Guest blog post by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Australia

We all need nature. She gives us air, water, food and shelter. Some of our best times are experienced outdoors, and a wealth of evidence shows the benefits of nature for our health and general wellbeing. But we’re now spending more and more time inside cars, trains, office environments and our homes. That’s why The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Australia is encouraging people to swap their desks for the great outdoors by working outside for an hour during Work with Nature Week, running April 18th to 24th.

The campaign intends to inspire participants to appreciate the environment and consider their role in preserving it by pledging to work outside in their nearest park, reserve or outdoor area. Spending time outside helps us to see that we need nature. Yet it’s also true that today, more than ever, nature needs us. She needs us to work to protect her lands, oceans, rivers and forests. She needs us to transform the way we grow our food, produce our energy and build our cities. And she needs us to inspire a new generation.

Connect with Nature

People can register their ‘green-desk’ for the week with TNC online – be it a park bench, a patch of grass at their local park, or even a spot on the beach. Work with Nature Week is primarily aimed at those in Australia, but can help to offer an accessible way for people to connect with nature wherever they live, so wherever you are based, you’re welcome to get involved.

According to TNC Australia Director Rich Gilmore, “Between home, the office and driving in-between, it can be hard to make the time to get outside and enjoy our great green spaces, but thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to work outside”.

Better yet, why not try to get the whole office involved, Gilmore says: “In addition to helping you reconnect with your natural environment, working outside can be a fun thing to do with colleagues, and can also provide a wealth of benefits to both health and productivity”.

5 Reasons to ‘Green Desk’ During Work with Nature Week:

1. Improved circadian rhythms – Working outdoors could help you say goodbye to the afternoon slump and maybe even a couple of your double shot lattes. Exposure to natural light serves to balance our hormonal levels of serotonin, linked to our mood, and inhibit the production of melatonin, used to regulate sleep. “Research has shown that sunlight on a clear day is 500 to 1,000 times greater than artificial lighting, which enables our bodies to reach an optimal hormonal balance,” says Gilmore.

2. Improved short-term memory – Studies have found that walks in nature boost working memory by as much as 20 percent, compared to walks in urban environments. By scheduling your next walking meeting at the park or along the water if you’re by the coast, your short term memory will be firing on all cylinders when you return.

3. Restored mental energy – Research has found that exposure to the great outdoors can help you recover from mental fatigue. Being in the presence of natural beauty has been shown to elicit feelings of awe, and studies have shown that even looking at pictures of nature boosted people’s mental energy, while pictures of city scenes had no such effect.

4. Reduced stress levels – Feeling stressed? Head for the trees. One study found a decrease in both heart rate and levels of cortisol for people who spent time in a forest environment compared to those in the city. More impressively, overall parasympathetic activity, which occurs when we feel relaxed, increased by 56.1 percent.

5. A change is as good as a holiday – In the last decade, psychologists have found that one of the strongest requirements for basic functionality at work is the need for change in temperature, air and light. “Think about how different the office environment is from our ‘natural habitat’ as humans,” says Gilmore. “An hour in nature gives you a break from air conditioners, artificial lighting, chairs rolling and phones ringing and let’s you switch up your environment”.

How to Get Involved:

Reaping the benefits of a ‘green desk’ is easy and simple:

  1. Select your favourite outdoor space and visit to register your green desk space.
  2. Work from your new green desk for at least one hour between April 18–24th to reap the benefits of an outdoor office.
  3. Spread the word about working with nature by sharing your green-desk online with #workwithnature and #greendesking.

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Those who enjoyed the topic of this post may also be interested in a separate initiative – Empty Office Day – being run in the UK on 17th June.

Credits for images used in this post: Image 1 – Rich Gilmore. Images shared courtesy of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Australia

TNC Australia greatly appreciates the support received from Elmwood Creative Agency who developed the campaign concept and artwork for Work with Nature Week.