News Environment, Forestry

A new research project at Luke investigates the benefits that a virtually produced, natural environment may have in terms of recovery from work-related stress. The target group consists of knowledge workers for whom it is vital to recover sufficiently from mental fatigue during the working day. The results are expected to provide guidelines for maintaining and restoring working capacity, and for the planning of work environments.

Excessive workloads, higher performance objectives and changes in both working methods and the organisation of work increase stress and fatigue among employees. Other stress-inducing factors include more efficient use of space and open plan offices.

Studies indicate that spending time in a natural environment and watching a natural landscape or even pictures of nature help to recover from stress and improve the ability to cope with demanding tasks. Fewer people can now look out of a window at views that would promote recovery at work.

“The impacts and exploitation of a virtual natural environment in working environments have not been studied in Finland before. Physiological and psychological indicators are being used to investigate its impacts on recovery from stress. The wider objective of the project is to seek cost effective ways of promoting the well-being of employees and productivity by enhancing the refreshing effects of short breaks in the workplace,” says Professor Liisa Tyrväinen of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).

The project expands on previous research conducted by Luke on the beneficial impacts of nature on health and well-being during leisure time. This study, which focuses on the use of virtual natural environments to reduce workloads and develop activities that promote working capacity,

is being jointly conducted by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), the University of Helsinki and the production company DocArt. The project combines Luke’s expertise in research on the impacts of nature on health and well-being, and the expertise of Docent Minna Huotilainen of the University of Helsinki on well-being at work. Funded by the Finnish Work Environment Fund, the project will be implemented in 2017–2019.