Forest Bathing to boost team engagement

Employees embrace al-fresco working

Something for the weekend: Let’s face it, working remotely has taken its toll on the togetherness of work teams. Who doesn’t miss those precious moments spent sharing each other’s latest commuting nightmare around the empty water dispenser, taking your turn to do the tea round, listening to a colleague munch their way through a third pack of crisps while gazing blankly at a screen, and being shown another’s latest pictures of their cats? Happy days.

So it comes as no surprise that, after months of working from home, managers are concerned that those previously strong bonds that come from spending office time together have been lost. With flexible and hybrid working patterns set to remain, what is the solution?

Enter the Group Forest Bathing Togetherness Day. Yes, a chance to strip off and share the wonders of nature with your colleagues in various forest locations.

Before you run for the hills, be assured the stripping off is purely metaphorical.

Sonya Dibbin, from Adore Your Outdoors, who runs the Forest Bathing sessions in various wooded locations around Hampshire and Berkshire, said: “In Forest Bathing, there are no baths involved, so you can most certainly keep your clothes on!”

She added: “We’ve all suffered from the most recent lockdown, being stuck inside within the same four walls during the winter and only communicating with your colleagues via a screen.

“While we can all benefit from fresh air, nature connection takes it a step further. It is proven to result in sustained increases in health and happiness and this feeling of togetherness within a team is a prerequisite to a contented and productive workforce.”

Dibbin says the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku – bathing your senses in the atmosphere of the forest – has a simple premise; immerse yourself in the forest, absorb its smells, sounds, sights and engage with the sensations you feel, and you will reap numerous psychological and physiological health benefits.

Sessions include meditation, connecting with the natural world, sensory-based activities, connecting with nature, being in the present, and group reflection.

And if that doesn’t ring your bell, how about signing up the team up to The Wildlife Trust’s 30 Days Wild which requires participants to perform a ‘random act of wildness’ every day for 30 days during June?

Popular activities include listening to birdsong, taking wildlife photographs and planting seeds – and the scheme is proven to boost participants’ mood, health, and sense of connection to nature.

Here at Employee Benefits, we are all for immersing ourselves in nature, going wild and taking a bathe in the forest to boost our productivity, and nurture our wellbeing – so long as it’s fully dressed, with the sun shining, there are no nettles, and there’s a large picnic on hand. We don’t ask for much.