We are delighted that Ieuan Compton has joined us to share his thoughts on free range living. This is his guest post for our #FreeRange at work series. Over to Ieuan…
“I’ve only recently made the conscious connection between the things that I do and mental wellbeing. It only worked its way into my consciousness as I’m involved, and very much interested, in how buildings impact our productivity, health and wellbeing. Did you know that in the UK, on average, we spend up to 90% of our time indoors, be that buildings or vehicles?
“I’ve kept a bit of a diary for the last week to illustrate this:
“This is scary. I consider myself to be an active, healthy, person and yet I’m spending most of my life indoors – and this is summertime, the time of year when arguably I can spend more time outdoors. Let’s add a little context to this; I sleep for eight hours per night and I am in the office for 10 hours per day – that’s 18 hours of my day spent indoors most days – that’s 75% of my time.
I consider myself to be an active, healthy, person and yet I’m spending most of my life indoors.
“In order to ‘top-up’ my outdoor time, I’ll occasionally have a ‘walking meeting’. This involves a stroll from the office to the coffee shop in the village. It’s a little over a mile each way, but it’s time out of the office, in the fresh air, and I’m rewarded with a very good coffee for my efforts (and sometimes cake). Apart from the coffee, the other benefit is that you’re away from the computer screens, you’re not tied to the desk and I find the mind is free too. Certainly, I believe you have a better conversation as a result. Solutions seem to present themselves with more ease. And, when you return to your desk you feel a little more energised and focussed.
“Writing this has served as a reminder to wander to the village more at lunchtime – I seem to have stopped doing this. Hmmm.
“At the start of the year, the team decided that we’d try and have at least one walking meeting per month – we’re mostly on target.
“I don’t think I really appreciate just how important the outdoors is to me. I’ve just looked around my desk; I’ve a couple of plants, windows with views on three sides and a picture of me on top of an Alp as my desktop wallpaper – I’m one of the lucky ones, I’m surrounded by natural light and I can open any one of three windows to let the fresh air in.
“Writing this has also reminded me of a meeting last summer. We were in front of an agency who was pitching for our work. They opened their presentation by asking us to describe our perfect space. Giving our interest in the built environment (I work for Saint-Gobain) it was surprising that not one of us described a building – beach scenes, mountain tops, etc. were all detailed, for me, unsurprisingly, it was being surrounded by sunflower fields when road cycling through the French countryside.
“I need to qualify this, but it’s my belief that instinctively we know that our wellbeing is better served by being outdoors – there’s also significant research that supports this view.
“Now, let’s be practical, as my rough diary shows, it’s not always possible to spend more time outdoors, but there’s a growing body of evidence that says even views of nature have a positive wellbeing contribution.
“I don’t really have a conclusion or a final point to make, other than for me, it turns out that being outdoors is instinctively important. I do what I can, when I can, but even when I can’t be outside, I can mostly see it and enjoy it. And, I suppose this contributes in a small way to the fact that in my <coughs> thirty years of work <coughs> I’ve only had one day off through sickness.”
Thanks, Ieuan for a really thought-provoking piece. Fusion Spaces is on a mission to help businesses go free range. In fact, we think it’s hard to argue with the fact that we need to re-connect with natural light, movement and nature. We also believe that we need to improve our work spaces so that they support human wellbeing, which is good for all of us and for business.
If you have a comment you’d like to make about free range living, just pop your thoughts below. Or if you’ve got something you’d like to contribute to the series, do get in touch.
Happy Free Ranging!