The Snowball Effect of Healthy Offices

May 31, 2017 1:05 PM ET

The Green Perspective | Places to Live & Work

Groundbreaking research conducted by the University of Twente and CBRE confirms the relationship between people’s working environment and their health, well-being and ability to perform.

Everyone has experienced them – those days at the office that never seem to end and when you just can’t seems to get any work done. But imagine if we all worked in an environment that fully supported our health and wellbeing; would that make us healthier? And would it make us perform better? The answer is ‘Yes’.

CBRE Netherlands, jointly with the University of Twente, have carried out unique, in-depth research which confirms the relationship between people’s working environment, their health, well-being, and ability to perform at their best. This multidisciplinary research focused on the effects of the working environment on employee potential and involved the departments of neurocognitive psychology, biomedical engineering, and business.

Dutch people are among the happiest and healthiest people in the world, yet burn-out rates are on the rise. We measured the effect of changes in the working environment and health over a period of 7 months at CBRE’s Amsterdam office; using surveys, experiments, biological data, movement daily ratings, and interviews. 124 employees participated in the research, producing over 100,000 data points for analysis.

The effects of natural space, the right lighting, healthy nutrition, mental balance, and physical exercise were studied.

The Results at a Glance

People function and perform significantly better in a healthy work environment. It also makes people more aware of their health and it inspires them to live healthier at home.

The Surprise ‘Snowball Effect’

Our research shows that the healthy office can cause a ripple effect, helping to generate wider benefits. Improving the 8+ hours that employees spend at work can greatly improve their overall physical and mental health and encourage those healthier habits at home with them too. We call this the ‘snowball effect’.

The Healthy Offices research project was led by Elizabeth C. Nelson, a PhD Candidate Biomedical Engineering, University of Twente. Download the research e-paper here.