Workplace Environments and Mindfulness: Improving Wellbeing and Performance

Stressful events at work are commonplace and can decrease employee wellbeing and performance. Some aspects of workplace environments, such as plants and sunlight, have been demonstrated to have a positive effect on health, wellbeing, and productivity. The practice of mindfulness, which involves nonjudgmentally paying attention to experience in the present moment, has also been shown to have numerous positive impacts. This study investigated the effects of, and interaction between, particular environmental variables (plants and sunlight) and mindfulness on wellbeing and performance. Participants consisted of undergraduate students from a state university. The environmental condition was manipulated experimentally by running participants in one of two conditions (with and without the presence of plants and sunlight). Mindfulness was experimentally manipulated as well, by having participants listen to a mindfulness-increasing audio recording or a neutral educational recording as a control. The effects of mindfulness and workplace environment on wellbeing and performance were examined by conducting six 2X2 factorial ANOVAs (one for each dependent variable, i.e. performance, stress/anxiety, positive mood, negative mood, task satisfaction, and task likability). Performance was measured in terms of how well the participants performed on a proofreading task. It was predicted that participants in the mindfulness and enriched room conditions would display higher levels of wellbeing and performance. It was also predicted that the combination of mindfulness and enriched environment would result in higher levels of wellbeing and performance than either condition by itself. It was found that participants in the mindfulness condition had significantly higher levels of task satisfaction, task likability, and positive mood. Contrary to past research, no effect of enriched room was observed in this study. In conclusion, increased mindfulness leads to better mood and a more positive perception of mundane office tasks. Although performance was not influenced, the above-mentioned effects of mindfulness are still useful in a workplace setting. Lastly, the results of this study imply that, at least under these conditions, room enrichment does not impact wellbeing and performance.