Outside Project

Outdoor Breaks Improve Employee Performance and Well-Being


Cheerful corporate employee talking to her coworker outdoors

Although there are myriad benefits to spending time outside, there are three benefits in particular that contribute to improved employee performance. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, you should know about them. 

Reduced stress

You probably know or are not surprised to learn that spending time outside reduces stress. But did you know that just a few 10-minute breaks outside each week can produce a marked reduction in cortisol levels? Stress isn’t pleasant for anybody, and it certainly doesn’t contribute to employee productivity or well-being. Spending rest breaks outdoors is a great way to decrease stress and promote focus. 

Increased happiness 

This benefit goes hand-in-hand with reduced stress. The happiness boost of outdoor breaks comes from exposure to green and natural environments.

Although spending time with nature is certainly more difficult in a city, it’s far from impossible. In fact, you can even take advantage of this benefit by bringing nature into the office. A few plants are a good start, and a dedicated wall or room full of greenery is even better; better still would be outdoor workspaces. More and more companies are already taking strides in that direction. 

Enhanced creativity 

In addition to reduced stress and increased happiness, it’s not hard to see how enhanced creativity would improve employee performance and production. A significant part of why time spent in nature can make people more creative is that it strengthens the earliest stage of creativity: observing the environment, becoming curious about what’s there, and learning more about it.

When new details and patterns are noticed, new ideas can be developed. If you’re an Outside Project member, you’ve probably already noticed how many prompts are directed at observing the environment, becoming curious, and creating new ideas. This is a key ability in any work environment. 

With such clear benefits to spending time outside, you would think that all, or at least most, employers would already be working hard to ensure their employees can spend time in nature frequently. But in a survey conducted by the APM Research Lab, work was cited as the number one reason for Americans not spending more time outside.

If you’re not sure where to start in improving outdoor culture at your workplace, reach out to us. We’d love to hear from you.

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