Research & Projects

Occupant-centric Pre-Design Process for New Buildings

This project aims to redesign the process by which new buildings are conceived, planned, and built so that occupants’ needs and work context requirements are addressed during the earliest stages of the process and carried through to the creation of building mock-ups to assist the architects and engineers in bringing this plan to reality. The project addresses the problem commonly experienced that occupant input is either trivial or missing during most of the pre-design planning process, resulting in built environments that lack critical features that occupants need and/or create impediments to occupant health, well-being, and effective performance. At each stage of the pre-design process, occupant needs and behavioral requirements are embedded in the planning to ensure that the architects and engineers build a structure that promotes occupant effectiveness while protecting and sustaining occupant health and well-being. A case study describing this methodology and outcomes will be written and shared publicly to serve a template for future building projects.

Handbook for Designing Spaces and Organizational Strategies for Promoting Creative Thinking  and Innovation

An extensive review of environmental factors related to individual creativity and innovation combined with insights obtained from studies of creative and innovative people in organizations reveal a set of essential elements that need to be incorporated into work spaces and working conditions that can stimulate success.  These elements are being combined into an easy-to-read handbook and practical guide for organizations to implement.

Empirical Study of Built Environment Features, Engagement, and Burnout Resilience

A study is being conducted to understand the relationship between workplace built features and self-reported levels of psychological health and burnout.  The study involves a convenience sample of working adults who describe their work environments and report their psychological health at the time of their description.  Significant relationships between physical environmental features and degrees of engagement and health will be reported.

Handbook for Designing Healthy Workplaces By Infusing Need Satisfaction in the Workplace

Based on the Healthy Workplace Model developed by ICHW, this handbook aims to provide specific recommendations for how to “build in” basic need satisfaction into a workplace—both physically in the built environment and organizationally in policies and practices.  Need satisfaction is the pathway to mental and physical health, well-being, and productivity.  Science-based recommendations and practical tips for implementation will be offered to enable individuals as well as organizations to create a healthy, satisfying, and energizing work experience. 

The Healthy Workplace and Gen Z: User Perceptions, Experiences, and Design Solutions

In this study, we aim to translate the seven "drivers" of need satisfaction (drivers are perceived conditions in workplaces that facilitate positive need satisfaction outcomes: privacy, flexibility, predictability, equity, comfort, connection, and safety) into correlates in the built environment; such an understanding would help to inform design recommendations for healthy and productive offices for knowledge workers. This research will be undertaken using a focus group methodology. Broadly speaking, we are interested in the following questions: How are workplaces currently experienced and perceived as productive engaging spaces for learning and creativity? What types of learning-related activities do members of Generation Z engage in on a daily basis, and what qualities or features of their respective workplaces support these activities?

Workplace Health Assessment: Cross-cultural Comparisons between Norway and the United States

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. 

Thus study builds on and extends previous research we conducted (see Designing for the Healthy Office) to understand more generally the relationship between workplace design and the drivers of worker well-being and productivity. In this study, we investigate the above questions within the context of a specific demographic group (Generation Z) and work context (knowledge work), the latter of which is predicated on learning, creativity, and knowledge transfer as essential components of employee productivity.