Latest Blog Posts

Some individuals respond more positively to multi-tenant offices than others.  Hartog and her team report that “Many different multi-tenant offices have arisen over the last decades, as building owners address the changing nature of the workplace – a need for users to share facilities. . . . Data were collected through a questionnaire distributed among users of 17 different multi-tenant offices (business centres, incubators serviced offices and co-working places). . . . users who are more extraverted, open to new experiences and more agreeable were overall more satisfied with the multi-tenant office characteristics. However, the effects of demographics and work-related characteristics were much larger. Men, older users and users working in an open and flexible work environment were overall more satisfied with the office characteristics.”  Previous research supports these findings.  It has shown, for example, that extraverts thrive in sensory rich environments while introverts excel when sensory experiences have been carefully curated.

Lizanne Hartog, Minou Weijis-Perree, and Rianne Appel-Meulenbroek.  “The Influence of Personality on User Satisfaction:  Multi-Tenant Offices.”  Business Research and Information, in press.

Vacharkulksemsuk and colleagues investigated links between posture and likeability.  Data collected via “two field studies . . . suggested that (i) expansive (vs. contractive) body posture increases one’s romantic desirability; (ii) these results are consistent across gender. . . . Expansiveness makes the dating candidate appear more dominant.”  An example of an expansive posture is leaning backwards, in a reclining chair, for instance.

Tanya Vacharkulksemsuk, Emily Reit, Poruz Khambatta, Paul Eastwick, Eli Finkel, and Dana Carney.  2016.  “Dominant, Open Nonverbal Displays Are Attractive at Zero-Acquaintance.”  Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, vol. 113, no. 15, pp. 4009-4014. 

McCay reports on ways that urban design can support mental health.  As she details “There are four key areas of opportunity for urban planners and designers. . . . . Accessibility to green places in the course of people’s daily routines. . . . activity is one of the most important design opportunities for mental health [so providing opportunities to be active are recommended]. . . . Mental health is closely associated with strong social connections and social capital. . . .  there is extensive potential for designers to innovate, creating features within projects that facilitate positive, safe, natural interactions amongst people and foster a sense of community, integration and belonging. . . . long, unchanging facades that extend across city blocks and cause people’s minds to dwell on negative thoughts. . . . constant low-level threats can keep the body in an unnatural habitual state of preparation, which can affect mood and stress in the long term. . . . . Appropriate design of roads, good street lighting, and distinct landmarks and wayfinding cues are just some of the design features that can increase perceptions of safety in a neighbourhood.”

Layla McCay 2017. “Designing Mental Health into Cities.” The Urban Design Journal,

A press release from the University of Iowa indicates it is important to provide street crossing aids, such as lights that signal pedestrians when it is safe to cross, at locations where children under 14 are likely to need to move from one side of a street to the other.  Researchers determined that “children under certain ages lack the perceptual judgment and motor skills to cross a busy road consistently without putting themselves in danger.”  In a realistic simulated environment “Children up to their early teenage years had difficulty consistently crossing the street safely, with accident rates as high as 8 percent with 6-year-olds.  Only by age 14 did children navigate street crossings without incident.” More details: “6-year-olds were struck by vehicles 8 percent of the time [during the simulation study]; 8-year-olds were struck 6 percent; 10 year-year-olds were struck 5 percent; and 12-year-olds were struck 2 percent.  Those age 14 and older had no accidents.”  In the simulated environment, moving vehicles traveled at 25 miles per hour.

“Why Children Struggle to Cross Busy Streets Safely.”  2017.  Press release, The University of Iowa,

Biedenweg, Scott, and Scott’s research indicates how important it is for everyone to have regular access to nature, whether they live in a city or not.  The team determined after analyzing the responses of thousands of people to survey questions that  “Psychological benefits from time spent in the outdoors, Outdoor recreational activities, Environmentally related social and cultural events, and Sense of place had significant, positive relationships to life satisfaction. . . . Engaging in physical activity is widely recognized as contributing to physical and mental wellbeing, and the added benefit of being outdoors contributes to stress reduction and cognitive restoration . . .  Sense of place is usually defined as assigning meaning and attachment to a physical space and/or social community. . . . environmental governance. . . . was the highest correlate to life satisfaction in our sample, [indicating that] simply ensuring the provision of tangible benefits is not enough for human wellbeing; the process by which decisions are made about managing and distributing services is critically important.”

Kelly Biedenweg, Ryan Scott, and Tyler Scott.  “How Does Engaging with Nature Relate to Life Satisfaction?  Demonstrating the Link Between Environment-Specific Social Experiences and Life Satisfaction.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press.

Pedersen and Johansson investigated how motion activated street lights influence pedestrian behavior.  They found that participants in their study of motion activated lights in a simulated outdoor environment “walked significantly slower under [initially] dimmed than static lighting conditions, even after the illuminance had increased. . . . The effect was seen both before and after the increase to full light. A reasonable explanation is that participants hesitated at the start of the pathway due to the relative darkness, and this also seems to have affected walking time after the light increase. It may also be that the actual moment when the illuminance increased surprised the participants, so that they did not increase their walking speed as much as expected. The different dimmed conditions did not differ in effect.”  Details on the test conditions: “The standardized Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) protocol was used for the dimming. The luminaire was set to 254 DALI (100% illuminance) or to one of the three dimming alternatives: 235 DALI (approximately 60% of maximum illuminance), 221 DALI (approximately 40% of maximum illuminance) or 195 DALI (approximately 20% of maximum illuminance).”  The starting point of the test walk was always lit to .2 lux, and at the motion-detecting sensor lighting varied from 1.5 lux in the 20% condition to 5.6 lux in the 100% condition.

E. Pedersen and M. Johansson.  “Dynamic Pedestrian Lighting:  Effects on Waling Speed, Legibility and Environmental Perception.” Lighting Research and Technology, in press.

Using the stairs instead of an elevator helps us keep trim and saves energy—and stairway design and placement, for instance, can boost the likelihood we’ll take the stairs.  New research supplies another reason to encourage stair use via design – we feel energized after walking up and down stairs.  Investigators have found that “10 minutes of walking up and down stairs at a regular pace was more likely to make participants feel energized than ingesting 50 milligrams of caffeine-about the equivalent to the amount in a can of soda. . . . [Patrick J. O'Connor, a professor in the department of kinesiology and former graduate student Derek Randolph, who co-authored this study] wanted to compare an exercise that could be achieved by people in an office setting, where they have access to stairs and a little time to be active, but not enough time to change into workout gear, shower and change back into work clothes. ‘Office workers can go outside and walk, but weather can be less than ideal. It has never rained on me while walking the stairs,’ said O'Connor. . . . Study participants were . . . college students who described themselves as chronically sleep deprived-getting less than 6½ hours per night. . . . Neither caffeine nor exercise caused large improvements in attention or memory, but stair walking was associated with a small increase in motivation for work. . . . even a brief bout of stair walking can enhance feelings of energy without reducing cognitive function.”  Study results are published in Physiology and Behavior.

“Skip the Caffeine, Opt for the Stairs to Feel More Energized.”  2017.  Press release, University of Georgia,

Hoendervanger and his colleagues studied activity-based work (ABW) environments because “Despite their growing popularity among organisations, satisfaction with activity-based work (ABW) environments is found to be below expectations. Research also suggests that workers typically do not switch frequently, or not at all, between different activity settings.” Via questionnaires filled out by thousands of people working in ABW environments the team learned that “Satisfaction ratings of the 4 per cent of the respondents who switched several times a day appeared to be significantly above average. Switching frequency was found to be positively related to heterogeneity of the activity profile [diversity of activities], share of communication work and external mobility [so, for example, more diversity of activities was linked to more switching]. . . . Our findings suggest that satisfaction with ABW environments might be enhanced by stimulating workers to switch more frequently. However, as strong objections against switching were observed and switching frequently does not seem to be compatible with all work patterns, this will presumably not work for everyone. Many workers are likely to be more satisfied if provided with an assigned (multifunctional) workstation.”

Jan Hoendervanger, Iris De Been, Nico Van Yperen, Mark Mobach, and Casper Albers.  2016.  “Flexibility In Use:  Switching Behaviour and Satisfaction in Activity-Based Work Environments.”  Journal of Corporate Real Estate, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 48-62.

A study published in Applied Geography links well-kept vacant lots and lower crime levels.  Researchers found that “Maintaining the yards of vacant properties helps reduce crime rates in urban neighborhoods.”  Data were collected over 9 years in Flint, Michigan:   “’We’ve always had a sense that maintaining these properties helps reduce crime and the perception of crime,’ said Christina Kelly, the land bank’s [Genesee County Land Bank Authority] planning and neighborhood revitalization director. ‘So we weren’t surprised to see the research back it up.’”  Findings were also not unexpected because “Earlier studies have shown that greening and gardening programs in general are linked to less stress, depression and hopelessness for residents, as well as lower crime rates, including assaults, burglaries and robberies.”  The researchers believe that the relationship between lot condition and crime may be due to the fact that maintaining the lots “alert[s] potential criminals that residents are keeping an eye on things.”

“Well-Kept Vacant Lots Can Help Reduce Crime.”  2017.  Press release, Michigan State University,

Millennial leaders’ responses to workplaces were investigated via a recent study.  A podcast sponsored by Wharton featured Ron Williams and Rebecca Ray; Williams and Ray, who are both executives with The Conference Board, discussed research that group did with Millennial leaders.  The introduction to the transcript of part of that podcast reports that investigators determined that these Millennials “are more like the older generation than originally thought, and the current differences are mainly due to the life stage that they are in.”  Ray states that “Millennial leaders don’t necessarily like the open workspace that has become a fad the last few years.” She continues: “CEOs, generally speaking, thought that was a more important element of workforce design than did millennials. And in fact, millennials and non-millennial leaders — regardless of generation — were less enamored of the open floor plan. They were also less enamored of flatter organizational structures. I think what they all wanted — and both millennial leaders and non-millennial leaders ranked these things higher than did CEOs — were flexible policies for vacation and work schedules, and then more flexible options for working remotely and collaborating virtually.”  Williams adds that open offices “came out of the technology sector, particularly on the West Coast. It tended to have more informal and collegial environments. The big difference is those are software development companies where getting the user of the software and the developer in the same space, iterating back and forth in an agile development way, really contributes lots of value. That’s really different from other types of industries, where people sometimes need to put their heads down and actually concentrate on what they are doing.”

“How Millennials Will Lead the C-Suite.”  2017.  Podcast/Transcript,


Subscribe to Latest Blog Posts