Before you read this article, take a second; turn away from your computer screen, sit back, and look out the window. What do you see? Is it grass, flowerbeds, planters, heavy tree canopy? If you can't see it from your window, then perhaps there is some greenspace within walking distance, where you can sit surrounded by trees, vegetation, and wildlife? If the answer to both of these questions is No, then this is your chance.
The post pandemic hibernation we are emerging from is lining up with spring fever to give us the chance to rethink everything, including our indoor-outdoor relationship. Can we take meetings outside, turn off the tech for a minute? Sure we can! Can we create outdoor spaces where break time feels like weekend time? That’s a yes! Can this benefit our overall health, productivity and work satisfaction? Yes again!
Enter the World Health Organization with their report entitled 'Urban green spaces and health'. It’s an in-depth report based on lots of institutions all over the world on the subject of greenspace and the benefit for individual health. Positive readings across the board:
- Improved morale and cognitive function
- Reduced cardiovascular morbidity
- Reduced prevalence of type 2 diabetes
- Reduced mortality
Further studies - ‘presence of nearby trees and grass - has been shown to lower levels of aggression and mental fatigue, compared to those living in buildings overlooking barren vistas.'
Another; 'individuals living in urban areas with more green space have been shown to have a reduced level of stress and improved well-being’.
Then there’s the environmental benefits; biodiversity, air quality, habitat protection.
And even perception; it is often said to not judge a book by its cover, but first impressions are hard to shake off. That exterior space sets the tone for your organization.
So green is good, we get it, but how to make it happen? We broke it down, here are some ways to get greenspace into your workspace:
Planting trees and improving vegetation should be the first step to improving greenspace. But tearing up the grounds, while fun, may not always be possible. That’s when planters come in handy. Strategically placing planters large and small will bring the green in without having to demo anything. A big one here, a grouping of smaller ones there will go a long way. Also consider planting as a team or as a community building exercise. What plants work locally, which plants attracts the birds, bees and butterflies. You’ll be surprised in how engaged people will be with this, everyone loves to get their hands in the dirt and watch their hard work grow. Planters of all shapes and sizes here.
Kids to grownups, everyone loves a picnic table. Meet, eat and greet all in one place. Boosts camaraderie and forges relationships, all good ingredients for the hard-working crew. You have some choices to make though; which material, what’s a good size, how many do you need so there’s enough seats (too many and its empty looking, too few and people avoid it thinking there won’t be space) with or without backrests; wheelchair accessibility? And of course what’s the look that suits your facility the best. There are 154 varieties to be found here for whatever suits your needs.
What is a park without a park bench? Is it really a park at all or just some lawn you’re walking through? Some say you can tell a lot about a dog from their owner; in the same way, you can tell a lot about a park from its benches. If it’s done right there will be plenty of spots you can fall into to take that call, or to take a breath. The great thing about benches is that even if you don't use them regularly, seeing them makes you think you always have the option and improves your perception of the area. Some major cities have figured this out, made it a priority for their urban planning and went in big on park benches. For example, the cities 'with the highest spending per resident on parks and recreation1 Minneapolis ($296.99 per resident) followed by Seattle ($293.21), and San Francisco (264.67).
Similarly with picnic tables, lots of options: steel, recycled plastic, aluminum, molded rubber, synthetic wood, even concrete. There are 150 varieties to be found here.
Nothing is more visible than the hard-working trash can. Usually in a prominent location and we get close to one multiple times a day. You can tell a lot about the upkeep of a park, outdoor space or facility by the shape of their trash cans. Refreshing the trash cans is an easy way to spruce a place up. And with the new generation of powder coated, weather resistant, easy to maintain steel cans, in a variety of configurations and colors: done and done.
The old school drinking fountains where you have to stick your face next to that nozzle; are thankfully going away. Even when they worked it was dodgy. In their place we now have highly efficient, and far better for the environment, outdoor bottle fillers. Once you go outdoor bottle filler, you’re not going back. Also get rid of all those plastic bottles, beside the sheer volume of garbage they create that we have to manage, they’re not good for you. Harvard School of Public Health research shows drinking from polycarbonate (plastic) bottles measured a 69% increase in BPA (Bisphenol A) excretions in the water, than drinking from stainless steel bottles. And we all know BPA = bad! So grab your metal bottle, and walk right up to your outdoor bottle filler. 89 different types of water fillers here.
Looking forward to getting your outdoor on? Us too, see you outside.
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