Like many companies, we at Due are always trying to be more productive and more health-conscious at work. A couple of months ago, I read that Stanford University recently conducted a survey that concludes that daily walks improve productivity and creativity, so I decided to put this idea to the test.
For 30 days, we asked that everyone in our office (if physically able) take two 15-minute “walkies” (a.k.a., 15-minute walks) per day – no phones allowed. The result was a quantifiable jump in productivity of 30 percent.
Let’s Talk Results
We track a lot of things with our employees. Engineers put down tasks, marketing has metrics and posts, finance has bills, etc. We also try to track the time it takes to complete a task. On average, each task was taking around seven business days to complete. After we started doing our daily walks for about a week, we noticed that average dropping to six days, then to five days after about 20-30 business days of having daily walks. Even customer service call times are down by almost 20 percent on average.
While this isn’t exact science, it’s pretty clear that daily walks have helped our business grow significantly.
In the six months since we started, this jump in productivity has remained about the same.
Here’s how our “walkies” work, and more on the benefits we’ve seen:
Decompress and De-Stress
Aerobic exercise gets the blood pumping and calibrates the hormones in a way that calms those frazzled nerves and combats burnout and depression. Simply stepping away from the environment that may be giving you stress – including that pesky smartphone – and getting some fresh air and social interaction can soothe the mind.
When it’s time to head back to your desk, you’ll be calmer than before – and the calmer you are, the more efficient and effective you’ll be in your thoughts and actions.
It’s important to note that you really need to leave that smartphone behind if you want the full benefits of your walk. Employees who take their phones with them do not see productivity increases as large as the ones employees who leave behind their phones see.
Put the Mind at Rest
If you’re on a workout plan with a personal trainer, that trainer will recommend that you incorporate a few rest days into your routine to help you recover.
The same goes for our brains: When we wear it down and push that muscle every day, the brain will eventually suffer some “damage,” and our productivity will wane.
I’ve found that that when I’m able to put my mind to rest, I return to work feeling refreshed and have a lot more energy to work with no distractions.
I take my first walk around 10 A.M. and my second around 4 P.M. This helps me break up the slower parts of my day, when my mind is typically shot.
An article in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine summarized a research study that found employees that spend at least 2.5 hours each week at work doing some type of health-promoting activity are more satisfied with their work than those who do not.
We asked employees before and after our walkie experiment if they more satisfied at work, and the results were staggering: Almost 100 percent of the people in our company said that they were much more satisfied with their work after the walkie experiment.
Improve Your Focus
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers determined that sitting at our desks and looking at our computer screens all day depletes our “attentional resources.” The result is that our brains stop registering our surroundings and tasks because there is no stimulus.
However, stepping away and going on a walk provides different sights, sounds, and feelings, all of which work to reenergize the brain. When we return to our desks, what we see and experience feels new again, so our attention and productivity increase.
The Boss Benefits, Too
Personally, I enjoy these walks because they give me time to informally talk with staff members and catch up on what they are up to. I try to stay away from too much “shop talk” and focus more on the person. This helps me better understand who is on my team and what makes them unique – plus, I also get my own chance to share.
The engagement builds working relationships and stimulates new ideas, which goes a long way toward boosting productivity.
Now, it’s time to get up and take a walk.
This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective.
Murray Newlands is an entrepreneur, investor, business advisor, and columnist at BusinessInsider.com, Inc.com, and Entrepreneur.com. He is founder of Due and the author of How to Get PR for Your Startup: Traction.