Impact of Office Layout on Communication in a Science-Driven Business

Article · August 2008with593 Reads
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9310.2008.00524.x
Driving innovation and creativity has relied heavily on new information technologies in the last decade. Human capital has certainly had its importance, but how to coordinate human capital in order to push productivity in research and development without compromising individual initiative is still not well understood. In this paper, we provide results showing that geometry of workspace has indeed an impact on communication patterns and may thus be used as a means to drive both innovation and efficient research. In order to be creative, new knowledge has to be created. Communication facilitates knowledge creation. We try to close the bridge between areas of creation of tacit knowledge and transfer of knowledge highlighted by authors like Nonaka, Takeuchi, Konno, von Krogh and von Hippel with the area of communication patterns pioneered by Allen, Hatch, and Stryker, by considering face-to-face (FTF) communication as a first step for socialization, socialization as a means for knowledge creation. In this article, we compare two different office environments within the same site, same activity, same hierarchical level and same company: a traditional cell office area and a new multi-space office, used by people who used to work in cell offices. We observed FTF communication patterns during 120h in two areas and measured over 2,000 communication events. We found that people communicate three times more often in a multi-space area than in a cell-space area. We also found that the mean duration of communication events decreased from 9 to 3min when transferring collaborators from a cell-space to a multi-space. Finally time spent without communication increased from 5% to 29% when going from cell-offices to multi-space areas leaving more time for people to work and think on their own. And we found that most communication events during work time in the multi-space took place at the work place and seldom or never in soft sitting areas installed for the purpose of communication.
    • At the physical level, there has been a rapid proliferation of studies examining the impact of 'activity-permissive' workstations (e.g., treadmill desks, sit-stand workstations) with the majority published in the last 10 years[23][24][25]. Differential associations between self-reported sitting break frequency[26]and activity levels[25,27,28]according to spatial configuration have been reported. Although insightful, findings are limited by self-report measures of sedentary behavior[26], sample size[25], or lack of diversity in organizational sector[19,20].
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background To identify social ecological correlates of objectively measured workplace sedentary behavior. Methods Participants from 24 worksites - across academic, industrial, and government sectors - wore an activPAL-micro accelerometer for 7-days (Jan-Nov 2016). Work time was segmented using daily logs. Sedentary behavior outcomes included time spent sitting, standing, in light intensity physical activity (LPA, stepping cadence <100 steps/min), and in prolonged sitting bouts (>30 min). Outcomes were standardized to an 8 h work day. Two electronic surveys were completed to derive individual (job type and work engagement), cultural (lunch away from the desk, walking at lunch and face-to-face interaction), physical (personal printer and office type) and organizational (sector) factors. Mixed-model analyses with worksite-level clustering were performed to examine multi-level associations. Secondary analyses examined job type and sector as moderators of these associations. All models were adjusted for age, race/ethnicity and gender. Results Participants (N = 478; 72% female; age: 45.0 ± 11.3 years; 77.8% non-Hispanic white) wore the activPAL-micro for 90.2 ± 15.5% of the reported workday. Walking at lunch was positively associated with LPA (5.0 ± 0.5 min/8 h, P < 0.001). Regular face-to-face interaction was negatively associated with prolonged sitting (−11.3 ± 4.8 min/8 h, P < 0.05). Individuals in private offices sat more (20.1 ± 9.1 min/8 h, P < 0.05), stood less (−21.5 ± 8.8 min/8 h, P < 0.05), and engaged in more prolonged sitting (40.9 ± 11.2 min/8 h, P < 0.001) than those in public office space. These associations were further modified by job type and sector. Conclusions Work-specific individual, cultural, physical and organizational factors are associated with workplace sedentary behavior. Associations vary by job type and sector and should be considered in the design of workplace interventions to reduce sedentary behavior. Trial registration Clinical trial No. NCT02566317; Registered Sept 22nd 2015.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2017
    • In today's knowledge work organizations, collaboration is highly valued. Therefore, new offices are often designed as multi-space offices (Boutellier et al. 2008) or activity-based offices (Appel-Meulenbroek et al. 2011). Both of these office types aim to provide spaces that support both individual, concentration intense working and spaces that support collaboration and teamwork.
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adaptive lighting technologies and control of lighting by users provide new possibilities for lighting design in the context of knowledge work environments. In our research project, we study innovation supporting knowledge work environments and their features, such as lighting. In this paper, we present and reflect the design of a pilot intervention, where the use of adaptive lighting was tested. We discuss how different forms of data and knowledge can be applied as a rationale for adaptive lighting behaviour which as an ambient feature in office environment supports knowledge workers' well-being and supports different working situations. In addition, we present the data-based evaluation methods with which we could gain feedback from users' experiences and their way of using the lighting and the pilot office environment. The potential of this kind of real-world data for future design processes is discussed.
    Full-text · Conference Paper · Sep 2017 · International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
    • In support of that thesis Martens (2011) refers to the results of a study conducted by Boutellier et Al. on the frequency of interactions between the managers of an R&D division. Research reveals that the lay-out of the office can affect the duration, frequency and temporal distance between a consultation and the subsequent (Boutellier et al, 2008). To prove that only the spatial variable was responsible of the results obtained, two managers within the same organization with similar tasks to be performed were chosen.
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of the present work is to outline reciprocal influences between architecture of workplace, the use of collaborative technologies and firm’s organization. Workplace design and organizational structure are effective levers for competitive improvement since they foster the communication which is critical to the innovation process. By encouraging more flexible workstyles, also collaborative technologies can influence the design of physical environments in which innovative activities take place. Nevertheless, those activities still remain anchored to the need of physical proximity amongst the actors of the process. Facilities external layout, as well as the design of the layout inside them, become so critical to encourage chance encounters amongst people implicated in the process that otherwise may never interact. In particular, is the concept of awareness that creates a link between architecture and innovation. By acting on major spatial variables, such as visibility, physical proximity and space configuration, it is possible to increase awareness about the existence of people having specific skills or even communicate the values and strategic goals of the company. The present work will therefore focus on trade-offs choices that companies should address when designing spaces for innovation.
    Full-text · Thesis · May 2017 · International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
    • Conceptualization of the international activity of companies in the area of technological cooperation is one of the most important areas of research undertaken in the literature (Kuemmerle, 1999, pp. 1-24;Boutellier et al., 2008, pp. 372-391, & Szarucki Knežević, 2012, pp.
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Research background:. In the international literature we can find great examples of research in the field of innovation and technological cooperation boosting between companies. Confrontation of theory and empirical research shows that meaning of cooperation and geographical closeness for innovative activity as well as the quality and effectiveness of public support are still ambiguous. Public support of technological cooperation is connected with different components of innovative network, that shows the need of horizontal cooperation, what is legitimate in developed countries. Great example of that kind of international network is Enterprise Europe Network (EEN). Innovative cooperation and technology transfer infiltration always have been a subject of research, but still there are issues to investigate. Because of that reason, there was a research hypothesis created: international technology transfer performed among companies and other economic entities accelerates innovative processes and gives profits for both players. Purpose of the article: The purpose of this article is to show different aspects among cooperation and technology transfer and trial to evaluate its synergical impact on international innovative activity of companies. Methodology/methods: This paper illustrates theoretical and empirical research in the scope of many aspects of innovative cooperation and technology transfer. The empirical analysis focused on data from the Enterprise Europe Network in 2009-2015 and interviews with offices supporting companies in starting and performing of international technological cooperation. The presentation of spatial connections of technological cooperation was illustrated by the Gastner Newman’s amorphous (eumorphous) choropleth, created in the ArcMap 10.4.1 programme with the use of the quantile method. Findings: The article discusses the role of cooperation among network in the international technology transfer. A special analytical emphasis was put on the public networks supporting such cooperation. Specific knowledge and technology is very often out of reach for companies (especially SMEs) because of costs or limited access, and cooperation provides the opportunity to create new relations which can integrate ideas and knowledge, and in effect, lead to new ground-breaking innovations. There is also the significant element like public support for companies in the whole technology transfer process.
    Full-text · Article · May 2017 · International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
    • Furthermore, previous studies have showed that more open workspaces support communication and interaction (e.g. Boutellier et al., 2008). Therefore, our finding that such office types positively influence creativity bridges the gap to previous findings showing that both communication and interaction between employees enhance creativity (e.g.
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In recent years, companies have increasingly focused on innovative workspaces to enhance employee creativity. These new workspace concepts break with conventional office designs. Google, Apple, and Facebook are typical examples of companies that have received considerable media attention for their unique workspaces. Nowadays, many other organizations deal with the challenge of designing such creativity-enhancing workspaces. In contrast to this high practical relevance, the literature lacks an overview reflecting the present state of research on how to design such work environments. To bridge this gap, we conduct a systematic literature review to draw a comprehensive overview of existing empirical research on creativity-enhancing workspaces. Empirical evidence shows that designing creative workspaces is by no means a trivial task, because the physical work environment can both enhance and inhibit creativity in organizations. We categorize characteristics of creative workspaces and offer insights into how workspaces should be designed so that they foster creativity. Finally, we derive implications for both theory and practice, and conclude with suggestions for future research.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2017 · International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
    • edge by enabling more face-to-face interactions between researchers. Importantly, users have also the opportunity to withdraw into quiet areas for highconcentration tasks or alternatively feel free to collaborate and discuss without disturbing others (Boutellier et al. 2008 ). Further variations are office environments with non-dedicated desks, such as activitybased offices (Appel-Meulenbroek et al. 2011) or flexoffices (Bodin Danielsson et al. 2014).
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Contemporary knowledge working environments are rapidly evolving alongside the digital and virtual technologies used for knowledge work. Contemporary offices range from cellular offices with assigned desks to activity-based offices with shared-desk policies and location independent blended working. Furthermore, advanced technologies, such as intelligent and adaptive lighting, are being implemented in our everyday surroundings, including working environments. The changes require adaptation from both knowledge workers and architectural elements of the environments. We propose that knowledge work environments should be explored from user-centric point of view and we aim to elucidate how the physical design of the workplace enhances well-being, creativity and innovation of their users. The various parameters of knowledge work environments should be specified through architectural design process but also through ethnographic methods, which enable us to retrieve the parameters of knowledge work environments users deem important. Using both spatial design and functional design approach we will challenge the multidimensional problem field of designing collaborative knowledge work environments.
    Full-text · Conference Paper · Aug 2016 · International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
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