Humans + Nature = Creativity


A major trend that we are seeing more and more in modern work spaces is the prioritization of wellness initiatives. Whether it’s onsite fitness classes, or increased mental health resources, employers are recognizing the need to address the holistic wellbeing of their team members. There is a bounty of research that links happiness in the workplace to greater overall productivity, afterall. We know that when we care for individuals, the entire team benefits. We also know that our environment plays a huge role in the way that we think and function. Yet, when we look to fulfill such basic human needs, we often overlook the most obvious, and simple solution: intentional time in nature.

Intentional time in nature can be just the ticket to revitalize our creative potential and productivity. Just think of the difference that stepping out into the sunshine in the midst of a harsh winter can make. Exposure to nature not only enhances mental and physical wellbeing by lowering anxiety and depression, it boosts mood, innovative potential, and connectedness.

Exposure to nature also has important implications for our ability to work synchronously with others. The University of Rochester recently found that exposure to nature resulted in participants “valuing community and connectedness over superficial concerns like personal gain and fame”, and becoming “more generous and willing to share with others”. Especially to those employers serving clients, the impact of this benefit cannot be understated.

One of the beautiful things about nature is how it can impact our work connections and creativity, and that it is such a simple solution. Yet often, much like the rest our lives, our workplaces are so disconnected from nature. There is great value in the recognizing the abundant benefits of spending intentional time in nature with your team; most notably:

  • Time in nature indirectly enhances our engagement. It builds our overall sense of connectedness, and when we feel a connection to those we are working with, we are satisfying one of the pillars of human motivation: relevance, or purpose.

  • Nature works to expand our empathetic capabilities and increase our social and emotional intelligence (SEi). Specifically, it enhances our other awareness and relationship management, satisfying two of the four aspects of SEi.

  • Exposure to natural environments dramatically improves our ability to think expansively and make superior decisions. And we have found that the #1 trait that leaders look for in incoming employees is creativity.

The Harvard Business Review recently published a compelling article on this very topic, entitled “Why You Should Tell Your Team to Take a Break and Go Outside”. I’d like to share a passage that stood out to me:

Nature can have a positive influence on workplace culture by strengthening employees’ values and leading to greater harmony and connection. Exposure to nature doesn’t just make you feel and think better, it also makes you behave better. People who’ve just walked out of a park or other natural environment are more likely to notice when others need help – and to provide that help.

To put it simply, intentional time in nature allows for access to improved thinking, creativity, and decision making, which makes us more effective at our jobs. When looking to improve your team's overall holistic wellness, their creative and empathic abilities, and productivity through motivation and connectedness, the solution may just be right outside.