Do your employees ever feel like they are a captive audience? Do they think working in a cubicle is cruel and unusual punishment? Perhaps they would breathe easier if they had at least the illusion of wide open spaces. According to a study carried out by the American Association for Justice, the right kind of art installation on a wall can make even the most unpleasant work environment more bearable. A review of the study (Developing the Evidence for Evidence-Based Design: The Impact of Simulated Nature Views on Stress in a Correctional Setting) by the American Institute of Architects dug into the details.
Office Décor at the Big House
The setting for the photo mural is the intake area of a correctional facility. As one might imagine, this environment is full of stressed out individuals. Inmates are going through a major life change as they prepare for incarceration. Staff members are dealing with an unstable and potentially volatile populace. Both groups have good reason to be on edge. It might not seem like changing the scenery would help much. But the results of this study tell a different story.
The Heart of the Matter
Unlike similar studies that rely solely on subjective reporting, participants in this research project actually wore heart monitors to measure stress levels. According to analysis of these records, “after installation of the mural, intake officers’ heart rate was significantly lower at the beginning of the shift; the rate of increase of heart rate was significantly less from the beginning to end of shift; and there was a significant increase in “log power”, indicating inhibition of heart rate. The rate of log power increase is statistically significant and is consistent with lower heart rate and less stress. These data are suggestive of a pattern that is consistent with reduced stress at the end of the day after the exposure to the mural intervention.”
Do Try This at Your Own Office
To see what this particular mural looks like, click through and scroll to the bottom of the page here. It’s certainly a peaceful prairie scene. Given the inexpensive nature of photo mural installation, it might be something to try out in a traditional office space. Or, you could start smaller with custom printed privacy panels featuring simulated nature scenes.