Nature at Work and at Home and Employee Well-being

A 2017 study by Korpela and colleagues published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning explored how different forms of exposure to nature at work and at home influenced employee vitality, vigor, happiness, and creativity at two samplings one year apart. The researchers’ primary hypothesis tested whether different apparent types and amounts of nature exposure would be positively related to employees’ well-being. The researchers collected self-reported information from 841 employees (average age 47, 58% women) on the number of indoor plants near an employee’s workstation, if there was a window to the outside, and if so, the type of view seen such as urban or natural landscape, and the frequency they looked at the outside landscape. Data about windows at home, and what could be seen and the frequency of viewing were gathered.  Information was also collected whether the employee had a home garden, flowers and trees, and a water feature, and the frequency and type of the environmental settings where physical activities occurred.

What were the results? The researchers found correlative support for a linkage of nature exposure with employee well-being, but surprisingly with views at home, the yard, and of nature. These factors were also linked with employee creativity, vigor, and vitality. More frequent physical activity in nature during leisure time was also correlated with feelings of vitality. Frequent gardening or working in the back yard and seeing nature appeared to enhance employee happiness over an interval of one year. This study adds to the evidence that experiencing nature contributes to aspects of workplace performance and well-being.

Charlie Guy, Professor, UF Department of Environmental Horticulture

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