Getting out into nature during the busy working day probably ranks no higher than a “nice to have” on most people’s list. We completely understand. When you’re drowning in a pile of work with deadlines fast approaching and endless “can you just…” requests, it can be hard to even find time to grab a sandwich at your desk.

With one report identifying that 40% of office workers spend a maximum of 15 minutes outside each day – considerably less than the one hour a day UN guideline for the humane treatment of prisoners1 – we think it’s time things changed!

Prioritising time in nature can have far-reaching benefits which will far exceed the value of spending that time chained to your desk. We’ve dug out some research-backed evidence to try and convince you (and your manager!) that time in nature should be a non-negotiable part of your week.

Nature and Productivity

29 minutes spent outdoors results in a 45% increase in productivity.2

The brain, like any other muscle, becomes fatigued. It needs time out to relax and recover for optimum performance. Attention restoration theory suggests that natural environments have rejuvenating benefits and offer the perfect calming environment, helping us switch from voluntary attention, which requires focus and energy, to involuntary attention, which requires minimal effort3.

Free from the constant bombardment we often face in an office environment, your brain has the space to recover, reset and be ready to get back to work with renewed vigour!

Improving your concentration and productivity not only enables you to complete your to-do list, but you’ll also have energy for other activities, rather than finishing your day feeling burned out and depleted.

Nature and Creativity

People who have worked in contact with natural elements have seen their well-being and creativity increase by 15%.4 

Research published by the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that walking increases creative production, with the act of spending time outside also influencing novelty.5 So, if you’re struggling to come up that winning idea, or solve a niggling problem, making the time to step away from your desk and into nature could just be the trigger you need to come up with the solution.

Nature and Mental Wellbeing

Psychologist Honey Langcaster-James has found that just 20 minutes of active time outside can generally improve our health and wellbeing.2

Further, a 90-minute walk through a natural environment can reduce levels of rumination (repetitive thought focused on negative aspects of self) and reduce neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness.6

Another study found that, when it comes to self-esteem and mood, the biggest improvements come within the first five minutes of exposure to nature3. So, even if you can only squeeze a few minutes outside, you can feel the benefits.

Get outside!

At our core, humans have a biological connection to nature – a phenomenon called biophilia. We’re hard-wired for it! So, getting outside for a short walk in nature is a simple way to feel happier, reduce stress, and perform better when you return to your desk. And we’ve not even touched on the physical benefits of getting active…

If you’re based near us, our Norfolk Netwalking events are the perfect way to get a dose of nature and time away from your desk with likeminded people, whilst making connections that could even enhance your work life. It’s completely free, so why not give it a go?

 

  1. Spending Time in Nature Increases Productivity – Try These 5 Routines, Anna-Marie Watson, November 21 2018 https://www.hintsa.com/why-employees-should-spend-time-outdoors/
  2. Work productivity improves after 30 minutes of fresh air outdoors, research shows, John Anderer, September 26 2020, https://www.studyfinds.org/work-productivity-30-minutes-fresh-air/
  3. Why walking makes you a better worker, Philippa Fogarty, 4th March 2019, https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20190304-why-walking-makes-you-a-better-worker
  4. Human Spaces, Professor Cary Cooper, https://beeodiversity.com/en/the-benefits-of-nature-on-productivity-and-well-being-at-work/
  5. Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking, Marily Oppezzo and Daniel L. Shwartz, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition 2014, Vol. 40, No. 4, 1142-1152 https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/xlm-a0036577.pdf
  6. Nature experience reduced rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation by Gregory N. Bratman, J. Paul Hamilton, Kevin S. Hahn and James J Gross, June 29 2015: https://www.pnas.org/doi/abs/10.1073/pnas.1510459112