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Outdoors and dogs: Is this the right way to work?

This is my office for today:

working outdoors

That means I’m spending the day with three items on my favourites list: the outdoors, my dog and writing.

Put it all together and it makes for one wicked day of telecommuting.

As the practice of remote work grows around the world, we’re seeing reports — not all necessarily scientific — that testify to the benefits of getting out of the company’s offices and headquarters.

But I’m not even referring to our usual chats about productivity and cost-savings.

Lisa Evans, a freelance journalist from Toronto, recently wrote in Entrepreneur that we aren’t spending enough time outdoors.

“Trapping ourselves indoors has created what health experts call a ‘nature deficit disorder,’” she writes. “Getting outdoors can do great things for your health. Reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and improving immune function are among nature’s health benefits.

“What’s more, incorporating elements of nature into your workday can also give you brain a boost, resulting in increased productivity, focus and creativity.”

Darn, we’re back to that productivity thing again.

Evans cites Harvard physician Eva M. Selhub, who says spending 20 minutes a day outdoors is recommended.

A step outside, Selhub learned from her studies, stimulates reward neurons in your brain and turns off the stress response. That translates into lower cortisol levels, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and improved immune response.

The four-legged co-worker

Judy Heminsley, the founder of Work from Home Wisdom, appreciates the presence of her cat while she toils at home, a pursuit that can be lonely as much as it can be enjoyable.

The company of animals ranks high on her list of telework benefits.

“The need to work around the routine of a pet provides a ready-made structure that can aid productivity,” she writes in The Guardian.

“Walking the dog is a healthy replacement for the morning commute that allows your mind to let go of domestic concerns and switch into work mode.”

A home-office visit from the cat or dog can give you a much-needed break, she writes. It’s a chance to break yourself free from the computer, with which telecommuters often struggle.

My beautiful Maremma sheepdog, Shep, regularly reminds me when it’s time to take a break, especially to go outdoors.

And since he’s 12 and has fewer years ahead of him than behind him, the ability to work from home is vital for me. It allows me to spend more time with him, whether we take a lunchtime walk or a late-afternoon nap.

The fortunate few

Though telecommuters are a growing legion, we aren’t dominating the workforce yet.

Our peers trapped at Company HQ don’t necessarily have the benefit of beautiful greenspaces like their backyards. They may be surrounded by the concrete jungle and going for a walk downtown may not afford them the benefits of breathing beautiful fresh air.

Nor are they permitted to bring Fluffy or Fido to the office, since many are sensitive to the allergens our pet companions carry.

Thus, it may not be in your best interests to share a photo like I did above.

Because then everyone would want to work from home.

But that’s a good thing, right?

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