The Leader Magazine

DEC 2018

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Page 35 of 55

36 December 2018 the lea D er F E A T U R E A R T I C L E Why working outdoors by Leigh Stringer F or most of human history, we spent our days outdoors. We hunted, gathered, scavenged and farmed in the open air. But around 300 years ago (a tiny blip in our human timeline), we started spending most of our days working inside, specifically in factories. The industrial revolution introduced long hours, child labor, and some pretty frightening working conditions. Since then, major labor movements have put limits on the number of hours worked, environmental laws have improved air quality at work, business and building codes now protect most workers' safety, and some workplaces are even designed to maximize ergonomics and wellbeing. Despite major changes in the workplace for the better, including mobile technology that allows us to choose how, when and where we work, we still continue to spend most of our time indoors. In fact, today, research shows that we spend roughly 92 percent 1 of our day inside a building or in a vehicle. We can easily do part or all of our job in trains, planes, coffee shops or hotels. But somehow, working outside is a foreign concept. It shouldn't be. The term "biophilia" (reintroduced by the Harvard entomologist and environmentalist E.O. Wilson) refers to our preference as humans to be in and among nature. We simply thrive in it. Study after study shows that not only does being outside in nature improve our mental and physical wellbeing, it improves memory and focus, reduces mental fatigue and increases creativity. It helps us do our jobs better. The more biodiverse the environment we're in, the better. Taking time to reconnect in nature establishes our body's natural balance of

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