Current studies on the effects of work environments on employees can be criticised with regard to three aspects: (1) they are often based on single buildings or organisations and therefore not generalizable. (2) the influences of work design and the social environment are often not separated from the influences of the work environment. (3) the focus lies either on physical or perceived parameters – the two perspectives are usually not put into relation with each other.

In order to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the effect of workplace factors on office users, data from 39 buildings have been collected. A total of 1373 users of these office buildings participated in a survey. Multi-level models show that building-level variables are not generally informative in relation to office user-level outcomes such as satisfaction, well-being or job performance. Rather, employees’ perceptions of their office environments explain variance in self-reported outcomes. Perceptions of the office environment explain additional variance in relation to work design. The multi-level models further indicate that different aspects of the office environment contribute to variance explained in different outcomes. Important predictors for job satisfaction are workspace quality, distractions, and control over the environments. Health status is influenced by social density and distractions. Finally, job performance and work engagement are affected by workspace quality, distractions, and workplace appropriateness.

The results therefore imply that leveraging office design and management workplace / facilities managers can promote satisfaction, health, job performance, and work engagement. Thus, the results from the two studies have several implications for business managers, workspace designers, and workplace / facilities managers.