Many of us watched Jamie Oliver reveal the plight of the humble laying hen in 2008.
In response we flocked to buy British free range eggs and duly changed our shopping habits. It was simple – we understood that hens working hard to provide us with food deserved a better quality of life by displaying their natural behaviours.
Fast forward to today and we believe it’s time to turn our attention to the plight of the humble human who’s spending 90% of their life indoors.
Many of our workspaces could actually be compared to that barren battery cage.
Isn’t it time that businesses consider how to go free range?
Just like the humble laying hen, humans have the right to show their natural behaviours with access to daylight and nature. Not cooped up under artificial light for hours on end, as is so often the case.
So this Easter we think it’s an eggcellent idea to encourage you to go free range at work and become a #FreeRangeBusiness.
Look up, you’re living under artificial lighting
Of course there’s no choice when you’re working inside but not all light is created equal. Consider light as the giver of life, not just an opportunity to illuminate. It’s therefore obvious that lighting quality needs huge consideration. Research and ongoing innovation also mean that your lighting can be more prescriptive, to give you more individual choice and control.
Build daylight breaks into your day
See these just as natural and essential for your wellbeing as you would a toilet break.
Walking meetings are catching on
All it takes is the decision to have one a month and take it from there. Did you know that being outdoors in small groups talking can increase bright ideas and your creativity?
Taking work outside is another option
There is no reason that, weather permitting, work cannot take place outdoors. It might be designated areas, or the opportunity to work in a park or a natural space.
The commute is often a heightened time of stress and anxiety
The daily commute can have stress hormones pumping around the body. Walking from the station or to meetings, perhaps in groups as a kind of walk share, can be a natural answer to reducing stress and help you to feel more energised for the day, naturally helping you to be more active too.
Bring nature indoors
It’s true that human beings have a natural connection with nature and that it’s a basic human need. It’s also possible to bring nature indoors in the form of biophilic design. These references to nature may be in the form of perhaps natural planting, green walls and or water. It could also include colour that is reminiscent of nature such as green and natural materials such as stone or wood.
Take eye breaks
When did you last consider your eyes and the impact on them of working at your computer, or staring at your phone or tablet? Your eyes are abnormally focussed for long periods of time and your blink is reduced. With around 40% of the population already experiencing dry eye issues it make sense to take eye breaks. Looking away from your screen every 10 minutes can help. Learning how to do a correct blink, yes we can all blink badly and incompletely, is also helpful.
We need to stand and move more and this could incorporate taking a walk around the office, going to ask a colleague a question or a walking meeting. If the walk needs to be followed up by emails, that’s just fine. It could be combined with a daylight break, a walk to get a drink or allowing your eyes to focus into the far distance whilst looking out of a window. It’s simple – take a 5 minute break every hour and move away from your desk.
Stand and deliver
If we need to sit stand and move there’s also the option of the rise of fall desk. This can be a positive addition to the workplace, as long as you don’t stand for too long. As a rule of thumb we’d suggest to stand no more than an hour and then move and sit.
All this tech is making us sick, so we can benefit from simplifying tech in the workplace so that it is fit for purpose and easy to use. This is also good for business and the planet as it reduces waste. Taking tech breaks are also a way to go free range, turning off the tech at night to reduce your exposure to ‘motivating’ blue light and have boundaries to your connectivity, for your improved mental health and relaxation.
Reset and restore
Speaking of relaxation, all work and no rest is not good for anyone. Taking a break to daydream, complete a 10 minute mindfulness practice or just closing your eyes for 5 minutes is not wasting your time.
Take a look at your meeting room
Make it a space for ideas, collaboration and business. This space has the potential to be much more creative and productive, whilst supporting human wellbeing. This space can be made to more closely mimic a space in nature. This space can be a place you no longer just sit in for hours, a space that allows you to go free range.
So we’re egging you on to become a #FreeRangeBusiness and meet the basic, fundamental needs of your people, the humans at the heart of your business.
By Jayne Cox of Fusion Spaces, the human centred tech and collaborative design consultancy.