Do active design buildings change health behaviour and workplace perceptions?

L. Engelen*, H. M. Dhillon, J. Y. Chau, D. Hespe, A. E. Bauman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Occupying new, active design office buildings designed for health promotion and connectivity provides an opportunity to evaluate indoor environment effects on healthy behaviour, sedentariness and workplace perceptions. Aims: To determine if moving to a health-promoting building changed workplace physical activity, sedentary behaviour, workplace perceptions and productivity. Methods: Participants from four locations at the University of Sydney, Australia, relocated into a new active design building. After consent, participants completed an online questionnaire 2 months before moving and 2 months after. Questions related to health behaviours (physical activity and sitting time), musculoskeletal issues, perceptions of the office environment, productivity and engagement. Results: There were 34 participants (60% aged 25-45, 78% female, 84% employed full-time); 21 participants provided complete data. Results showed that after the move participants spent less work time sitting (83-70%; P < 0.01) and more time standing (9-21%; P < 0.01), while walking time remained unchanged. Participants reported less low back pain (P < 0.01). Sixty per cent of participants in the new workplace were in an open-plan office, compared to 16% before moving. Participants perceived the new work environment as more stimulating, better lit and ventilated, but noisier and providing less storage. No difference was reported in daily physical activity, number of stairs climbed or productivity. Conclusions: Moving to an active design building appeared to have physical health-promoting effects on workers, but workers' perceptions about the new work environment varied. These results will inform future studies in other new buildings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-411
Number of pages4
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Active design
  • Indoor environment
  • Sedentary behaviour
  • Survey
  • Workplace health


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