L-R: Adam Palanica, scientist and Yan Fossat, principal investigator
What difference can the type of Zoom background have on work productivity?
Plenty, according to a new Klick Applied Sciences research study in Thinking Skills and Creativity, which found nature-themed backgrounds can get people's creative juices flowing better than blank or urban (city-themed) backgrounds.
In examining the restorative effects of nature on creativity using virtual backgrounds during Zoom calls, the study ('Effects of Nature Virtual Backgrounds on Creativity during Videoconferencing') applies a new lens to previous research demonstrating that exposure to nature environments versus urban environments can help restore cognitive processing and improve overall well-being.
And in today's modern, virtual world where 3.3 trillion meeting minutes are hosted on Zoom each year, the findings provide a free and simple tech hack for boosting workplace productivity and performance.
Key study takeaways:
- A simple nature background image (e.g., trees, beaches, waterfalls, sunsets) may enhance the creative thinking of its viewers after only a few minutes
- Individuals who viewed nature stimuli developed more detailed responses and more distinct or unusual responses overall in a creativity test, compared to those who viewed urban stimuli (e.g., bright lights, neon signs, vehicles, construction).
- Nature stimuli boosted creativity even when not the explicit focus of overt attention.
- Nature imagery in virtual backgrounds may foster a serene and pleasant effect, which in turn, can restore cognitive performance to produce novel ideas.
Why should we care about the study findings?
- Videoconferencing has become a primary method of communication during the global pandemic where working-from-home/school policies have become the norm for many.
- A simple background change from only a few minutes of stimulation may enhance the creative thinking of its viewers -- and it’s free!
- This simple hack could be beneficial for online education programs, home-school scenarios, as well as at-home workplace environments.
- Businesses could improve innovation and the creation of novel ideas for products and services by stimulating employees with nature-oriented virtual backgrounds.
Check out the study here.