Can your next breakthrough idea come from the outdoors?

Ideas and innovations are what push a company forward. Companies can’t remain stagnant for an extended period if they want to be relevant. They need to bring new products while improving on their existing ones. Sessions for brainstorming and pitching ideas for new products are restricted to dull cubicles and bland board rooms. Although companies have worked on this formula and have succeeded, the employees can usually feel disengaged or bored confined within the four walls of the office or their cubicle. They might not think to their capacity in an un-engaging environment. This can hamper the individual’s ability to innovate and consequently, the company’s progress in general. So, the question arises: is there a way to maximize an individual’s thinking and creative capabilities? What if a slight change in the environment is all that is needed to bring out the best in an employee? The solution might be as simple as removing the four walls around the employee and placing him in an open environment.

Can an open environment spark your Eureka moment?

Research has shown that working outside has a significant impact on an employee’s productivity and creativity while also improving their health. Outdoor workspaces can engage different senses of employees, resulting not only in improved thought processes of individuals but also in a supportive and engaging environment. Here are some ways an outdoor work environment can help improve your brainstorming meetings and creativity workshops.

● Improved concentration and focus

Closed office spaces are designed to minimize disturbances to employees. However, they have turned out to achieve quite the opposite. And with the addition of technology in our daily lives, almost everyone has attention deficiency to some extent. Ringing phones, noisy neighbors, and the ever-buzzing smartphone are some of the common distractions. These distractions are so common that the average worker gets distracted every eleven minutes, and it takes about 23 minutes to get back on the task at hand. This, when multiplied with the number of employees, results in a highly unproductive work environment.

Working outside, on the other hand, brings incredible benefits. Working with exposure to sunlight can increase Vitamin D and serotonin levels in the body. This can increase concentration during work and lighten moods, resulting in happier employees. With improved attention, the employee can focus on his task and put all his mind into creative processes. Non-productive work hours can be reduced significantly, which can prove hugely beneficial to the company over a period of time. It also improves the mental health of the employees and proves to be a win-win situation for both.

● Improved creativity

While the idea of sitting in an airconditioned workplace is a dream for many, it might actually hamper the creativity of individual employees. Graphic designers, illustrators, or creative content creators are likely to be affected in their creative thought process. A Stanford University research has shown that walking boosts creativity. And with limited movement available in a closed office space, businesses can work outdoors to provide employees open space to walk. So, instead of having the next board meeting in a closed chamber to discuss new product ideas or having graphic designers restricted to their cubicles, businesses can take these processes out of the box, quite literally. Giants such as Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have already ditched the cubicle model and have allowed their employees to work outside. Other businesses, too, need to adopt the open space model to improve the mobility of their employees to bring out the best of their creative minds.

● Decreased stress

A majority of people don’t have a work-life balance in today’s world. Stress from personal life may spill into professional life and vice versa. To ensure that the employee is stress-free at the workplace, businesses can adopt an outdoor workplace model. One study has revealed that just 20 minutes of contact with nature helps in reducing stress. With a stress-free mind, the employees can think freely and creatively. This can prove to be the difference between a good idea and a great idea that changes the fortunes of the company.

It is undeniable that businesses have done well using the closed office space model. However, considering the insights of research from prestigious institutes, one cannot ignore the benefits of an outdoor work environment. To tap into the vast pool of talent available at their disposal, workspaces should consider setting up outdoor workspaces to boost and maximize employees’ creativity and ultimately, the businesses' financial prospects.

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Technology for Sustainable Outdoor Spaces