Find Happiness in the Great Outdoors
Today the Herald Sun ran a feature about working outdoors, and not just for the obvious trades and professions but for each and every one of us.
Do you remember as a schoolchild the joy of gathering under a tree to be read a story? Of being outdoors enjoying the sunshine and wind in your hair (back in the days when we had enough of the stuff, huh fellas?)...well...why not?
I find many businesses I visit have roof top gardens or quiet spaces outside where staff gather for meetings or to work undeterred by the constant hum of the office.
In his book The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor advocates getting outside for regular mental and physical health top-ups:
"spending time outside in good weather boosted positive mood, broadened thinking and improved working memory"
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As a manager or business owner, just consider that for a few moments. Positive mindsets, lateral thinkers, great recall...err, aren't those the characteristics you looked for, chose on and were promised by your staff but somehow lost along the way?!
It seems the answer isn't staring us in the face, it's in that courtyard at the back of the building!
Achor recommends 20 minutes to restore all those facets of acuity necessary for office efficiency but it doesn't have to be a work-based 20 minute session, sure you could walk and talk, and meetings on the hoof are growing in popularity. You only need pop along to your local park on a weekday during business hours to see shirted and bloused clerks and managers lost in discussion as they skirt the petunia beds under the plane trees. You can find that 20 min hiatus on the way to work, at lunchtime or on designated time-outs.
The University of Sussex in England found a direct link between happiness and being in nature:
"participants were found to be substantially happier in all natural environments"
If you're considering trialing working outdoors, a great way to launch your initiative is to issue branded caps - they're not just practical but serve as positive reinforcement of your next master plan!