June 13, 2013
/ Point of View
You Need To Get Out More To Stay Healthy, Creative And Productive.
Spending time outdoors refreshes the soul, invigorates the spirit and reduces stress. For those very reasons, it should not be a surprise that the “Great Outdoors” has its very own month of June to inspire us to get outside, appreciate the environment and suck up all the healthy mind and body benefits it has to offer. But have you thought about spending time outdoors as a competitive advantage? The benefits of even 15 minutes outside can inspire thinking that is transformative for business.
Well over 100 studies of outdoor experiences in the wilderness and natural areas show that natural outdoor environments produce positive physiological and psychological responses in humans, including reduced stress and a general feeling of well being. According to a new study from Scotland published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine, “brain fatigue,” the mind being overwhelmed by the constant noise and hectic demands of urban living, can be eased by simply walking a half-mile through a park. We don’t need a scientist to tell us that clearing the mind and invigorating the soul can inspire creative thinking.
But as a culture that works long hours and is enslaved by technology meant to keep us “always on,” how do we exactly take advantage of being outdoors during the energy-sapping, long workweeks? Here are ways that employers can encourage a culture that spends a portion of the day outside:
- Celebrate Great Outdoors Month and influence behaviors beyond June. Minneapolis ad agency Colle McVoy is challenging the entire staff to take an “adult recess” each workday of the month or spend at least 15 minutes outside doing non-work related activities. We hope this becomes a behavior changing activity.
- Create a collective passion for getting outdoors by commemorating other related national movements like Bike Walk to Work Week. Host friendly, prize-incentivized competitions to see who bikes the most; compensate people for being active in their spare time through a company wellness fund; sponsor recreational sports teams among employees; create outdoor patios or seating areas; host a company picnic; create walking clubs.
- Lead by example. When a company’s C-suite is visibly partaking in the culture they are promoting — biking to work, taking runs over lunch, joining group workouts — others will follow.
- Give people the means to embrace the outdoors by providing a supportive infrastructure. Install bike racks, showers, lockers or other means that make it simple for employees to get outside and be active before or during the workday.
- Encourage employees to take their vacation days and get out into the great outdoors. Reimbursing the cost of a State or National park pass is a great way to support our parks. Supporting time off helps reinvigorate your most valuable asset – your people.
Encouraging people to do whatever they can, even during the workday, to stay healthy and be creatively inspired not only creates a happier culture, it’s well worth the investment since it affects the bottom line.
Mike Caguin is chief creative officer at Colle McVoy.