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Stress is one issue that affects the health and well-being of every building occupant. The negative effects of stress are more pronounced in workplaces, where stress can act as a major agent of disease and an impediment to employee productivity and satisfaction. The underlying causes of occupational stress are varied and include job insecurity, extended hours, excessive workload, altercations within the organization, tight deadlines, changes in responsibilities, and lack of autonomy, among others. One of the factors that can contribute to overall occupational stress is the working environment itself—a factor that can be mitigated by design. While occupational stress may arise from a multiplicity of causes, designers have numerous interventions they can employ to decrease it.
The literature on occupational health, well-being, satisfaction, and productivity is broad and multifaceted; however, this paper is limited to exploring stress factors that correlate with the built environment and focuses on employees who are experiencing a high rate of stress in office buildings as the target group. To address these issues, supporting literature was explored to identify environmental interventions that could reduce stress or enhance the stress-coping abilities of workers in offices by improving the environmental quality of the built environment.
This article explores the following questions: How does space cause people to experience mental stress? In what ways can the built environment itself be a generator of stress? What are the main environmental factors in offices that can mitigate the stress levels of employees or help them to recover more easily from work-related stress? To answer these questions, it is necessary to understand the causes and mechanisms of chronic stress, including work-related stressors, and to identify the factors in the built environment that can be associated with occupational stress. The present paper is based on concurrent analyses of supporting literature in the rather different fields of architecture, public health, psychology, management, and environmental studies. The outcome is an identified set of practical strategies that provide solutions for healthier and more productive workplaces. By concentrating on measures that can reduce employee stress levels, these strategies can be used as a source for evidence-based workplace designs.
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