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Health is a trending topic in the office market, yet scientific research on healthy offices is scattered. This study undertakes a systematic literature review on the relationship between the interior space of offices and physical, psychological and social well-being. The review identifies the characteristics of interior office space that have been studied in relation to employee health, and outlines the empirical evidence. Of 2816 papers in the database, 50 addressed the relationship between interior office space and health and did so based on six features: layout, furniture, light, greenery, controls and noise. Evidence on the relationship between interior space and health has accumulated only within a few topics. On the one hand, open-plan offices, shared rooms and higher background noise are negatively related to health. On the other hand, positive relationships are found between physical well-being and aspects that encourage physical activity; between physical/psychological well-being and (day)light, individual control and real/artificial greenery; and between social well-being and small shared rooms. In measuring health, physical well-being is predominant. Similarly, studies have predominantly aimed to prevent health problems rather than enhance health. Overall, the related research is in a nascent stage. Further research is required to verify claims about healthy offices.
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Building Research & Information
ISSN: 0961-3218 (Print) 1466-4321 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rbri20
The relationship between interior office space
and employee health and well-being – a literature
review
Susanne Colenberg, Tuuli Jylhä & Monique Arkesteijn
To cite this article: Susanne Colenberg, Tuuli Jylhä & Monique Arkesteijn (2020): The relationship
between interior office space and employee health and well-being – a literature review, Building
Research & Information, DOI: 10.1080/09613218.2019.1710098
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/09613218.2019.1710098
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa
UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis
Group
Published online: 17 Jan 2020.
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The relationship between interior oce space and employee health and
well-being a literature review
Susanne Colenberg
a,b
, Tuuli Jylhä
c
and Monique Arkesteijn
c
a
Department of Industrial Design, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands;
b
Center for People and Buildings, Delft,
The Netherlands;
c
Department of Management in the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
ABSTRACT
Health is a trending topic in the oce market, yet scientic research on healthy oces is scattered.
This study undertakes a systematic literature review on the relationship between the interior space
of oces and physical, psychological and social well-being. The review identies the characteristics
of interior oce space that have been studied in relation to employee health, and outlines the
empirical evidence. Of 2816 papers in the database, 50 addressed the relationship between
interior oce space and health and did so based on six features: layout, furniture, light,
greenery, controls and noise. Evidence on the relationship between interior space and health has
accumulated only within a few topics. On the one hand, open-plan oces, shared rooms and
higher background noise are negatively related to health. On the other hand, positive
relationships are found between physical well-being and aspects that encourage physical
activity; between physical/psychological well-being and (day)light, individual control and real/
articial greenery; and between social well-being and small shared rooms. In measuring health,
physical well-being is predominant. Similarly, studies have predominantly aimed to prevent
health problems rather than enhance health. Overall, the related research is in a nascent stage.
Further research is required to verify claims about healthy oces.
ARTICLE HISTORY
Received 2 January 2019
Accepted 24 December 2019
KEYWORDS
Health; well-being;
workplace design; interior
design; interior space; oce
Introduction
What is a healthy oce? One might think of fresh air,
daylight and ergonomic furniture, since computer work
increases musculoskeletal issues, such as neck, shoulder
and lower back pain (IJmker et al., 2007; Janwantanakul,
Pensri, Jiamjarasrangsri, & Sinsongsook, 2008). Research
on sick building syndrome has shown that poor indoor
air quality due to toxins, contamination or inadequate
ventilation could lead to a variety of physical health com-
plaints. However, there are other side eects related to
mental health, stress and burnout, which have become
a main occupational disease for oce workers (Van
der Molen et al., 2018). According to the World Health
Organization (WHO, 2006, p. 1), health is a state of
complete physical, mental and social well-being and
not merely the absence of disease or inrmity. Thus, a
healthy oce could be dened as a workplace that at
least does not harm employeeswell-being, and ideally,
actively supports it.
This study analyses the relationship between interior
oce space and employee health by undertaking a sys-
tematic literature review. The interior space comprises
individual workstations or desks and their surroundings,
or the whole inner space of the oce building, as opposed
to the architectural outer shell and technical installations.
The design of interior space includes the use of spatial
elements, lighting, surface nishes, furnishings and acces-
sories to realize the required functional and desired visual
quality (Ching & Binggeli, 2004). For example, wall open-
ings enable the passage of people, light, heat and sound;
window treatments temper sunlight; and height and sur-
face qualities of the ceiling aect acoustics and light.
Elements of interior space are more frequently and easily
changed than technical installations and building con-
struction, thereby providing quicker wins to adjust the
physical working environment.
Even though well-being is a trending topic in the real
estate industry (Groen, Jylhä, & Van Sprang, 2018; Hanc,
McAndrew, & Ucci, 2019; World Green Building Coun-
cil, 2014), in discussions concerning interior space it
often goes unnoticed (Smith, Metcalfe, & Lommerse,
2012). Meanwhile, the evolution of cellular oces into
more open workspaces has triggered an ongoing debate
on the presumed negative health eects of open-plan
oces, and organizations have become more concerned
about the contribution of interior space to their business
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-N onCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/
4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in
any way.
CONTACT Susanne Colenberg s.e.colenberg@tudelft.nl
BUILDING RESEARCH & INFORMATION
https://doi.org/10.1080/09613218.2019.1710098
goals. This challenges designers of interior space to
consider both aesthetic and strategic perspectives (Had-
dad, 2014).
Certainly, for well-being, space matters. Following the
job demands resources theory (Bakker & Demerouti,
2017; Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner, & Schaufeli,
2001), the characteristics of the interior space can be a
demand, for instance by causing environmental stress,
as well as a resource, for instance by facilitating relax-
ation and social cohesion. In general, environmental
stressors increase physiological arousal (Berlyne, 1960),
cause stimulation overload (Cohen, 1980) and evoke
coping strategies, such as social withdrawal (Folkman,
Lazarus, Gruen, & DeLongis, 1986). Meanwhile, oppor-
tunities to adjust the environment mediate the experi-
ence of environmental stress (Barnes, 1981), and
according to the attention restoration theory (Kaplan,
1995), green spaces aid recovery from environmental
stress. In summary, a well-designed interior space can
compensate for job demands and poor design can under-
mine job resources. Since a predominance of demands
relative to resources predicts burnout (Bakker, Demer-
outi, & Sanz-Vergel, 2014; Hakanen, Schaufeli, &
Ahola, 2008), this underlines the importance of a
health-supporting oce space.
Previous reviews addressing interior space in oces
focus on specic outcomes (Ilies, Aw, & Pluut, 2015)
or specic features (De Croon, Sluiter, Kuijer, &
Frings-Dresen, 2005; Engelen et al., 2019; Richardson
et al., 2017); alternatively, they lack transparency in
their methods (Groen et al., 2018; Rashid & Zimring,
2008; World Green Building Council, 2014). This review
covers the entire interior oce space and uses a wide
perspective on employee health dened earlier in this
section. The main research questions of this review are
as follows. (1) What features of interior space in oces
are studied in relation to employee health? (2) How are
these features of interior space related to employee
health?
Method
This review followed the guidelines of systematic litera-
ture reviews as presented by PRISMA (Moher et al.,
2015) to make the reporting transparent.
Search strategy
To nd the relevant papers, the multi-disciplinary cita-
tion databases of Scopus and Web of Science Core Col-
lection were used as search engines. Several test
searches were conducted by two reviewers (A and B)
in OctoberNovember 2017 to nd a comprehensive
search strategy for the review. Because terms referring
to interior oce space, such as oceand workplace
are used in multiple contexts in the literature (e.g. an
oce can be a doctors consulting room or the work-
space of a knowledge worker), it became apparent that
the initial database needed to include a broad sample
of papers for subsequent manual review. To establish
the initial database of papers, the same search terms
were used in both citation databases in December
2017 and later updated in April 2019. In both citation
databases, each of the six search terms referring to
interior space was searched for in combination with
each of the six search terms referring to health (see
Figure 1), resulting in 2816 papers forming the initial
database.
Figure 1. Search strategy.
2S. COLENBERG ET AL.
Study selection
The initial database was screened and reviewed in three
phases (Figure 2).
In the rst phase, reviewer A scanned the titles to
exclude the irrelevant papers. The second phase was
undertaken based on the abstracts by the same reviewer
to further identify relevant and non-relevant papers. In
the third phase, the papers were categorized based on
the identied oce features. The initial categories were
later further developed to summarize the research
results. The full papers were divided among ve
reviewers (reviewers AE) based on the above-men-
tioned categories for independent review. This review
phase was led and instructed by reviewers A and
B. The engagement of multiple reviewers allowed to
jointly decide whether a paper should be included or
excluded when needed. In each phase, all
reviewers used the same eligibility criteria (presented in
Table 1). Through this selection process, 50 papers
were included.
Information extraction
A standardized template was developed and tested by
reviewers A and B to extract the information from the
papers. The template included six parts: (1) paper
identication information; (2) used research strategy
and methods; (3) data collection information; (4) infor-
mation of the studied oce environment; (5) indepen-
dent and dependent variables regarding oce and
health and (6) related results. In some papers, other
dependent variables were also studied, but for this review
only results related to health and well-being were
reported. All reviewers (AE) used the same templates
and the review process was instructed and managed by
reviewers A and B. After the third phase, a quality
appraisal was performed using the standardized forms
developed by the Centre for Evidence Based Manage-
ment based on six types of research. The main con-
clusions of these appraisals were used, when needed, in
the analysis phase.
Analysis strategy
The analysis was performed in two stages correspond-
ing with the two research questions. First, content
analysis was used to collect, group and regroup the
studied features of interior oce space, following the
instructions of Krippendor(2004), Miles and Huber-
man (1994) and Tuomi and Sarajärvi (2012). The same
process was followed for the studied health aspects.
Second, the papersndings of the relationship
between interior oce space and aspects of health
and well-being were summarized, feature-wise and
paper by paper. Based on this, conclusions were
drawn about the focus of the existing research on
Figure 2. Overview of the screening process.
Table 1. Inclusion and exclusion criteria used in the selection of papers.
Inclusion criteria Exclusion criteria
Setting: administrative oce buildings or oce oors Setting: other environments, such as doctorsoces or factories
Empirical studies and systematic reviews Theoretical papers, reviews of technology, position papers, etc.
Clear description of methods and measures Data-collection process or analysis not transparent
Dependent variable(s), including measures of actual or perceived physical,
psychological or social well-being
Dependent variable(s) not directly measuring health, such as job satisfaction,
motivation and productivity
Independent variable(s), including measures of actual or perceived interior
space, comprising spatial characteristics and arrangements, lighting, surfaces,
furniture and accessories
Independent variables not relating to interior space, but rather, for example,
to building construction, technical installations, facility services, behavioural
interventions or technologies
Subjects being oce workers in general, knowledge workers or clerical workers Subjects being blue collar workers, special needs groups, the elderly, etc.
BUILDING RESEARCH & INFORMATION 3
interior oce space, and the resulting evidence for its
relationship with employee health.
Results
Characteristics of studies
The papers show that the relationship between interior
oce space and employee health is an upcoming
research area; 40 of the 50 included papers were pub-
lished within the past decade and 27 of them within
the past 5 years. The vast majority of the studies were
performed within one country, most of them in Europe.
There are no clear dierences in scope between the areas.
The papers are scattered across the literature of dierent
disciplines.
In most papers, it is unclear for which oce type the
data are collected: open-plan, cellular or combination;
and allocated workstations or exible use. Most (39)
of the papers concern eld studies, 8 are lab studies, 1
comprises both and 2 are reviews. The two most fre-
quently applied research designs are cross-sectional
(15 papers), comparing groups at a single point in
time and controlled eld studies (13 papers). The
remaining studies are categorized as either prospective
(pre- and post-test), longitudinal (one pre-test and at
least two post-tests) or systematic literature review.
The methods used vary widely, and not every paper
reports eect sizes.
Identied features of interior oce space
The most frequently studied features of interior space
are layout and specic furniture, covering half of the
included papers (Figure 3). The others concern light,
greenery, control and noise. Although the search strat-
egy includes physical well-being as well as psychologi-
cal and social well-being, the features are
predominantly related to physical aspects of health
(Figure 3).
Next, the identied features of interior space are pre-
sented in detail, followed by a summary analysis.
Layout
Oce layout refers to the physical oce space and
arrangement of objects within (Lee, 2010). The included
papers studied oce layout at the following two levels
(Table 2): (1) individual workspaces and their physical
openness and size; and (2) arrangement of spaces within
the oce building. In these studies, the individual work-
space is referred to as an oce, room, cubicle or bench.
At the level of the individual workspace, the inuence
of layout is studied by comparing health measures of
workers in two or more types of workspaces. As a
main nding, these studies show dierences between
open-plan workspaces and smaller rooms, predomi-
nantly to the disadvantage of open-plan workspaces
(Morrison & Macky, 2017; Pejtersen, Allermann, Kris-
tensen, & Poulsen, 2006; Pejtersen, Feveile, Christensen,
& Burr, 2011); only cubicles are worse (Lindberg et al.,
2018). Open-plan oces, variously dened, are associ-
ated with higher sick leave (Bodin Danielsson, Chungk-
ham, Wul, & Westerlund, 2014), lower levels of both
physical and psychological well-being (e.g. Bodin
Danielsson, Bodin, Wul, & Theorell, 2015; Haapakan-
gas, Hongisto, Varjo, & Lahtinen, 2018), and deterio-
ration of co-worker relations (Brennan, Chugh, &
Kline, 2002). Duncan et al. (2015), Engelen et al.
(2017) and Engelen, Dhillon, Chau, Hespe, and Bauman
(2016)nd positive results for open-plan oces, but
these are limited to physical well-being and related to
less sitting time. The activity-based working (ABW)
environment is experienced more positively than open-
plan or enclosed workspaces (Engelen et al., 2016;
Foley, Engelen, Gale, Bauman, & Mackey, 2016; Meijer,
Frings-Dresen, & Sluiter, 2009). Although these studies
are limited by small samples and the absence of a control
group, the ndings are remarkable, because ABW also
includes open-plan workspaces. Three longitudinal
studies show that some eects occur only in the long
term (Meijer et al., 2009), people do not get used to nega-
tive eects (Brennan et al., 2002), and positive eects dis-
appear when moving back to the old situation (Foley
et al., 2016).
Regarding sizeof the workspace, which refers to the
number of intended occupants or desks, four studies
show that the larger the size, the more health complaints
workers report. This is related to either bacterial con-
tamination (Jaakkola & Heinonen, 1995) or stress caused
by the presence of other people, such as noise (Bodin
Figure 3. Number of papers on the identied features of interior
oce space and their health focus.
4S. COLENBERG ET AL.
Table 2. Papers addressing oce layout and health.
Paper Studied interior space variable
Type of study (n)
(response) Major ndings related to health and well-being
Jaakkola and
Heinonen (1995)
Shared vs. single room Cross-sectional (n= 968)
(resp. = 71%)
Workers sharing rooms had more colds in the past 12 months than those in single rooms had (OR 1.35, 95%CI 1.00
1.82).
Morrison and Macky
(2017)
Own oce, shared 23-person, open-plan, other Cross-sectional (n= 1000)
(recruited)
Employees in open-plan oces reported more negative interpersonal relationships (p= .023), distrust (p= .010), and
uncooperative behaviour (p= .003). Sharing an oce with one or two others was best for co-worker friendships (p
= .013).
Pejtersen et al. (2011) Single room, shared 2-person, shared 36-person,
open-plan >6-person.
Cross-sectional (n= 2403)
(resp. = 62%)
Occupants in 2-person rooms reported 50%, those in 36-person rooms 36%, and those in open-plan oces 62%
more days of sickness absence per year than occupants of single rooms did (p< .001).
Pejtersen et al. (2006) Single room, shared 2-person, shared 36-person,
open-plan 728-person, or >28-person.
Cross-sectional (n= 2301)
(resp. = 72%)
In open-plan oces, occupants complained more about noise than those in single rooms did (60% vs. 6%), about
cramped space (32% vs. 5%), about unpleasant odour (17% vs. 7%), eye/nose/throat irritations (1427% vs. 7
10%), headaches (25% vs. 10%) and fatigue (21% vs. 8%) (all p< .001).
Bodin Danielsson
et al. (2015)
7 types: single, shared room (23-person), open-
plan S/M/L, ex- or combi-oce
Cross-sectional (n= 5229)
(resp. = 57%)
Reported noise disturbance was much higher (p<.001) in open-plan oces (4460%) than in single oces (16
20%) and shared rooms (33%). High eect sizes. Noise disturbances increased the occurrence of workplace conicts
but were only one explanatory factor.
Bodin Danielsson
et al. (2014)
7 types: single, shared room (23-person), open-
plan S/M/L, ex-, or combi-oce
Prospective (n= 1852)
(resp. = 57%)
Employees in traditional open-plan oces had higher risk of short sick leave (OR 1.82, p< .01 to OR 1.92, p<.05)
than did those in single oces. Long sick leave was more common for men in ex-oces (OR2.56, p< .05), and for
women in large open-plan oces (OR2.14, p< .05).
Brennan et al. (2002) Traditional vs. open-plan oces Longitudinal (n= 21) After relocating to open-plan oce, employees experienced more environmental stressors (F(2,40) = 25.06, p< .01,
η
2
= .56) and were less satised with team member relations (F(2,40) = 11.74, p< .01, η
2
= .37). This did not change
between 4 weeks and 6 months after the move.
Lindberg et al. (2018) Workspace type Longitudinal (n= 231) Mood sampling and heart rate recording during 3 days showed workers using open benches perceived 10% less
stress (B-0.27, 95%CI 0.54 0.02) than did those in cubicles, but physiological stress did not dier. There were
no dierences between private rooms and open benches.
Haapakangas et al.
(2018)
Open-plan vs. private rooms, number of quiet
rooms
Prospective (n= 129/206) After relocation to open-plan oces, distraction (visual, noise, crowding and lack of speech privacy) increased (r0.47/
0.58, p< .001); stress increased only in the oce building with few quiet rooms (r0.28, p= .0006).
Meijer et al. (2009) Rooms for two vs. task-oriented oce Longitudinal (n= 138) The task-oriented oce (ABW), including new chairs, had no or limited eects on work-related fatigue and health. In
the long term, it had positive eects on perceived general health (62.065.9, p= .006) and musculoskeletal
complaints (3322%, p= .021).
Foley et al. (2016) Activity-based working (ABW) vs. open-plan Longitudinal (n= 88/24) The ABW environment reduced low back pain (OR2.0, 95%CI 1.13.7, p< .01) and self-reported sedentary behaviour.
Duncan et al. (2015) Spatial characteristics Cross-sectional (n= 5531)
(resp. = 12%)
In the open-plan oce, greater local connectivity and co-worker visibility were associated with more sedentary
breaks and lower body mass index (p< .001).
Engelen et al. (2017) Floor space, desk types, distances, stair
characteristics
Prospective (n= 188) In the new, active designbuilding (more light, less noise, larger distances to bathroom and kitchen, sitstand desks
available and open central staircase with daylight and views), workers sat less, stood more and reported less lower
back pain (2.32.1, p= .036) than in the 14 former buildings.
Engelen et al. (2016) Floor space, sitstand desks, distances, stair
characteristics
Prospective (n= 34) In the new buildings (same characteristics as above-mentioned), workers sat less, stood more and reported less lower
back pain (2.51.7, t=2.53, p< .01) than in the former four buildings.
BUILDING RESEARCH & INFORMATION 5
Danielsson et al., 2015; Pejtersen et al., 2006) and feeling
cramped (Pejtersen et al., 2006).
At the level ofthe whole oce building, the inuence of
layout is studied by collecting data from employees before
and after they moved to a new oce building designed to
stimulate physical activity (Engelen et al., 2017,2016). Sti-
mulating features regarding layout included larger dis-
tances from workspace to communal facilities and a
central position for the staircase. Combined with the
other features of the new oce, including furniture,
light and noise, the new layout is associated with less
back pain. The decreased back pain could have resulted
from the decreased sitting and increased standing time
of the employees, which is found in both studies, although
the authors do not statistically test this relationship. Since
the employees walking time does not change, it seems
plausible that the decreased back pain was inuenced by
the new furniture rather than the new layout.
In summary, working in open workspaces with six or
more occupants tends to have a negative relationship
with well-being if there are no enclosed workspaces to
divert to, as provided by ABW environments. The actual
impact on physical health remains unclear, because these
studies all rely on self-reporting.
Furniture
The reviewed papers analyse the health-supporting
capacity of the following two types of furniture
(Table 3): (1) ergonomic furniture designed to t the
users body or to stimulate alternating working postures,
and thereby reduce musculoskeletal or visual discomfort
while sitting (e.g. Robertson, Ciriello, & Garabet, 2013;
Roossien et al., 2017; Van Niekerk, Louw, & Hillier,
2012) and (2) activating furniture to stimulate physical
activity or reduce sitting time (e.g. Carr, Swift, Ferrer,
& Benzo, 2016; Graves, Murphy, Shepherd, Cabot, &
Hopkins, 2015).
Ergonomic, adjustable chairs reduce discomfort
(Amick et al., 2012; Robertson et al., 2013; Van Niekerk
et al., 2012), although this is not solely attributed to the
use of the furniture, because it is often accompanied by
ergonomics training. The provision of tactile feedback
from smart chairs (Roossien et al., 2017) does not
prove to be eective in decreasing discomfort or improv-
ing physical health.
Activating furniture is found to have few or mixed
health eects despite reducing static sitting time. The
furniture studied includes sitstand workstations, being
desks adjustable to the appropriate height to work seated
or standing up, and a bike desk, which is a workstation
with an exercise bike instead of an oce chair. The
experiments with this furniture show that their use
leads to benecial changes in blood pressure (Graves
et al., 2015) and blood glucose level (Healy et al.,
2013); other physical health parameters do not change.
Results regarding musculoskeletal or visual comfort
using this furniture are mixed: a positive relationship is
Table 3. Papers addressing oce furniture and health.
Paper
Studied interior space
variable Type of study (n) (response) Major ndings related to health and well-being
Karakolis and
Callaghan (2014)
Sitstand desk Systematic review (n= 14) Reduced trend in discomfort (e.g. lower back) for sitstand work compared
with sit-only work. Alternating between sitting and standing may lead to
higher wrist discomfort.
Robertson et al.
(2013)
Sitstand desk combined
with training
Controlled lab study (n=
22)
The trained group facing mandatory standing periods had less visual (p< .05)
and musculoskeletal (p< .01) symptoms than did the minimally trained
group without mandatory standing.
Carr et al. (2016) Long-term access to sit
stand desks
Cross-sectional (n= 69)
(recruited)
Employees with sitstand desks sat less and stood more than did those
without, but their cardio-metabolic risk factors did not dier.
Graves et al. (2015) Availability of sitstand
desk
Controlled eld study (n=
47)
Use of sitstand desk decreased sitting time and benecially changed
cholesterol (p= .049). There were no changes in musculoskeletal pain.
Healy et al. (2013) Sitstand desk
accompanied by
coaching
Controlled eld study (n=
43)
Sitting time decreased and standing time increased, but there were no
signicant musculoskeletal or cardio-metabolic health outcomes except for
improved blood glucose level in the intervention group.
Torbeyns et al.
(2016)
Bike desks Controlled eld study (n=
38)
Fat percentage decreased (36.634.4%, p<.05) among workers who had to
use a bike desk. There were no signicant changes in other health
parameters (e.g. aerobic tness, perceived musculoskeletal problems,
fatigue and relationship with colleagues).
Roossien et al.
(2017)
Smart chair with/ without
feedback signal
Longitudinal (n= 45) The feedback signal about sitting posture led to small or non-signicant
changes in sitting behaviour and musculoskeletal discomfort.
Van Niekerk et al.
(2012)
Adjustable chair Systematic review (n= 5) Adjustable chairs with appropriate training hold the most promise in reducing
musculoskeletal pain among workers who must sit for prolonged periods.
Robertson et al.
(2009)
Adjustable chair and
ergonomics training
Controlled eld study (n=
216)
Ergonomics training with and without an adjustable chair led to lower
musculoskeletal risk (p< .05).
Amick et al. (2012) Adjustable chair and
ergonomics training
Controlled eld study (n=
184)
Workers who received a highly adjustable chair and oce ergonomics training
had reduced vision-related symptoms (p< .01) for at least 12 months. The
training-only group did not dier from the control group.
Grooten et al.
(2017)
Dynamic/conventional
chair/standing desk
Controlled eld (n= 15)
and lab study (n= 13)
There were no dierences in comfort between experimental conditions in the
eld and in the lab.
6S. COLENBERG ET AL.
found in two studies (Karakolis & Callaghan, 2014;
Robertson et al., 2013), and a negative in one (Karakolis
& Callaghan, 2014), while in three studies (Graves et al.,
2015; Healy et al., 2013; Torbeyns et al., 2016) there is no
relationship found.
The relationship between the furniture intervention
and participantshealth is measured by changes in
anthropometrics (Torbeyns et al., 2016), physiological
parameters (e.g. Carr et al., 2016; Healy et al., 2013)or
self-reported health (e.g. Grooten et al., 2017; Roossien
et al., 2017). Except for Torbeyns et al. (2016), these
studies do not address psychological or social well-being.
Light in the workspace
Both natural and articial light in the oce, spread
through wall openings, translucent materials and reec-
tion on polished and light-coloured surfaces, result in a
certain amount and quality of light in the individual
workspace.
The results of the papers are summarized in Table 4.
The papers show that adequate light levels and quality
contribute to both physical well-being and better mood
(Lamb & Kwok, 2016; Thayer et al., 2010; Veitch,
Newsham, Boyce, & Jones, 2008; Viola, James, Schlan-
gen, & Dijk, 2008), but not to alertness (Van Duijnhoven,
Aarts, Rosemann, & De Kort, 2018), and that more day-
light enhances sleep quality (Bjørnstad, Patil, & Raanaas,
2016; Boubekri, Cheung, Reid, Wang, & Zee, 2014).
Dynamic lighting with variation of colour temperature
during the day (De Kort & Smolders, 2010), and dierent
proportions of direct and indirect light (Fostervold &
Nersveen, 2008) do not impact health.
Greenery
In seven of the included papers, contact with nature is
assumed to have benecial eects on human beings,
based on, for example, the air-cleaning ability of plants
and studies of patient recovery. The studies related to
this topic in oces are limited to views from
the workspace on greenery both real and articial
(Table 5).
The presence of both real and articial greenery shows
mixed results, but none of them are negative. Regarding
real plants in the workspace, eld studies nd a positive
inuence on health (Bjørnstad et al., 2016; Fjeld, 2000)
but lab studies do not (Evensen, Raanaas, Hagerhall,
Table 4. Papers addressing light in the oce and health.
Paper Studied interior space variable
Type of study (n)
(response) Major ndings related to health and well-being
Van Duijnhoven
et al. (2018)
Light levels on work surface Longitudinal (n= 46) Overall, subjective alertness did not correlate with light levels only six
participants showed signicant reactions. Multiple confounders were
identied.
Thayer et al. (2010) Light levels on work surface
(among other elements)
Controlled eld study
(n= 60)
The 40 participants working in the traditional oce (less light: 235 vs. 375
lux, less access to window views, poorer air quality and more low
frequency noise) had higher physiological stress responses (heart rate
variability p< .01; cortisol p< .001) than the 20 participants in the
modern oce.
Lamb and Kwok
(2016)
Perceived light level (combined
with noise and thermal comfort)
Cross-sectional (n=
114) (resp. n.a.)
The most positive mood was reported in association with a comfortable
light level (p< .05). The more environmental stressors workers
perceived (light, noise and temperature), the greater the reported use of
painkillers (p< .05). Stressors negatively aected mood and increased
headaches and feeling o.
Fostervold and
Nersveen (2008)
Direct vs. indirect lighting Controlled eld study
(n= 64)
Varying proportions of direct and indirect lighting did not aect perceived
musculoskeletal or eye problems, mood, anxiety or depression.
Veitch et al. (2008) Lighting quality Controlled lab studies
(n= 151/80)
Participants who perceived their oce lighting as of higher quality rated
the space as more attractive. As a result, they were in a more
pleasurable mood and reported less overall discomfort.
Boubekri et al.
(2014)
Workstations with or without
windows
Cross-sectional (n= 49)
(recruited)
Workers in workplaces where daylight was >2% of the outdoor
illuminance slept 46 min more per night (p< .05) and reported better
overall sleep quality (p= .05) and more vitality (+16%, p= .004). There
were no dierences in self-reported physical or social function, bodily
pain or general health.
Bjørnstad et al.
(2016)
Amount of sunlight Cross-sectional (n=
565) (resp. = 40%)
More indoor nature contact, including sunlight, in the primary workspace
was associated with fewer subjective health complaints and sickness
absence, and more organizational support (all p< .001).
De Kort and
Smolders (2010)
Dynamic vs. static lighting Controlled eld study
(n= 83)
No signicant dierences between static and dynamic lighting in a
monthly alternating scheme were found in perceived need for recovery,
vitality, alertness, headache and eyestrain, mental health, or sleep
quality.
Viola et al. (2008) Blue-enriched white light vs.
white light
Controlled eld study
(n= 94)
Blue-enriched white lighting (17,000 K) had better eects on daytime
alertness (P< .0001) and sleepiness (p= .0001), positive mood (p
< .0001), irritability (p= .004), eye discomfort (p= .002), and night-time
sleep quality (p= .016) than white light (4000 K) did. No eects on
headaches were found.
BUILDING RESEARCH & INFORMATION 7
Johansson, & Patil, 2015; Qin, Sun, Zhou, Leng, & Lian,
2014).
For real outdoor nature views, two studies nd posi-
tive (Bjørnstad et al., 2016; Kahn et al., 2008) and one
study nds no health benets (Xue, Gou, & Lau, 2016).
In lab studies testing the health eect of articial nature
views, a positive eect is found for nature posters
(Kweon, Ulrich, Walker, & Tassinary, 2008); nature
views on a plasma display window have no health
eect (Kahn et al., 2008). Overall, the reviewed papers
provide only limited evidence that greenery in the work-
space has a positive impact on health and no evidence
that greenery has a negative impact on health.
Individual control
The research on interior space and health extends to tan-
gible options for oce workers to control their physical
work environment. The following two types of control
are addressed (Table 6): (1) the possibility of adjusting
the conditions of the workspace (Bluyssen, Aries, &
Van Dommelen, 2011; Boerstra et al., 2015; Joines
et al., 2015; Knight & Haslam, 2010; Toftum, 2010)
and (2) personalization of the workstation (Wells,
2000). Both control types are found to have a positive
relationship with psychological well-being, and to a les-
ser extent, physical well-being.
The ndings also show that actual control of one
aspect of the environment leads to perceived control of
other aspects (Boerstra et al., 2015; Toftum, 2010). The
studies on individual control emphasize physical well-
being although perceived control is an important
psychological factor in reducing stress (Spector & Jex,
1998). Owing to the small number of studies, their
mostly cross-sectional design and mixed results, this
review cannot present strong evidence that the control
types investigated enhance health.
Oce noise
The characteristics of the interior oce space, including
spatial arrangements, room dimensions and nishing
materials, inuence noise by absorption or reection of
sound waves. In this review, only papers that present
measurements using acoustic parameters are included,
since (dis)satisfaction with noise does not tell how the
noise is related to characteristics of interior space
(Table 7).
The reviewed papers indicate that high levels of back-
ground noise and speech intelligibility in the workplace
negatively aect both physical and psychological well-
being. A higher sound level causes higher self-rated fati-
gue (Jahncke, Hygge, Halin, Green, & Dimberg, 2011),
disturbance and annoyance (Schlittmeier & Liebl,
2015). Shaee Motlagh, Golmohammadi, Aliabadi, Far-
admal, and Ranjbar (2018)nd that a higher sound
level slightly increases physiological stress, but Jahncke
et al. (2011), using other indicators for physiological
stress (see Table 7), do not nd this eect.
Sound absorption lowering the sound level from 47 to
45 dB decreases perceived disturbance and stress (Sed-
digh, Berntson, Jönsson, Danielson, & Westerlund,
2015). Schlittmeier and Liebl (2015) indicate that lower-
ing the sound level might not solve noise problems;
instead, it is the combination of a high sound level and
high speech intelligibility that causes disturbance.
The four papers addressing noise indicate that acous-
tic qualities of oce space aect health (Jahncke et al.,
Table 5. Papers addressing oce greenery and health.
Paper Studied interior space variable
Type of study (n)
(response) Major ndings related to health and well-being
Bjørnstad et al.
(2016)
Amount of indoor/outdoor nature
contact
Cross-sectional (n=
565) (resp. = 40%)
More indoor nature contact in the primary workspace (plants or owers,
windows to the outdoors, sunlight, unobstructed views, and nature elements
in view) was associated with fewer subjective health complaints and sickness
absence and more organizational support (all p< .001). Small eect sizes.
Fjeld (2000) Open oce with vs. without
plants
Controlled eld study
(n= 51)
Self-reported cough (37%, p< .05), fatigue (30%, p< .01), and dry throat
and skin (23%, p< .05) were lower for oces with plants. There was no
dierence in headaches, feeling heavy headed, nausea, irritated eyes or nose
or mental health.
Evensen et al.
(2015)
Plants vs. comparable inanimate
objects
Controlled lab study (n
= 85)
Environmental enrichment with either plants or objects at the computer
workstation increased fascination (restorative potential), but self-reported
restoration was not aected by plants, objects or window view.
Qin et al.
(2014)
Plants: dierent sizes, colours and
amount of scent
Controlled lab study (n
= 16)
Physiological stress measures showed little dierence. Participants preferred
oces with plants, especially green, slightly scented and small plants.
Kahn et al.
(2008)
Nature views through glass or
plasma window vs. blank wall
Controlled lab study (n
= 90)
Nature view through glass window: more rapid heart rate recovery (restoration)
from low level physical stress (p= .045). Aplasma windows (articial view)
was not more restorative than a blank wall was.
Xue et al.
(2016)
Nature views Cross-sectional (n=
413) (resp. n.a.)
There were no dierences in health concerns between workers with and
without visual connections from the workstation to outdoor green spaces.
Kweon et al.
(2008)
Posters, abstract art and/or nature
posters
Controlled lab study (n
= 210)
Increased proportions of nature paintings decreased the state of anger (β=
.20, p< .05) and stress (β=.31, p= .0009).
8S. COLENBERG ET AL.
2011; Schlittmeier & Liebl, 2015; Seddigh et al., 2015;
Shaee Motlagh et al., 2018). However, only one of the
papers explicitly analyses the relationship between
health, actual acoustics and the components of the
oce space design.
Summary analysis
Table 8 summarizes the features of interior oce space
studied in the reviewed papers, and the relationships of
these features with employees physical, psychological
and social well-being.
The ndings of the relationship between interior
oce space and health are threefold. First, as Table 8
shows, open-plan oces, shared rooms and higher back-
ground noise are the only features found to negatively
aect health. Second, the other features analysed in the
papers more often improve health than do nothing for
health. Third, positive relationships with health are
reported for all features of interior space. Features that
encourage physical activity, including sitstand and
bike desks, and increased distances to communal facili-
ties, are found to have a positive relationship with phys-
ical well-being. Similarly, the increase of (day)light and
individual control and the presence of plants and out-
door views show positive results for both physical and
psychological well-being. Small shared rooms support
social well-being.
Table 8 shows that interior oce space is analysed
rather as individual workspace (openness, size, furniture,
light levels and acoustics) than wider interior space (e.g.
meeting areas, staircases or the arrangement of work-
spaces and workstations). Within the individual work-
space, both spatial characteristics (e.g. openness, size
and distances) and presence of objects (e.g. furniture,
plants, controls and acoustic tiles) are measured, forming
the designers palette, as well as the qualities resulting
from the design (light, views, perceived control and
noise). The features of interior space are often either
studied in relative isolation (only 7 of the 50 papers
Table 6. Papers addressing individual control and health.
Paper Studied interior space variable
Type of study (n)
(response) Major ndings related to health and well-being
Wells (2000) Workspace personalization Cross-sectional (n= 338)
(resp. = 51%)
Indirect relationship: personalization is correlated with satisfaction with
physical work environment (r0.226, p< .001) and job satisfaction (r0.434,
p< .001), which is correlated with physical and psychological well-being
(r0,266, p< .001).
Knight and
Haslam (2010)
Managerial control of oce space Cross-sectional (n= 288/
1643) (resp. = 35%)
Both studies indicate that lack of involvement in layout changes (p< .01)
and individual control of temperature (p< .01) are moderately associated
with physical and psychological well-being (p< .001).
Joines et al.
(2015)
Adjustable task lighting Controlled eld study (n
= 95)
Using the adjustable task lights had signicant benets for musculoskeletal
(p= .011.041) and visual (p= .005.043) comfort. No negative results on
health were found.
Bluyssen et al.
(2011)
Control of lighting, noise, sun
shading, ventilation, temperature
Cross-sectional (n=
5732) (resp. n.a.)
The perceived amount of control was positively associated with overall
comfort (p< .001). Control of sun shading had a stronger relationship
with overall comfort (p< .001) than control of noise, ventilation or
temperature.
Toftum (2010) Opening windows Cross-sectional (n=
1272) (resp. n.a.)
In buildings with opening windows, occupants experienced more
opportunities for control. The degree of perceived control had a greater
inuence on heavy heads, headaches, and irritated eyes (all p< .05) than
the ventilation mode per se.
Boerstra et al.
(2015)
Personal desk fan controlled by self
or other
Controlled lab study (n
= 23)
In the self-control condition, which was preferred by the subjects, perceived
control of temperature, air movement, ventilation, light and noise was
higher. No dierences in thermal comfort and intensity of nose/throat/
eye irritation, headache or fatigue were observed.
Table 7. Papers addressing noise and health.
Paper
Studied interior space
variable
Type of study (n)
(response) Major ndings related to health and well-being
Jahncke et al. (2011) Sound level, high vs. low Controlled lab study
(n= 47)
More yawning (F(2,32) = 6.25, p< .01) in the high noise condition (51 dBA) vs. low
noise condition (1239 dBA) was observed. There were no reliable noise eects
on stress hormone levels.
Schlittmeier and
Liebl (2015)
Sound level, speech
intelligibility
Controlled lab study
(n= 74)
Perceived disturbance and annoyance were lower if background sound level and
speech intelligibility were diminished. Background sound (35/55 dBA) was
signicantly more disturbing than silence was (25 dBA).
Shaee Motlagh
et al. (2018)
Sound level, speech
intelligibility
Longitudinal (n=
104)
Physiological stress increased (skin conductance r= 0.069, p< .001; respiratory rate
r= 0.120, p< .05) at higher noise levels, moderated by working experience.
Speech transmission index had no impact.
Seddigh et al. (2015) Sound absorption
(baseline/better/ worse)
Controlled eld study
(n= 117)
Perceived disturbances and cognitive stress in the open-plan oce were lower in
the condition with enhanced sound absorption (p< .05).
BUILDING RESEARCH & INFORMATION 9
Table 8. Summary of the relation between interior oce space and health.
Physical well-being Psychological well-being Social well-being
sickness
absence
Physio-
logical
stress
indicators
Cardio-
metabolic
risk factors
/ fat
Musculo-
skeletal
issues
Skin/
eye/
nose/
throat
irritation
Tiredness/
fatigue/
alertness
Headache/
nausea/
dizziness
Visual
comfort
Thermal
comfort
Unplea-
sant
odour
Overall
comfort
Sleep
quality/
duration
Self-
rated
health/
vitality
Perceived
stress
Mood/
depression/
anxiety
General
annoyance/
anger
Noise
annoyance/
disturbances
Crowding/
privacy
Inter-
personal
relations
Perceived
organi-
zational
support
Workspace openness/size
Layout Shared vs. single room
1,2,3
−− +
Open-plan
2,4,5,6,7,8,9
+−− −− − −
Activity-based (mix)
10,11
+0 ±
Open bench vs. cubicle
12
0 +
Open bench vs. private
12
0 0
Distance to facilities
Dist. to bathroom/
kitchen
13, 14
+ (+)
Furniture Activating desks
Sitstand
desk
15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20
+
/
0+
/+00
Bike desk
21
+0 0 0
Ergonomic chairs
Feedback chair
22
0
Adjustable chair
20,23,24,25
(+) (+) 0
Natural light
Light Amount of daylight
26,27
(+) + + (+)
Electrical lighting
Light level/
quality
13,14,28,29,30,31
(+) (+) 0 (+) + +
Dynamic lighting
32
00 00 0
Indirect lighting
33
00 0
Blue-enriched light
34
0+ + +
Greenery Real nature
Plants
26,35,36,37
(+)
+
/
0+
/
0
+ 0 + (+) + (+) (+)
Outdoor nature views
26,40
+ (+) (+) (+)
Articial nature
Articial nature views
38,39
0++
Options for adjustment
Control Climate controls
41,42,43,44 +
/
0+
/
0+
/
0
+++
Adjustable task lighting
46
++ 0
Identity marking
Personalization
45
++
Noise Background noise
level
13,14,47,48,49
0
/()− −
Speech intelligibility
48,49
0 +
Sound absorption
50
++
+ Better health, worse health; 0 no relationship; () result in combination with other design features; [grey color] result of >1 study.
1
Jaakkola and Heinonen (1995);
2
Morrison and Macky (2017);
3
Pejtersen et al. (2011);
4
Bodin Danielsson et al. (2014);
5
Bodin Danielsson et al. (2015);
6
Brennan et al. (2002);
7
Pejtersen et al. (2006);
8
Duncan et al. (2015);
9
Haapakangas et al. (2018)
10
Meijer
et al. (2009);
11
Foley et al. (2016);
12
Lindberg et al. (2018);
13
Engelen et al. (2017);
14
Engelen et al. (2016);
15
Karakolis and Callaghan (2014);
16
Robertson et al. (2013);
17
Carr et al. (2016);
18
Graves et al. (2015);
19
Healy et al. (2013);
20
Grooten et al. (2017);
21
Torbeyns et al. (2016);
22
Roossien et al. (2017);
23
Van Niekerk et al. (2012);
24
Robertson et al. (2009);
25
Amick et al. (2012);
26
Bjørnstad et al. (2016);
27
Boubekri et al. (2014);
28
Van Duijnhoven et al. (2018);
29
Thayer et al. (2010);
30
Lamb and Kwok (2016);
31
Veitch et al. (2008);
32
De Kort and Smolders (2010);
33
Fostervold and Nersveen (2008);
34
Viola et al. (2008);
35
Fjeld (2000);
36
Evensen et al. (2015);
37
Qin et al. (2014);
38
Kahn et al. (2008);
39
Kweon et al. (2008);
40
Xue et al. (2016);
41
Toftum (2010);
42
Boerstra et al. (2015);
43
Bluyssen et al. (2011);
44
Knight and Haslam (2010);
45
Wells (2000);
46
Joines et al. (2015);
47
Jahncke et al. (2011);
48
Schlittmeier and Liebl (2015);
49
Shaee Motlagh et al. (2018);
50
Seddigh et al. (2015).
10 S. COLENBERG ET AL.
cover more than one of the features in the left column) or
all at once (results in brackets), without analysing their
mutual relationship or ranking their inuence on health.
Regarding health, Table 8 shows that the studies
emphasize physical health symptoms, and pay less atten-
tion to psychological and especially social well-being. In
addition, psychological well-being is measured in a more
general way (mood, general annoyanceand stress) than
physical well-being (how is your back/wrist/head/nose/
throat/sleep?), while the measures for social well-being
are not yet mature. The studies predominantly focus
on ways to prevent and reduce health problems, such
as ergonomic furniture to reduce discomfort, better
lighting to reduce headaches, and sound absorption to
reduce annoyance, and pay less notice to features that
may enhance health, for example, real and articial day-
light to increase night sleep, nature contact as a means to
recover from stress and personalization as a means to
enhance well-being.
Discussion and conclusion
Strengths and limitations
This study brings together empirical research on the
relationship between interior oce space and employee
health and well-being published in the past 26 years.
The strengths of this review are its wide scope and sys-
tematic approach to the collection and screening of the
literature. Its limitations include its restriction to peer-
reviewed journal papers in two databases. Future
research should expand the scope to cover other types
of publications, such as doctoral dissertations and
other scientic reports, as well as the use of more specic
databases, such as PsycINFO and PubMed.
Implications
As a practical implication, the study provides support for
workplace managers, interior designers, architects and
corporate real estate managers, for instance, as input
for verbalizing and testing assumptions about the
expected eect of a design. As Haddad (2014, p. 284)
states: Every design is a hypothesis but unlike scientic
researches the design hypotheses are rarely expressed
in projects. Although the studies surveyed in the litera-
ture review overall lack the numbers, consistency and
robustness to draw rm conclusions, they provide
some directions for achieving health-supporting interior
space. First, it seems that open-plan oces should be
avoided, although it is not yet clear to what extent the
number of occupants, spatial density and openness are
related to health complaints. Furthermore, to support
employee health, interior oce space preferably should
feature sitstand desks, plants and sucient (day)light.
Providing employees with sitstand desks have been
shown to have a positive impact on employeesphysical
well-being. Although the positive health impact of view-
ing plants and nature in the workplace needs conr-
mation in large eld experiments, thus far, the research
shows that employees appreciate plants and feel better
around them (Fjeld, 2000; Smith & Pitt, 2009). The posi-
tive inuence of greenery and daylight is consistent with
studies on biophilic design (Gillis, Gatersleben, Gillis, &
Gatersleben, 2015) and green space (Gilchrist, Brown, &
Montarzino, 2015). Above all, this review contributes to
the debate on healthy oces by strengthening the evi-
dence-based discussion.
For scientic scholars, this study contributes to a col-
lective basis for research on interior oce space to form a
more united and mature research domain. The review
brings together examples from dierent disciplines on
useful research designs and instruments. It serves as a
comprehensive reference source for further research in
the area and provides a basis for a common language
between disciplines, which helps research on the work
environment to develop as a multi-disciplinary eld, as
proposed by Appel-Meulenbroek, Clippard, and Pfnür
(2018).
Recommendations for future research
First, future research should aim to deepen understand-
ing of the relationship between interior oce space and
employee well-being. One open-ended question is what
combination of conditions causes negative experience
of open-plan oces. Based on the work of Wohlers
and Hertel (2017), future research could investigate
how a well-designed ABW environment could minimize
health risks and maximize health benets. Regarding the
impact of noise, future research should measure objec-
tive as well as subjective noise, and connect this to design
features reducing actual noise, such as sound-absorbing
wall and oor nishes and partitions, as well as options
for controlling or escaping noise.
In addition to the purpose of reducing oce workers
stress, future research on interior oce space should
address positive design, strategies to enhance their
well-being by facilitating restoration, relatedness and
health-supporting behaviour. After all, several features
of interior space have been shown to aect social inter-
action and relationships (Khazanchi, Sprinkle, Master-
son, & Tong, 2018; Sailer & McCulloh, 2012), and the
presence of natural elements contributes to recovery
from stress (Gillis et al., 2015). Creating obvious, easy
and attractive opportunities for physical activity,
BUILDING RESEARCH & INFORMATION 11
relaxation and positive social interaction may stimulate
desired behaviour through nudging(Thaler & Sunstein,
2008). In the included papers, this was limited to furni-
ture and walking distances, but there may be other fea-
tures that also nudge health-related behaviour, for
instance, attractive staircases (Swenson & Siegel, 2013),
visual communication (Kwak, Kremers, Van Baak, &
Brug, 2007) and the placement of food and drinks
(Arno & Thomas, 2016; Kroese, Marchiori, & De Ridder,
2016). For an eective application of nudges, more
research is needed on the long-term eects and the con-
ditions for lasting habits (Lally, Van Jaarsveld, Potts, &
Wardle, 2010).
Conclusion
This research identied a lack of strong evidence in the
literature on the relationship between interior oce
space and individualswell-being, specically psycho-
logical and social well-being. The features studied
include layout, furniture, light, greenery, individual con-
trol and noise. Future research not only should expand
on the features of interior space and health aspects, but
also should aim to develop a collective vocabulary,
increase methodological strength and work toward holis-
tic models. Developing taxonomies for interior space in
oces and psychological and social well-being could
contribute to transdisciplinary collaboration and pro-
gress of the eld. A wider use of observational and phys-
iological measures, validated self-report measures and
longitudinal designs would add to the rigour. Including
more moderating and mediating variables, and perform-
ing multivariate and multilevel analyses could yield
insights into the complex interaction of people and
environment. This would help oce space research to
mature and contribute to a more solid foundation for
evidence-based design of healthy oces.
Acknowledgements
The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of Wim Pullen
from the Center for People and Buildings, while conducting
this study. In addition, the authors thank Vitalija Danivska
from Aalto University, and Anja Köhler and Ruben den Uyl
from TU Delft for the paper assessments and discussions,
and Min Huang from Oce Vitae, Delft, for her help with
the 2018 update.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
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BUILDING RESEARCH & INFORMATION 15
... Review findings overwhelmingly associated openplan office layouts with deleterious effects on physical health for individuals using these spaces, with the exception of a 2005 review which found inconsistent evidence on workplace openness on health (measured as crowding stress; [10]). Other reviews identified negative effects for measures of general health [11][12][13] and a range of specific physical health outcomes including: fatigue [12,[14][15][16]; stress [11][12][13][14][15][16]; headaches [12,16]; and ear, nose and throat [12,15], respiratory [12], musculoskeletal, central nervous system and mucus membrane symptoms [11,15]. Open-plan layouts were also consistently associated with negative mental wellbeing impacts, including on psychological mental health, sleep, tiredness and mental exhaustion [12][13][14]16]. ...
... Review findings overwhelmingly associated openplan office layouts with deleterious effects on physical health for individuals using these spaces, with the exception of a 2005 review which found inconsistent evidence on workplace openness on health (measured as crowding stress; [10]). Other reviews identified negative effects for measures of general health [11][12][13] and a range of specific physical health outcomes including: fatigue [12,[14][15][16]; stress [11][12][13][14][15][16]; headaches [12,16]; and ear, nose and throat [12,15], respiratory [12], musculoskeletal, central nervous system and mucus membrane symptoms [11,15]. Open-plan layouts were also consistently associated with negative mental wellbeing impacts, including on psychological mental health, sleep, tiredness and mental exhaustion [12][13][14]16]. ...
... Review findings overwhelmingly associated openplan office layouts with deleterious effects on physical health for individuals using these spaces, with the exception of a 2005 review which found inconsistent evidence on workplace openness on health (measured as crowding stress; [10]). Other reviews identified negative effects for measures of general health [11][12][13] and a range of specific physical health outcomes including: fatigue [12,[14][15][16]; stress [11][12][13][14][15][16]; headaches [12,16]; and ear, nose and throat [12,15], respiratory [12], musculoskeletal, central nervous system and mucus membrane symptoms [11,15]. Open-plan layouts were also consistently associated with negative mental wellbeing impacts, including on psychological mental health, sleep, tiredness and mental exhaustion [12][13][14]16]. ...
... However, it is necessary to conduct research on interior design that could satisfy indoor activities with psychological satisfaction and classify resident-centered space designs such as wall color, pattern, and ceiling height according to individual preferences to support decision-making [7][8][9]. Naturally, interest in how to organize indoor spaces for personal preferences is also increasing [10][11][12][13]. As a result, indoor space should be analyzed in terms of the classification of human tendencies and behavioral patterns based on different evaluation tools, such as emotional and cognitive approaches. ...
... This study was conducted according to a systematic literature review procedure. A systematic literature review was adopted as the research design compared to traditional reviews, allowing the authors to understand the body of knowledge in selecting papers and proposing a research model through a robust, reproducible method while linking the model with the direction of future research [11,21,22]. This process makes it possible to comprehend the research trends and determine the extent to which each country and research field currently follows these trends [23]. ...
... A systematic literature review was guided by methodological steps based on PRISMA and proceeded based on the proposed checklist [11,24]. It comprises four processes: (1) selection of search engines and keywords, (2) selection of studies based on the keywords, (3) quantitative literature analysis, and (4) results analysis and discussion [21,23]. ...
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COVID-19 has forced people to spend more time indoors due to lockdown and social distancing, and clients demand personalized indoor spaces designed to increase individual satisfaction indoors. Consequently, various fourth industrial revolution technologies have been applied to support construction spaces to satisfy those clients lacking architectural knowledge and experience by reflecting individual tendencies and perceptions to build personalized indoor spaces. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how users evaluate the space according to behaviors and emotions felt in the space. A systematic review is performed to integrate significant categories from multiple disciplines to investigate the various decision-making aspects. In this study, 124 papers were selected, applying the PRISMA checklist to conduct a systematic literature review with scientometric analysis to propose a conceptual framework by reflecting the research trend related to indoor space decision-making. Accordingly, research on indoor space decision-making is increasing with pursuing convergence with various fields of study. The research is focused on the following four clusters: indoor space components, human tendencies, technology, and spatial evaluation. The framework proposed by integrating these trends could be utilized by clients as a practical tool to support people-centered indoor space decision-making post-COVID-19. Moreover, a framework should be developed to expand effectiveness in indoor spaces through convergence and collaboration research with psychology, physiology, and the medical field.
... Several motivations highlight that human comfort in the built environment is a target for a multitude of aspects (Colenberg et al. 2020;Levin 2003). Various engineering tools are typically used to optimize design in terms of thermal comfort, indoor air quality, visual comfort, noise nuisance, ergonomics, and others. ...
... Many aspects (like, for example, personal factors, nervous states, architectural parameters) are known to represent additional influencing parameters for human comfort in buildings ( Figure 1). This means that a long list of aspects and parameters are mutually affected by each other, including the correlation of built environment characteristics and its impact on the occupants' emotions, behaviours, and physical well-being (Colenberg et al. 2020). Modification of emotions and nervous state can result for example in different locomotion features (Figure 1), and thus in modification of moving loads which are transferred by humans on structural members. ...
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Civil engineering design and industry are continuously evolving with the support of advancements in technology. Digital tools are able to assist designers in solving several issues with more accuracy and minimized efforts. In parallel, maximization of human comfort is a target for various design procedures, where mathematical models and standardized protocols are conventionally used to optimize well-being of customers. Major challenges and troubles can indeed derive, structurally speaking, from human reactions, which are related to a multitude of aspects, and may further enforced by slender / transparent glass components. The so-called “emotional architecture” and its nervous feelings are intrinsic part of the issue, and hence the mutual interaction of objective and subjective parameters can make complex the building design optimization. This paper presents some recent studies in which human comfort for glass structures occupants is quantitatively measured, both with the support of remote digital technologies based on facial micro-expression analysis and in-field experiments able to capture kinematic and biometric parameters for customers moving in glass environments.
... These variables are also among the major threats to internal validity, especially in cross-sectional designs (Skelly et al. 2012;Asiamah et al. 2019). Related studies (Colenberg et al. 2021;Nasser and Miltagy 2017;Lund et al. 2006;Thayer et al. 2010) have shown that organizational factors such as PWE where people work depend on gender and educational attainment; men and women as well as highly educated and lowly educated people have different opportunities to work in organizations with highly satisfactory PWE. Similarly, whether an individual would work in a highly satisfactory PWE can depend on age, health status, job income, job tenure, physical functional status (PFS), and chronic disease status (CDS) (Cantor 1975;Thayer et al. 2010;Bergefurt et al. 2022). ...
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Objective Presenteeism has, in a larger sense, been viewed as a negative behaviour, although a limited body of studies suggests and reports its positive implications in an organizational context. This study assessed the association between the physical work environment (PWE) and presenteeism as well as the moderating influence of workplace support for health (WSH) on this relationship. Methods This study adopted the cross-sectional design alongside a sensitivity analysis and techniques against common methods bias. The study population was employees of private and public organizations in Accra, Ghana. A total of 590 employees participated in the study and hierarchical linear regression was used to present the results. Results PWE had a positive relationship with presenteeism ( β = 0.15; t = 3.04; p < 0.05), which means that higher presenteeism was associated with larger PWE scores. WSH positively moderated the relationship between PWE and presenteeism ( β = 0.23; t = 4.84; p < 0.001). Conclusions Organizations with more satisfactory work environments may serve as preferred protective places for employees during a pandemic, more so within organizations with higher WSH. Interventions rolled out to improve PWE and to provide WSH can attenuate the potential negative influences of presenteeism on individual health and organizational productivity.
... Dazu gehören u. a. Lärm, ständige Störungen bzw. Unterbrechungen beim Arbeiten oder Hitze (Colenberg et al. 2021). Andererseits geht ein ganzheitlicher arbeitsgestalterischer Ansatz über die bloße Reduktion negativer Belastungsfaktoren hinaus indem er gleichermaßen den Anspruch verfolgt, diejenigen Faktoren gezielt zu schaffen und zu fördern, die mit positiven Effekten verbunden sind. ...
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Zusammenfassung Dieser Beitrag der Zeitschrift „Gruppe. Interaktion. Organisation. (GIO)“ verfolgt das Ziel, eine Übersicht über den Forschungsstand zu anwendungsorientierter (Neu‑)Gestaltung von Arbeitsumwelten aus dem Bereich der Architekturpsychologie zu geben. Durch die Digitalisierung und die zunehmende Ortsunabhängigkeit von Arbeit werden Arbeitsumwelten in der Organisation immer mehr zu einem Dreh- und Angelpunkt der organisationalen Zusammenarbeit. Solche „organizational hubs“ sollten daher zielgerichtet gestaltet werden. Welche architektonischen Gestaltungselemente sind für diesen Kontext relevant und wie lässt sich deren Wirkungsweise theoretisch begründen? Das Review liefert für diesen spezifischen Anwendungsfall geeignet erscheinende Ansätze. Ein besonderer Fokus liegt dabei auf den Auswirkungen von Gestaltungselementen auf das Wohlbefinden und die Leistungsfähigkeit von Beschäftigten. Auf dieser Grundlage erfolgt eine knappe Zusammenstellung der bestehenden, heterogenen Befundlage zu einzelnen architekturpsychologischen Gestaltungselementen. Als Ergebnis der eingegrenzten Literatur-Übersicht lässt sich ein Forschungsdefizit bezüglich der Integration, Interaktionen und Gewichtung der einzelnen Elemente identifizieren, welches zukünftig in Forschung und Praxis adressiert werden muss.
... Numerous studies reported that employees have experienced disturbance by noise in their workplaces [17,18], especially the background speech in open-plan offices [19,20]. Exposing to a challenging acoustic environment in such a long period of time negatively affects both physical and psychological well-being of employees [21]. In order to achieve a healthy acoustic environment, ''working status" was chosen as a pilot project to explore people's demands for an acoustic environment. ...
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Noise has been proved to be a risk factor of physiological and psychological health. Creating a healthy acoustic environment is particularly important for people’s health and well-being. According to the former study, a healthy acoustic environment was expected to meet people’s subjective demands and the specific demands of people were proved to be closely associated with context. Based on the finding, the aims of this study are to explore people’s specific demands for a healthy acoustic environment and present a shortened questionnaire on people’s demands when working with complex cognitive tasks. Through focus group interviews, a total of 81 demands of people for a healthy acoustic environment were obtained. With a large sample questionnaire survey, some individualized demands were eliminated and the demands needed by most people were remained. Afterwards, a laboratory experiment was carried out and a shortened questionnaire on people’s demands for a healthy acoustic environment when working with complex cognitive tasks was proposed. Finally, the reliability and validity of the shortened questionnaire and its ability to differentiate various acoustic environments of working were tested. This study showed a detailed list of people’s demand for a healthy acoustic environment when working with complex cognitive tasks. In particular, the shortened questionnaire finally proposed in this study (DQ-HAEW8) could be used as a tool to measure the health level of acoustic environments when people were working with complex cognitive tasks in future.
Conference Paper
People in today’s world spend more than three quarters of their time in a day, indoors. It is vital for us to understand how these built spaces affect the health, wellbeing, cognitive capacities and emotions of its users. The focus of this research is on the impact of work environments on user psychology.The main aim is to study the effects of workplace architecture on the behavioural traits of its employees, and to arrive at specific design strategies, that shall improve employee performance and organizational profit. The methodology followed is the factor-based analysis of spatial configurations and their influence on employee productivity, by means of a modular evaluation tool, i.e. space syntax. Space syntax is the predominant mode of quantitative assessment used, to study how each spatial module affects employee output in an open-plan workplace. Simulations are generated via DepthMapX, a software tool. Qualitative modes such as user surveys and literature studies are utilized to statistically record aspects responsible for employee perceptions and distractions at workplaces. Three common types of workplaces were analysed i.e. open-plan, activity-based and hot-desking. Comparing the three case studies, it could be concluded that activity-based workplaces were more successful in enhancing employee performance. Open-plan layout analysed in this paper was hypothetically altered into an activity-based configuration. As per simulations generated via space-syntax, altered activity-based layout offered better results in comparison with the existing open-plan. A flow chart is tabulated on the basis of these findings, to highlight various design strategies that may be adopted to improve productivity.
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14. ročník SEMINÁR DOKTORANDOV 2022 ÚSTAVU POZEMNÉHO STAVITEĽSTVA Zborník príspevkov online | Webex MEETINGS | Košice 10. – 11. február 2022 Editori: prof. Ing. Dušan Katunský, CSc., prof. Ing. Zuzana Vranayová, CSc.
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Purpose This paper aims to build on the presumption that defining the spatial solution of the activity-based office environment through user-centred interdisciplinary dialog would strengthen understanding of interdependencies between the environment and the worker. Secondly, this presumption also contributes to the idea that the shared and clarified concepts of a spatial solution through location-specific structuring, would support the research outcomes in being communicated to the design practice, and further improve the work environment design in the future. Thirdly, this supposition is that understanding, documenting and communicating of the interdependencies between the environment and the worker would contribute to increased interdisciplinary understanding, ultimately benefitting the end-user, the worker. Design/methodology/approach The driver of this conceptual paper is to encourage understanding across disciplinary boundaries and communication of work environment research results for implementation in design practice. The authors introduce an ecosystem-based approach to discuss the spatial solutions of activity-based office work environments. This approach is motivated by a need to understand the contradictory findings in former knowledge work environment research, such as ambiguities with shared concepts concerning interdisciplinary spatial discourse and shortcomings with user-centred methodologies in architectural design research. The transdisciplinarity forms the methodological framework of this paper, and it is reflected in relation to the design research approach Research by Design (RbD). RbD considers the professional designer’s viewpoint, which includes creative knowledge production, carrying out the operations of research in a real-life context with interdisciplinary interactions together with the worker’s user-experience. Findings The research outcome is the proposal of an activity-based office ecosystem-based approach, in which the physical environment is structured into two entities: architectural envelope and interior orchestration . In this twofold approach, both qualitative and quantitative contents are meant to be seen as part of the time-location-based framework of an office space. This integrative approach is intended to support the process of searching for understanding and unity of knowledge across disciplinary boundaries. The twofold structuring also has an essential role in supporting methodological choices and the communication of the research outcomes both between disciplines and to design practice. The twofold model also has a role in engaging users as participants and evidence providers in the design or research processes. Originality/value The location-specific ecosystem-based approach of the physical work environment compiles of a twofold entity architectural envelope and interior orchestration . This approach supports affordance-based thinking, understanding the ecosystem’s complexity and underpins spatial documentation. Furthermore, this location-specific ecosystem-based approach enables communication of the research outcomes to the design practice and participation actions with the users.
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Objective Office environments have been causally linked to workplace-related illnesses and stress, yet little is known about how office workstation type is linked to objective metrics of physical activity and stress. We aimed to explore these associations among office workers in US federal office buildings. Methods We conducted a wearable, sensor-based, observational study of 231 workers in four office buildings. Outcome variables included workers’ physiological stress response, physical activity and perceived stress. Relationships between office workstation type and these variables were assessed using structural equation modelling. Results Workers in open bench seating were more active at the office than those in private offices and cubicles (open bench seating vs private office=225.52 mG (31.83% higher on average) (95% CI 136.57 to 314.46); open bench seating vs cubicle=185.13 mG (20.16% higher on average) (95% CI 66.53 to 303.72)). Furthermore, workers in open bench seating experienced lower perceived stress at the office than those in cubicles (−0.27 (9.10% lower on average) (95% CI −0.54 to −0.02)). Finally, higher physical activity at the office was related to lower physiological stress (higher heart rate variability in the time domain) outside the office (−26.12 ms/mG (14.18% higher on average) (95% CI −40.48 to −4.16)). Conclusions Office workstation type was related to enhanced physical activity and reduced physiological and perceived stress. This research highlights how office design, driven by office workstation type, could be a health-promoting factor.
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The current field study investigated the ambiguities regarding the relationship between office lighting and subjective alertness. In laboratory studies, light-induced effects were demonstrated. Field studies are essential to prove the validity of these results and the potential recommendations for lighting in future buildings. Therefore, lighting measurements and subjective health data were gathered in a Dutch office environment. Health data was collected by questionnaires and includes data on functional health, wellbeing and alertness. Multiple general, environmental, and personal variables were identified as confounders for the relationship between light and alertness. For six out of the total 46 participants a statistically significant correlation was found between horizontal illuminance (E hor) and subjective alertness. Further research needs to incorporate a larger sample size and more potential confounders for the relationship between E hor and alertness. Further research including these recommendations may explain why certain people respond to light while others do not.
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Numerous claims have been made about the benefits of activity-based working (ABW) on workers’ health and work performance. Yet, it is unclear if these claims are proven. This systematic review aims to establish whether there is an evidence base for the effects of ABW on health, work performance and perceptions of the work environment. Eight databases were searched in September 2016. Three reviewers independently screened titles and abstracts and assessed the studies and extracted the data. Seventeen studies involving 36,039 participants were included. The study designs varied in rigorousness from qualitative studies to pre–post-trials and in sample size ranging from 12 to 11,799. This review found that ABW has positive merits in the areas of interaction, communication, control of time and space, and satisfaction with the workspace; however, it is unfavourable for concentration and privacy. For physical and mental health, the evidence is equivocal. ABW seems to be a promising concept that can be implemented and promoted based on some benefits for work performance and perceptions of the work environment when it is coupled with appropriate management support and organization. More high-quality research is needed to strengthen the evidence base further and establish its health effects.
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Aim: To carry out a systematic review of recent research into the effects of workplace design, comparing individual with shared workspaces, on the health of employees. Methods: The research question was "Does workplace design (specifically individual offices compared with shared workspaces) affect the health of workers?" A literature search limited to articles published between 2000 and 2017 was undertaken. A systematic review was carried out, and the findings of the reviewed studies grouped into themes according to the primary outcomes measured in the studies. Results: The literature search identified 15 relevant studies addressing health effects of shared or open-plan offices compared with individual offices. Our systematic review found that, compared with individual offices, shared or open-plan office space is not beneficial to employees' health, with consistent findings of deleterious effects on staff health, wellbeing and productivity. Our findings are also consistent with those of earlier reviews. Conclusion: These findings have public health implications for the New Zealand workforce. Decisions about workplace design should include weighing the short-term financial benefits of open-plan or shared workspaces against the significant harms, including increased sickness absence, lower job satisfaction and productivity, and possible threats to recruitment and retention of staff.
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Several industry-led initiatives in various countries demonstrate a new interest in wellbeing and buildings. This paper adopts a scoping review method aiming to establish the most prevalent and insightful definitions and dimensions of wellbeing in buildings applied in the recent published literature. The paper adopts a two-step method for identifying and categorizing the conceptual approaches to wellbeing encountered in the current literature. First, an overview is presented of the term ‘wellbeing’ and its development over time. Second, the broad wellbeing categories identified are further refined and complemented via a deductive approach, drawing the final set of conceptual themes informed by the papers reviewed in this study. Nine themes were identified, two of which deductively emerged from the papers included in this study: environmental satisfaction/comfort and cognitive performance/productivity. The findings emphasize the heterogeneity of conceptual approaches to research concerning ‘wellbeing in buildings’, an ambiguity between wellbeing outcomes or determinants, and the need for greater clarity on the relative contributions of different wellbeing dimensions to overall individual or population wellbeing. Based on these findings, future work could be carried out to provide guidance on how to evaluate claims of evidence-based building design which foster individual or population wellbeing.
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Several industry-led initiatives in various countries demonstrate a new interest in wellbeing and buildings. This paper adopts a scoping review method aiming to establish the most prevalent and insightful definitions and dimensions of wellbeing in buildings applied in the recent published literature. The paper adopts a two-step method for identifying and categorizing the conceptual approaches to wellbeing encountered in the current literature. First, an overview is presented of the term ‘wellbeing’ and its development over time. Second, the broad wellbeing categories identified are further refined and complemented via a deductive approach, drawing the final set of conceptual themes informed by the papers reviewed in this study. Nine themes were identified, two of which deductively emerged from the papers included in this study: environmental satisfaction/comfort and cognitive performance/productivity. The findings emphasize the heterogeneity of conceptual approaches to research concerning ‘wellbeing in buildings’, an ambiguity between wellbeing outcomes or determinants, and the need for greater clarity on the relative contributions of different wellbeing dimensions to overall individual or population wellbeing. Based on these findings, future work could be carried out to provide guidance on how to evaluate claims of evidence-based building design which foster individual or population wellbeing.
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Noise in open-plan offices induces psychological stress and fatigue in staff. Focusing on workstations and noise exposure, this study investigated acoustic conditions in special open-plan offices and their relationship with neurophysiologic strain. Twenty banks and 104 participants were randomly selected. Acoustic properties of banks and workstation partitions were assessed using the ISO criteria and speech transmission index (STI). Equivalent noise level (LAeq) of the staff was measured in three 30-min intervals, and skin conductance level (SCL) and respiratory rate (RR) of staff were assessed in three 5-min intervals at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the work hours. The intelligibility of speech between staff workstations (SW) was better than that between staff and clients (S&C). The observed condition should be reversed to ensure speech privacy for the staff and speech intelligibility between the staff and clients. The findings indicated that with increasing LAeq of the staff, the SCL and RR, i.e., the stress of staff increased too. Yet, the staff with more work experience showed a lower increase in SCL. The correlation between STI and staff strain was not statistically significant; however, with increasing STI between SW and with decreasing STI between S&C, the staff strain increased. With increasing noise exposure, psychological stress of the staff increased too. Because of the acoustic condition and partitions used in the banks, the acoustic comfort of staff was not desirable. Since many other banks use such partitions, any improvement in partitions between workstations can enhance acoustic comfort in the banks.
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The physical layout of office space design has evolved to reflect the complexity of modern work and the transitory nature of contemporary employment. Although scholars have investigated the influence of physical workspace design on individual and organizational performance, there is a dearth of research evaluating its impact on work relationships. We contextualize workplace relationships in their physical environment and propose that spatial dimensions common to modern workspaces actively influence workplace relationships, focusing specifically on the spatial dimensions of proximity, workspace assignment, privacy, and crowding. Our spatial model of work relationships proposes that these elements work through relationship-building mechanisms, such as communication content, face-to-face frequency, communication duration, and identity marking, as well as through relationship-straining mechanisms, such as territoriality and ego depletion, to differentially influence both positive and negative relational ties at work. We highlight the trade-offs as well as the relational costs and benefits associated with modern office space dimensions and provide the first step in assessing the impact of the variations in spatial design found in the modern office space.
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The problems of open-plan offices are widely known. However, the factors explaining these effects have received less attention. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of office distractions in the emergence of other problems, and to examine the benefits of quiet workspaces in open-plan offices. Two organizations moved from private offices to open-plan offices that differed in the number and variety of quiet rooms. Survey data was gathered once before (N = 65 and 64) and once after the office relocation (N = 135 and 71). Perceived distractions increased in both organizations after the relocation. However, negative effects on environmental satisfaction, perceived collaboration and stress only emerged in the open-plan office where the number of quiet rooms was low. Increased distractions mediated the effects on collaboration and stress. Quiet workspaces, and the perceived ease of access to them, are associated with environmental perceptions, perceived collaboration and employee stress in open-plan offices.
Article
Purpose This study aims at understanding academic practice in the field of physical office environment research and providing recommendations for further enhancement of the field. It shows which effects of the physical office environment on employee outcomes are studied by which disciplines, and which methodologies are used by whom and on which variables. Existing gaps in research that are confirmed by these analyses are discussed and “assigned” to obvious, best suited combinations of future multi-disciplinary research projects to call for studies that would help practice in better decision-making. Design/methodology/approach After a systematic search and selection of studies, an exploratory analysis of 134 empirical studies from 50 different journals (and other sources) was performed. The selected studies were entered into a database with information on the empirical parameters of the study, the methodology and author information. From this database, cross-tables were built and tested with Canonical Correspondence analyses. Findings Results of the analyses showed that each discipline has its preferred topics and methods of research. In general, questionnaires are preferred over hard data from physical and physiological recordings. Still many important gaps exist in fully clarifying workplace effectiveness. This paper suggests which disciplines would be capable of taking up which challenges in future studies through interdisciplinary cooperation to further advance the field and corporate real estate management/FM in practice. Originality/value The Correspondence analyses not only confirmed important gaps for future research but also identified which disciplines would be best suited to take up these challenges.