Being outside and taking in nature is good for us. It is said to have great benefits for our physical and psychological health. New research shows how it can be beneficial for office workers.
The research suggests that office workers feel more productive and are in a better mood after spending some time outdoors. According to the 2000 office staff surveyed, productivity improved by 45 per cent from being outside for just 29 minutes and 63 per cent said that they feel much better “about themselves” after getting some fresh air. Moreover, out of the 1000 managers that were surveyed, 57 per cent thought their staff was more productive as a consequence of working from home.
As a result, half have already implemented flexible working and are encouraging their staff to spend more time outside the office when they can, with 28 per cent planning to do the same in the near future.
Lenovo, who authorised this research, asked Psychologist Honey Langcaster-James to create a formula proposing the ‘Recommended Daily Nature Allowance’ (RDNA). Langcaster-James says there are wellbeing benefits from spending just 20 active minutes, 40 mindful minutes or an hour spent in a nature-rich environment every day.
“Increased flexibility at work means that people can adjust better to increasing demands and find a balance. Spending some time outside in a green space is good for the mind, body and soul,” she says. “Just 20 minutes of active time outside can generally improve our health and wellbeing. That can lead to improved concentration as well as help you generate ideas and be more productive – so it’s a no-brainer to try to find ways to get your RDNA in.”
“It’s not always easy, particularly in the colder months, and many people need to leave home to find some green space, but there are ways you can organise your daily life so that you can increase your exposure to nature. Even if it’s just a case of mixing up your office environment with working outside for a period of time each day while the weather is good,” she further stated.
This new appreciation has led to a significant improvement in mental health too – with 63 per cent of the office workers feeling a general improvement in their mood after spending time in nature. 4 in 10 believe that they are more productive if they squeeze in a run or workout before their day’s work begins, according to the Lenovo via OnePoll.
More than three fifths (62 per cent) say it’s useful stepping outside to ‘clear their head’ while another 40 per cent use the opportunity to try and burn off some calories. Other reasons for trying to increase their time spent outdoors include having a change of scenery and stretching their legs.
Before the pandemic, the average time spent outside by an office worker was 61 minutes daily. This figure has now risen to just over 75 minutes a day as workers try to separate their working lives and household work. As a result, 56 per cent of those who are generally stuck inside an office will make spending some time outdoors during the working day a priority for themselves.
With many accustomed to working from home due to the pandemic, 84 per cent of workers said maintaining a flexible work schedule will make them happier and more motivated when the offices fully re-open. Three in ten are hoping to work remotely four days a week, while 64 per cent want to be able to work from home more often. 61 per cent of the bosses agree, understanding the importance of keeping their team happy-estimating that their staff have increased productivity by a third since working flexibly.
A spokesperson at Lenovo UK said, “working practices have completely changed in recent months, as has the relationship with being outdoors for many. Spending increased amounts of time outdoors and in different working environments with the support of employers, can only be a good thing. This is why we are so excited to be launching a 5G laptop, as we hope this will help people to continue work, create and play outside of usual office spaces away from the constraints of Wi-Fi – including the great outdoors.”
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