Why you should hold your next meeting outdoors

Would you like to improve your short-term memory and boost your energy levels at work? Host your next meeting outside.

We’re big advocates of outdoor meetings. Whether it’s an impromptu catch-up or an annual appraisal with a member of the team, holding it outside has so many benefits. It gives you the chance to stretch your legs and get some fresh air, and reinvigorates you – we just need to embrace the British weather!

There’s a wealth of benefits associated with spending time outdoors. Let’s take a look.

Walking makes us more creative

Research by professors at Stanford University in California found that walking (either on a treadmill or outside) boosts creative thinking and opens up “the free flow of ideas”.

You’re more creative and productive in your thought processes and not hampered by your surroundings when walking outdoors. At NYS, we enjoy the lack of distractions from phones ringing or the screen in front of us. Our ideas seem to be much better and we arrive at solutions much more quickly too.

Being outdoors boosts our energy levels

We also feel much “brighter” after being outside – and we’re not alone. A series of studies by the University of Rochester in New York showed that being outside in nature for just 20 minutes was enough to significantly lift people’s vitality levels. Academics also said that 90% of people felt “more alive” and reported improved energy levels when taking part in physical activities outside.

Nature relieves stress and anxiety

Doctors have long been aware of a positive link between nature and wellbeing. In 2014, Seattle-based environmental psychologist Judith Heerwagen told The Huffington Post: "Just looking at a garden or trees or going for a walk, even if it's in your own neighbourhood, reduces stress … there's something about being in a natural setting that shows clear evidence of stress reduction, including physiological evidence like lower heart rate."

Her stance has now been confirmed by a study, featured on the BBC, which suggests that the mental health benefits of going for a walk can last for up to seven hours.

Personal conversations are easier

Another benefit that we’ve noticed is that we find it easier to be open and have personal conversations. Discussing future plans or ambitions is a lot more comfortable outside; sitting directly across a table from someone can be quite awkward.

Walking outside improves our memories

Finally, research by the University of Michigan in the US studied the cognitive benefits of walking outdoors and discovered that people’s memory and attention spans improved by a huge 20% after spending an hour outside. This is backed up by another study from Stanford University, which showed that walking in nature increased people’s working memory performance.

There is little doubt about the benefits of being outdoors, but what about the practicalities?

We find that if you need to use a computer, it helps to schedule this in at the beginning or the end of the meeting. Pre-planning is essential; you need to think about what you want to achieve and the key points you want to cover. It helps to bring bullet points of the topics you need to cover, and if anything needs to be documented, do it as soon as you return to the office.

So the next time you are arranging a meeting, why not take it outdoors?