Our Research and Projects

Active Projects

We developed research projects based on the model and framework that investigate various aspects of the relationships between work environment factors, need satisfaction, and health and well-being.

Sedentary Behaviors in Workplaces

There is a growing interest in the impact of sedentary behaviors (SB) in health and productivity. SB has been proposed as a factor that affects human physiology through different pathways than moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). It has been hypothesized that the [potential] detrimental effects of SB cannot be undone with just more MVPA. The objectives of this project are to evaluate the physiological consequences of SB, to explore potential mechanisms to ameliorate or reverse such effects, and to develop a typology to implement such mechanisms in workplaces.

Understanding Healthy Workplaces: Cross-cultural Comparisons between Norway and the United States

Investigators: Siw Tone Innstrand, PhDChristina Maslach, PhDCristina Banks, PhD

This cross-cultural project has been awarded a Peder Sather Grant in the amount of $25,000 to develop an improved survey tool (a Healthy Workplace Index) as well as an integrated and comprehensive model of healthy universities. Having worked together on the “Exploring Basic Psychological Needs and Health Among Academics” project, Dr. Siw Tone Innstrand from NTNU, Dr. Christina Maslach and Dr. Cristina Banks from UC Berkeley will continue to collaborate to create a more general model for healthy and sustainable working, learning and living environments by incorporating previous knowledge and performing cross-cultural comparisons of Universities in Norway and the United States. 

Literature Review: Health Technology in the Workplace

Investigators: David Lindeman, PhD, Cristina Banks, PhD, Helen Lee

The goal of this literature review is to identify evaluation-based products that can induce behavior change amongst occupants in the workplace. There are numerous wearable products, applications, and other technology flooding the marketplace that claim to help improve worker health and well-being, but little empirical data backing these claims. Through extensive literature searches of multiple databases, the research team was able to identify and elucidate empirical research on seven health technology categories: fitness, eating, safety/prevention, mental health, brain functioning, restoration, and connections.

Literature Review: Physiological Effects of the Workplace

Investigators: Cristina Banks, PhD, John Edward Swartzberg, MD, F.A.C.P., Ines Ivanovic

The HealthyWorkplaces team is currently investigating ways the physical workplace environment physiologically affects occupants. These elements include stress, sedentary behavior (lack of exercise), the spreading of infectious diseases, nutrition in the workplace, and sleep. 

Need-Based Design of Spacecraft Habitat for Astronauts in Deep Space

HealthyWorkplaces has submitted and presented a proposal to help design NASA’s astronaut environments for future deep space missions.

The International Conference of Experts

HealthyWorkplaces is soliciting funding for a conference that will bring together experts who can speak to worker health and well-being issues with the intent of bringing about a holistic understanding of the contributors to worker health and well-being.

Contemporary Working Conditions and Worker Health: A Surveillance Project

HealthyWorkplaces has submitted a proposal to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to develop a comprehensive survey of the nature of contemporary working conditions, work arrangements, and health status in a random sample of working age adults assessed two years apart. The results of this survey will subsequently be compared to results of a similar survey administered by investigators two decades ago to gauge the magnitude of change in employment practices and risks to worker health.

Criterion Measures for Assessing Impact of Interventions on Knowledge Workers

Investigators: Cristina Banks, PhD, Quynh-Trang Nguyen, Allison Bakamjian

Funders/Partners:  the Office Ergonomics Research Committee

This project, funded by the Office Ergonomics Research Committee, aims at providing a basic understanding of knowledge workers and the criteria by which the effectiveness of ergonomic and human factors interventions can be measured by looking at productivity and other business-related criteria.  Through conducting literature reviews on performance, productivity and other relevant criterion measures, the research team will develop metrics summarizing the pros and cons of each measure and develop a decision tree for determining which to use and under what circumstances.

Graduate Student Experience Impact on Health and Academic Success

Investigators: Cristina Banks, PhD, Sheldon Zedeck, PhD, Isabelle Thibau, MPH, Max Pittman, Fran Kipnis, Iris Ananthset

This project consisted of a survey administered to graduate students examining the relationships between elements in their study environment, satisfaction of needs, and study outcomes and satisfaction. The results were analyzed to understand what graduate students need in their study environments to be successful, and how their work environments affect their health, well-being, and work.

Exploring Basic Psychological Needs and Health Among Academics

Investigators: Siw Tone Innstrand, PhDChristina Maslach, PhDCristina Banks, PhD

This study investigates the relationship between need satisfaction and positive and negative health. The dataset comes from a survey administered in several colleges and universities in Norway, led by a visiting scholar at Berkeley, Siw Tone Innstrand.  Innstrand, along with Christina Maslach and Cristina Banks, examined the scales used in the survey designed to examine engagement for academics, administrators, and graduate students, and several outcomes including health. 

Literature Review: Environmental Variables and Organizational Outcomes

Investigators: Max Pittman, Caitlin DeClercq, PhD, Helen Lee, Sally Augustin, PhD, Cristina Banks, PhD

The built environment is a research area virtually unexplored within Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology, despite having a major demonstrated influence on work behaviors. In this review, we focus on how the physical environment influences ten major I/O points of research: health and well-being, comfort, absenteeism, stress, burnout, performance, attention, creativity, satisfaction, and organizational commitment.

Designing the Healthy Office: How Individuals Define and Envision Healthy Workplaces

Investigators: Caitlin DeClercq, PhD, Max Pittman,  Isabelle Thibau, MPH, Cristina Banks, PhD, Pauline Simes, Tony Kim, Helen Lee

HealthyWorkplaces, in collaboration with the College of Environmental Design, has created a research paradigm which allows participants to design workspaces based on seven core psychological drivers of well-being: connection, comfort, flexibility, equity, privacy, predictability, and safety.

Exploratory Study of the Impact of Images and Sound on Knowledge Worker Need Satisfaction and Productivity

Investigators: Cristina Banks, PhD, Carolyn Winslow, PhD, Isabelle Thibau, MPH

The goal of this study is to identify the ideal parameters for projected images and sound in order to maximize positive emotions and focus/concentration in knowledge workers.  Knowledge workers can perform their best work under conditions that support their basic human needs.

Book - Science to Practice Series: How to Build the Best Workplace for Employee Health and Well-Being

This is a first in a series of books in the Science to Practice Series, which we hope will fund the center.  This book will include the transcriptions of the presentations given by speakers at the May 4, 2017 Science to Practice series conference and the workbook that was given to conference participants.

Research Report: Organizational Supports to Limit Sedentary Behavior in the Workplace

Investigators: Caitlin DeClercq, PhD, Isabelle Thibau, MPH, Galen Cranz, PhD

This project will center on the compilation of a number of case studies of workplaces that have implemented policies, designs, or programs that aim to interrupt the sedentary norm of (knowledge) work.  These case studies will help us articulate a general call for how we might think differently about the context, structure, and nature of “knowledge work” in order to interrupt the sedentary norm of (office) work and, more specifically, context-relevant recommendations for various companies that want to help reduce prolonged sitting time among employees.  Importantly, both our study and recommendations will consider interventions at many levels: behavioral, organizational, architectural, technological, and social/cultural. 

Literature Review: Health Impacts of Sedentary Behavior in the Workplace

Investigators: Caitlin DeClercq, PhD, Isabelle Thibau, MPH, Natalie Mutch

Given what we know about the perils of prolonged sitting to health (and, conversely, the benefits of physical movement to creativity, memory, cognition, and mental health), we aim in this literature review to contextualize the current science regarding sedentary behavior within the specific context of knowledge workers in office settings.  We will consider questions such as: Why should employers (and employees) care about the perils of prolonged sitting?  What are the health and performance implications of sedentary behavior?  What interventions have been tried to reduce sedentary behavior? With what success? What’s missing, and what can we recommend?  

Past Projects

Investigating Participation in Wellness Programs in Small & Medium Organizations

Investigators: Cristina Banks, PhD, Carolyn Winslow, PhD, Isabelle Thibau, MPH

Funders/Partners: Transamerica Center for Health Studies

This project, funded by the Transamerica Center for Health Studies, aims at understanding the factors unique to small and medium-sized businesses that affect employee engagement in healthy behavior change. This research generated a technical report as well as an employer guide to engaging employees in behavior change, which are freely available to the public.  There will also be a one-hour NPR show on the results of our findings.

Health Technology in the Workplace: Leveraging technology to protect and improve worker health. (July 2015)

This report examined ways in which technology can interface with work and organizational design to
bring about new ways of improving worker health and psychological well-being. The report is based on
research conducted by the Interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Workplaces (HealthyWorkplaces).

Click Here to View the Report (Opens PDF)