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Bringing nature to work: Preferences and perceptions of constructed indoor and natural outdoor workspaces

Mangone, Giancarlo, Capaldi, Colin A., van Allen, Zack M., Luscuere, P.G.
Urban forestry & urban greening 2017 v.23 pp. 1-12
animal well-being, habitat preferences, labor force, perceptions (cognitive), sustainable engineering, working conditions
From the mere presence of plants to window views of nearby nature, contact with nature in the workplace has been associated with increased productivity and creativity, as well as positive emotional and physical health outcomes. Nevertheless, if nature is to be incorporated within or near workplaces effectively, it is important that workers perceive natural spaces to be conducive, and not detrimental, to performance on activities that they may engage in at work or else these changes to the physical environment may not be fully embraced by workers. Thus, in the current research we examine workers’ preferences and perceptions of different natural and constructed (built) environments for different workplace activities. In Study 1, 64 knowledge workers were exposed to images of natural outdoor and constructed indoor workspaces. They selected where they thought they would best and least be able to perform different workplace activities. Natural outdoor spaces were overrepresented as the best spaces for around 75% of the workplace activities, and were underrepresented as the worst spaces across all workplace activities. In Study 2 (N=33), wherein participants evaluated various spatial qualities of the natural outdoor and constructed indoor space types that were included in Study 1, the natural outdoor spaces were rated as more fascinating, relaxing, open, bright, and quiet. The results of this research project suggest that natural outdoor workspaces are viewed as highly flexible, multi-use spaces that are appropriate for diverse workplace activities. Furthermore, access to diverse workspace types with different spatial qualities appears to be highly valued.