The journey to better indoor health begins with first research study at the Well Living Lab

After years of planning, it is immensely gratifying to know that in the coming weeks, our first group of study participants will enter the Well Living Lab as part of a 10-week journey with us.

These first volunteers are Mayo Clinic employees who spend most of their time each day working in the Health Information Management department, which should make it relatively easy for them to switch from their current work location to the Lab. The study participants will spend the first few days in the Lab simply getting comfortable with their new surroundings. At the same time, we will continue to gather data from the environmental sensors embedded throughout the Lab. Once the research team establishes a baseline for the study group, we will begin to adjust environmental variables.

Next, we will begin the process of adjusting one environmental variable at a time. For example, adjusting the intensity of the lighting, the frequency of the air exchange, the temperature in the space, and the ambient noise level. This will give us the opportunity to examine how changes in the environment do or do not lead to changes in responses from our volunteers.

Because stress can have a significant impact on our productivity, our overall mindset, and our sense of well-being, we will also look for any changes in heart rate using a wearable device and track stress levels for participants as we adjust environmental elements.

Once we better understand how these individual variables are affecting the study participants, we will examine what happens when we combine multiple changes to the environment at the same time, and in different combinations. For example, what happens when we change the ambient noise level while also adjusting the temperature?

And of course, even as the Lab sensors are collecting a tremendous amount of data from both humans and the environment, we will also ask the participants for their direct feedback. What changes did they notice in their comfort level or ability to focus and do their work? Are there ways we could improve the Lab environment? What could we do to make the experience even better for the next group of participants?

We are blessed to have wonderful employees at Mayo who not only do great work to provide exceptional patient care, but who regularly volunteer for scientific studies when needed. Having partners like these employees for our first experiment gives the Well Living Lab the best chance to get off on the right foot and move in the right direction.

Stay tuned to find out what we learn from this first study group; you never know, you might even hear from some of the participants themselves. And take a minute to read about our newest Well Living Lab Founding Member, CBRE.