I was in the Kings Cross area of London this week and walked past the site for the proposed new Google headquarters that is being built in the area. It’s a fascinating building, not only because of the redevelopment of that part of town, but for the facilities that the building will offer to employees.
Undoubtedly one of the more interesting among them is to be found on the roof of the building. The plan is for the building to have its own running track built into the roof of the facility, where Google employees can go and stretch their legs each day. The track will weave its way through a park like facility that will also offer Google employees a degree of greenery to while away their stresses within.
The notion is clearly that offering employees the opportunity for both exercise and greenery in the middle of busy (and polluted) central London is a very beneficial thing indeed. It’s a notion that has a degree of research to back it up.
The advantages of a walk in the park
Research has for instance, revealed that taking a relatively short walk in a park has a number of positive implications for the way we perform each day at work.
When I say relatively short, I really do mean it. The participants in the study were asked to spend just seventeen minutes walking to a make believe test site. The participants were divided into two groups for the study. One of them walked through an underground tunnel, so got very little fresh air or greenery during their walk. The other however, were asked to take a route that involved a trip through a park. At the end of their journey, each participant was asked to fill in a questionnaire and report on how they felt.
The results highlight the benefits of greenery to our wellbeing. Those that had walked through the park expressed significantly more positive emotions than the poor souls that had to go through the tunnel instead.
Not only did the park based participants feel more productive and engaged, but they also felt more connected to nature (note to any managers trying to implement CSR!)
To further test this hypothesis, a second study was conducted using slightly different routes, but still persisting with one indoor and one outdoor route. The results were almost identical. Participants who had taken the outdoor route through some natural habitat felt more engaged and connected to nature.
"Together our results are consistent with the idea that, although people are innately drawn to nature, a general disconnection prevents them from fully anticipating nature’s hedonic benefits," the research team declare. "When people forgo the happiness benefits of nearby nature, they also neglect their nature relatedness, a construct strongly associated with environmentally sustainable attitudes and behaviours."
Do you have the option to take a walk in the park near your work? How often do you manage to get some fresh air and exercise each day?
Let me know your comments below.
Image source: Property Week