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Environments Provide Job Resources
In the preceding section,the focus was on the negative: ways in which work environments can add to the demands on employees. The converse is also true: Some work environments provide the resources that employees need, beyond the minimum requirements of the space and equipment with which to perform the work.
Encouraging or supporting collaboration and communication are often cited as reasons for the adoption of open-plan office designs, lowering the partitions between workstations, and introducing more social gathering places into contemporary workplaces. As seen above, this can have mixed results, but one aspect that does hold true is that people whose offices are located closer together are more likely to collaborate and to do so successfully; one study of academics found that the linear distance between coauthors’ offices (even within one building) predicted the citation rate of their shared publications. Carefully planning space assignments to match people who work together, and to co-locate groups close to one another, can therefore contribute to organizational success.
Access to a window for both daylight and a view of outdoors is widely recognized as desirable. For decades it was common for managers to occupy windowed offices and the move to these offices was an important status symbol. Present-day office design tends to place enclosed spaces in the interior, with either circulation or open-plan areas with low partitions nearer the windows so that daylight can penetrate farther into the interior. A growing body of research supports this trend with evidence of several mechanisms at work.
Access to daylight can provide an energy-efficient way to increase daily light exposure, which is associated with improved mental health. Employees can reinforce this benefit by avoiding exposure to bright light at night because having a strong daily rhythm of light and dark exposure improves circadian regulation of physiological processes including sleep, digestion, and immune function. Furthermore, access to a window can provide a view of outdoors and the opportunity to relax the visual system by focusing on a long distance. When the view takes in a nature scene, or if it is judged to be attractive, there are additional benefits in the form of restored attention focus. The benefits of access to nature include immediate improvements to cognitive functioning, and subsequent benefits to sleep quality and reduced cardiovascular strain.