Impact of Restorative Environments Within the Office Developments on the Mental Wellbeing of Office Workers

Impact of Restorative Environments Within the Office Developments on the Mental Wellbeing of Office Workers

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-8253-7.ch015
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The stress and mental health risks associated with living and working in cities have increased the importance of designing urban spaces. It is, therefore, crucial to prioritize the mental wellbeing of city residents. Research indicates that people's perception of their wellbeing is influenced by various factors, such as their environment and the people around them. Office workers spend significant time in their workspace, so a well-designed office can positively impact their wellbeing. Biophilic design, which incorporates natural elements into office spaces, has become increasingly popular, and studies have shown that workplace greenery can improve employees' wellbeing and job performance. A study conducted in Kuala Lumpur used a quantitative method to investigate whether incorporating restorative environments into offices could enhance employees' mental wellbeing. The study found that restorative environments within the office space were positively associated with office workers' self-perceived mental wellbeing.
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Approximately half of the world's population currently resides in cities, and it has been projected that by the year 2030, around three out of every five people will be living in urban areas (Fuller and Gaston, 2009). Healthy urban environments are becoming increasingly important because over 50% of the world's population resides in dense urban areas (Dye, 2007). The urban lifestyle is often associated with unsatisfactory working environments, heavy workloads, tight schedules, and extended working hours (Facey et al., 2015). Work-related stress is a significant challenge to both workers' and organizational health, leading to a decline in an individual's physical and mental health, as well as the effectiveness and performance of the organization (WHO, 2011).

White-collar workers, who bear psychosocial work stressors in their working environments, are at a higher risk of developing mental disorders (Stansfeld and Candy, 2006). Job or occupational stress is a harmful emotional and physical response that occurs when the job demands cannot meet the workers' needs or abilities (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). In Kuala Lumpur, which is a constantly expanding city, the residents need thoughtfully designed spaces to balance their hectic daily routine, provide relief from mental fatigue and stress, recreation, and offset the negative psychophysiological consequences of living in densely built urban environments (Braubach et al., 2017; Lee et al., 2015; Zhang et al., 2015).

Mental Wellbeing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines mental wellbeing as having positive emotions and moods, such as happiness and contentment and being free from depression, anxiety, or other negative emotions (CDC, 2020). Wellbeing is a multifaceted concept that includes various physical, social, emotional, psychological, and community aspects (Kreitzer, 2014). The definition of mental wellbeing encompasses the hedonic perspective of feeling satisfied and happy and the eudaimonic perspective of self-realization, good relationships with others, and personal growth (Ryan & Deci, 2001). The absence of negative feelings and thoughts and the ability to manage challenging situations are also integral components of mental wellbeing (CABA, n.d.). Good mental health involves not only the absence of mental illness but also the ability to cope with daily stressors, work productively, and contribute to the community (WHO, 2014).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Restorative Environments: Interior or exterior surroundings that have restorative capabilities.

Mental Wellbeing: Mental wellbeing refers to a state of being in which an individual can cope with daily life's demands, work towards achieving their goals, and feel a sense of purpose and satisfaction. It is not simply the absence of mental health problems but rather a positive state of wellbeing.

Restorative Theory: the capacity for natural environments to replenish cognitive resources depleted by everyday activities and to reduce stress levels, according to the Attention Restoration Theory.

Psycho-evolutionary Theory: the theoretical perspective that suggests that the human mind has evolved to adapt to the demands of the natural environment over time. It posits that the human mind has developed a set of psychological and cognitive mechanisms that have helped our ancestors to survive and reproduce in their specific ecological context.

Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS): is a self-administered questionnaire with a 5-point Likert scale that measures an individual's mental wellbeing. The scale is intended for the general adult population and was developed in the United Kingdom.

Attention Restoration Theory: A theory that suggests that mental fatigue and concentration can be improved by time spent in or looking at nature.

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