How Does Office Design Support Employees’ Health? A Case Study on the Relationships among Employees’ Perceptions of the Office Environment, Their Sense of Coherence and Office Design


This study investigated the current design circumstances of an office as well as employees’ perceptions of the office environment in relation to their perceived health, drawing on sense of coherence theory (comprehensibility, manageability, and meaningfulness). Previous studies have related the physical office environment to employee health. However, most studies have focused on alleviating negative effects, while health-promoting potential, including employee sense of coherence, has been overlooked. This study adopted a mixed method case study approach, combining semi-structured interviews with employees, structured observations, and analysis of architectural drawings. The results indicated that employees’ perceptions did not always align with the ideas behind the architectural design and that employees understood the environment differently. The study also highlighted the interrelations (and contradictions) among the different components of sense of coherence. The findings imply that organizations may need to prioritize which components of coherence should be supported most by the office environment. It also suggests that case-specific design aspects should play a more central role in studying and conceptualizing healthy office design and that design solutions should be continuously modified during the use phase, while ensuring employees’ participation. The study concluded that an ‘ideal’ office environment should not be the goal. Instead, office design should provide an environment in which employees are able to cope with challenges in comprehensible, manageable and meaningful ways.

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Melina Forooraghi
Researcher - Institutet för stressmedicin (ISM)

Melina’s research focuses on the relationship between health and the built environment, drawing on a health approach called salutogenesis. More specifically, her research addresses how office design can promote employee health and wellbeing, by studying factors of the built environment that makes us healthy rather than those leading to disease and illness.

Holger Wallbaum
Holger Wallbaum
Full Professor, Vice-Head of Department and Vice-Dean for Research

Holger is a Full Professor in sustainable building at the Division of Building Technology, research group Sustainable Building, and in the Area of advance Building Futures. Holger works within sustainable building on concepts, tools and strategies to enhance the sustainability performance of construction materials, building products, buildings as well as entire cities.