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The business case for a healthy office; a holistic overview of relations between office workspace design and mental health

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posted on 2022-09-01, 09:00 authored by Daan Kropman, Rianne Appel-Meulenbroek, Lisanne Bergefurt, Pascale LeBlanc

The role of the physical workspace in employee mental health is often overlooked. As a (mentally) healthy workforce is vital for an organisation’s success, it is important to optimise office workspace conditions. Previous studies on the effects of the physical workspace on mental health tended to focus on the effects of a specific element of the physical workspace on one or only a few mental health indicators. This study takes a more holistic approach by addressing the relationship of physical workspace characteristics with ten broad indicators of work-related mental health. Results of a systematic review of empirical evidence show that many aspects of (day)light, office layout/design, and temperature and thermal comfort have been proven to be related to many mental health indicators. Less tacit workspace characteristics (e.g., noise, use of colours) have been explored too, but so far have only been related to a few mental health indicators.

Practitioner summary: The absence of holistic insights regarding the empirical proof of the effects of workspace design on employee mental health prevents a clear business case for workplace investments. This paper presents a content analysis of existing studies and shows how seven elements of workspace design relate to 10 mental health indicators.

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