Should You Let Your Employees Work Outdoors?

29 August 2023 by Emma


Working outdoors might be good for employees' mental health, a research stated. It might be worth it to let your employees be in contact with nature while working.

There's this popular phrase saying that you need to take a break and look outside for trees or any green things. Biophilic design took this seriously with incorporating natural elements like plants, water, or natural lights into the office. However, regardless of whether this saying is true, research stated that the impact of embedding natural elements in the office can reduce eye strain, headache, and drowsiness in employees.

Yet, if your company has a tight budget to remodel or it is just impossible to add large pots of plants inside the office, why shouldn’t you just let your employees work outdoors? This article will discuss the benefits and challenges of allowing employees to work outside the office building.

The Benefit of Working Outdoors

Alina from In the Loop mentioned that "studying outside can calm the mind and change the workings of our brains in ways that improve mental health and learning capacity." Many experts have also suggested that engaging directly with nature brings a lot of benefits for both individual productivity and well-being. Especially after months of pandemic lockdown.

In relation to that, a study on a healthy workplace, commissioned by Erin Largo-Wright and friends, found that there is a relation between being in contact with nature in the workplace and employees' stress and health. "Biologically, indoor air pollutants and toxins might cause illness. Psychologically, office environments typified with crowd and noise contribute to chronic stress," the study stated.

Just like the oxygen we need for living, nature at work provides oxygen for the brain. Modifying the workplace through purposeful use of nature contact can be used as a method to promote and eliminate work stress. A little touch of nature can bring happiness to employees and, as a result, increase their productivity.

Similarly, with the concern of limited space and budget in mind, HBR conducted research about incorporating a small bit of nature at the workplace and how it affects employees' mood and performance. The result was largely positive: employees who had potted plants near their workspaces felt their creativity increased and fuelling higher task performance.

The Drawbacks of Working Outdoors

It can be concluded above that being close with nature is beneficial for employees' health, mentally and physically. However, it can be harmful to assume everyone is willing or able to work outdoors. For instance, not all buildings or public parks are well designed for disabled people to navigate around.

Moreover, there are factors that are beyond the employers’ control. When employees are working outdoors, they are sharing the space with nature and the wild creatures that live in it. Especially when you are working in a public park. Bugs, birds, and various vegetation that grow wildly outside can be dangerous for people with serious cases of allergy.

Working under the blazing sun can also be a problem. Working outside when it is summer, or if your company operates in tropical countries, constant exposure to sunlight can result in sunburn. Additionally, it might be difficult to see your laptop screen under the sun. You will need to pick a shaded spot with large umbrellas, for example.

Should Employees Work Outdoors?

Overall, working outdoors and being close with nature affects employees in a positive way. There are also several drawbacks, but with careful precautions it should not be a major problem. After all, when your employees are happy and content, it also impacts their work performance. Keeping this in mind, joining the trend of working outdoors might be worth it.

Giant companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook have already created their own workspace such as roof decks that look out into greenery and treehouse meeting space. Yet, this solution is impossible for smaller companies with limited budgets. One of the alternatives is by setting up a working-from-anywhere regulation, so your employees have the option to work from any outdoor spaces of their choice.

See also: 8 Podcasts That Will Upgrade Your Knowledge and Productivity

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