Now that the weather is getting nicer and the sunshine has returned to Michigan, many of us want to soak up as many rays as possible. Wouldn’t it be nice to get work done and enjoy the weather at the same time? It is becoming increasingly popular to work in other areas around the office besides your desk, so why not outside? While we can all agree it’s very relaxing, studies have shown there are many other benefits to employees who work outdoors as well.
Harvard Business Review recently highlighted a study performed by the University of Melbourne that showed 150 people a screensaver of a rooftop for 40 seconds – half seeing a concrete rooftop and half seeing a rooftop covered in greenery. The people who saw greenery in the screensaver were 6 percent more productive than the people who just saw a concrete rooftop once they returned back to working.[i] The study proves that even a small dose of nature can greatly improve attention and increase productivity in the workplace.
We all have those stressful moments at work, but by changing your surroundings and working outdoors, it can actually help to reduce stress levels. Nature helps to turn off the stress response in your brain and allows your brain to focus on something else and get re-energized.[ii] Try holding a daily meeting outdoors or go on a short walk while talking business to help keep stress levels down.
With plenty of studies showing the benefits, the next question is: How do I make an outdoor work area without breaking the bank? There are many ideas out there, but I suggest starting simple. Use some existing furniture from around the office that is weather resistant. For instance, if you’d like to try holding outdoor meetings, you can use some plastic chairs and benches with a chalkboard or marker board like in this setup.
If you want more of a lounge atmosphere, try something more casual. Here, cinder blocks and lumber were used to create a frame, topped off with seating cushions and some decorative pillows. This creates a nice bench that a couple people can sit on for a conversation or where someone can bring their laptop outside to work.
If the simple outdoor furniture is inspiring your organization and you would like a bigger outdoor footprint, there are many different options. Our major manufacturer, Haworth, recently acquired a company called Janus et cie, which specializes in outdoor furniture. Janus et cie has been in the outdoor furniture business for over 35 years and offers a vast array of products made specifically for enjoying the outdoors.
The Domino bench above offers a nice benching solution without having to worry about fabrics that might not be water resistant. Just wipe it clean!
The Fibonacci collection above has many different shapes of lounge furniture to fit all different styles.
The next time you are feeling stressed or need a change of scenery, give your brain a little break and try working outdoors for a bit. You will be pleasantly surprised how inspired you feel after it. And if you’re interested in increasing productivity at your organization with an outdoor work area, contact us – we’d love to help!
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