Why your office needs more nature
Bringing natural elements into your workplace doesn’t just improve the scenery, as Jez Rose – expert behaviourist, writer and broadcaster – is finding out. He’s heading up research on The Good Life Project, exploring how nature brings all sorts of professional payoffs. Here he shares his top tips for enjoying the benefits.
Research demonstrates how good for us plants in our working spaces can be, increasing our productivity and happiness. Try introducing pot plants to the office, particularly your desk space, and be sure to tend to them – the act of nurturing allows employees to psychologically engage with their work environment in a positive manner. Conversely, research suggests that a ‘lean’ office space can be detrimental to mental wellbeing because the space feels purely functional.
Keep nature in sight
It’s been shown that simply looking at images of nature can positively impact wellbeing, so if plants are out of the question, change your computer desktop picture and hang some artwork depicting nature. In one landmark study, patients who had a view of nature from their hospital bed, as opposed to those who could see a brick wall, recovered from surgery more quickly, with fewer complications and requiring less medication. Rearrange workspaces to make full use of any windows, especially if there is greenery outside. Being able to track the seasons during your nine-to-five is a great way to connect yourself to the outside world.
Let there be light
Several studies have revealed how our mood is affected by light – natural daylight is best, but generally, the brighter our environment, the more alert we are. The combination of natural daylight and fresh air helps elevate our sense of wellbeing, happiness and ability to focus. If possible, avoid using fluorescent lighting, and keep windows open to make sure there’s plenty of air circulating.
Nature by design
Evidence suggests creating a ‘biophilic’ office space – one that promotes humans’ innate desire to be near nature – helps improve cognitive performance, creativity and mood. Our brain is stimulated by and responds better to asymmetrical lines, as found in nature, rather than in manufactured environments, so opt for naturally occurring materials, shapes, patterns and colours. Living walls are impressive and well suited to offices – they take up no extra floor space and improve air quality.
Spend time outdoors
Growing evidence suggests that being outside and around natural environments helps to lower stress and anxiety, as well as promoting a sense of vitality, creativity and connectedness with others. Rope in your colleagues and take walking meetings, arrange a lunchtime walking or running club, or simply get out into the garden for short periods each week. Getting to work on foot, at least for part of the way, helps clear your head before the day starts, as well as counting as frequent exercise.
- Being outside and around natural environments could help to lower stress and anxiety
- Simply looking at images of nature can positively impact wellbeing