outside can allow everyone to get positive chemicals flowing and have that “ah! moment” you’ve been waiting for.
Are there any downsides to collaborating in nature?
In short, no. The naysayers may point out that it isn’t realistic in every locale. Seriously though, who wants to go for a walking meeting when it’s below freezing in Chicago or it’s hot and humid in Louisiana? Climate regulation has been an improvement to the workplace – there’s no denying that. However, whenever possible, thinking about ways that people can collaborate outdoors and beyond the physical “restrictions” that the office poses can often feel freeing. It can flip that mental switch and encourage creativity.
This doesn’t mean that you suddenly convert to an entirely outdoor model. It means you’re more mindful about how you can use something so innately positive for your brain to kickstart productivity.
Remote work has truly opened up our options when it comes to wellness. One of the greatest benefits that working anywhere provides is flexibility. It allows us to work where it is most productive for us to work and when it is most productive for us to work. When you make these adjustments you can see tangible improvements in both work-life balance and in the deliverables of your employees. A work anywhere policy – even if it’s as simple as outdoor meetings – is a step toward wellness for all.