Adrenaline rush in the morning makes workers more productive in the afternoon

 

5 February 2019

  • Productivity rose 20% and stress levels fell 25% after 40 second ride down world’s longest slide, the ArcelorMittal Orbit in the Olympic Park Stratford.

  • University of Essex research shows adrenaline rush creates benefits similar to those seen from exercise

A new academic study involving office workers at the International Quarter London (IQL), the new London neighbourhood at the gateway to the Olympic Park Stratford, has revealed the benefits of taking part in adrenaline boosting activities before work.

Researchers discovered that taking a 40 second ride down the world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide, at the ArcelorMittal Orbit, improved levels of happiness, productivity, creativity, energy and focus in workers.

- Benefits of an adrenaline rush: After the activity average stress levels fell by 25%, productivity rose by 20%, creativity by 22% and energy levels rose by 32%.

- Lasting effects: By 4pm, six hours after taking part in the activity, stress levels of participants remained 25% lower than before the activity and productivity remained 12% higher.

The University of Essex’s experiment saw more than 100 office workers, from IQL tenants including Transport for London and Unicef, tackling the 178 metre slide. The 40 second ride down the UK’s tallest sculpture involves a spine-tingling 12 twists and turns. Riders reach speeds of 15 miles an hour in the 80cm wide tube and catch glimpses of London’s skyline through clear sections of plastic.

The impacts of exercise on wellbeing have been well-documented; however, this is the first time research has shown that similar affects can be achieved from a quick adrenaline boosting activity.

To measure the psychological impact of the adrenaline rush, participants in the study completed a questionnaire immediately before and after their trip down the slide. This measured factors such as stress, motivation, creativity and productivity. Participants repeated the survey throughout the day to measure how long the impact of riding the ArcelorMittal London lasted. Results were compared with a control group who did not take part in the activity.

Paul Burkitt-Gray, who works for Transport for London and took part in the experiment, said:

“Going down the slide was incredible, I loved how fast it felt, and how long the ride down took – every time I thought I must be nearly at the end I hurtled around another corner and it just kept on going.

“Going down the slide gave me a real boost to the start of my day, both from the adrenaline rush of the ride and from the sheer novelty of doing something so unusual first thing in the morning. I was still feeling the effect by the end of the afternoon when I left the office.

“I really love working at IQL. It’s great having all the community events that are organised by IQL, they make it the most fun area I’ve ever worked in.”

Implications for business

IQL, the joint venture development between Lendlease and LCR, is designed to promote improved employee health and wellness. It commissioned the research to highlight the significant impact employee wellbeing initiatives can have on business performance. The research concludes that employers can use adrenaline inducing activities to boost the wellbeing and performance of their employees, which could in turn support business success.

The researchers also suggest that businesses should consider when the best times are for these activities take place, arguing that it could help to reverse the loss of focus that is known to happen towards the end of the working week.

Andrew Tobin, Project Director at IQL, said: “Businesses are always looking for an edge that sets them apart from their competitors and this research shows that an adrenaline boost can have a real impact on office workers’ productivity. IQL has been developed with employee health and wellness in mind and in addition to our position next to Olympic Park Stratford, we have created spaces for reflection and relaxation. We also run a host of activities focused on increasing employee wellbeing, including boot camps and circuit classes for our tenants.”

Dr. Valerie Gladwell, Senior Lecturer at the University of Essex School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Science, who led the study said: “This research suggests that an adrenaline rush in the morning may help to reduce perceived stress levels for the rest of the day. This was one small study and while the results were positive more work needs to be undertaken to further these finding and fully understand the benefits of an exhilarating activity for workplace wellbeing.

While, an adrenaline rush might not be for everyone other research we have conducted suggests that undertaking exercise within areas such as the green spaces at IQL may also help reduce stress levels and thus help overall wellbeing. Encouraging businesses to be proactive about wellbeing is essential in today’s world for both employers and employees.”

David Joy, chief executive of LCR, said: “In our always-on world, it’s more important than ever for wellbeing to be embedded into our working life. Our setting next door to the Olympic Park Stratford makes IQL the ideal location to pioneer new methods of boosting employee health and productivity. We hope these findings can encourage other developers to explore innovative solutions for creating truly dynamic office locations that help people to do their best work.”

International Quarter London

The ArcelorMittal Orbit Slide is one of many world-class sporting, health and leisure facilities located within easy reach of IQL.

Within the adjacent Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park are two 50m swimming pools, a 25m diving pool, a 50 station gym and crèche at the London Aquatics Centre; track cycling and five miles of mountain bike and BMX trails at the Lee Valley VeloPark; four indoor and six outdoor tennis courts and two hockey pitches at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre; plus running trails and cycle paths spanning the 560 acres of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Download a full copy of the report here.