SLC.20.004 – How virtual/augmented reality improve the design of a healthy office workplace

Route: Smart, liveable cities

Cluster question: 078 How does the built environment affect health and wellbeing?

Over the past decades workplace health and well-being has received increased attention by organizations, policymakers and researchers. However, it remains challenging to identify empirically how the more tacit physical work environment characteristics (e.g. aesthetics, layout/spatiality, biophilia) can improve employees’ mental health. As experience and preferences for these aspects are personal, an additional, practical challenge lies in how to include employees in evaluating potential healthy office design alternatives (participatory design). Fundamental limitations exist in identifying causal effects of ‘soft’ design characteristics on employee experiences and momentary mental health conditions (e.g. stress, concentration, feelings of privacy), opposed to abundant evidence for effects of quantifiable design characteristics as lighting, temperature, etc. Research tools based on observation (surveys) or living lab experiments lack the option to systematically vary these aspects in a consistent way to present them to testsubjects. Therefore, the project uses Virtual/Augmented Reality (VR/AR) techniques to allow immersion in different work environments in two sub-projects. 1) a VR-enhanced stated choice experiment to reveal empirical insights into workers’ preferences and experiences regarding these ‘soft’ workplace characteristics. By combining this with written tests and activity sensors (i.e. wearables) measuring momentary mental health conditions, it will also become clear how the VR workplace scenarios affect mental health. 2) AR enhancement of the current office environment will be introduced in a participatory design process (i.e. bottom-up approach) towards a healthier workplace. It will be tested whether this supports workplace managers and decision makers in obtaining more fitting designs and increasing employee acceptance of a new workplace environment. Together, the results allow to design more optimal work environments that enhance employees’ mental health, in closer participation with its future users.

Keywords

Augmented reality, mental health, physical work environment design, virtual reality

Submitter

Organisation Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (TU/e)
Name Dr. H.A.J.A. (Rianne) Appel-Meulenbroek
E-mail h.a.j.a.appel@tue.nl
Website https://www.tue.nl/en/research/researchers/rianne-appel-meulenbroek/