Research Briefs

Research Brief: How Wood, Nature Views, and Diversity in Artwork Can Reduce Workplace Stress

Wooden furniture and natural windows views contribute to stress decrease during work. Image: vadim kaipov

With each new study, we learn more about the power of a well-designed work environment to affect our stress levels. In a new paper, Isabella P. Douglas of Stanford University and her colleagues examine, among other things, how the presence or absence of windows, natural materials, and diverse representation in artwork can do just that.

Many designers already prioritize creating inclusive and restorative workplaces, and this study adds to the evidence supporting that priority.

Research Briefs

Research Brief: Urban Spaces Can Be Restorative Too

London Natural History Museum. Image: Joshua Rawson-Harris

In today’s fast-paced world, where we are constantly bombarded with information and demands, finding a place to unwind and rejuvenate is more important than ever. The concept of “restorative spaces” addresses this need, providing a haven for mental recovery and relaxation.

So far, we have mostly associated these restorative spaces with natural environments. Spending time in forests, lakes, meadows, and hills is a favorite restorative pastime for many.

Research has often compared the effects of natural environments to typically harsh urban spaces. This may give us an idea of the overall effect of today’s cities, but it doesn’t show the potential of what restorative cities could be if designed well.

Research Briefs

Research Brief: Why should workplaces provide high-privacy focus spaces in a collaborative age

High-privacy focus space. Photo by ergonofis

Today, many organizations are still adapting to the changes brought about by the recent pandemic. With the majority of people preferring to work remotely at least some of the time, companies are trying to come up with a workplace strategy fit for the future.

And many of the models of the recent past seem to be broken now. Such disruption may be a good opportunity to put aside preconceptions and take a fresh look at the facts about what really works in the workplace.

Of course, this will be very specific to each organization. But a general overview, such as the following review by Masoudinejad and Veitch, can help us get a better idea of where to start if we want to base the design of our workplaces on knowledge of their impact on people and businesses. And it seems that high privacy, one or two user rooms, may be making a comeback.

Research Briefs

Research Brief: Why we should create more opportunities for urban swimming

Image: Claudio Schwarz

In a study well timed for the northern summer, researchers Overbury, Conroy and Marks from the University of Bath reviewed the research on open water swimming. The short version: it can be as good for our brains as it is for our bodies.

The research team identified 14 published studies on open water swimming that met the inclusion criteria for their review. They searched the databases PubMed, PsychNet, Web of Science Core Collection, and Embase, as well as references from the articles they found.

Studies of interest looked at associations between open water swimming and mental health or well-being and focused on swimming in any natural environment. Therefore, articles reporting data only from indoor pools were not included.