The Workplace Benefits of Nature Contact

Growing up on a farm in country Victoria, I have always been drawn to nature. As a child, I spent a lot of my time playing and exploring outdoors, usually until dusk or until I was called in for dinner. Birthday parties were always outdoors, play dates involved outdoor activities, and any special occasions were centred around outdoor gatherings.  

Once I moved to the city, I frequently found myself escaping to a nearby park, calling up friends to go for walks even in freezing temperatures and gravitating to the outdoors as often as I could. Nature has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I have always felt my best self when I take time out to go to the local park and go for a walk, even sit on a park bench. For me, without realising, nature became my escape, and it wasn’t until I began gratitude journaling that I started to deep dive into how essential nature was in reducing my feelings of stress and assisting my productivity.  

As a result, I began researching the benefits of nature contact, and I was astonished by the range of benefits we can gain from simply being outdoors or being exposed to natural elements indoors. The health benefits of nature have been known for centuries. Still, more recently ‘ecotherapy’, which involves the use and discussion of one’s relationship with nature as a healing process, has started to rise in popularity. Nature contact is positively associated with benefits in a virtual environment (online immersions), an indoor environment (plants) and an outdoor environment (parks, vegetations, green spaces). 

Employees facing high demands at work frequently skip scheduled work breaks and can often go an entire day without stepping outside. Much of this research has begun focusing on indoor, virtual and versatile nature contact for workplaces.  

Recent work from Tonia Gray from Western Sydney University looked at the impact of incorporating plants, natural sunlight, prospect ventilation, open spaces and windows to an office environment, and found benefits of decreased stress, enhanced wellbeing, improved productivity and concentration, and workplace collaboration. The research literature has also shown nature contact to increase job satisfaction, improve health and reduce sickness-related absences, reduce anxiety symptoms, and improve cognition such as increased attentional capacity. These benefits transpired from window views of nature; 40-second microbreaks of green roofs; indoor plants; natural light, and nature posters. As such, workplace nature contact can be low cost, easily accessible and beneficial after both short immersions and longer durations. Thus, attaining the benefits of nature contact can be achieved in versatile, convenient and affordable means.  

From a theoretical perspective, it seems the benefits are due to restorative properties. Following an interaction with nature, individuals are likely to be less vulnerable to stress and mental fatigue and perform better on tasks that require direct-attention abilities, such as those that dominate the workplace environments. This theory, known as Attention Restoration theory, was researched by the Kaplans in the late 80s and 90s and is now supported by more recent neurological research into immersion in nature. For example, a study led by Kate Lee from the University of Melbourne found that 40-second views of flowering green roofs sustain attention with fewer cognitive test omission errors. Additional research has also shown indoor plants, natural light, air quality and dynamic views of nature to have cognitive benefits such as increased productivity and enhanced concentration.  

Many of us spend most of our time indoors. Add to that longer working days and smaller backyards, or none, considering innovative ways to adopt nature contact is a practical and economical solution to many workspaces. Getting humans re-engaged with the outdoors, or bringing nature into the workplace, is an increasing focus for us here at Stotan Group. 

At Stotan, our primary objective is to inspire and improve those around us. We believe that the Stotan philosophy is more important than ever. Stotan philosophy is the creation of Percy Cerutty (1895-1975) a coach and sports training pioneer whose holistic approaches equally appreciated the physical, psychological, social and philosophical elements of human performance.  

Cerutty built his philosophy on his communication with nature – 

“This communication takes place when a person sleeps under the stars at night, hears the birds in the morning, feels the sand between his toes, smells the flowers and hears the surf”.  

Percy Cerutty

As such, Stotan values the importance of outdoor group activities and group exercise, and we understand the importance of ensuring team members leave the office to take a walk or get some fresh air. If impracticable, indoor nature contact, such as window nature views, natural light, indoor plants are all excellent solutions especially in the current environment to improve employee wellbeing, satisfaction and productivity.  

Onwards Always Together Stotan 

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