We’ve all read the news — sitting at our desks all day can have serious consequences for our health. So why do 90 percent of Americans still live a sedentary lifestyle at work?
It’s a good question, especially given the many health benefits of working outside. According to a study by L.L. Bean, 85 percent of employees enjoy the outdoors. However, 65 percent say that their work actually is the reason that they don’t get outside as much as they would like to.
Human beings are built to experience fresh air and sunlight. Studies show that being among the outdoors can boost happiness, drive productivity, and relieve stress — doing wonders for one’s physical and mental health. With workplace stress costing American companies as much as $190 million annually, it is crucial for businesses to find ways to improve the performance of their employees. Science says that the outdoors might be the solution.
The Dangers for Desk-Bound Employees
As a species that lived and roamed outside since the earliest times, humans are not designed to be sitting indoors all day. A desk job removes us from our affinity for the outdoor environment, restricting our bodies’ access to scenery, temperature, and air variations.
Thus, working in a static environment can lead to serious health conditions over time. On a day-to-day basis, a sedentary work day in front of a computer contributes to increased cases of weight gain, greater fat accumulation, eye cell damage, and exposure to indoor hazards like bacteria and air pollutants. In the long run, this increases risk for serious problems like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
On top of the health concerns, being indoors in a single environment leads to more depression and stress, which in turn affects the bottom line of the business.
Why Businesses Need to Bring Work Outside
Working outside, employees can benefit from natural sunlight, which has been shown to improve mood and provide a coffee-like energy boost. Indoor trees, plants, and nature views can shift individuals’ attention and put their brain in a more relaxed state, while fresh air can improve immune system functions and improve sleep.
Taking our work outdoors allows us to experience all these environmental variations that are crucial to our well-being and performance. This helps to keep us healthy at work, even if we are have to work at computers all day. This translates to fewer sick days and better concentration at work, overall improving worker happiness.
Check out infographic from BigRentz for all the reasons why you should bring your work outdoors.
What Companies and Employees Can Do
Many employers are becoming aware of the science of the outdoors. To increase their employee’s performance and boost their business, they are incorporating more outdoor elements into the work environment. Google, for example, has added skylights to their headquarters to increase the exposure of their employees to natural light while adding views of nature and greenery to bring out positive feelings in the workplace.
Of course, not all companies can reimagine their office space like Google. However, both businesses and employees can introduce new practices that allow them to enjoy the benefits of the outdoors. Conducting walking meetings, daily exercises, and outdoor lunches are simple solutions that provide change of scenery and allow employees to refocus on their work. As an employee, you can set up your own outdoor workspace with Wi-Fi, cell phone data tethering, anti-glare shade, and outdoor seating.
Stress and health are becoming greater issues at the workplace. Science shows us that taking our work to our outdoor roots can provide us with the energy, relief, and creativity we need to perform our best work. A happy and healthy employee translates to greater success for your business.