Warning: This office may cause your brain to shrink

Work frustration 8 August 2011

Uncluttered but sterile desks can cause brains to become smaller, according to research presented in the Channel 4 series The Secret Life of Buildings Monday 8 August.

In the programme Dr Craig Knight of Exeter University, lead researcher on the ESRC research project The individual in the group: social identity and the dynamics of change, emphasises how a personal work space can improve our performance.

"Companies like the idea of giving their employees a lean space to work in as it is uniform and without unnecessary distractions. In the experiments we have run, however, employees respond better in spaces that have been enriched with pictures and plants," he comments to The Telegraph.

"If they have been allowed to enrich the space themselves with their own things it can increase their wellbeing by 32 per cent and their productivity by 15 per cent. It is because they are able to engage with their surroundings, feel more comfortable and so concentrate."

In the ESRC research project Dr Knight examines the concept of our social identity, how it changes and relates to wellbeing - both for individuals and groups. Part of the research focuses on group dynamics in organisational settings, looking at social identity in relation to organisational change and stress in the workplace.