Workplace Spatial Environment and Sedentary Behavior at Work

The pursuit of efficiency and the permeation of communication technologies in modern workplace have increased prolonged sitting and physical inactivity among the white-collar workforce. Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for developing obesity and many diseases such as diabetes, chronic diseases, and hypertension.

This study intends to understand the impact of physical environment and spatial design on the levels of voluntary and imperative physical activity at workplace, and to collect evidence for design suggestions to encourage office workers’ activity level on a daily basis. Several pilot studies have been conducted under this theme, looking at both whole building level and floorplan layout design.

One pilot study examined how proximity from individual workstations to various shared service and amenity spaces in the workplace (e.g., meeting spaces, copy rooms, kitchens, restrooms, elevators, and stairs) is associated with occupants’ physical activity level and activity patterns, as well as occupants’ environmental and job satisfaction. A multi-tool research method was adopted, using survey, accelerometer, and floorplan analysis.

Another pilot study explored the association between stair use and buildings’ vertical transportation design, i.e. the relative location of elevators and staircases as well as the typology of circulation pattern.



Hua, Y. & Yang, E. (Accepted for publication). Building spatial layout that supports healthier behavior of office workers: A new performance mandate for sustainable buildings. Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation. Special Issue on Green Ergonomics.