While reviewing an article on the effects of adding greenery to the workplace, I discovered that creating a space for employees to encounter live plants and natural lighting could increase positive attitudes towards the workplace and decrease perceived stress levels. The authors of this study suggested that the Attention Restoration Theory was at play. While performing demanding work-related tasks, employees use “directed attention”. While using directed attention, our focus is so intense that it can lead to mental fatigue and increase the likelihood of an error. However, incorporating greenery in the office allows for brief moments of “soft fascination”, which facilitates the possibility of mental restoration. The ebb-and-flow of directed attention and soft fascination develops a sense of balance where employees are capable of accomplishing focused work while having access to greenery and natural light for mental restoration.
Given that the large majority of employees here at Texas State commute to work by personal vehicle, it is worth considering that they are bringing in the stress of traffic with them prior to the start of their workday. Using directed attention during the commute in, throughout the workday, and again on the commute home seems to be a recipe for stress related burnout and career apathy. Bringing greenery and natural light into the workplace (or going outside for a walk on our beautiful campus) is one option for our faculty, staff, and students to take a moment for restoration so we can all do our best work.
“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.” – Leonardo da Vinci
“At the end of the day, however, it’s not the type of exercise that matters so much as providing a space in the workplace where fitness can thrive.” – Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite
For information about Walk With Ease contact:
Kurtis Graves firstname.lastname@example.org
Janet Bezner email@example.com