A day in the woods – a fresh perspective on the corporate away day
As the days get shorter and the autumn frost starts to creep in, it’s probably safe to say that this is the time of the year when work morale slowly begins to decline, writes Sarah Reakes – MD of Kiss Communications in Cambridge. That’s why we think a team ‘corporate away day’ in the woods, or what some are now referring to as Forest Bathing, is the perfect energy booster to cure those autumn blues.
‘A Day in the Woods’, launched by Arts and wellbeing charity Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (CCI), takes place in Ashlyn Woods, South Cambs and offers a full immersion into nature together with delicious food, warm fires – and most importantly fresh coffee. You can do this any day of the year – and now the experience can be structured and delivered for businesses in Cambridgeshire to help enhance team relationships, provide wellbeing and relaxation and help to regain some perspective through creativity.
It’s clear that the nature of work and the workplace is changing fast. It’s important to keep pace with new staff and the different principles, needs and expectations that they bring. Sharing a day like this deepens connections across your team, helps to establish shared experiences and common values, and promotes well-being. Staff who feel they have stressful and demanding jobs find these days personally rewarding, productive and relaxing. Ruth Sapsed, Director of CCi told me during our away day that ‘sharing a day in nature like this can also generate new ideas to take back to the workplace’ – and she was right!
Our day in the woods took us right out of our comfort zone but in a calm and enabling way. We learned about each other and connected on a deeper level. The day was facilitated with a light touch by CCI’s skilled team, leaving us plenty of space to connect, relax and reflect.
Each day is unique and planned to suit individual organisation or company needs. It‘s planned in detail, starting with a briefing call to agree aims before shaping a plan for the day. Creative and collaborative activities are interspersed with time to talk around the fire and opportunities for team members to take ‘time out’ on their own and explore the woods. CCI’s main goal is “for team members to leave with renewed strength and energy, a greater sense of peace and personal power and a deeper connection with colleagues.”
There is also health science here too: just having a view of nature through a window has proven benefits in tests on students, workers and even prisoners. Spending time actually out in nature doesn’t just help new connections form and power ideas, it also boosts immune systems, lowers blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Some, including Dr Qing Li of Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School, believe that used regularly the practice of forest bathing or ‘shinrinyoku’ – practiced in Japan since the 1980s – helps counter diseases such as gastric ulcers, strokes, cancer, anxiety, depression and stress.
And in addition to the overall ‘feel good’ benefits from the day, there’s an added benefit: CCI is an arts and well-being charity, working in the outdoors for the last 15 years with young children, their families and educators. The income raised from any corporate sessions from ‘A Day in the Woods’ will directly support the work of the charity and make sure more children are meeting in nature.
So, ditch the whiteboard and the conference room to bathe in beautiful Ashlyn Woods - you will be amazed by the results and positive feedback you receive.