Out of the Cubicle, and Into the Fresh Air
Not all of us are fortunate to work at a place that has acres of forests, rolling hills, streambeds, wooden bridges, and wildlife — all right out the back door.
But as a Conference Planning Manager for Lied Lodge at Arbor Day Farm, I get to surround myself with these natural elements every day. I know, I know… this is not the typical workplace setting. Many of you reading this right now trudge along in traffic to get to the office, circle endlessly in parking garages looking for a space, lug your stuff through the concrete jungle before sitting down in your cubicle for a solid eight hours and usually more. I feel your pain, and I sympathize.
Every day during my lunch hour, I take advantage of my prime surroundings and enjoy a brisk walk across Arbor Day Farm and through Arbor Lodge State Historical Park in Nebraska City. Now that spring is finally here, each day brings something new and beautiful to see.
These lunch-time walks started about a year ago as part of our all-staff fitness program to increase both physical and mental wellness among our employees. Now there’s a group of us that walk together about three days a week or more. We change our route each time, allowing us to see what’s new in our surroundings — which seasonal flowers are blooming, what animals we see busy making their homes in the forest. We enjoy all the benefits of the proverbial “water cooler chat” — catching up on each other’s personal and professional news — but without the donuts and time wasting.
These walks around the property also provide a good opportunity to talk about challenges we’re facing on projects or programs in our respective departments, and quite often, it’s during these walks when we come up with some of the best solutions. In less than 30 minutes, we’ve caught up, solved some issues, thought of new ideas, exercised, and enjoyed the best part of all …. the nature that surrounds us here at Arbor Day Farm.
Just like our group of employees has discovered, your work team can enjoy the same fresh perspective. It’s my job to find better ways to help my clients host energetic and successful events. I can relate to the need to get away from the day-to-day constraints and search out new ideas. Getting out and walking around Arbor Day Farm on my lunch break has helped me, personally, do the very thing that I encourage others to do.
Meetings don’t always need to be the 8-to-5 confined structure. If at all possible, choose a site that gets your team out of the cubicle, and out into the fresh air. Lied Lodge and Arbor Day Farm is just that kind of place; it offers so much more than tables, chairs and power point presentations. By changing the run-of-the-mill meeting format, you and your team can capitalize on the mental and physical benefits offered by natural light, fresh air, and a view of the surrounding trees. Exposure to these elements are actually shown to increase blood flow, which leads to increased brain activity, which leads to new ideas and new solutions to old problems. A walk on the trail with coworkers or group members encourages new perspectives and thoughts that otherwise might not have surfaced.
So think outside the cubicle for your next meeting, and get a fresh perspective you’ll find only on the outside.
Jennifer Phillips has been a Conference Planning Manager at Lied Lodge & Conference Center in Nebraska City for almost 7 years. When she’s not coordinating meetings, she enjoys spending time with her family.