The remarkable impact of nature on people has been academically well-documented since the 1970s; one of the most commonly cited examples are the PhD study results of Ulrich, R., which demonstrated that patients who had views of trees recovered from abdominal surgery quicker and with fewer complications than those whose rooms overlooked brick walls. Interest and research into our relationship with nature continues globally to the present day, although interest remains sporadic and largely explorative.
The Good Life Project is a not-for-profit which intends to prove the impact nature can have, specifically in the workplace. Just some of the many recorded benefits of being in the presence of, or simply being able to see, nature include reductions in stress, anger and exhaustion, whilst increasing energy levels, cognitive functioning and happiness. Through a range of interventions and using participating businesses, we hope to demonstrate the efficacy and restorative benefits of natural environments and to encourage corporate responsibility in this area. Our research into the cognitive and emotional impact of nature in the working environment aims to provide real-world, evidence-based suggestions for how organisations can achieve this with the most simple and cost-effective strategies.
Previous evidence-based studies have demonstrated that happy people are productive people and that nature is hugely beneficial to wellbeing. Yet, many organisations prohibit personalising desks and frown on the presence of plants in the workplace. Simultaneously, as a society we are becoming ever more interconnected by technological advances, exacerbating social, political, religious, economic, industrial and educational factions. Shockingly, according to research conducted by Persil, 75% of children in the United Kingdom spend less time outside than prison inmates do.
Much of the academic research that The Good Life Project is using as a starting point suggests that the reduction in stress and anxiety and increase in wellbeing, happiness and confidence from seeing nature is caused by the stimulation of feel-good neurotransmitters such as dopamine and oxytocin. Other considerations include nature’s lack of repetitive symmetry, colour and light, which appear to have a calming effect on the brain.
The Project will also explore the impact of natural sounds and smells on employees’ wellbeing and effectiveness. If we are able to discover the precise level of contact or interaction with nature required in order to be happier and in turn healthier and more productive, The Good Life Project could be the most cost-effective way of creating a high performance culture within organisations.
Led by a team of psychologists, neuroscientists and a behaviourist, The Good Life Project will see organisations implementing specific techniques and recording staff responses to natural stimuli introduced into their work environments, using feedback platforms. Each month organisations will record the impact of a wide variety of different interventions, from the placement of naturally-scented candles, tending to an office herb garden and arranging workspaces to maximize natural views, to displaying various sets of posters featuring natural scenes and the periodic playing of natural sounds.
The Project is currently looking for businesses who would like to be involved with the research project – get in touch if you are interested. For more information and to enroll organisations, please visit: www.thegoodlifeproject.info