“Entitled” millennial workers are at it again — wanting better outdoor work spaces to lead more satisfying and productive professional lives. While advocating to improve indoor environments, millennials increasingly speak up about the need for access to the natural world.
Facing four walls and an endless maze of gray cubicles for 40+ hours a week leaves any worker feeling stifled and constrained. Sitting for long periods, even when you exercise, increases your risks for cardiovascular disease and death, with a 200% increase in death risk for those who sit over 13 hours a day. Experts recommend for every 30 minutes you sit, move around for five minutes.
Getting up to run to the copier for five minutes won't do it. Workers need access to different environments to stimulate and rest their minds and bodies. As a generation in love with nature, millennials are increasingly seeking outdoor areas as part of their work spaces.
Outdoor Work Spaces Are A Win-Win Scenario
Humans need to connect with nature, and society separates everyone too much from natural environments. Millennials aren't asking for outdoor access to waste their minds and time on smartphones.
Rather, millennial workers recognize a need for natural environments and the inspiration it provides for their work. Giving millennials outdoor work spaces will boost productivity, inspire creativity, reduce stress and raise morale for all.
Boost Productivity And Creativity
Work spaces incorporating nature promote an increase of 6% productivity and 15% creativity in workers. In Silver Springs, Maryland, OutBox pops up in winter on a first-come, first-served basis with the potential to protect workers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) with fresh air and a free outdoor collaborative work environment. The pop-up office plans to open in summer.
Outdoor work spaces present challenges when confronting urban noise and weather, but noise screens and a change of scene help employees through the day in a positive way. Millennial employees want to keep working and take in the inspiration of nature to boost their productivity and creative thinking.
Companies lose $2,074 per worker annually to absenteeism, as employees get run down from stress, sickness and burnout. Psychologists stress that humans as workers need a few basics for optimal functioning, such as access to outdoor views with meaningful stimuli, varied needs for changes (temperature) and access to one's own territory, which isn't necessarily an employee's cubicle.
Just a 15-minute walk in the woods reduces stress levels, as a recent analysis of 84 forest walkers in Japan demonstrated. Researchers at Chiba University found a 16% drop in cortisol, 2% decrease in blood pressure and 4% reduction in heart rate among participants in their study.
The Harvard School of Public Health notes that adults spend more time in their car than outside — less than 5% of their whole day. Creating an outdoor space grants millennial workers the opportunity to achieve more of the exposure to experience and work-life balance they desire, while decreasing stress levels and remaining focused on work.
Research also supports a drop in stress from participants having more plants in their room or looking at nature photos, but what's better than the real deal?
Employees have nearly equally as much interaction with colleagues (62%) as their children (64%), and while that appears fair, the statistics reveal the war when it comes to committing time to professional and personal lives. People feel lonely and isolated at work, which leads to low morale.
Experts suggest that employers must solve the problem with more options to get up and go, raising morale among workers. Outdoor work spaces provide the perfect change of environment to allow meaningful interaction among employees and a better environment to facetime with family on breaks — not to mention, claim a much-needed personal sanity break.
Companies need to do more than open the blinds and place plants in the office. All this does is make millennials stare at the calla lilies and feel sorry for the poor plant too — though it's better than the dusty plastic plant alternative.
Employers need to get creative by turning their patios into outdoor work spaces or hosting meetings off-site — younger workers are more health-conscious than older generations. A gym membership doesn't cut it anymore as a work perk. For example, supervisors can take millennials on a running or walking meeting. Moving the body moves the mind.
Millennial workers love the outdoors and need outside work spaces to thrive on the job. All workers benefit from access to the natural environment with boosted productivity and creativity, reduced stress and raised morale. Outdoor work spaces represent a win-win for everyone.