Workers who were able to view nature-themed artworks in the office experienced cuts in their stress and fatigue levels of up to 40%.

For most workers, the office view is uninspiring — a computer screen, a blank wall and often, no window.

Bridgette Minuzzo, an Adelaide-based visual artist and a PhD student at the University of South Australia, argues that this bland visual daily outlook is the perfect recipe for mental fatigue, and wanted to see if landscape paintings of nature, blue sky and greenery could have any impact on office workers and students in windowless spaces.

Minuzzo, who has more than 20 years’ public art experience, installed nature-themed artworks at three university campuses and a hospital in Adelaide, measuring the mental wellbeing of participants beforehand.

She then surveyed changes in their mental fatigue and stress levels over the next month.

She found that viewing a landscape for brief periods (one to five minutes) cut stress and fatigue levels by up to 40%.

Commenting on the findings, Bridgette Minuzzo said, “It’s all about a connection with nature. More than 70% of Australians live in cities and spend around 83% of their day indoors. Many offices have clean wall policies and no windows.

“This doesn’t allow any chance to connect with nature, denying us views to hills, sky, water or foliage, which is so essential for our wellbeing.

“We know that experiencing nature not only focuses attention but also reduces mental fatigue which, my study found, affects workers for one to three hours every day …

“All the evidence shows that art in the office is not a distraction or decorative extra but can improve mental wellbeing and productivity. It is restorative, stimulating and good for our work-weary brains.”

Last reviewed 20 September 2019