Working environment has a greater impact on occupational wellbeing than salary

A pleasant and tidy physical working environment has a significant impact on the occupational wellbeing of office workers. A good salary and suitable workload have a lower impact.


A total of 1,012 office workers in Finland responded this survey. The survey also studied the respondents’ views on energy efficiency and was commissioned by Are Group, a provider of contracting, property and renovating services.

In the survey conducted by Taloustutkimus, office workers were invited to assess the factors out of ten alternatives with the biggest impact on occupational wellbeing. The top five factors turned out to be partly as expected, partly a surprise.

The fourth most significant factor contributing to occupational wellbeing is the physical working environment. It was considered more important than a good salary, which was the fifth on the list. As expected, the top three factors were motivating work, human relations in the workplace and a good supervisor. (Appendix: Image 1)

Fresh indoor air is the most important factor in the physical working environment

Fresh indoor air was considered the most important factor in the indoor conditions of the physical working environment, while the second and third most important factors were the suitability of facilities for the tasks and a pleasant temperature. (Appendix: Image 2) According to office workers, indoor air quality has the biggest impact on energy levels, work efficiency and occupational wellbeing. (Appendix: Image 3)

The factors contributing to the indoor conditions that were given the poorest marks by the respondents were temperature, acoustics and indoor air quality. The factor that received the best marks was lighting which was assessed as very good by nearly a third of the respondents. (Appendix: Image 4)

“What is worrying about the results is that a half of the respondents feel that they get tired every now and then because of poor indoor air and a fourth experience this problem at least a few times a week. And five per cent said that they had been on a sick leave during the last six months because of poor indoor air quality. These are high numbers with regard to occupational health and wellbeing as well as productivity,” says Are’s CEO and President Heikki Pesu. (Appendix: Image 5)

Are has access to monitoring data relating to energy consumption and user satisfaction at its customers’ properties. This data includes several success stories: at some properties the situation improved when the building was commissioned and at some, property or renovation services were able to improve the situation.

“But as the survey proved, many properties are still waiting for improvements. Further studies will be necessary to get an even better understanding of the activities and thinking of the users – this will enable us to discuss the necessary service models and solutions with our customers,” Heikki Pesu says.

Energy efficiency should be discussed

The office space survey studied attitudes towards the energy efficiency of buildings. Office space users consider energy efficiency to be important: two thirds of the respondents rated it fairly or very important. A total of 39 per cent wanted to know more about office energy consumption. (Appendix: Images 6 and 7)

“Energy efficiency interests people, and many office workers also want to know more about energy consumption at their workplace. Discussing these matters is important, as this is the only way to find efficient methods and solutions for everyday energy savings,” Heikki Pesu says.

User satisfaction is important at Are

Are commissioned the office space survey to find out more about the impact of indoor conditions on user satisfaction and work efficiency as well as aspects such as productivity in a space. Do people consider their workspace pleasant, and feel that they can do their work there energetically and healthily? And what is the significance of energy efficiency and how can we work together to develop it?

“Are’s customers, i.e. office property owners, have identified in their business that the users, the environment and energy efficiency have simultaneous requirements. These requirements are and will increasingly be solved together by the customer, designer, architect and the companies and people providing building and property services,” Pesu says.

For additional information, please contact:

Are Group

Heikki Pesu, CEO, tel. +358 (0)40 300 5450,  

Kauko Pellikka, Project Development Director, tel. +358 (0)40 300 5172,

Are Office Space Survey 2013 (pdf)

Image 1 The factors with the greatest impact on occupational wellbeing
Image 2 The main factors of indoor conditions in a good working environment
Image 3 The impact of indoor air quality
Image 4 The quality of office indoor conditions
Image 5 How often do you feel tired because of poor indoor air?
Image 6 The significance of the energy efficiency of the office building to its users
Image 7 Would you like to know more about office energy consumption?

Requests for material:  

A major Finnish office space survey

The survey was commissioned by Are Group and conducted by the market research company Taloustutkimus Oy in May 2013. Over a thousand office workers in various parts of Finland responded to the survey (N=1012).

The respondents were invited to share their thoughts on the quality of the indoor conditions at their office and the impact of this on occupational wellbeing and work. The indoor conditions were defined as the physical working environment, such as heating, air conditioning and lighting. The survey also briefly mapped the respondents’ thoughts about the significance of energy efficiency in buildings and property management.

The background information on the respondents included job title, educational level and gender as well as the year that the property was built and its ventilation method. About 40 per cent of the respondents said they worked in a property built between the 1960s and 1980s. Almost as many respondents worked in properties built in the 1990s or after. The majority of respondents worked in buildings with mechanical ventilation. 

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