Nature and wellness go hand in hand… in the workplace
There is always a lot of talk about wellness and employee wellbeing in the workplace, and everything is fine as long as employees are healthy and carry on their work without too many complaints. But what happens when someone really needs to use a company’s wellness plan? Is there really a balance between wellness and work? How can this be created?
Working for a traditional company
In the past I worked for a large company that had a very traditional structure, with a well defined hierarchy and a set of rigid rules. I found it a difficult place to work at as the company did not care about employee wellbeing. As in most companies, I was expected to sit at my desk all day long and spend all my time on the activity I was working on. I was not allowed to take a break and I really missed being in contact with nature, especially in times of stress. I often felt frustrated and really needed to get up and move, go for a walk and clear my mind, but I was forced to remain in the office at my desk. I was a manager and had my own team of people to deal with. I found this very difficult because of the inflexibility of the company. Part of my job required me to solve conflicts between teams and sometimes also inside my own team. It was extremely difficult to do this in such a rigid environment in which no one was allowed to move, to breathe some fresh air, or to take a break when in need.
The move: joining the :m team
After years of working in a structured company, in 2015 I joined mondora and discovered a completely new work environment. Suddenly I found myself in a completely different world, in which I am allowed to be an adult in the company, I am on the same level as everyone else and I can structure my own work and days to best suit my needs. It has been a huge change for me to be able to choose my own work hours, take a break whenever I need to, get up and go for a walk as I wish. I also see an enormous difference in the relationship with colleagues: here there are no long-lasting difficult conflicts that are near impossible to solve. Everyone feels free to express themselves and people simply get up and talk to each other when there is an issue. Rather than reaching high levels of frustration and then “exploding” people take responsibility for their own well being and go for a refreshing walk to clear their minds before approaching a difficult issue. The beautiful mountain area in which the office is located also adds to everyone’s wellbeing and helps people be closer to nature: sometimes we even have walking meetings on a lovely path along the river!
The office and the land
As part of its commitment to helping the local community and especially the local farmers, mondora, a software company, has employed a farmer. This has many advantages for us software developers, as we have much to learn from a farmer. As well as supplying us with delicious organic food for the office, Nicola is also a great resource to go to in times of stress. Exchanging a day of mentally challenging work in the office with a day helping Nicola to work the land is excellent for both mind and body. Learning about farming is important and challenging in its own way and being in contact with nature for a whole day or more is really beneficial and lets us return to the office with a handful of great solutions to various issues, which we would have taken weeks to find otherwise! Thanks to this opportunity of getting out of the office some days and working the land we are able to grow both professionally and personally and we all benefit from mutual learning from each other.
Working with Nicola has been a real eye opener and has helped me greatly in overcoming problems related to my previous work experience. He is a very collaborative and passionate farmer who does not hesitate to explain and teach about the nature around him. He is a very positive influence for the mood of the whole company. By working with Nicola even just a couple of hours a week, a software developer is able to forget his or her problems for a while and free the mind. A free mind is the key ingredient for the high levels of energy required to develop software!
Balancing work and wellness with nature
In mondora I think we are quite good at balancing work and wellness. By using nature as a medium we are all able to reduce stress levels, clear our minds, have some peaceful time in which to let thoughts and ideas flow. I think more companies should give their employees the possibility of alternating office work with more manual, agricultural work. As well as helping with stress and finding new solutions to problems, this kind of balance is also greatly beneficial to team unity and collaboration. It also teaches one to listen to others and to give and receive help from peers.
A company only needs a little outside space, or a terrace, to achieve this. Having a small vegetable garden or growing some plants in pots can be a very stress-relieving activity for employees, provided they are allowed to do these activities in work hours and when they feel the need. The key is to learn from each other, collaborate and take a break from sitting at a desk all day long, which reduces motivation and productivity. Give your employees more freedom and they will give the company more in return.