Take It Outisde

viewpoint magazine Nov 03, 2023

Why being outside benefits you, your team and your organization

Recently we held a company offsite meeting for a couple of days.  It was the perfect opportunity to come together and discuss our new structure,  strategy, products and our plans for 2024.  The problem with the meeting was that our entire customer-facing team was away from their desk, and their daily work, which meant that emails, quotes, orders and other tasks were stacking up and we’d have to pull a few long days to catch up.

Just after lunch on our final day together, I could see the stress on their faces as I asked everyone to close their computers so we could begin to wrap up our meeting.  The stress of not responding to email, not getting quotes out and more was draining the energy from the room and our meeting.  Something had to be done.  I had to change this - for the better.  

I stood up and asked everyone to join me on a walk outside.  Even though, at the time, it was over 100 degrees in Texas that day, they all joined me, for what turned out to be an amazing 30 minutes or so, outside. We chatted about all things, but not work things. We connected, we bonded and we grew as a team.  As we entered the outdoor area of the hotel, we noticed an area that had games and a place to have fun - so we jumped in!

We played a short game of Jenga and then a longer game of cornhole (or as someone wrongly referred to as bags).  We laughed about how bad we all are at these games, how hot it actually was, but it was time well spent.  We connected, we bonded and we grew.  Whether we realized it or not at the time, we were working.  We were working on getting to know each other in a different way which leads to us becoming a better team, a stronger team, and a more connected team that benefits all of us - both internally and externally.  

We returned to our meeting refreshed, with a new mindset and ready to conquer the rest of the day and the work that was stacking up.  My goal was to relieve the stress in the moment, but the outcome was far more than I had anticipated with this quick decision.

Being outside with others promotes physical, mental and social wellbeing for you and your team and will contribute to the overall health and growth of your organization.  Creating a place people want to come to each day, a place people want to work with people they want to be around.  

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, we can’t take 30 minutes out of each day to just play games, and I understand that, but you can still take it outside.  Here are a few things you can take outside and be productive and do your job.

Walking Meetings: Rather than a Teams or Zoom Meeting with everyone sitting at their desk, do a group call on WhatsApp, or something similar, while everyone is taking a walk.  If you need to take notes while you’re on the call, open your notes app and jot down the things you need to.   

Work Outside:  If you’re doing heads down work, or just blocking time to respond to emails, take it outside.  Grab your laptop and head outside to the nearest bench or table.  If you're doing hybrid work and don’t have access to an outdoor space for work, drive over to your nearest Starbucks - they all have outdoor areas and would love for you to come work in their space for a while.

Walk the Dog:  If you’re like me and several of my neighbors, you need to take your dog on a walk a couple of times a day - or just let them outside.  Use this opportunity to catch up on a phone call with your boss on a few topics or check in with a colleague or better yet, use this as your creative thinking time.  

Meet Outside:  If you’re in an office and need to meet with a colleague or your team, rather than book a conference room for an hour, take it outside.  Grab a cup of coffee on your way out and take the meeting outside.  You can do a standing meeting, walking meeting or find a table nearby, it really doesn’t matter - what matters is your outside enjoying all that nature has to offer.

Now that the weather is getting nicer in Texas, I’ll work outside on our patio table a couple of hours each day - and you can too!  So many times we create our own blocks as to why we can’t do something, so the next time that comes up, ask yourself why not?  Change the narrative and take it outside, my guess is you’ll be equally, if not more productive!

If you put your mind to it, I’m sure you can come up with multiple ways you can work outside and be productive, get your job done and increase your overall health and wellbeing. 

The benefits of working outside are not only good for you but for your company as well.  As you implement this practice, you should start to see benefits like, improved mental health, improved physical health, increased levels of Vitamin D, enhanced creativity, improved concentration, better air quality and much more!

As humans, we are not meant to spend all day indoors.  We are connected to nature and we have an inherent need to be with nature and get outdoors.  It’s time we normalize working outside and incorporate it into our daily lives and experience all the benefits when we take it outside.


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