Employees are the real wealth of organizations. And the key to business success and growth is keeping employees happy and healthy. However, increasing work pressures could trigger stress in employees. A survey conducted by Cigna TTK Health Insurance Company revealed that 95 percent of millennials in India are stressed at work. The reasons for this could be multiple, ranging from personal issues to work pressures to cranky clients. As a result, employees are at a high risk of health conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Besides, due to a sedentary life at work, more than 43 percent of employees in India were found with a skewed BMI (Body Mass Index). Ill-health (mental and physical) can result in increased absenteeism and hampering organizational productivity. If this trend continues, it will inevitably hurt the company’s bottom line. Realizing this, corporates in India are already conducting strategically-prepared corporate wellness programs to ensure the physical and mental well-being of employees.
However, these initiatives have not made much of a difference, as is evident from the statistics mentioned above. Hence, there is a need to go beyond such approaches. Understanding this, some forward-thinking companies have started incorporating natural elements in the workplaces using biophilic design. Beyond aesthetic value, adding nature’s touch to offices drives workforce productivity and creativity to a larger extent. Another trend that can significantly help companies is outdoor working. Researchers at Steelcase revealed that working outdoors positively impacted workers and created a healthier workplace. Industry behemoths like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, L.L. Bean, and Shutterstock have enabled employees to escape the cubicle and offered them an opportunity to work outside. Let’s have a look at how outdoor working spaces can actually impact employee well-being.
Ensuring employee well-being with outdoor workspaces
Outdoor working is a fitness trend that can holistically help companies inculcate a health-conscious culture in the workplace with potential benefits to employees. Following are a few benefits:
● Encourages exercise during working
85% of people feel that rest periods help them to be more productive at work. Disconnecting helps them restore their energy and perform better at their work. And in this context, outdoor working can significantly benefit employees. Instead of taking breaks to just be within the four walls of the office, outdoor workspaces will allow employees to feel the serenity of nature. Besides, having a quick walk or exercising during working hours in the outdoor space will help in replenishing mood and achieving fitness goals.
● Reduces stress and anxiety
In their endeavor to strike a perfect balance between personal and professional life, a majority of people often stress themselves. Growing work pressures to meet daily targets adds to triggering the stress factor. Increased stress could eventually lead to anxiety and depression, having an adverse impact on employees’ mental health.
One of the best possible ways to lower stress levels is to spend some time in nature. In fact, there is a study that reveals that just 20 minutes of contact with nature helps in reducing stress.
Constrained by tight schedules, employees hardly get any time to go outdoors after work hours. To compensate for this, companies could implement an outdoor work setup. This concept will allow employees to stay close to nature all day while they are at work.
● Restores mood
Everyone has experienced bad days at work. Reasons might vary, ranging from office politics and being not-so-efficient at work, to criticism to late submissions due to poor time management to personal issues. And instances like these can sour our mood, impacting our work rate and accuracy. It's perfectly alright to have a bad mood at work, but it's equally important to recover quickly. And, the best possible way to do is to spend 5 minutes in the environment, according to researchers from the University of Regina.
An outdoor workplace will bring employees close to the natural environment, helping them boost their feelings of happiness.
● Lowers blood pressure levels and minimizes the risk of heart disorders
When mentally stressed, the body produces hormones that may damage health and immunity. The hormones released during a stressful situation can temporarily lead to high blood pressure levels. If this continues, hypertension can silently result in heart disorders, strokes, and other deadly diseases.
The only way out is to deal with emotional stress and recover rapidly. As mentioned earlier, the natural environment can be the savior. If offices in India have an outdoor setting for work, then employees can not only combat stress but also be safe from life-threatening diseases.
What’s more, outdoor working spaces allow employees to be more creative, focused, and productive at work. This will help them chart an upward trajectory in their career and personal growth.
While an outdoor workspace fosters employee productivity and well-being, it also impacts economic development positively. With employees being more productive than ever, companies will gain more profits with the same inputs. Sustained, long-term economic development and corporate profits will ultimately generate higher GDP, benefiting the country. Offices in India should, therefore, consider setting up outdoor working spaces to benefit employees and drive economic growth.