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Workplace settings and wellbeing: Greenspace use and views contribute to employee wellbeing at pen-urban business sites

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Low density business developments are a near ubiquitous feature of peri-urban landscapes in the UK and in other developed countries, however little is known about how workers relate to open space in this particular type of working environment. Person–environment relationships in five urban fringe science parks in central Scotland were investigated through a survey of employees (N = 366). Specifically, the study sought to explore the impact of viewing and using greenspace at these knowledge-sector workplaces on employee wellbeing. The results of a series of multiple regression analyses indicated that both use of the open space and views of some vegetation types, namely trees, lawn and shrubs or flowering plants, were positively and independently associated with self-reported wellbeing levels. This research provides new insight into the extent to which workplace greenspace contributes to employee wellbeing, whilst controlling for exposure to greenspace outside of the workplace context. Also, by investigating relationships between wellbeing and the particular physical features seen in views, the research provides evidence on how workplaces might be designed to incorporate restorative window views. These findings have relevance both for the planning and design of peri-urban business sites and for the design of interventions to promote employee wellbeing.
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Workplace settings and wellbeing: Greenspace use and views contribute to
employee wellbeing at peri-urban business sites1
GILCHRIST2, Kathryn (corresponding author)
Social, Economic & Geographical Sciences Group, The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler,
Aberdeen, AB15 8QH, UK.
Email: Kathryn.gilchrist@hutton.ac.uk
Phone: (+44) 01224 395 387
BROWN, Caroline
School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University.
Email: c.j.brown@hw.ac.uk
MONTARZINO, Alicia
School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University.
Email: a.montarzino@hw.ac.uk
Abstract
Low density business developments are a near ubiquitous feature of peri-urban landscapes,
however little is known about how workers relate to open space in this particular type of working
environment. Person-environment relationships in five urban fringe science parks in central
Scotland were investigated through a survey of employees. Specifically, the study sought to
explore the impact of viewing and using greenspace at these knowledge-sector workplaces on
employee wellbeing. The findings of a series of multiple regression analyses indicated that both
use of the open space and views of some vegetation types, namely trees, lawn and shrubs or
flowering plants, were positively and independently associated with self-reported wellbeing
levels. This research provides new insight into the effects of use of workplace greenspace on
employee wellbeing, whilst controlling for exposure to greenspace outside of the workplace
context. Also, by investigating relationships between wellbeing and the particular physical
features seen in views, the research provides evidence on how workplaces might be designed to
incorporate restorative window views. These findings have relevance both for the planning and
design of peri-urban business sites and for the design of interventions to promote employee
wellbeing.
1. This is a pre-publication draft version of the paper published as: Gilchrist, K., Brown, C. & Montarzino, A. (2015)
Workplace settings and wellbeing: Greenspace use and views contribute to employee wellbeing at peri-urban business sites.
Landscape & Urban Planning, 138, 32-40.
2. Since April 2015 author now publishing as Kathryn Colley
1. Introduction
1.1 Wellbeing, built environment and knowledge sector work
Recent years have seen a growing recognition for the role that urban planning and environmental
design play in influencing mental health and wellbeing. Mental health disorders are now
recognised as one of the major global challenges to public health (Prince et al., 2007), and there
is a growing concern across a number of disciplines that wellbeing is ‘a collateral casualty of
modernity’ in modern consumer societies (Carlisle et al., 2009). At the same time, the
ascendancy of the social model of health (Dahlgren and Whitehead, 1991), in conjunction with
growing influence of social-ecological perspectives in health promotion (Stokols, 1992)
represent a paradigmatic shift towards an integrative understanding of the determinants of health
and wellbeing that extend beyond the individual to include their environment.
These theoretical perspectives also align with a more positive concept of health by considering
factors that promote good health as well as those responsible for illness, in line with the World
Health Organisation’s definition of health as 'a state of complete physical, mental and social
well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity' (WHO, 1948). Accompanying
this transition, a growing body of empirical research has sought to develop the evidence base on
the role of the physical environment for population health, and on how an understanding of
salutogenic (health promoting) environments may be applied in the delivery of public health
objectives. These shifts have led to a broadening of the onus for health promotion to encompass
planning, architecture, and landscape architecture as well as the health professions.
Mental health and wellbeing are also of increasing concern in the business world. Amongst non-
manual workers in the UK, mental health issues are the second most common cause of sickness
absence after minor illnesses (such as colds and flu etc.), and are the single most common cause
of long term absence in both manual and non-manual workers (CBI, 2011; CIPD, 2011). Whilst
mental ill-health places a burden on employers, positive wellbeing may carry organisational
benefits. The 'happy-productive worker hypothesis' proposes that those who are more satisfied
in their jobs are also more productive and more engaged employees; there is evidence that higher
subjective wellbeing and job satisfaction at work are positively related to job performance,
productivity, and organisational citizenship (e.g. being cooperative, friendly and trustworthy),
and are negatively related to employee turnover and absenteeism (Harter et al., 2003; Judge et
al., 2001). Meta-analyses of relationships between job satisfaction and performance have
indicated that job complexity and occupational roles moderate the strength of such associations,
suggesting that positive relationships between wellbeing and job performance are at their
strongest amongst scientists and engineers and others carrying out complex and cognitively
demanding work (Judge et al., 2001). Promoting wellbeing in the workplace and mitigating
work-related stress may therefore have wide-ranging consequences, not just for knowledge-
sector workers themselves but also for the productivity of businesses. This is increasingly being
recognised by employers; a 2011 survey of UK businesses found that two-thirds of the public
sector and one-third of the private sector organisations surveyed had an employee wellbeing
strategy in place (CIPD, 2011).
1.2 Workplace greenspace and employee wellbeing
Building on a long tradition of urban greenspace provision as a public good supportive of
population health e.g. by the urban parks and garden cities movements (Ward Thompson, 2011),
much recent research exploring links between the physical environment and health has focused
on the role of greenspace. A number of studies have reported relationships between the
availability of neighbourhood greenspace and mental health and wellbeing outcomes at the
population scale. These outcomes include recorded rates of clinical depression and anxiety
disorders (Maas et al., 2009); risks of poor mental health derived from self-report scales (de
Vries et al., 2003; White et al., 2013); self-reported stress (Grahn and Stigsdotter, 2003; Nielsen
and Hansen, 2007); and life satisfaction (White et al., 2013). It is thought that the restorative
functions of greenspace in terms of promoting recovery from stress and attentional/mental
fatigue represent key mechanisms by which these associations might be explained (Maas et al.,
2009). Research on the restorative functions of greenspace has tended to focus on home and
recreational environments. However, many people spend more of their waking hours at work
than at home, and many of the daily activities that cause stress or require sustained attention and
focus (leading to a need for restoration) occur at work.
Office workers with views of nature have been found to report less stress (Lottrup et al., 2013a;
Shin, 2007), lower levels of tension and anxiety (Beute et al., 2011; Leather et al., 1998), greater
job satisfaction (Kaplan, 1993; Lottrup et al., 2013b; Shin, 2007) and greater overall subjective
wellbeing (Kaplan, 1993). Furthermore, the recent paper by Lottrup et al. (2013b) reported that
views of trees, flowers and ‘park-like environments’ are associated with higher satisfaction with
office window views, which itself predicted employees’ self-evaluations of their performance at
work. Kaplan (1993) attributes these apparent effects of green window views to ‘micro-
restorative’ experiences. It is argued that although instances of viewing nature through
workplace window views may be very brief, short glances lasting perhaps only a few seconds
may provide employees with micro-restorative benefits which have a significant cumulative
impact on wellbeing and job outcomes. Little is known, however, about how different
greenspace elements and configurations may influence the benefits of green office window
views. With the exception of the recent paper by Lottrup et al. (2013b), the methods used in
previous studies have tended to be based on a broad conceptualisation of views as either
natural/green vs. urban/grey, or as lying on a continuum between these.
Hartig (2006) argues for the potential of short ‘booster breaks’ in greenspace to counter the
negative health effects of work-related stress, emphasising the need for future research to include
questions about how the environment in which breaks are taken influences the benefits of work
breaks. Research on the benefits of exposure to nature in the workplace context has, however,
tended to focus on views and other aspects of the indoor working environment, with few studies
addressing the impacts of use of workplace greenspace on employee wellbeing. Lottrup et al.
(2012) examined employees’ use of greenspace at knowledge-sector workplaces in Denmark,
finding no associations between the frequency of use of such spaces and outcomes such as self-
reported health, job satisfaction or employees’ evaluations of their work performance. In
contrast, other studies have found evidence outdoor contact with nature at work (Largo-Wight et
al., 2011) and opportunities for physical access to a garden at the workplace, as opposed to only
visual access or no access at all (Lottrup et al., 2013a), are negatively related to self-reported
stress levels. None of these studies has, however, controlled for the effects of views when
examining impacts of use of or physical access to workplace greenspace. Understanding of the
differential effects of window views of greenspace versus immersive experiences in green
environments at the workplace is therefore limited. Also, as both types of exposure could provide
opportunities for restoration, examining either without controlling for the other could lead to
omitted variable bias, resulting in a masking of the true effect of the single greenspace variable
being tested (Lottrup et al., 2012).
1.3 Science park workplaces
The present study focuses on the role of greenspace in influencing the wellbeing of employees at
urban fringe business sites, namely science parks. This line of enquiry is particularly salient
given that, in the UK, the majority of properties occupied by knowledge economy firms are
located outside of traditional city centre locations (GVA, 2014). Urban fringe science parks and
business parks represent a dominant spatial form in this ‘new economy of the fringe’ (Gallent et
al., 2006), where low density development and a high quality environment are prioritised. We
might hypothesise that there is a great deal of scope in these workplaces for employees to benefit
from the restorative effects of nature by spending time outdoors in the open space there and
being able to look out on it from inside the buildings. Campus-style business sites like science
parks are also developed to accommodate knowledge sector organisations, to whom employee
wellbeing may be of particular importance since the productivity of such businesses is reliant
upon human capital and effective cognitive functioning (de la Fuente and Ciccone, 2003).
Science parks are differentiated from other forms of campus-style business development such as
business parks, not so much by their spatial form but by their aims and institutional structures.
These property initiatives (also variously termed ‘research parks’, ‘innovation parks/centres’,
‘technopoles’, ‘technology parks’ and ‘high-tech parks’) aim to support innovation and
technology transfer through the spatial clustering of similar businesses, and the incubation of
high value-added start-ups including spin-off companies associated with partner higher education
institutions (Parry, 2006). Business activities at science parks therefore focus around research
and development - activities which we would expect to place high cognitive demands on
employees and so workers may routinely experience mental fatigue as a result of the demands
of their work. This means that the employees of science park workplaces may be a particularly
relevant population in which to study the restorative functions of workplace greenspace. There
is, however, little existing research on this type of private open space and none on how they are
used by employees, not least the benefits (or otherwise) they may offer in terms of wellbeing.
1.4 Research questions
This paper draws from a larger mixed method research project investigating the value of
greenspace at science park workplaces as a resource to support employee wellbeing. The
primary aim of the analyses undertaken here was to address outstanding questions about the
independent effects of views and use of greenspace in workplace settings and the relative
impacts of viewing different types of green/blue open space features. A secondary aim was to
explore whether any observed relationships between window views of nature and wellbeing were
explained by subjective satisfaction with the view, as has been assumed in previous research
(Kaplan, 1993; Lottrup et al., 2013b). This paper therefore addresses the following research
questions:
Are there associations between employee wellbeing and use of greenspace at
science park workplaces?
Is employee wellbeing associated with window views of nature?
How do different types of features that can be seen in window views relate to
wellbeing?
Does satisfaction with the workplace window view mediate any relationships
between the objective features of the view and employee wellbeing?
2. Methods
2.1 Study sites
Five peri-urban science parks were included as case studies in the project. Several criteria were
applied in the selection of the study sites. Candidate sites had to: be geographically bounded
(located within the Scottish central belt); be members of the UK Science Park Association (thus
constituting a ‘true’ science park); take the form of a campus-style development with multiple
buildings within a wider, centrally managed, open space setting; and be well established in terms
of both the population of employees and the landscaping on site. Together the sites represented a
range of different open space characteristics: they varied in density, design (e.g. in terms of the
balance between single-user and multiple-occupancy buildings) and the presence of different
landscape features e.g. woodlands and different types of water features. Three of the sites were
associated with the campuses of higher education institutions. The remaining two were located
at the sites of (non-teaching) research institutes.
2.2 Survey sample
Across the five study sites, 82 organisations participated in the study. These ranged in size from
small start-up businesses with a single employee up to regional offices of multinational
companies and offices of national public sector organisations. Employees at these organisations
were invited to participate in an online survey via email invitations (with up to two reminders)
circulated by gatekeepers at each of the organisations. A total of 366 survey responses were
received over a 10 week period during the summer of 2011. Sample sizes and response rates
varied between sites (see table 1). Table 2 shows the breakdown of the sample on a number of
key factors.
Table 1: Responses received by study site
Site
Participating
organisations
Total no.
of staff1
No. of
responses
Estimated
response
rate (%)
Heriot-Watt University Research Park
(HWURP)
18
455
134
29.5
Pentlands Science Park (PSP)
10
227
73
32.2
Roslin BioCentre (RBC)
13
62
24
38.7
Stirling University Innovation Park (SUIP)
23
215
92
42.8
West of Scotland Science Park (WSSP)
18
205
43
21.0
All sites
82
1164
366
31.4
1 Estimates supplied by organisational contacts
Table 2: Survey sample characteristics
Valid
responses
Percentage split
342
Male
43.3%
Female
56.7%
343
16-24
3.2%
25-34
27.1%
35-44
31.5%
45-54
27.7%
55+
10.5%
366
Heriot-Watt University Research Park
36.6%
Pentlands Science Park
19.9%
Roslin BioCentre
6.6%
Stirling University Research Park
25.1%
West of Scotland Science Park
11.7%
366
Research
20.5%
Technical/professional
40.2%
Managerial
17.2%
Admin/financial
18.6%
Other
3.6%
2.3 Questionnaire design
The online questionnaire was designed through an iterative process including pre-testing and a
pilot study conducted with a sample of university staff and postgraduate research students
(n=39). The final questionnaire comprised 40 questions divided into five sections, with each
section presented on a separate web-page. These sections focused on: information about the
work context; window views of the open space from indoors; use of the open space; attitudes and
perceptions of the open space on site; and finally wellbeing and background information.
Employee wellbeing was measured using the short-version Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-
being Scale (SWEMWBS) (Stewart-Brown et al., 2009). This 7 item scale asks respondents to
rate series of statements (e.g. ‘I’ve been thinking clearly’, ‘I’ve been feeling useful’) on a 5 point
Likert-type scale from ‘none of the time’ to ‘all of the time’, with reference to how they have felt
over the past two weeks. The scale is a variation of the (14 item) WEMWBS. WEMWBS draws
on both hedonic (happiness and life satisfaction) and eudaimonic (functioning, relationships and
agency) perspectives on wellbeing, suffers no ceiling or floor effects, and has been subject to
cognitive and psychometric testing and cross-cultural validation (Stewart-Brown, 2013; Stewart-
Brown et al., 2009; Tennant et al., 2007).
Testing of SWEMWBS has previous demonstrated that the scale performs well in that it is uni-
dimensional, largely free of bias, and conforms to the strict criteria of the Rasch model of
expected responses for internally valid ordinal scales (Stewart-Brown et al., 2009). SWEMWBS
has previously been found to be sensitive to differences in the wellbeing of social housing
tenants living in buildings with and without surrounding trees (Winson, 2011), and to
perceptions of local greenspace quantity, quality and safety in deprived residential areas (Ward
Thompson et al., 2013).
Employees' use and views of the greenspace at their workplace were represented using a number
of variables:
Use frequency in the summer months (measured on a 7-point scale from ‘never’ to ‘every
day’).
Weekly use duration in the summer months (measured on a 6-point scale from ‘less than
15 minutes’ to ‘more than 5 hours’ per week).
View ‘naturalness’ - rating of the balance between natural and built features in the
window view from respondent’s usual workstation, made on a 7-point scale ranging from
‘completely built’ to ‘completely natural’.
View satisfaction - rating of satisfaction with the quality of the window view from the
workstation, on a 5-point scale ranging from ‘very dissatisfied’ to ‘very satisfied’.
Extent of different features in view - proportion of the window view area comprising
certain types of features (see table 3), measured using five response categories of ‘not
present in view’, ‘less than ¼’, ‘¼ to ½’, ‘½ to ¾’, and ‘more than ¾’.
Data on window views was collected only from the 317 respondents who reported doing the
majority of their work at a particular desk or workstation (hence excluding employees who were
not desk-based or who used hot-desks), and who had a window in the room that they work in.
Table 3: View feature types measured
Natural features
Built features
Other features
Lawn/mown grass
Meadow/rough grass
Trees/woodland
Bushes and flowering
plants
Water features
Fields and distant
countryside
Buildings
Footpaths and paved
pedestrian areas
Roads and/or car
parking
Sculptures, statues or
other cultural objects
Sky
2.4. Analysis
Associations between employee wellbeing and the different forms of exposure to workplace
greenspace were investigated using multiple regression analysis. Prior to conducting the
regression analysis, the dimensionality and reliability of the SWEMWBS variable were tested
using the raw scores on the seven scale items. Principal Components Analysis (PCA)
(unrotated) yielded a single-component solution with an eigenvalue of 4.073, explaining 58.2%
of the variance. The internal consistency of the scale was also confirmed, resulting in a
Cronbach’s alpha value α=0.875. This confirmed that the SWEMWBS items were strongly
associated with a single latent variable i.e. positive wellbeing and thus appropriate to
combine into a single score. An additive raw score was calculated as per guidance on the use of
the scale (Stewart-Brown and Janmohamed, 2008); these were converted to a metric scale
following published recommendations and conversion values derived from Rasch analysis of the
properties of SWEMWBS (Stewart-Brown et al., 2009). This conversion to a robust interval-
level variable produces metric scores that conform better to the assumptions of parametric
statistical procedures than raw (ordinal level) scores.
Multiple regression analysis was conducted on the metric SWEMWBS score variable, with open
space variables added to a controls-only model in blocks. The control variables included as
covariates were: gender; age category; socio-economic coping (a subjective rating of the
ease/difficulty of coping on the household’s current income); work demands (ratings of how
stressful and how mentally demanding respondents find their work to be); other work factors
such as job type, whether full-time or part-time worker, satisfaction with the indoor environment
at work; recent experience of stressful major life events; and opportunities for restoration in
green environments in leisure time (whether respondent has a private garden, frequency of
participation in outdoor activities such as walking, cycling, visiting parks etc.).
It was considered important to control for leisure time exposures to green environments since
this is a potential confounding factor not accounted for in previous research. Preliminary
analysis confirmed that there was a significant positive correlation between outdoor activities in
green environments during leisure time and both frequency of use of workplace greenspace
(rs=0.223, p<0.01) and weekly duration of use (rs=0.110, p<0.05), thereby supporting the
decision include outdoor activities as a control variable in the models. Furthermore, inspection
of correlation coefficients highlighted a complex relationship between work demands, use of
workplace greenspace and wellbeing. Whilst use of workplace greenspace was hypothesised to
relate positively to wellbeing, it was also clear that higher ratings of job stressfulness were
associated with spending more time outdoors in the open space (rs=0.163, p<0.01). This pattern
might suggest that those in stressful jobs consciously or unconsciously use greenspace for stress
management. At the same time, ratings of the stressfulness of respondents’ work were
negatively correlated with wellbeing (rs=-0.203, p<0.01). This created potential for job
stressfulness to suppress the effect of use on wellbeing if omitted from the models, and so for
this reason work demands were included as control variables. In order to create a more
parsimonious model several of the control variables were omitted when it became clear they
were not contributing significantly to the model. Removal of these variables from the models
did not alter the relationships between the dependent and independent variables in any
meaningful way. The control variables that remained in the model were: gender, age 16-24,
West of Scotland Science Park site dummy variable, income coping, outdoor activities frequency,
job mental demands, job stressfulness and satisfaction with the indoor environment of the
workplace.
In addition, mediation analysis was conducted using a further series of regression models. The
procedure followed in this analysis is detailed below in 3.2. The purpose of this mediation
analysis was to explore the role of view satisfaction in relationships between objective features
of window views and the wellbeing measure.
3. Results
3.1 Associations between exposure to workplace greenspace and employee wellbeing
The initial model (model a in table 4) significantly predicted SWEMWBS score (ANOVA:
F=6.117, p<0.01) and explained 17.2% of the variance in the dependent variable. Use duration
(time spent in the open space each week in the summer months) was positively associated with
SWEMWBS (p<0.05). Against expectations, neither the frequency of use of the open space nor
the ‘naturalness’ of respondents’ views were significant predictors of wellbeing. However, when
the subjective view variable (ratings of satisfaction) was added to the regression (model b in
table 4), it was found to be clearly and positively associated with SWEMWBS (p<0.01). This
suggests that wellbeing levels were highest amongst those who spent more time in the
greenspace at their workplace and who were satisfied with the quality of their window view.
Table 4: Regression models predicting employee wellbeing (SWEMWBS score).
Model a: use + view nature
Model b: Adding view
satisfaction
B
SE
ß
B
SE
ß
Use frequency
0.101
0.149
0.047
0.050
0.146
0.023
Use duration
0.441
0.200
0.147*
0.463
0.195
0.155*
View naturalness
0.156
0.124
0.071
-0.029
0.131
-0.013
View satisfaction
-
-
-
0.802
0.215
0.233*
*
N
272
272
R2 (adjusted)
0.172
0.211
**p≤0.01 *p≤0.05.
Models controlled for gender, age, site, income coping, outdoor activities frequency, job mental demands,
job stressfulness and satisfaction with the indoor environment.
It was considered that the unexpected absence of any association between use frequency and
wellbeing might be explained by a higher frequency of use amongst smokers, since smoking in
workplaces is banned in Scotland. However, whilst those who reported using the open space for
smoking spent time outdoors more frequently (Mann Whitney U test: Z=2.680, p<0.01), adding
smoking as a control variable in the model did not alter this result.
A further model (see table 5) tested for associations between objective characteristics of window
views (the prominence of different types of natural and built features) and employee wellbeing.
The resultant model again predicted SWEMWBS adequately (ANOVA: F=4.987, p<0.01), and
explained a substantial 29% of the variance in the wellbeing variable. Trees/woodland (p<0.01),
lawn/mown grass (p<0.05) and bushes/flowering plants (p=0.05) were each significantly and
positively related to SWEMWBS scores. None of the built features were found to relate to
wellbeing. Inspection of the standardised coefficients in models 1b and 2 suggests that window
views may, in fact, have a more pronounced impact on employee wellbeing than time spent
outdoors during breaks. In particular, the prominence of trees/woodland and lawn/mown grass
in the window view were stronger predictors of wellbeing than time spent outdoors in the open
space.
Table 5: Regression model examining associations between the prominence of particular features
in employees’ window views and wellbeing (SWEMWBS score).
B
SE
ß
Use duration
0.431
0.191
0.149*
Trees/woodland
0.616
0.198
0.207**
Lawn/mown grass
0.898
0.433
0.195*
Bushes and flowering plants
0.610
0.312
0.140*
Water features
-0.018
1.123
-0.001
Meadow/rough grass
0.594
0.431
0.123
Fields and distant countryside
-0.017
0.367
-0.004
Buildings
0.142
0.264
0.038
Roads and/or car parking
-0.418
0.398
0.097
Footpaths and paved pedestrian areas
0.078
0.550
0.016
Sculptures, statues or other cultural objects
0.352
0.752
0.034
Sky
0.195
0.222
0.060
N
196
R2 (adjusted)
0.290
**p≤0.01 *p≤0.05.
Models controlled for gender, age, site, income coping, outdoor activities frequency, job mental
demands, job stressfulness and satisfaction with the indoor environment.
3.2 Exploring the role of view satisfaction as a mediator
The results presented above show that, in separate models, both subjective (view satisfaction)
and objective (view contents) factors are associated with employee wellbeing. This raises the
question: are the view elements trees/woodland, lawn/mown grass and bushes/flowering plants
related to wellbeing simply because people like to see these features in their window view?
Mediation analysis (Baron and Kenny, 1986) was used to examine how much of the apparent
positive effect of viewing these vegetation types may attributable to an indirect effect whereby
seeing more trees/lawn/bushes results in higher view satisfaction (path a in fig. 1) which in turn
has a positive effect on wellbeing (path b), as opposed to a direct relationship between the
independent and dependent variables (path c).
Figure 1: Proposed mediation relationship tested
To test for mediation, three regression models were required. Each of the three models also
included the set of control variables used previously. In the first model (model 1 in table 6) the
independent variables (trees/woodland, lawn/mown grass, and bushes/flowering plants) were
entered as predictors of the dependent variable (SWEMWBS score). This model confirmed that
the independent variables trees, lawn, and bushes/flowering were each significantly related to
SWEMWBS.
Table 6: Regression models testing proposed mediation relationship
Variables
Model 1: SWEMWBS
Model 2: View
satisfaction
Model 3: SWEMWBS
B
SE
ß
B
SE
ß
B
SE
ß
Trees/woodland
0.632
0.175
0.207**
0.193
0.050
0.224**
0.562
0.181
0.184**
Lawn/mown
grass
0.978
0.286
0.206**
0.271
0.079
0.208**
0.887
0.291
0.187**
Bushes and
flowering plants
0.885
0.262
0.201**
0.249
0.075
0.199**
0.794
0.268
0.180**
View
satisfaction
-
-
-
-
-
-
0.353
0.233
0.101
N
218
227
218
R2 (adjusted)
0.321
0.263
0.326
**p≤0.01 *p≤0.05.
Models controlled for gender, age, site, income coping, outdoor activities frequency, job mental
demands, job stressfulness and satisfaction with the indoor environment.
In model 2 the same independent variables were entered as predictors of the proposed mediator
variable (view satisfaction). This model demonstrated that each of the independent variables
were also significantly related to view satisfaction.
Finally in model 3, the independent variables (trees/woodland, lawn/mown grass, and bushes and
flowering plants) and the mediator variable (view satisfaction) were entered as predictors of the
dependent variable (SWEMWBS). View satisfaction, though previously found to predict
SWEMWBS in model b reported above in table 4, no longer predicted SWEMWBS when the
view features trees, lawn and bushes/flowering plants were controlled, and the independent
variables (trees, lawn, bushes/flowering plants) remained significant predictors of SWEMWBS.
This lack of association between the potential mediator and the dependent variable meant that the
criteria for mediation were not met; indicating that view satisfaction does not mediate the
relationship between view features (trees, lawn, bushes/flowering plants) and SWEMWBS.
4. Discussion
4.1 Associations between employee wellbeing and use and views of greenspace at work
The findings reported above indicate that both use and views of greenspace at science park
workplaces may promote employee wellbeing. These findings are in line with previous
international studies of psychological effects of green office window views (Kaplan, 1993;
Leather et al., 1998; Lottrup et al., 2013b) and use of workplace greenspace (Largo-Wight et al.,
2011).
Whilst spending more time outdoors in greenspace during the working day related to higher
wellbeing, there was no such evidence of a positive effect of more frequent use. This may help
to explain the seemingly contradictory findings of previous research, where positive associations
between wellbeing outcomes and individuals’ opportunities to access workplace greenspace
have been demonstrated (Lottrup et al., 2013a), yet no significant associations between actual
levels of use and wellbeing outcomes observed, where use was measured only in terms of
frequency (Lottrup et al., 2012).
This finding may suggest that to promote cumulative wellbeing benefits from use of workplace
greenspace, interventions should focus on encouraging workers to spend more time outdoors as
one or two relatively prolonged visits each week may be more beneficial than very brief daily
visits. As there has previously been little attention to the impact of use of workplace greenspace
on employee health and wellbeing, this finding represents an important contribution to the field.
This finding also has relevance to the wider research on greenspace and wellbeing. Previous
large-scale studies outside of the workplace context have found relationships between
greenspace use frequency, stress-related illnesses and risk of poor mental health (Grahn and
Stigsdotter, 2003; Mitchell, 2012), however issues relating to the amount of time spent in a
restorative environment is usually only been considered in relation to discrete exposures to
greenspace (e.g. Hartig et al., 2003; Ryan et al., 2010). The findings presented here suggest that,
where available, the total amount of time spent in greenspace may be a more useful measure of
use levels in respect to cumulative benefits to mental health and wellbeing than use frequency. It
may be argued, however, that neither measures of total duration nor frequency can adequately
represent greenspace use levels in isolation. This highlights a need for future research to revisit
the issue of measurement of greenspace exposure with a view to developing measures that more
comprehensively represent exposure levels whilst also allowing meaningful interpretation of
results.
The findings of the present study also indicate that what can be seen in the window view from an
employee’s desk contributes significantly to their wellbeing levels. Overall, several vegetation
types (trees/woodland, lawn/mown grass, and bushes/flowering plants) were found to be
positively related to wellbeing. With the exception of the recent paper by Lottrup et al.(2013b),
previous research on restorative window views at the workplace has conceptualised views using
broad categories of urban versus natural, rather than considering different types of natural or
built features. The findings of the present study broadly concur with those of Lottrup et al.
(2013b), who found that workers whose view was dominated by trees or a ‘park-like
environment’ reported higher satisfaction with the view, which in turn related positively to job
satisfaction and self-ratings of work performance. The findings are also in line with previous
research indicating that the restorative potential of urban open spaces is predicted most strongly
by their structural vegetation mown grass (a smooth ground layer), trees (canopy layer) and
bushes (shrub layer) (Nordh et al., 2011; Nordh et al., 2009).
None of the built features were found to relate to wellbeing, reflecting the findings of previous
research on associations between aspects of wellbeing and window view features in the
residential context (Kaplan, 2001). This suggests that whilst viewing some types of natural
feature may promote wellbeing, the presence of built features does not limit the potential for
these benefits. In other words, it seems that it is the presence (and extent) of types of vegetation
in the view that promote wellbeing, not the absence of development per se; this points to a vast
potential for promoting wellbeing through greening of the built environment. This finding also
goes some way to explaining why no association was found with the view naturalness variable in
models a and b (table 4); it seems that conceptualising views as lying on a continuum of built to
natural results in an overly crude measure of ‘naturalness’ which does not reflect the distinct
influences of natural and built environmental stimuli.
Another important aspect of these findings is that not all of the features classed as natural were
found to be related to wellbeing. The lack of an impact of viewing water features was
unexpected given the literature suggesting that viewing (and hearing) water features promotes
restorative experiences (Karmanov and Hamel, 2008; Völker and Kistemann, 2011; White et al.,
2010). This may be due to the fact that water featured in less than 5% of window views, limiting
robust measurement of the predictive power of this factor. Similarly, few reported seeing
sculptures, statues or other cultural artefacts in their view. The finding that viewing fields and
distant countryside, and meadow/rough grass appear to have no effect on wellbeing can be
treated with more confidence however, as in each case more than a quarter of respondents
reported these as present in their view. Although more naturalistic meadow areas can be
preferred over large expanses of lawn on business sites (Kaplan, 2007; Snep et al., 2009),
particularly when ‘cues to care’ (Nassauer, 1995) are incorporated, this analysis suggests that
views of large meadow areas may not be conducive to restoration in the workplace context.
Nonetheless, views of less intensively managed grassland may still support restoration if they
incorporate a varied vegetation structure including trees and shrubs.
4.2 The role of subjective psychological variables
Previous studies have reported associations between objective view characteristics and employee
satisfaction with their view on the one hand, and between view satisfaction and wellbeing
outcomes on the other (Kaplan 1993; Lottrup et al 2013). The present study extends this line of
reasoning by investigating the pathway by which objective characteristics of the view might
influence wellbeing through subjective perceptions. In doing so, the findings show that, contrary
to the assumptions of these previous studies, higher satisfaction with the view did not account for
the higher wellbeing levels reported by those who could see more trees, lawn and
bushes/flowering plants in their window view.
This mediation analysis suggests that since view satisfaction does not mediate the observed
relationships between objective view features and wellbeing, these associations must be
explained by an unobserved psychological variable(s). This is an area which may warrant
further research employing methods such as those previously used by Kuo and colleagues, where
objective measures of attentional functioning and stress levels were investigated as mediators in
the relationships between outdoor residential greenery and psychological outcomes such as
levels of aggression and individuals’ efficacy in managing major life issues (Kuo, 2001; Kuo and
Sullivan, 2001).
4.3 Evaluation of the methodology
This study diverges from previous research on the psychological benefits of greenspace in the
workplace context by considering the impacts of both use and visual access in relation to one
another. It also goes beyond the green versus grey dichotomy adopted in the majority of
previous research on restorative workplace window views. In doing so, it contributes to building
an understanding of how different features of open space design may (or may not) influence the
wellbeing benefits gained from viewing greenspace from indoors. However, whilst the present
study has focused solely on views from employees’ workstations, views from other locations,
such as those in which indoor breaks are taken (e.g. cafeterias and lunch rooms), may also
influence wellbeing (Matsuoka, 2010). Research on the contribution of window views from such
spaces within the workplace could add further value to the evidence base on optimising access to
restorative window views at the workplace.
In controlling for exposures to greenspace during leisure time, this study further strengthens the
evidence on the wellbeing benefits of taking work breaks in greenspace. Previous research has
not addressed this as a potential confounding variable in relationships between employee
wellbeing and outdoor breaks. There was a strong positive relationship found between use of
greenspace at the workplace and participation in outdoor activities in greenspace during leisure
time, yet by controlling for both leisure time outdoor activities and access to a private garden at
home, this analysis suggests that use of workplace greenspace itself may benefit wellbeing rather
than acting simply as a proxy for engagement with greenspace across life domains.
Although this relationship between greenspace use and employee wellbeing is consistent with
expectations based on restorative environments theory and previous research, cross-sectional
studies of this type cannot demonstrate causal effects to the same degree as controlled
experiments and interventions. It is therefore possible that the direction of the relationship runs
contrary to that which we would expect from restoration theory, i.e. that rather than greater use
of the greenspace resulting in higher wellbeing, higher wellbeing results in greater use of the
greenspace. However, the strong relationships between greenspace in window views and
wellbeing lend some support to the hypothesis of a causal relationship where use influences
wellbeing. After all, wellbeing levels cannot influence the content of the window view, and
there is no indication that self-selection plays a part in this sample as evidence from both open-
ended questions in the employee survey and an accompanying qualitative study show that
employees had limited choice in their desk or workspace location and window view.
4.4 Progressing the research agenda on wellbeing benefits of nature contact at work
This research has focused on peri-urban science parks, just one of a multitude of environments
where knowledge-sector work is performed. Future research on the wellbeing benefits of
greenspace in the workplace context could usefully consider how person-environment
relationships might differ in other types of business sites; focusing for example on business parks
or industrial sites, or on the use of public greenspaces by city centre workers of different
professions. Varying levels of urbanity are likely to impact on the experience of using
greenspace and viewing nature from workplace windows, yet this has not been widely
recognised as a potential confounding factor in studies examining the benefits of contact with
nature at the workplace. There are many factors that may covary with physical and visual access
to greenspace when looking across urban-rural gradients; traffic noise, air quality, building
density and commuting practices, to name a few. Future research on this topic should therefore
look to take account of these potential effects, either by measuring and statistically controlling
for such factors or, as was the approach taken in the present study, focusing on business
environments at a specific level of urbanity.
Additionally, as part of the wider research agenda for valuing ecosystem services, attempts to
quantify the economic benefits of workplace greenspace in ways that can be easily
communicated to stakeholders and the public would be a valuable direction for future research.
This research contributes to the business case for investment in high quality open space in
business sites an important next step may be to identify the economic implications of the
benefits to employee wellbeing for business productivity.
5. Conclusions
The aim of this research was to investigate the value of greenspace at science park workplaces
for the wellbeing of those who work at these sites. The findings suggest that both use of these
greenspaces and visual access to them from indoors support employee wellbeing. The analysis
also suggests that the overall duration of time spent in these spaces may hold more significance
for wellbeing than simply the frequency with which they are used. Future interventions aiming
to promote outdoor breaks or walks amongst the workforce should therefore focus on
encouraging people to spend meaningful amounts of time outdoors, as fewer yet longer outdoor
breaks may be more beneficial than brief daily ones.
The findings presented here also suggest that views from employees’ workstations may have a
more pronounced impact on wellbeing than immersive experience of workplace greenspace.
Maximising views to soft landscaping and the wider green setting through architectural design
could therefore help to promote opportunities for restoration and may benefit both individuals
and organisations by supporting the wellbeing and productivity of employees. This points to a
need to consider landscape and building design in relation to one another from the outset in the
planning of such sites. Landscaping should not be addressed as an afterthought since its
functions clearly go beyond the aesthetic, as demonstrated by the mediation analysis in this
paper.
Crucially, the particular open space features that can be seen from employees’ workstations
appear to influence wellbeing outcomes; seeing more trees, lawn and bushes or flowering plants
in the window view was associated with higher levels of self-reported wellbeing amongst science
park employees. Investments in landscaping at these sites might therefore be focused on areas
that are highly visible from indoors, and should emphasise a varied vegetation structure - with a
smooth ground layer, canopy layer provided by trees and intermediate shrub and herbaceous
vegetation to capitalise on the significant opportunities for creating restorative workplace
environments that low density urban fringe developments offer.
Acknowledgements
This study was undertaken as part of a research project funded by the UK Economic and Social
Research Council [ES/I902546/1]. The Scottish Government’s Rural and Environment Science
and Analytical Services (RESAS) division funded K. Gilchrist’s preparation of the manuscript.
The authors would also like to thank Prof. Glen Bramley for his input to the study as part of the
supervisory team, and Dr Tony Craig for valuable feedback on the draft manuscript.
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The growth of urbanization has reduced the availability of green spaces (GS) and the decrease in these spaces, as well as the difficulty in accessing them, has impacts on human physical and mental health, proven by research that deeply investigates this theme around the world. Thus, understanding the impacts of GS on human perception within the contemporary scenario is of fundamental importance, since the population has been subjected to a high level of stress generated by the high work demand, as well as the quarantine scenario imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Based on this, the present research aimed to investigate the implications of GS on self-reported well-b eing through the perceptions generated by these environments and for that, a systematic literature review (2010-2020) was carried out, based on selected pre-criteria, which were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively through meta-analysis. The results describe and discuss 14 implications of GS for human well-being and mental health, 7 demographic differences verified in the way of perceiving these environments and statistical dependencies in the research pattern of certain study variables in the last decade.
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Introduction The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced the daily lives of people and may affect their well-being. The aim of the present study is to assess well-being and associated factors during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the general population in three European countries. Methods GreenCOVID was an observational cross-sectional study using an online survey (7 April 2020 to 24 July 2020) promoted by the Health & Territory Research (HTR) of the University of Seville in Spain, Maynooth University in Ireland, and the University of Winchester in England, which included a sample of 3109 unselected adults. Well-being was measured using the World Health Organization-Five Well-Being Index (WHO-5) scale. Seven aspects, related to the natural environment of the home, were evaluated (role of outdoor views in coping with lockdown, importance of blue spaces during lockdown, importance of green spaces during lockdown, quality of view from home, use of outdoor spaces or window views, elements of nature in the home, and views of green or blue spaces from home). Binary logistic regression was conducted to identify the parameters associated with poor well-being. Results Mean age was 39.7 years and 79.3% lived in Spain, the majority in urban areas (92.8%). 73.0% were female and 72.0% had undertaken university studies. Poor well-being was reported by 59.0%, while 26.6% indicated the possible presence of clinical depression. The factors most associated with poor well-being were students (OR = 1.541), those who had no engagement in physical activity (OR = 1.389), those who reported ‘living in Spain’ compared to Ireland (OR = 0.724), being female (OR = 1.256), poor quality views from home (OR = 0.887), less benefit from views of the natural environment to cope with lockdown (OR = 0.964), and those younger in age (OR = 0.990). Conclusions More than half of participants reported poor well-being and one in four indicated the possible presence of clinical depression during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We identified that belonging to a younger age cohort, being female, not being able to continue with daily pursuits such as physical activity, being a student, and having poorer quality of views from home led to poor well-being among participants. Our study highlights the importance of continued physical activity and views of nature to improve the well-being of individuals during times of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Purpose This paper aimed to revise and further validate the published e-work life (EWL) scale. The EWL scale was originally developed to assess theoretically relevant aspects of the remote e-working experience related to four main areas: organisational trust, flexibility, work–life interference and productivity. Design/methodology/approach A number of changes were implemented to the scale (i.e. including new items, rewording of existing items) following a recent qualitative study conducted by the authors. The two studies outlined in this paper, conducted within discrete remote e-working populations, resulted in a validated and adjusted 20-item version of the scale. Findings Study 1 performs confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) on data from a sample of 399 remote e-workers (57.9% female) in UK to check the factor structure of the revised version of the EWL scale and the reliability of the posited dimensions. Results provided support for a 20-item scale, replicating the factorial structure of the original version. Study 2 tests and confirms the factorial structure of the final 20-item EWL scale in an independent sample of 366 remote e-workers (48.6% female) in UK. Study 2 provides further evidence of EWL scale's reliability and validity, with the four factors of the scale being significantly correlated with positive mental health, detachment from work and technostress. Originality/value The EWL scale is a very timely and important tool which provides an overall framework of the key areas that are affecting remote e-workers’ life; whose greater understanding may better prepare organisations to adapt work arrangements and introduce support policies and guidance.
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This manuscript presents how the urban horticulture (UH) supports sustainable.modernization of the 1960's multi-family modernist housing estates, still numerous all.over the world. The aim of the research was to indicate optimal areas for sites to introduce the.selected forms of UH within the Słowacki Estate in Lublin (Estate). The intermediate.goals were to identify the physical and social conditions that support the development.UH to the Estate and to provide an inventory of the most preferred UH forms that can.be introduced in the Estate. The residents’ interest in UH was determined using an in-depth questionnaire.interview. Next, the natural environment quality and UH suitability of the estate’s green.areas were examined. Then, an focus interview was conducted with the estate management to establish their standpoint on developing UH to the estate.The presented case study on the housing estate in Lublin (Poland) demonstrated genuine recognition for UH forms among the residents. It also showed that food security, which is basically the foundation of UH, was not essential for the estate residents, unlike its secondary aspects – recreation, social integration, and the aesthetic value of flower cultivation. The preferred UH forms include: window sill and balcony cultivations, private gardens at ground-floor apartments, rooftop farms (in cooperation with city authorities), community gardens in the form of flowerbeds set up in disused sandboxes and small flower allotment gardens. The novelty of this research is, on the one hand, its practical dimension, i.e., focusing on the problem of introduction (or development) of UH forms in the specific "urban organism" – an existing housing estate with its coherent urban layout, local community and own authorities. The following publication has also a methodological dimension,i.e., it proposes a method of investigating the potential of a housing estate to introduce/develop UH. It is also valuable due to its interdisciplinary dimension, combining sociological, agrienvironmental,and urban sciences in a new way. The results will support the development of the housing environment sustainability in estates, especially with, elderly residents. Presented case study will be an inspiration for introducing UH in 1960's modernist housing estates in other countries.
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China’s unprecedented urbanisation in the last several decades has significantly transformed its urban built environment. On the one hand, such an urbanisation has brought about improvement in infrastructure, access to various public facilities, and opportunities for social connectivity, all of which would benefit citizen’s wellbeing. On the other hand, rapid, unplanned, and unregulated urbanisation may lead to air pollution and water pollution, compact neighbourhoods, traffic noise and congestion, and lack of natural amenity, which pose various threats to urban dwellers’ wellbeing and life satisfaction. Therefore, how to build liveable cities has become one of the key goals and top priorities of urban planning in China and other developing countries. This study investigates the effect of urban greenness and mixed land-use, two key dimensions defining urban liveability, on residents’ life satisfaction at both residence and workplace settings in Beijing. Three big geo-coded datasets are combined, including a social survey about residents’ subjective life satisfaction and demographic characteristics, eye-sensored street greenness data extracted from online platform through machine learning, and fine-grain land-use data based on point-of-interest entropy, and then taken into a Bayesian multilevel ordered logit model. The empirical results reveal that (1) street view greenness could enhance life satisfaction at residence, but depress life satisfaction at workplace; (2) mixed land-use could positively contribute to life satisfaction at both residence and workplace; and (3) there exist positive interactions between greenness and mixed land-use. These empirical findings provide practical implications for planning and constructing liveable cities in China and other countries where both urban greening and mixed land-use are promoted and embraced as core elements of the compact city and smart city ideal.
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Objectives Cultivating healthy workplaces is a critical aspect of comprehensive worksite health promotion. The influence of healthy workplace exposures on employee health outcomes warrants research attention. To date, it is unknown if nature contact in the workplace is related to employee stress and health. This study was designed to examine the effects of nature contact experienced at work on employee stress and health. Methods Office staff at a southeastern university ( n=503, 30% response rate) participated in the cross-sectional study. We used a 16-item workplace environment questionnaire, the Nature Contact Questionnaire, to comprehensively measure, for the first time, nature contact at work. The Perceived Stress Questionnaire and 13 established health and behavioral items assessed the dependent variables, general perceived stress, stress-related health behaviors, and stress-related health outcomes. Results There was a significant, negative association between nature contact and stress and nature contact and general health complaints. The results indicate that as workday nature contact increased, perceived stress and generalized health complaints decreased. Conclusions The findings suggest that nature contact is a healthy workplace exposure. Increasing nature contact at work may offer a simple population-based approach to enhance workplace health promotion efforts. Future researchers should test the efficacy of nature-contact workplace stress interventions.
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Office workers’ job satisfaction and ability to work are two important factors for the viability and competitiveness of most companies, and existing studies in contexts other than workplaces show relationships between a view of natural elements and, for example, student performance and neighbourhood satisfaction. This study investigates whether relationships between window view, and work ability and job satisfaction also exist in the context of the workplace by focusing on office workers’ view satisfaction. The results showed that a view of natural elements was related to high view satisfaction, and that high view satisfaction was related to high work ability and high job satisfaction. Furthermore, the results indicated that job satisfaction mediated the effect of view satisfaction on work ability. These findings show that a view of a green outdoor environment at the workplace can be an important asset in workforce work ability and job satisfaction.
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This chapter describes experience of using the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS) and the shortened version SWEMWBS, in different cultural settings. WEMWBS was created in the UK in the context of a need to monitor mental well-being at the population level. It comprises 14 positively worded items representing both hedonic and eudemonic aspects of well-being. It has proved popular in the UK and more widely in English- and non-English-speaking parts of the world. Qualitative and quantitative studies with two English-speaking minority ethnic groups resident in the UK (Pakistani and Chinese) suggest that the instrument is robust in different cultural settings. Validations of two translated versions one Italian and one Setswana (a common southern African language) in their countries of origin confirm that the scale is also robust outside the UK and in difference languages. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. All rights reserved.