Identifying interior design strategies for healthy workplaces – a literature review

Susanne Colenberg*, Tuuli Jylhä

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
51 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: It is widely recognized that interior office space can affect health in several ways. Strategic and evidence-based design, including explicit design objectives, well-chosen design solutions and evaluation of results, aid realization of desired health effects. Therefore, this paper aims to identify possibly effective interior design strategies and accompanying design solutions and to provide examples of effectiveness measures. Design/methodology/approach: A literature sample of 59 peer-reviewed papers published across disciplines was used to collect examples of workplace design features that have positively influenced workers’ well-being. The papers were grouped by their health objective and design scope successively and their theoretical assumptions, measures and findings were analyzed. Findings: Four main workplace design strategies were identified. Design for comfort aims at reducing or preventing health complaints, discomfort and stress, following a pathogenic approach. It has the longest tradition and is the most frequently addressed in the included papers. The other three take a salutogenic approach, promoting health by increasing resources for coping with demands through positive design. Design for restoration supports physical and mental recovery through connections with nature. Design for social well-being facilitates social cohesion and feelings of belonging. Design for healthy behavior aims at nudging physical activity in the workplace. Originality/value: By drawing complementary perspectives and offering examples of design solutions and effectiveness measures, this paper encourages workplace designers, managers and researchers to take a transdisciplinary and evidence-based approach to healthy workplaces. It also serves as a starting point for future empirical research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-189
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Corporate Real Estate
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Employee health
  • Interior design
  • Office
  • Salutogenic approach
  • Strategic design
  • Well-being
  • Outstanding Paper

    Colenberg, S.E. (Recipient), 2023

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

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