It’s a question the team at Men’s Health has often pondered in our ongoing quest to inject an element of adventure into everything we do, and a question that has equally inspired the team at Jeep. The auto juggernaut, synonymous with breaking boundaries and opening up the wilderness to their customers, has taken WFH to the next level, with their new ‘Working Far From Home’ experience.
Accessible by 4x4 and located in the rugged north western Tasmanian coastline, we were fortunate enough to test drive the Jeep ‘Working Far From Home’ office experience. The pod, created by Spacecube, is positioned mountain-side, near the town of Marrawah, nestled amongst some of the most pristine wilderness know to mankind. To provide perspective, there’s a lab only a 20-minute drive from the pod that takes air quality readings against which all air quality around the globe is measured. This is nature at it’s purest.
The Spacecube itself is a feat of engineering, fully self-sufficient and off-the grid, powered by solar panelling, yet with all the amenities and luxuries you’d expect of a 5 star hotel- minus the tele. But who needs one when you’re writing health articles amongst pristine forests, overlooking the greatest open ocean expanse on Earth (if you set off directly from the front of the pod, you’d travel all the way to South America without touching land).
And my routine while working far from home is actually healthier without the mod-cons of city living. With all meals prepared in the fully equipped kitchenette, no morning traffic, and a private space, Jeep has provided a set-up that promotes creativity. To my right are rocky mountain outcrops, clean lines of ocean swell expand to the horizon, and the Australian bush surrounds my ‘office’.
Armed with a Jeep Gladiator, my lunch breaks are dramatically different from days spent in the office. Coffee queues are traded for Tassie Devil spotting in world heritage listed Tarkine forest, and after-work drinks are held under a canopy of stars, strung together by a visible Milky-Way.
My morning commute in the pod involves an exploration of the deserted neighbouring beaches, while lunch is an opportunity to stock up on local produce sourced from towns in the depths of prehistoric rainforests. I even take an hour or two to write at the end of tracks only opened up to us by activating the Gladiator’s 4WD mode.
I can already hear what you’re thinking; with adventure on your doorstep, surely you didn’t actually go to work in the pod? Well with productivity increased, there’s actually an abundance of time for both hard work, and hard play. Research published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology shows that working in and around nature significantly increased workplace satisfaction and self-reported levels of concentration.
The mere presence of plants in an work environment boosts one’s ability to maintain attention by a whopping 20 per cent, specifically highlighting their ability to “prevent fatigue during attention demanding work”. Great news, as that cognitive awareness will be needed when navigating boulders in the Gladiator.
Taking the opportunity to work remote in Tassie was also great for the mind, and it turns out the feeling of satisfaction wasn’t any old placebo affect. “Nature can be beneficial for mental health,” says Dr Irina Wen, clinical psychologist and clinical director of the Steven A. Military Family Clinic at NYU Langone Medical Center. “It reduces cognitive fatigue and stress and can be helpful with depression and anxiety.”
Many of these benefits can be purely attributed to the aesthetics of nature, suggest multiple studies from the past 20 years. According to the cumulative data, natural aesthetics are soothing, increasing feelings of happiness and relaxation, whilst lowering stress and the chances of suffering from stress-related depression. It’s reported that plants “can help you achieve a more optimistic outlook on your life, bringing you both pleasing visual stimulation and helping you to increase your perceived happiness”.
So with science as your wing-man, it might be time to ask yourself if you’ve really been making the most of working from home. After all, you are now freed from the shackles of your cubicle. Perhaps the timing is ripe for a little venture into the unknown to boost not only your work, but your wellbeing.