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Lamb and Kwok looked at the effects of workplace stressors on performance. They report on a study that collected data from office workers over 8 months: “Participants completed a total of 2261 online surveys measuring perceived thermal comfort, lighting comfort and noise annoyance, measures of work performance, and individual state factors underlying performance and wellbeing. Characterising inadequate aspects of IEQ [Indoor Environmental Quality] as environmental stressors, these stress factors can significantly reduce self-reported work performance and objectively measured cognitive performance by between 2.4% and 5.8% in most situations, and by up to 14.8% in rare cases. . . . Exposure to environmental stress appears to erode individuals' resilience, or ability to cope with additional task demands. These results indicate that environmental stress reduces not only the cognitive capacity for work, but the rate of work (i.e. by reducing motivation). Increasing the number of individual stress factors is associated with a near linear reduction in work performance indicating that environmental stress factors are additive. . . . Environmental stressors reduce occupant wellbeing (mood, headaches, and feeling ‘off’) causing indirect reductions in work performance.”
S. Lamb and K. Kwok. 2016. “A Longitudinal Investigation of Work Environment Stressors on the Performance and Wellbeing of Office Workers.” Applied Ergonomics, vol. 52, pp. 104-111.
Grenness’ work indicates the importance of aligning national culture and workplace design. He reports on research done with Telenor, a Norwegian firm. In Norway, an open-plan, flexible workplace, that reflected the country’s egalitarian social structure worked well. This was not the case in areas in Asia. Regarding the design of its offices outside Norway, Grenness reports that “Based on the interviews, it was fairly obvious that Telenor had not given the issue [of alignment with national culture] much thought. Its overall strategy was to copy the design of its head office in Norway . . . and begin its operations in various Asian countries without much further consideration.”
Tor Grenness. 2015. “Culture Matters: Space and Leadership in a Cross-Cultural Perspective.” In Arja Ropo, Perttu Salovaara, Erika Sauer, and Donatella De Paoli (eds.). Leadership in Spaces and Places. Edward Elgar Publishing: Northampton, MA, pp. 199-214.
Blakey investigated links between workspace design and innovation/creativity. Knowledge workers living in California were asked how they felt workplace design influenced their innovation/creativity. Blakey found via surveys and interviews that “Within the individual workspace technology surfaced as a primary driver of innovation. When asked about team workspace respondents [indicated] concern over noise and interruptions. . . . Stimulators [of innovation/creativity] included placement of staff within close proximity to key team members, design that encourages trust, and inspiring decor that awakens creativity. Lastly, barriers to innovation in the workspace included status quo mentality, decreasing square footage from individual workspace, and concerns with open space design.”
Jennifer Blakey. 2016. “The Impact of Workspace on Innovation.” Dissertation, Brandman University (US), Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, vol. 76(9-A(E)), no pagination specified.
LoMonaco-Benzing and Ha-Brookshire, in a study published in Sustainability, investigated links between Millennials’ decisions to leave firms and gaps they identified between their employers’ stated values and actions. The researchers found that “one reason young workers choose to leave a firm is because they find a disconnect between their beliefs and the culture they observe in the workplace. ‘We were interested in workers’ values regarding sustainability and corporate sustainability practices and whether a gap existed,’ said Rachel LoMonaco-Benzing, a doctoral student in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences. ‘Not only did we find a gap, but we also found that workers were much more likely to leave a job if they felt their values were not reflected in the workplace.’ . . . ‘Fewer people of this generation are just looking for a paycheck,’ Ha-Brookshire said. ‘They have been raised with a sense of pro-social, pro-environment values, and they are looking to be engaged. If they find that a company doesn’t honor these values and contributions, many either will try to change the culture or find employment elsewhere.’”
“’Values Gap’ in Workplace Can Lead Millennials to Look Elsewhere.” 2017. Press release, University of Missouri, http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2017/0201-values-gap-in-workpla...
Lasauskaite and Cajochen linked mental effort intensity and light color. The team “tested effort-related cardiac response under four lighting conditions and found that it decreased with color temperatures [i.e., as light got bluer]. Thus, blue-enriched light in offices and schools might . . . preserve resources during cognitive activities.”
Ruta Lasauskaite and Christian Cajochen. 2016. “Influence of Lighting Color Temperature on Mental Effort.” Psychology of Architecture Conference (December 4-5, Austin, TX) Program, p. 26.
Unsworth and McNeill set out to learn more about how to encourage people to behave in an environmentally responsible way. They found that self-interest can be used to motivate green actions. The researchers determined that attempts to encourage earth-friendly behaviors are likely to be more successful when the green behaviors are linked to “goals that are important to people, even if such goals are unrelated to climate change or the environment in general. . . . This research has significant practical implications for workplaces, particularly for those in which employees or managers place a low priority on environmental and climate change considerations.” So, efforts to encourage environmentally responsible behaviors are likely to be more successful when arguments presented for doing them align with already existing and personally important goals, such as saving money or getting more exercise.
Kerrie Unsworth and Ilona McNeill. 2017. “Increasing Pro-Environmental Behaviors by Increasing Self-Concordance: Testing an Intervention.” Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 102, no. 1, pp. 88-103.
Airflow velocity in a space influences how well we sleep there. Morito and her team found that “a higher air velocity of airflow disturbed human sleep more than a lower air velocity of airflow. . . . The mean air temperature, relative humidity, and mean radiant temperature in the rooms with both air conditioners were 26.4 . . . °C, 58 . . . %, and 26.3 . . . °C, and 26.4 . . . °C, 53 . . . %, and 26.1 . . . °C for [A] and [B], respectively. The average . . . velocity of airflow was actually 0.14 . . . m/s and 0.04 . . . m/s for [A] and [B], respectively. . . . The subjects significantly felt more of the airflow and cooler at [A] than at [B] although comfort sensation did not differ significantly. . . . the number of times body movements, the number of times heart rate increased., and the number of times some sleep stages changed to the stage of wakefulness due to varying airflow in [A] were significantly higher than those in [B]. A higher velocity of airflow had a negative influence on sleep even though the average air velocity was less than 0.2 m/s [people are not aware of airflow at this low level].” When higher airflow velocity was experienced, people slept more poorly.
Naomi Morito, Kazuyo Tsuzuki, Ikue Mori, and Hajime Nishimiya. 2017. “Effect of Two Kinds of Air Conditioner Airflow on Human Sleep and Thermoregulation.” Energy and Buildings, vol. 138, pp. 490-498.
Pati and colleagues investigated responses to curved and sharp contours in healthcare environments and gathered some intriguing data. The team report that “Recent studies in cognitive neuroscience suggest that humans prefer objects with a curved contour compared with objects that have pointed features and a sharp-angled contour.” During their study “subjects (representing three age-groups and both sexes) were exposed to a randomized order of 312 real-life images (objects, interiors, exteriors, landscape, and a set of control images). Amygdala activation was simultaneously captured using functional magnetic resonance imaging technology.” Data collected “suggest that contours play an important role in emotional response during the precognitive [unconscious] stages of human perception. Curve contours in the interior and exterior (envelop) views of hospitals triggered greater amygdala activation (fear response) in comparison to sharp contours, in the precognitive stages (150 ms [milliseconds]). This initial fear response, however, did not get reflected in healthy subjects’ eventual preference (like/dislike) measured after onset of cognition (roughly 2 s[econds]).” The hospital interiors and exteriors with curved contours were preferred to those with sharp contours.
Debajyoti Pati, Michael O’Boyle, Jiancheng Hou, Upali Nanda, and Hessam Ghamari. 2016. “Can Hospital Form Trigger Fear Response?” HERD: Health Environments Research and Design Journal, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 162-175.
Nejati, Rodiek, and Shepley studied surgical nurses’ ideas about what makes break rooms restorative spaces using visual simulations. They “assess[ed] the restorative potential of specific design features in hospital staff break areas, investigating nature-related indoor decor, daylight, window views, and direct access to outdoor environments.” The Nejati team found that when “On a scale of 1–10, nurses evaluated the restorative qualities of (a) direct access to the outdoors through a balcony, (b) an outdoor view through a window, (c) a nature artwork, and (d) an indoor plant, all depicted on images of the same two staff break areas. . . . ratings increased significantly based on higher levels of nature content, from no added amenities, to indoor plants, to nature artwork, to window views, to direct access to the outdoors through a balcony. . . . higher levels of access to nature, daylight, and outdoor environments are perceived to have significantly more restorative potential in healthcare workplaces.”
Adeleh Nejati, Susan Rodiek, and Mardelle Shepley. 2016. “Using Visual Simulation to Evaluate Qualities of Access to Nature in Hospital Staff Break Areas.” Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 148, pp. 132-138.
Research by Wilkes and colleagues confirms the psychological benefits of seats that encourage sitting with good posture. As the investigators report, research has generally shown that “upright posture improves self-esteem and mood in [psychologically] healthy samples.” Wilkes and her team studied a group of people “with mild to moderate depression.” Some study participants were asked to sit with good posture and others were not. The researchers found that “The postural manipulation significantly improved posture and increased high arousal positive affect. . . . Upright shoulder angle was associated with lower negative affect and lower anxiety.” So, study participants who were asked to sit with better posture were in more positive moods and had more energy than people who were not instructed to sit up straight and sat however they chose.
Carissa Wilkes, Rob Kydd, Mark Sagar, and Elizabeth Broadbent. 2017. “Upright Posture Improves Affect and Fatigue in People with Depressive Symptoms.” Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, vol. 54 pp. 143-149.