Go green and improve employees’ wellbeing

At Greenbelt we see first-hand every day the benefits of being surrounded by green spaces, with our homeowner customers enjoying the immense benefits of our sustainable land management.

Now there’s even academic research showing nature can trigger the production of feel-good chemicals – such as serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.

These can reduce stress and increase wellbeing.

The colours and smells of the natural environment can have a relaxing effect on people, as does the lack of repetitive symmetry in natural landscapes.

Indeed, as life has become more urban, people have tried to mimic aspects of nature to induce relaxation.

It’s a trick the Victorians employed in schools. Green paint was used on classroom walls as the colour was believed to help keep children calm – well that and the threat of 500 lines!

One of the best known studies on the topic is the 1984 PhD study [Ulrich R] that showed hospital patients recovered more quickly when they had a view of natural scenery, when compared to patients who looked out on to a brick wall.

Certainly, the idea has been around for a few decades and has influenced the design of therapeutic environments such as hospitals.

However, many modern workplaces seem to have missed the memo.

Now a new study called the Good Life Project, supported by the Soil Association, hopes to produce real world evidence to demonstrate the benefits of natural workspace environments.

It also aims to encourage wider corporate responsibility for employees’ wellbeing.

Each month, participating companies will record the impact of interventions – from tending an office herb garden to playing nature sounds and arranging workspaces to maximise views.

If the project is able to unlock the precise level of interaction with nature required to make employees happier, healthier and more productive, it could not only enhance working lives, but save industry millions of pounds in sick leave and below-average productivity.

The results will make for interesting reading. Watch this green space!