The impact of offices on employees’ health: A systematic review of the evidence

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


Purpose: Burnouts are on the rise and now make up for over 50% of the long-term sicknessleave in The Netherlands. Little is known about the job demands and resources regarding thephysical work environment in offices. The aim of this paper is to study the impact of thephysical work environment of offices on the employee’s health and wellbeing. More specific,to find out which elements of physical work environment do have a positive or negative impacton physical or mental health and wellbeing of office workers based on empirical evidence.

Design/methodology/approach: The study is based on systematic literature review includingapprox. 2600 papers published in international scientific journals across different disciplinesfrom 1993 until today. The papers were reviewed through three scans. In the first and secondscans, papers were included or excluded based on the title and abstract. In the third scan, theentire paper was read resulting approx. 200 papers to include for the final analysis.

Findings: The study expects to find the main elements of the physical work environment thatimpact on employees’ health and wellbeing based on the empirical evidence. The preliminaryfindings show that the past ten years the amount of research in this field has grownsubstantially. More studies seem to focus on indoor environment, especially indoor climate,than on elements of workplace design like layout, furnishing or greenery. Recently design toactivate the employees has become a popular subject.

Practical implications: For practitioners, such as designers, HR professionals and facilitymanagers, the systematically collected evidence about the health effects of the physical workenvironment inform and enhance workplace design and thereby contribute to a healthier workenvironment in offices. For researchers it shows which physical elements of the officeenvironment are studied well and which elements may need further investigation related tophysical or mental occupational health.

Originality/value: Scientific research about the impact of building features on health andwellbeing is often limited to healthcare facilities (healing environment). This studysystematically collects the empirical evidence from the impact of office on health andwellbeing across different discipline.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventTWR 2018: 1st Transdisciplinary Workplace Research Conference - Tampere, Finland
Duration: 19 Sep 201821 Sep 2018


ConferenceTWR 2018: 1st Transdisciplinary Workplace Research Conference


  • physical work environment
  • office
  • health
  • wellbeing
  • literature review

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    Jylhä, T., & Colenberg, S. (2018). The impact of offices on employees’ health: A systematic review of the evidence. 33-33. Abstract from TWR 2018: 1st Transdisciplinary Workplace Research Conference , Tampere, Finland.