- Work Environment
Incorporating Nature Into Your Working Day
Kamwell's Emma James explores: bringing nature into your working day
I moved from Sweden to England when I was 16 (that’s around 15 years ago, give or take!). This was before my homeland became famous for its dark TV shows, minimalist interior design, progressive music scene and cinnamon buns. Instead, Sweden was synonymous with naked saunas by secluded lakes surrounded by endless forest (something my teenage counterparts would waste no time in pointing out whenever they introduced the newly arrived Swede). And whilst the attention that my country is now getting makes me nothing but proud, I can’t help but feel a little sad over the lost association with the outdoors and nature because these are still very close to almost every Swede’s heart, not least, my own.
Throughout my primary and secondary schooling, it wasn’t uncommon for us to have lessons outdoors, and PE classes often meant hiking, ice-skating or skiing – anything that got us outside. At weekends, I would play outdoors with my friends and, as a family, we would fill our time with activities such as mushroom picking, lake swimming, horse riding or simply filling a thermos with tea, packing a few snacks and heading out into the wilderness.
Fast forward to the present day and I’m living and working in London, a far cry from the remote Swedish village where I grew up. But my childhood instilled in me a natural gravitation towards nature and the outdoors, and I have found ways of bringing these into my urban life, especially, through the way I work. Here’s how:
- I will block out a chunk of time for phone calls, put my headphones on and go walking. I have a few favourite routes that I know don’t have too much background noise or steep hills that might make me out of breath (not conducive for a good phone conversation!).
- Whenever the weather allows, I will work outside – either in my garden or from a café. I have a list on my phone of all the local cafes and restaurants that have good outdoor seating with wifi.
- If I find myself indoors for most of the day I will always get outside during my lunchbreak, even if only for 10 minutes. In the warmer months, my rule is to always eat lunch outdoors. It can be tempting to stay desk and laptop-bound, but the result is almost always a less productive afternoon.
- Whenever possible, I’ll arrange to meet people outdoors. I’ll suggest a ‘walking meeting’ and, during the summer, will always seek out a table in the sun for team and client meetings alike.
- As a last resort, I will keep the window in my office open (providing it’s not arctic outside). My work station is in front of the window to ensure maximum natural light. And then there’s Monty and Fern….the two plants that live on my desk and provide a small slice of nature, indoors.
Fresh air, sunshine and being somewhere green have an incomparable effect on my wellbeing. My mood is lifted and my energy boosted. I feel more able to focus. I am more productive. Not only does being outside bring countless benefits, it also reduces many of the factors that affect me negatively: screen time, artificial light, heating/air-con and prolonged sitting.
It saddens me that, as a society, our interaction with nature is on the decline. For those living in a city, perhaps pursuing a demanding career, reversing this trend can seem like an impossible task. But my hope is that we will find clever new ways of reaping the countless benefits that nature can bring to our work and home lives.