The majority of research investigating the restorative benefits of greenspace and nature in everyday environments has focused on the home and recreational contexts. However, many people spend more of their waking hours at work than at home. Also, at northern latitudes the workplace may be the only context in which 9-to-5 office workers have the opportunity to spend time outdoors in daylight on winter weekdays. Moreover, it is often at work that we face the greatest demands on our directed attention and everyday sources of stress. There is therefore clear potential for wellbeing benefits to be gained from access to restorative greenspaces in the context of knowledge-sector business sites.

Previous research has found evidence of beneficial effects of exposure to workplace greenspace on physical health, stress and wellbeing, cognitive functioning, interpersonal relations, and job satisfaction (e.g. Kaplan, 1993; Leather et al., 1998; Shin, 2007; Lottrup et al., 2013). The research has, however, tended to focus on either the effects of visual access or use of workplace greenspace in isolation, or has used aggregated measures of exposure. This raises questions regarding the differential effects of views and use of workplace greenspace. Which is more beneficial - regular outdoor breaks or green views? At the same time, it is not known whether the composition of natural features in office window views makes a difference – is viewing lawns as beneficial as viewing trees or water bodies, for example? We also know little about individual and group differences in the restorative effects of greenspace in the work context - do all types of employee benefit from exposure to greenspace at their workplace?

These questions were addressed in a study of person-environment relationships in urban-fringe science parks in central Scotland. The study sought to explore the impact of exposure to the greenspace at these knowledge-sector workplaces on employee wellbeing through the application of a mixed method case study design. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected; the former through an online questionnaire and the latter through in-depth semi-structured walking interviews conducted on and around the five study sites.

This paper will present results from the quantitative component of the study, and reflect on these findings with reference to the qualitative data. The findings suggest that both use and views of greenspace have a positive impact on employee wellbeing, with views displaying a stronger relationship with wellbeing than use of the greenspace during the work day. Views of structural vegetation (trees, lawn and shrubs) appeared particularly beneficial. However, further analysis showed that business sector moderated the relationship between views/use of these designed greenspaces and employee wellbeing. Those working in environmental sector organisations displayed evidence of wellbeing benefits from exposure to the greenspace. These findings are discussed in relation to the differences between environmental sector employees and others in their perceptions of the quality of the outdoor environment at these peri-urban workplaces as revealed though in situ walking interviews.