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Towards an Environmental Psychology of Workspace: How People are Affected by Environments for Work


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Inquiry into how people experience environmental conditions at work is a growing area of study. Until the 1980s, there was insufficient research on `workspaces' -and on office environments in particular - to warrant review. Since that time, the range and number of studies of workspace have burgeoned. This paper will identify and review the main themes and findings of this area of research with the objective of defining basic parameters and prevailing theories of the environmental psychology of workspace. These will generate questions and directions for future research.
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© 2008 University of Sydney. All rights reserved.
Architectural Science Review
Volume 51.2, pp 97-108
Invited Review Paper
Towards an Environmental Psychology
of Workspace: How People are affected by
Environments for Work
Jacqueline C. Vischer
Research Group on Environments for Work, Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Montreal, C.P. 6128
Succursale Centreville, Montreal, Quebec H3C 3J7, Canada
Corresponding author: Tel: (1-514) 343 6684; Fax: (1-514) 343 5694; Email:
Received 31 March 2008; accepted 29 April 2008
Abstract: Inquiry into how people experience environmental conditions at work is a growing area of study. Until the
1980s, there was insufficient research on workspaces –and on office environments in particular to warrant review.
Since that time, the range and number of studies of workspace have burgeoned. is paper will identify and review
the main themes and findings of this area of research with the objective of defining basic parameters and prevailing
theories of the environmental psychology of workspace. ese will generate questions and directions for future research
Keywords: Ambient environmental conditions, Ergonomics, Functional comfort, Furniture, Health and safety, Office buildings, Office layouts,
Productivity, Satisfaction, Territoriality, User participation, Workspace
Evidence from commercial leasing agents, office furniture
manufacturers the design professions and building contractors
indicates that some new knowledge is finding its way into the
real estate industry as commercial building owners and tenants
demand better quality workspaces for their employees. Until
recently, the design of office buildings adhered to a 19
model of work (Duffy, 1997). Workers who are asked to perform
rather than to think, who are brought together in space and
time so that they can be supervised, so that they have access to
necessary tools, and so that there is a clear barrier between work
and their other activities, occupy standardized and often uniform
workspace. Formerly in the form of factories, contemporary
workspace is more likely to be in the form of offices, and reducing
occupancy costs is a key driver of design decision-making (Vischer,
2007a). With the changes in the 21
Century world of work, few
of these conditions are still valid. Tools for work have radically
changed, and advances in computers and tele-communications
mean that people no longer need to be fixed in space and time
to work together. Barriers between work and personal life are
breaking down as people seek career opportunities rather than
jobs, work at all hours, make a social life at work, and sleep and
eat at work if necessary. What may now be called workspace
is diversifying, mobile work and non-territorial workspace is
increasing, and companies are applying quality as well as cost
criteria to workspace design (Becker & Kelley, 2004; Preiser &
Vischer, 2005).
As part of these changes, conceptualization of the
environments for work is shifting from the notion of workspace
as a backdrop that is, passive setting for work, to the concept
of workspace as an active support to and tool for getting
work done (Newsham, 1997). One of the results of this shift
is the growing interest in how building occupants behave as
a function of workspace features. As the research reviewed
in this paper suggests, evidence is mounting that employees
may waste time and energy trying to cope in poorly designed
workspace and that employers are increasingly concerned that
their employees invest their energy in work and relationships
rather than in coping with adverse or uncomfortable workspace
conditions. In reviewing some of the knowledge accrued to date
on how workers interact with and are affected by environmental
I have always tried to avoid using office” or offices” in titling any of my work, books or articles. I find the word limits the notion of the
diversity of work spaces and only inspires yawns. People think of boxes with windows or partitions. “Office” is in my view a dated concept. I
use workspace because the domain of study includes all types of space in which people do work. While much of the research has in fact been done
in office buildings, the broader concept of workspace” includes places to meet, to use technology, public spaces where work occurs, amenities to
support work, and so on, as well as office-type workspace in places like hospitals, universities and numerous other contexts.
Architectural Science Review Volume 51, Number 2, June 2008
Table 1: Proposed Typology of Research on the Environmental Psychology of Workspace.
features, this paper groups findings from workspace research
according to, first, the aspect of workspace studied, and second,
to the type of outcome measure or research result identified.
us, the environmental aspects of workspace include ambient
environmental conditions (noise, lighting, air quality, thermal
comfort), furniture layout and ergonomics (workstations,
offices and shared amenities), and process issues, such as user
participation in design, and meeting business and organizational
objectives. Behavioral or outcome measures common in work
environment research include employee satisfaction, employees
feelings about their work environment as expressed in the
sense of territory, ownership and belonging, and employee
productivity. Most work environment studies can be organized
into the typology identified in Table 1.
Linking the satisfaction and productivity categories is the
notion of comfort, specifically functional comfort. A three-
way definition of the concept of comfort has been applied
to numerous eld studies of office buildings; it posits that
people need to be more than simply healthy and safe in the
buildings they occupy, they need environmental support
for the activities they are there to perform (Vischer, 1996).
is notion of functional comfort goes beyond the more
traditional concept of comfort based on measurements of
users’ responses to varying environmental conditions. e
latter may focus, for example, on temperature and relative
humidity for thermal comfort, air speed and freshness for
ventilation comfort, and brightness, contrast conditions
and luminance for lighting comfort (Cheng & Ng, 2006;
Odemis, Yener & Camgoz, 2004; Ozturk, 2003; Rowe,
2004). e results of many comfort studies, using feedback
from occupants as well as sensitive environmental measuring
devices, form the basis for environmental standards in public
buildings. e concept of functional comfort, however, links
the psychological aspects of workers’ environmental likes and
dislikes with concrete outcome measures such as improved
task performance and team effectiveness.
Jacqueline Vischer
Environmental Psychology of Workspace
How workspace is designed and occupied affects not
only how people feel, but also their work performance, their
commitment to their employer, and the creation of new
knowledge (human capital) in the organization. ese are
the cornerstones of the domain known as the environmental
psychology of workspace (Vischer, 2008). Moreover, measures
of user perceptions of environmental conditions can be used to
diagnose building performance and the effectiveness of building
systems (Vischer & Fischer, 2005). e focus of this paper,
then, is on the behaviour of building occupants, behaviour
in this context being a broad term covering not only people’s
actions and responses but also attitudes, feelings, expectations,
values and beliefs. In this context, it is useful to think of the
user-environment relation as dynamic and interactive: that is to
say, that part of the user’s environmental experience includes the
consequences of any user behaviour that may occur. e user
is not a passive receptacle experiencing the built environment
statically, as input; the user’s experience of the environment is
itself transformed by the activities she is performing in that
environment: the relationship might better be characterised as
transactional (Moore, 1980; Vischer, 2008). is paper will
review research results clustered into three broad categories of
user satisfaction and functional comfort, territoriality or sense
of belonging, and productivity, and will indicate how these
results have practical applications to design, construction and
management of buildings in which people work.
Satisfaction and Functional Comfort
How satisfied or not users are with the space they are
occupying is a notion that has guided environmental evaluation
since its earliest efforts (Craik, 1966; Friedman, Zimring &
Zube, 1978; Little, 1968). It refers to the processes whereby
users know and judge their physical environment. e basic
premises state that the processes of environmental knowing and
assessing are linked not only to observable physical features,
but also to the attitudes individuals have towards a particular
space. Evaluation research, such as post-occupancy evaluation,
seeks to determine the extent to which certain environmental
characteristics affect users satisfaction or dissatisfaction; they
have been carried out in office environments since the 1980s
(Marans & Spreckelmeyer, 1981; Ornstein, 1999; Stokols,
1978; Wineman, 1986).
e earliest post-occupancy evaluations of offices used
extensive survey questionnaires of building users to identify what
what occupants ‘likeand dislikeabout their work environment,
on the assumption that measuring usersself-rated satisfaction
with individual features helps to understand the effects of the
built environment on users. Studies of occupant satisfaction imply
that this concept is a de facto measure of building quality: users
feel positive (satisfied) about good quality built space, whereas if
they are dissatisfied’ the place is not performing or has somehow
failed. Studies of userssatisfaction levels in offices have generated
extensive knowledge of workerspreferences but relatively little
additional understanding of building performance. Most post-
occupancy evaluations question occupants on their perceptions
and judgments of workspaces in terms of the perceived
qualities of the place. Evaluation in this sense includes two
essential elements: the functional characteristics of the space
that lend themselves to measurement, and are considered factors
influencing the performance of workers; and the qualities of a
place that cause users to consider it satisfactory or unsatisfactory.
us, surveys of occupant satisfaction in specific buildings
indicate which features are preferred and which are disliked by
occupants (Walden, 2005; Windsor, 2005).
One of the most consistent findings from user surveys
is that office workers are dissatisfied with the ‘open plan
office, whether this is due to noise levels, distractions, lack of
privacy or the sameness of ‘cubicles’ (Churchman, Stokols,
Scharf, Nishimoto & Wright, 1990; Hedge, 1986; Oldham,
1988; Sommer & Steiner, 1988; Sundstrom, Herbert &
Brown, 1982). However, the prevalence of this finding has
not prevented employers from favouring the open plan - in
part because it is cheaper to construct and more flexible to
reconfigure than a conventional private or cellular office layout,
and in part because workstations occupy less square feet than
private offices. A more useful question to ask is to what degree
are workers supported in the performance of their tasks in open
workstations – in other words, to what degree is their ability to
work affected? Studies show that, on the positive side, open
workstations facilitate communication and enable workers to
exchange information rapidly and informally. On the negative
side, the open environment can generate distractions that
prevent workers from concentrating on their tasks.
A large number of work environment studies have tested
users satisfaction in reference to specific workspace features
(Becker, 1981; Brennan, Chugh & Kline, 2002; Hedge, 1991;
Humphries, 2005; Veitch, Charles, Newsham, Marquardt &
Geerts, 2004). ese studies show that peoples preferences are
affected by, among other things, indirect lighting, mechanical
ventilation rates, access to natural light, new furniture, and
aspects of the acoustic environment, as well as some degree of
participation in decision-making. According to this approach,
environmental satisfaction is implicitly a measure not only of
workspace effectiveness or success, but also of job satisfaction,
in spite of the lack of proven connections between them. As
a result, occupant satisfaction has become the main yardstick
by which workspace features are evaluated, with many studies
falsely assuming a direct link between users level of job or
workspace satisfaction and their effectiveness or productivity
(Karasek & eorell, 1990).
Some studies have gone beyond the simple ‘if-then’ logic of
how satisfaction is affected by physical features to developing an
approach to environmental evaluation that is more responsive
to the concept of place as an interactive system composed of
both physical and social elements. is model posits space
as a resource in terms of its inherent potential to make any
social system function (Moos, 1973; Perin, 1970; iel, 1997).
In applying this approach to work environment evaluation,
researchers have examined links between workspace design and
the organization of work, and attempted to demonstrate ways
in which space can be considered an organizational resource
(Fischer, 1983; Fischer & Vischer, 1998; Kampschroer &
Heerwagen, 2005; Seiler, 1984).
e concept of functional comfort links usersenvironmental
assessments of their environment to the requirements of the
tasks they are performing; this goes beyond general findings
on what people like and dislike, and towards assessing building
performance (Vischer, 1989, 1996, 1999). It was developed
Architectural Science Review Volume 51, Number 2, June 2008
to respond to the limitations of measuring user satisfaction by
applying feedback from users to the performance of building
systems. While building usersphysical comfort refers to meeting
the basic human needs, such as safety, hygiene and accessibility,
without which a building is uninhabitable, functional comfort
is defined as environmental support for users’ performance
of work-related tasks and activities. Appropriate lighting for
screen-based work, ergonomic furniture for computer users,
and enclosed rooms available for meetings and collaborative
work, for example, help ensure users functional comfort at
e difference between a supportive and an unsupportive
workspace is the degree to which occupants can conserve their
attention and energy for their tasks, as opposed to expending it
to cope with adverse environmental conditions. For example,
certain variables such as lighting, ventilation and noise can,
under certain conditions, generate stress, which, in turn, has
a negative effect on productivity (Evans & Cohen, 1987).
is is further discussed, below. e obverse of this argument
holds that an environment conducive to the performance of
work improves performance and morale (Dewulf & Van Meel,
e functional comfort approach makes human judgements
the focus of study, thereby avoiding the temporal and calibration
limitations of instrument-based data collection. However,
researchers may take measurements of building systems
performance as a follow-up procedure to help understand
the meaning behind the feedback yielded by users on their
perceptions of building conditions. Traditionally human
comfort measurements have been linked to individual building
systems (lighting, ventilation, temperature) in order to enable
standards of comfort and health to be established, and thus to
guide the design of buildings. Functional comfort is defined by
the degree to which workers can perform their tasks in the place
they occupy; it is derived from notions of comfort as defined
by environmental standards, with the added precision that users
experience of comfort varies with the requirements of the tasks
they have to perform. erefore, one of the outcome measures
of diagnostic evaluation of functional comfort is whether people
can perform tasks easily, with difficulty, or not at all in the
workspace occupied. e diagnostic approach was designed to
learn more about how people work and how space affects work
performance, as well as to understand the impact of changing
office technologies on the performance of work and on space-
use. Data on users functional comfort provide a diagnostic
yardstick for designers, planners and managers; systematic and
reliable feedback from occupants takes the form of a simple,
accurate profile of user comfort in a given work environment.
is approach yields a more precise definition of how workers are
affected by their space than users’ satisfaction ratings.
Balancing environmental demands with the skills and abilities
of users to act on their environment is a way of defining optimal
workspace for creativity and flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 2003). e
concepts of positive stress (Selye, 1979) and of environmental
competence (Lawton, 1980; Sternberg, 2001) are both useful
in this context, in that they recognize that some environmental
challenge is necessary to ensure active engagement. A workspace
cannot be designed to be a one-time,nal, and permanent
ergonomic support for all office tasks, but rather needs to be
adaptable andnegotiable’ to be most supportive to users. Users
need the skills and opportunities to engage with and adjust
their environment successfully, over time and with changing
task requirements, in order to optimize comfort and manage
workspace stress successfully (Vischer, 2007b).
Territoriality and Belonging
Several studies identify a sense of belonging (appropriation),
along with loyalty or commitment to the organization and
a sense of territory, as outcome measures of environmental
studies because a sense of belonging or ownership is a better
measure of environmental quality or success than either
satisfaction or effective task performance (Fischer, 1983;
Sundstrom & Sundstrom, 1986). Unlike user satisfaction,
sense of belonging is linked to employee commitment to and
retention in the organization results that have a direct effect
on company operations and costs. Territoriality at work goes
beyond the physical attributes of spaces occupied by individual
workers (Davis & Altman, 1976). e sense of ownership,
or occupying territory, is affected by how team and shared
workspace is defined, as well as characteristics of individual
workspace. It is also affected by participation in design
decisions and feeling ’empowered’ in regards to environmental
decision-making. Users experience of territoriality, control
and appropriation combine as psychological comfort’: one of
three types of environmental comfort according to which the
usersexperience of workspace can be organized (Vischer, 1996;
Vischer, 2005). Physical comfort refers to basic human needs
such as safety, hygiene and accessibility, which must be assured -
usually through applying existing building codes and standards
- so that users find their environment habitable. Functional
comfort, as mentioned previously, refers to the degree to which
their environment supports userstasks. At a more abstract level
but equally important to users at work is psychological comfort,
including feelings of belonging, ownership and control over the
workspace (see Figure 1).
Psychological comfort links psychosocial aspects of the
worker with the environmental design and management of
workspace through territoriality, privacy and environmental
control (Vischer, McCuaig, Nadeau, Melillo & Castonguay-
Vien, 2003). e primary component of psychological
comfort is sense of territory, both individual territory (office,
workstation, micro-workspace) and group territory (team,
group, midrange workspace). Human territory at work has
psychological value that is represented both by space for one’s
work and by ones place in the organization. Underlying these is
a human behavioral schema that expresses itself in terms of the
personalization and appropriation of space: marking territory
and constructing boundaries of social and environmental
control (Fischer, 1989; Sundstrom, Town, Brown, Forman
& McGee, 1982). Territorial ownership affects employees
interaction with the environmental milieu (Steele, 1986).
Workspace personalization and space appropriation behaviors
have become more noticeable in offices where denser and more
open office configurations have been installed (Wells & elen,
2002). e introduction and use of new technology and better
virtual communications tools have also affected workers
perceptions of and attitude towards their physical environment
and workspace (Cascio, 2000; Lai, Levas, Chou, Pinhanez &
Jacqueline Vischer
Environmental Psychology of Workspace
Viveros, 2002). Territory is not simply made up of the walls and
doors that enclose space; territoriality at work is also affected by
sense of privacy, social status and perception of control.
Studies have found that people moving out of private
enclosed offices into open workstations judge their environment
more negatively, citing lack of privacy, acoustic conditions,
and confidentiality problems (Brennan, Chugh, & Kline,
2002; Rishi, Sinha & Dubey, 2000). ese reasons are given
irrespective of whether or not their work is confidential, and
whether or not they need to be alone to perform tasks effectively.
Complaints about lack of privacy abound in before-and-after
studies of workspace change, independent of physical features
of the workspace such as furniture configuration and partition
height (Wineman, 1986). On the other hand, data collected
from professionals in open workstations who were not faced
with an imminent or recent move indicated that the demands
of the job are more important than individual privacy (Kupritz,
1998). e need for privacy seems to be only indirectly related
to workspace design and to depend on psychological factors,
such as concerns about status and control.
Environmental control and usersperception of control
affects workers on at least two levels: mechanical or instrumental
control, and empowerment (Vischer, 2005). Experimental
efforts to increase users’ control over environmental conditions
provide evidence of beneficial effects on workers, including
one experimental design that found a clear association between
participation in design decisions and degree of workplace
satisfaction following a move to a new facility (Niemala, Rautio,
Hannula & Reijula, 2002). Environmental control can be
mechanical, such as chairs and worktables that are raised and
lowered, shelving and tables on wheels to be moved around,
switchable lights, and a door to open and close. Evidence
indicates a positive psychological impact from this type of
control in situations where employees are informed and even
trained to make use of the controls available (Newsham, Veitch,
Arsenault & Duval, 2004; Tu & Loftness, 1998). Another
form of environmental control is empowerment: increased
opportunities for employees to participate in workspace
decision-making. Access to such opportunities increases users’
perceptions of having some control over their environment and
is a constructive response to the need for psychological comfort.
is helps people cope with environmental demands and
encourages workers to find new ways of solving environmental
problems, so that they also increase their learning and knowledge
about their building and workspace. Empowerment as a form
of environmental control increases opportunities for employees
to both participate in and be listened to in workspace decision-
making, and means they are better informed. Lack of control
over workspace has been described as demotivating and leading
to ‘learned helplessness’ (McCoy & Evans, 2005). Several
studies demonstrate that psychosocial control by means of
user participation in the design process has a positive effect on
peoples response to and feelings about their workspace (Lee
& Brand, 2005; Veitch & Newsham, 2000). Environmental
empowerment is directly linked to psychological comfort.
People who are informed about workspace-related decisions,
and who participate in decisions about their own space, are
more likely to feel territorial about their workspace and to have
feelings of belonging and ownership (Vischer, 2005).
us notions of appropriation and belonging are
psychosocial aspects expressed through territoriality at work.
A sense of territory is associated with feelings of belonging
and ownership, and privacy is best understood as the need
to exercise control over ones accessibility to others (Altman,
1975). Finally, some studies have demonstrated a connection
between userspsychological traits and their reactions to the built
environment at work. In focusing on cognitive processes, this
research orientation links up with a well-established paradigm
of social psychology, namely Lewins field theory (1951). It
addresses the effects of users’ individual differences and how
workersevaluation of their workspace affects their perception
of themselves at work (Somat, Tarquinio & Dufresne, 1999).
Not only do employees’ cognitive and affective processes affect
their perception and evaluation of their work environment, but
their perception and assessment of their workspace also affect
their view of themselves as workers and of their professional
effectiveness (Fischer, Tarquinio & Vischer, 2004). A study
comparing open with enclosed office users showed that
Figure 1: Environmental comfort model of workspace quality.
and well-being
Functional comfort
Physical comfort
Habitability threshold
Architectural Science Review Volume 51, Number 2, June 2008
extraverts respond more positively to more possibilities for
communication, and therefore do better in open office settings
than workers with more introvert personalities (McCusker,
Productivity and the Performance of Work
Many studies have sought to make direct links between the
environmental design of workspace and worker performance
or organizational productivity.
e concept of ‘workplace
performance has come to mean workspace whose explicit
objective is to support the performance of work: a performing
workplace is designed to optimise worker productivity
(Clements-Croome, 2006). e concept of worker productivity
tends to be applied to a whole range of desired behavioural
outcomes in the context of work. A recent review of studies
of the effects of environment on productivity concluded that
confusion about what productivity means has made it difficult
to identify how environmental conditions affect worker
performance (CABE, 2004). Many studies use respondents
own self-reports of ‘improved’ or ‘reduced’ productivity as the
dependent variable, and studies measuring ‘real’ or quantifiable
output per worker or team are few and far between (Oseland,
ere are at least three types of productivity that are
influenced by environmental design, each of them in different
ese three categories are individual, group, and
organisational productivity: each category denotes a variation
in scale of environmental influence (Vischer, 2006). Individual
productivity is typically evaluated at the scale of the individual
workspace (desk and office) and on how the micro-environment
influences individual task performance, that is to say, how fast
and accurately a worker carries out his tasks at work. Individual
task performance is affected by environmental conditions such
as lighting and visual conditions, variations in temperature and
humidity, furniture ergonomics, and, to some degree, acoustics.
Positive individual productivity outcomes mean improved
speed and accuracy of the tasks performed, whereas negative
outcomes might include a higher error rate, slower time for task
completion, or adverse health effects on workers, such as sore
eyes, fatigue or upper respiratory problems.
e productivity of workgroups sharing workspace, such as
a teamwork environment, is typically evaluated in terms of the
quality and quantity of group processes. Teamwork is affected
by the mid-range environment, that of the work-group or team,
and it is measured in tangible terms such as time to market
of a new product, or in terms of more qualitative outcomes,
such as number of good new ideas or good (i.e. successful)
recommendations coming out of effective business processes.
Group process is affected by workgroup size and the relative
proximity of team members (Leaman & Bordass, 1998). Other
environmental determinants of workgroup effectiveness include
the positioning of work areas and shared space, as well as access
to shared tools and equipment (Heerwagen, Kampschroer,
Powell & Loftness, 2004).
A third level of productivity corresponds to the company or
organizations entire workspace or accommodation the macro-
environment. ere are many approaches to assessing the degree
to which workspace helps (or fails to help) a company meet its
business objectives and/or increase its competitive advantage.
Organisational effectiveness is affected by locational advantages
and ease of access, balancing consolidation under one roof
(centralisation) with dispersion of different groups in different
facilities over manageable distances, and by building amenities
such as fast elevators, convenient bathrooms, adequate parking,
and attractive eating areas (Vischer, 2006). Studies have shown
that both worker performance and organisational success is
compromised “when the physical environment interferes with
actions taken towards achievement [of objectives]” (McCoy &
Evans, 2005).
Tools exist to measure environmental impacts on productivity
in each of the three categories. Individual productivity is the
most often measured, using various tools for ergonomic analysis
as well as a wide variety of questionnaire surveys that focus on
the effects on building users of ambient conditions as lighting,
noise levels, furniture comfort, temperature, and indoor air
quality. Team effectiveness studies tend to be more dependent
on anecdotal data, although indirect measures such as analysis
of social networks, ‘gaming’, and comparing outcomes among
comparable workgroups in different environments, have also
yielded valuable results (Horgen, Joroff, Porter & Schon,
1999; Stephenson, 1998). A recent review of four of the most
popular methods for evaluating organisational effectiveness
concluded that none is entirely satisfactory, as this is an elusive
concept to define and measure (Bontis, Dragonetti, Jacobsen &
Roos, 1999). However, some researchers have been successful
adapting the Balanced Scorecard to measure environmental
effects on organisational effectiveness (Kampschroer &
Heerwagen, 2005).
e BOSTI-Westinghouse study was an important advance,
which attempted to link environmental features not just with
levels of satisfaction, but also directly with functional support
to individual workers (Brill, Margulis & Konar, 1985). is
longitudinal study examined employee behaviour before
and after an office move and attempted to measure the costs
of worker productivity lost through poorly-designed or
dysfunctional workspace; it used employee self-reports of
productivity to measure the impact of features like open office
design on task performance.
e results showed, among other
things, that employees, especially managers, working in open
plan workstations felt they were more productive in enclosed
e editor has suggested that these relations might best be conceptualised as a model of workplace environmental design factors (eg, ambient
environmental conditions, furniture and office layouts) as independent variables, with productivity as the ultimate dependent outcome variable
and satisfaction, territoriality and belonging, as mediating variables. is is an interesting line of inquiry that deserves further consideration.
ere are numerous studies of how age, gender, SES and job-rank affect workers attitudes, performance and effectiveness in the work
environment, but very few use the term environment’ to refer to the physical setting. Consequently, most of this research is published in the
industrial and occupational psychology literature and is not included in this review. However, it would make an interesting addition to our
research to study this literature and develop some hypotheses of how these function as moderating variables in the user-space relationship at
work. See, for example, the review by Gifford (2007) and the role of moderating variables in a different architectural setting.
Jacqueline Vischer
Environmental Psychology of Workspace
offices. Subsequent studies have attempted to measure the
economic value of workers’ productivity increases that are
considered to result from environmental improvements, such
that the return on investment of an environmental intervention
can be calculated (Brill & Weideman, 2001; Sullivan, 1990).
At about the same time, an overview of studies measuring
the impact of furniture and layout changes on teams working
on assembly line-like paper processing tasks in different
organizations indicated extraordinary increases in process speed
and results (Springer, 1986). ese findings are reminiscent
of the changes in task performance found in the 1940’s in the
famous Hawthorne studies of lighting in factories, suggesting
that any environmental change improves team performance
regardless of its actual effect (Adair, 1984). More judiciously,
several studies conclude that workspace design can be supportive
(have positive effects on work) or non-supportive (have negative
effects on work) as well as affecting organizational performance
(Davenport & Bruce, 2002; Ilozor, Love, & Treloar, 2002;
Klitzman & Stellman, 1989; Stallworth & Kleiner, 1996). e
domain of organizational ecology is a framework for analyzing
organizations according to different aspects of their structure
and function, including features of the workspace they occupy
(Steele, 1973). e systems framework of organizational
ecology strengthens the notion that the space it occupies is an
integral part of how an organization functions. Later work has
built on this concept, producing such ideas as workscape to
indicate an inclusive approach to both the use and the planning
and design of the work environment (Becker & Steele, 1994).
An increasing number of ergonomically oriented studies
have looked at specific environmental conditions, such as
ventilation and indoor air quality, lighting and daylighting,
acoustics and noise control, as well as furniture placement
and comfort. In these studies, environmental effects on
task performance, rates of absenteeism and self-reported
productivity are measured rather than users’ satisfaction
ratings. Lighting research, for example, has tended to
distinguish between the effects on building occupants of
artificial, interior lighting and of natural light or daylighting
from windows. Daylighting research has linked increased
comfort and self-reported productivity with window size
and proximity, as well as with view out, control over blinds
and shielding from glare (Hedge, 2000; Leather, Pyrgas,
Beale & Lawrence, 1998; Mallory-Hill, Van der Voost &
Van Dortmont, 2005). More significantly, research on
daylight and views from hospital rooms has been shown to
affect medication requirements and recovery rates (Verderber
& Reuman, 1988; Ulrich, 1991). In their recent overview
of the effects of different kinds of artificial lighting on task
performance and occupant satisfaction in a simulated office
environment where workers used controls to exercise their
lighting choices, (Boyce, Veitch, Newsham, Myer & Hunter,
2003) concluded that current office lighting standards are
preferred by most people carrying out typical individual
office tasks, Boyce et al. e study results made a distinction
between visual comfort lighting needed to perform well
on office tasks and satisfaction, or lighting judged to be
Current studies of noise in offices have adapted techniques
for measuring noise levels in industrial environments. Workers
in open plan workspace tend to judge noise to be a primary
source of discomfort and reduced productivity (Stokols &
Scharf, 1990; Mital, McGlothlin, Faard, 1992). Acoustic
comfort studies have focussed on correlating physical measures,
such as signal-to-noise ratios at different densities, background
noise levels and intensities, and speech intelligibility under
differing physical conditions, with occupant judgements of
distraction and annoyance (Ayr, Cirillo & Martellota, 2001;
Chu & Warnock, 2002). Efforts to control office noise
through more absorbent surfaces, sound-masking systems and
behavioural controls have been weakened by increasing office
densities and collaborative work in modern workspace.
Studies focussing on floor layouts and furniture suggest these
factors influence teamwork effectiveness as well as individual task
performance (Vischer, 2006). Studies focus on the height and
density of workstation partitions, the amount and accessibility
of file and work storage, and furniture dimensions such as
work-surfaces. ese elements of furniture and spatial layout
have a powerful effect not only on the satisfaction of individual
workers but also on the performance of teams. One study
indicated that the additional investment in ergonomic tables
and chairs for workers, as well as ergonomic training, yielded a
5-month payback in terms of increased individual productivity
(Miles, 2000). Several studies provide evidence that office
workers are uncomfortable in open plan configurations and
prefer private enclosed workspace, which may work better for
individual tasks but are less successful for teamwork (Hatch,
1987; Fried, Slowik, Ben-David & Tiegs, 2001; Ornstein,
Andrade, Coelho & Leite, 2005).
Evidence is mounting that the design of their workspace
does make workers more or less effective. However, finding
out more about how this relationship works should not lead
to ‘social engineering’ solutions, where employers or building
owners apply a recipe for environmental design with a view
to guaranteeing maximum performance from their workers.
It is preferable for employers and decision-makers to use
research evidence to consider environmental design decisions
as investments in the work force. Workspace can and should
be a tool for performing work, much as investing in computer
technology ensures better tools for employees.
While much of the research on which norms and standards
for user health and comfort at work are based has been carried
out in laboratory settings, the most frequent approach to
studying how workspace affects users is questioning the latter
directly. is may take the form of experimental designs
in controlled laboratory settings, where an environmental
condition is varied and subjects provide ratings, as well as in
quasi-experimental settings, such as controlled field situations
where building users assessments are compared before and
after some environmental change. More commonly, survey
research is applied in uncontrolled field situations, either in
the form of eliciting satisfaction ratings as in a conventional
post-occupancy evaluation, or using a standardised survey
questionnaire in order to compare the same data from subjects
across a number of buildings. A variety of field-tested tools and
techniques to study workspace behaviour has been developed
in this latter category.
Architectural Science Review Volume 51, Number 2, June 2008
e structure and form of the way users are approached
and the data they are required to yield needs to be precise and
standardised to link user feedback with building performance.
e results yielded by this approach provide a rich and diverse
basis for understanding the user experience (Gann & Whyte,
2003; Leaman & Bordass, 2001; Vischer, 1989, 2005; Zagreus,
Huizenga, Arens & Lehrer, 2004). Data yielded by assessment
tools, whether in the context of post-occupancy evaluation,
design and environmental quality indicators, or building-in-
use assessment, can be analysed both for what they tell us about
building use as well as about building performance. ese field
tools are a natural outgrowth of early studies on the sociology
of work, of which a few included the physical setting for
work. Of these, the most important, and still salient today, is
Herzbergs analysis of factors that influence worker motivation.
His research established that several key elements of the work
environment influence worker motivation, and they can be
negative, positive or neutral (Herzberg, 1966). Among these
elements is the physical environment, which can be either a
neutral or a negative influence on worker motivation. is
implies that if it is supportive of the performance of work, it
is not noticed. e threshold effect’ means that those work
conditions that affect motivation can be measured in terms of
their propensity to move from a neutral, no effect’ category
into ‘negative effect’; there is no ‘positive effect’ category.
Building on this theoretical base, and in line with the
results of functional comfort studies, researcher attention is
being increasingly paid to the concept of workspace stress.
Functional comfort links psychosocial aspects, including
worker motivation, with workspace elements and thereby with
organisational productivity by measuring environmental support
for task performance. e notion of support incorporates not
just receiving support from, but also being able to act on the
environment to achieve a desired, supportive result. e
inverse is also true: where workershave to struggle to perform
their tasks because the built environment is problematic, their
situation can be characterised as stressful. In situations where
workers do not feel supported, and indeed have to make an
extra effort to deal’ with environmental barriers or problems
in order to get their work done, they may lose motivation and
experience stress. e definition of workspace stress is the
degree to which users have to compensate and expend their
own energy performing activities in adverse environmental
conditions (Vischer, 2007b). All built environments for
work can be placed somewhere on the continuum ranging
from completely functionally comfortable to completely
dysfunctional and stressful, using feedback from users at a
given point in time.
In their overview of stress related to the physical work
environment, McCoy and Evans (2005) go beyond ergonomics
Figure: 2: Dimensions of functionally comfortable workspace design.
Jacqueline Vischer
Environmental Psychology of Workspace
to characterise as stressful those situations where elements of
the physical environment interfere with the attainment of
work objectives. Stressors in the work environment affect
employee performance adversely when they are high intensity
or prolonged; they slow down the individual’s ability to process
and understand the number and predictability of ‘signals’, which
increase with task complexity. Potential stressors (i.e. elements
that interfere with task performance, motivation and social
relationships) include spatial organisation, architectonic details,
ambient conditions and resources, and view or visual access
from the workspace. As environmental stressors, [these] can
influence physiological processes, produce negative affect, limit
motivation and performance, and impede social interaction”.
ese physical stressors in the workplace affect workerssense
of control and effectiveness. Physical environmental stressors
also affect social relationships, as the negative effects of stressor
exposure reduce cooperative behaviors, such as social support,
altruistic behaviors, and teamwork” (Evans & Cohen, 1987).
us in addition to satisfaction, comfort and belonging,
the environmental psychology of workspace also includes well
established concepts such as worker motivation and how it is
influenced by the physical setting, and, more recently, the notion
that some measurable amount of stress at work can be attributed
to the design of the physical environment. A comprehensive
environmental comfort model of workspace quality that
incorporates these and other factors is shown in Figure 3. More
research is needed to link these concepts together and provide a
solid theoretical framework for advancing knowledge through
future research.
Conclusions and Directions for Future
While considerable knowledge has accrued from studying
various aspects of the environmental psychology of workspace,
important gaps remain. e structure and content of this area
of research have given rise to some new and important questions
that are fruitful directions for future research. Before exploring
these new directions, we will comment on the development of
this field of knowledge to date with a view to strengthening
the theoretical framework and lending greater coherence to
knowledge already acquired.
By comparing research studies looking at different aspects
of the work environment, the lack of clarity about outcomes
being measured shows that clarification is needed to guide
future research. Occupant satisfaction, while offering a broad
and comprehensive measure of environmental quality, is not
a practical outcome measure for workspace research. While
occupants self-reports provide data on their needs and
preferences, such studies generate little information about what
supports task completion, what adds value to the organisation,
and why owners and managers should invest in workspace
improvement. However, much has been learned about what
workers like and dislike in their work environment.
Functional comfort, as measured through systematic
feedback from users, invites occupants to provide diagnostic
feedback on specific features of the work environment based
on what environmental supports they need to perform their
tasks. Decisions to remove, replace or change workspace
features can be based on how well or not they support
occupants’ work and thereby affect the productivity of the
organisation. Structured feedback on ambient conditions can
also be applied to assessing building systems, and subsequently
used to diagnose building problems that are amenable to
intervention and improvement. However, a clearer distinction
needs to be made between measuring user perceptions and
judgements, and measuring actual behavioural effects that
are attributable to physical features. For example, workers’
perceptions of team workspace (e.g. meeting-rooms and
worktables) may not be related to whether or not teamwork
behaviour occurs.
Productivity has also been measured largely in terms of
occupants’ self-reports. ese are subject to more subjective
bias than satisfaction ratings, as respondents are being asked to
make an estimate based on their own feelings. However, there
are some studies where more objective productivity indicators
such as reduced illness rates, increased speed and accuracy of
task completion, and even rate of new ideas generation, have
been used as measures of environmental effectiveness in terms
of productivity outcomes. A new and little explored outcome
measure concerns the effect of the work environment on the
creation and transmission of knowledge in organisations (Von
Krogh, Nonaka & Nishiguchi, 2000). Many companies are
interested in understanding how knowledge accrues in their
organisations and how this process can be optimized. e
concept termedba’ – an environment that supports and
encourages knowledge creation, not only through the design
of the space but also through the structure and operations
of the social and cultural environment is now a focus of
research. To date, human capital researchers have focused
on developing a better understanding of ba. is offers a
new and promising direction for analyzing how features of
the work environment add value to an organisations human
capital (Nenonen, 2004). Although the concept of ba is only
partly definable in physical terms, it would be useful to learn
more about how physical settings encourage and support it.
In summary, a rich range of measures of worker productivity
is available, and more diversity is needed to advance this line
of inquiry. As these new directions for workspace research
indicate, worker productivity in the knowledge economy
is less a matter of improving speed and accuracy of routine
tasks and increasingly a function of generating new ideas,
being creative, working effectively in teams, and generating
knowledge that adds value to the organisation.
Finally, the feeling of belonging, as might be measured
through territoriality and appropriation of space, needs further
study owing to the important link with employee retention and
reducing costly turnover in organisations. More information
about how and why certain environmental features affect
employees sense of belonging and support constructive
appropriation behaviours will help organisations determine
how and to what degree investment in environmental quality
will affect both recruitment and retention of their employees.
In recent years, as the real estate and construction industry
shifts its attention to sustainability and the environment,
researchers have started to look at the interaction between user
comfort at work and the presence or absence of environmentally
sustainable features (Heerwagen, 2000; Leaman & Bordass,
2007; Vischer & Prasow, 2008). is direction for future
Architectural Science Review Volume 51, Number 2, June 2008
study has two possible lines of exploration: the effects of
sustainable building features, such as natural ventilation,
water recycling and passive cooling technology on occupants
and their work; and the behaviour and behavioural changes
needed and expected from occupants as a result of sustainable
design features in office and other buildings.
ese might
include turning o lights when out of the room, dropping
blinds on sunny windows to reduce heat gain, and using
public transportation to get to and from work. Anecdotal
evidence already exists of buildings supplied with innovative
sustainable design features that occupants have either not
wanted or not been able to use. ere is also some evidence
that giving occupants a more active role and responsibility
for changing their behaviour in environmentally sustainable
buildings is a necessary condition for success.
e environmental psychology of workspace is a rich and
diverse field of study that is growing fast. As human beings
in all parts of the world spend increasing amounts of time
in offices in a wide variety of buildings, the effects of these
environments on occupantsperformance, health and morale
urgently needs to be understood. e knowledge yielded by
research in this field will inform employers’ decisions as well as
corporate investments in the work settings they create, and will
assist and improve the building industry as designers, facilities
managers, leasing agents and construction professionals acquire
it. Business managers also need to understand more about
how workspace affects their personnel, as companies need
to become more agile’ and by making ongoing changes to
workspace (Joroff, Porter, Feinberg & Kukla, 2003). Finally,
all indications are that a better understanding of occupant
comfort is a prerequisite for successful sustainability and an
effective impact on global warming.
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... Kwon et al. (2019) have classified the physical dimensions -The goal of design is flexibility without extensive change, -Facilities may not be available at all workstations, -Each employee has their own workstation and interact in routine tasks with other employees (Danielsson & Bodin, 2008) -Unwanted noise -Lack of privacy, -Increased distraction (Pierrette et al., 2015 ;Haapakangas et al., 2018) Activity-based office (ABO) -Without any classification, a main space with meeting rooms or semiopen and closed rooms (Wohlers & Hertel, 2017), -Has assigned workstations and transparent spaces, -Ability to adjust space and furniture based on user activity (Hoendervanger et al., 2016) -Employees can choose their workstations (Danielsson & Bodin, 2008), -A wide range of types of activities are applicable, -Employees can work in any place and at any time (Wohlers & Hertel, 2017) -High ratio of the number of employees to workstations -Lack of specific rules -Lack of concentration and privacy (Ekstrand & Karsten Hansen, 2016;Rolfö et al., 2018) of workplace design into: 1. physical elements (thermal comfort, air quality, light, and noise), 2. functional considerations (user control, concentration, communication, and privacy), and 3. psychological factors (social contact, spatial contact). Vischer (2008) presented the "Habitability Pyramid" idea. The Habitability Pyramid (Fig. 1) illustrates the impact of workplace environmental elements on workers. ...
... It was also designed for this study's framework. Figure 2 depicts the classification of environmental design factors according to the variables of Vischer's (2008) model. Firstly, workplace design elements collected from the literature (Table 2). ...
... The strengths of this study included an analysis of the effect of three office design factors, which are based on 'Habitability Pyramid' of Vischer (2008), on employee interactive behavior using the subscales extracted from the T-TPQ in two office layouts (open-plan offices and activity-based offices). This was done through successive steps of data collection and analysis of the measurement and correction system. ...
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The factors that can improve employee collaboration in their workplace are investigated differently. Studies from an architectural perspective confirm that the effects of office design on improving collaboration are limited to the type of office. However, these studies are contradictory because open-plan offices (OPO) and activity-based offices (ABO) encountered some shortcomings in advancing collaboration. This research has a broader perspective and analyzed the effect of the three categories of office design parameters on five types of interactive behavior among employees, including team structure, leadership, mutual support, situation monitoring, and communication to improve OPOs and ABOs. The participants were employees of open-plan and activity-based offices from Tehran city (Iran). Both kinds of offices received and completed an equal number of questionnaires. The data were analyzed using partial least square structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) and multi-group analysis (MGA) to investigate the hypotheses. In open-plan offices, interactive employee behavior was influenced by environmental and psychological factors. However, in activity-based offices, interactive employee behavior was affected only by functional factors. In general, collaboration could be improved by changing the physical parameters of office design.
... Person-Environment theory comes from the tradition of stress research and the core idea is that the misfit between person and environment factors leads to strain, which in the long run can cause illnesses (Caplan, 1987). The theory examines users' responses to environmental conditions and links the psychological aspects of workers' environment to environmental support for workers tasks and activities (Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman, & Johnson, 2005;Vischer, 2008). This support can be called fit (Caplan, 1987). ...
... In offices, data from 90 000 respondents indicated that dissatisfaction with environmental factors was the highest with sound privacy (54%), temperature (39%), and noise level (34%) and satisfaction the highest with the ease of interaction (75%), amount of light (74%), and cleanliness (71%) (Graham, Parkinson, & Schiavon, 2021). Of these different IEQ factors, key IEQ factors, or ambient factors, that can be used to describe a building user's comfort in any building have been defined: air quality, thermal comfort, lighting, and acoustics (BPIE, 2018;Frontczak & Wargocki, 2011;Vischer, 2008). Thermal comfort was identified as the most important IEQ factor regarding user comfort (Frontczak & Wargocki, 2011). ...
... This has yielded mixed results due to the variety of methods and organisational contexts (Nurick and Thatcher, 2021b). Some researchers have found that certain GBFIs do enhance individual productivity (Harter et al., 2003;Schwede et al., 2008;Vischer, 2008;Singh et al., 2010;Fisk et al., 2011;Wiik, 2011;Gou et al., 2012a;Gou et al., 2012b;Alker et al., 2014). Other researchers have found mixed results (Thatcher and Milner, 2012;Feige et al., 2013;Byrd and Rasheed, 2016;Bortoluzzi et al., 2018). ...
Purpose This paper aims to investigate green buildings and individual productivity, specifically within the context of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) within green certified office buildings. The purpose of the research was to determine how self-assessed productivity levels were influenced by the indoor environment of the office building. Design/methodology/approach Qualitative data analysis was conducted via semi-structured interviews in two financial services companies (FSCs), both based in green certified office buildings in South Africa. Thematic analysis was conducted to extract common themes from the data. Furthermore, the data were compared to previous research to identify new potential pathways or provide support for existing pathways. Findings The main findings were that physical components, such as temperature, lighting, ventilation and noise, contribute depending on the respondent to individual productivity, engagement, organisational commitment and psychological wellbeing. Safety, underpinned by location and amenities, was a new component not previously considered that subtly contributed to individual productivity. Originality/value The research provides valuable insight into the contributing factors that impact individual productivity within a green certified office building, as previous researchers have yet to reach a consensus on the relationship between individual productivity and IEQ in green certified office buildings.
... Psychologisch orientierte konzeptionelle Ansätze fokussieren die funktionale Passung des Menschen mit der Arbeitsumgebung ("Needs-Supply Fit", Wohlers et al., 2017) bzw. die psychologische Passung ("Environmental Comfort Model of Workspace Quality", Vischer, 2008). Insofern sind die durch die Nutzer:innen wahrgenommene räumliche Qualität und die Passung zwischen Menschen, Aufgaben, Technologie und Raum (siehe "Office Ecology") die übergeordneten Ziele bei der Konzeption, Planung und dem Betrieb von Arbeitsumgebungen. ...
... Making changes to home allows residents to feel a sense of control, ownership, or a sense of belonging which have been identified as 'psychological comfort' that is important for an effective task performance at workplaces (Vischer, 2008): ...
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Flexibility in the design of our homes can greatly support our varied and changing needs and functions but its ability to support our psychological wellbeing at home has not been empirically examined or established. In exploring the same in this thesis, Flexibility was conceptualised as the architectural design of the home (Architectural Flexibility) but also residents’ behaviour of making changes to the home (Behavioural Flexibility) which was found to be lacking in the literature. Residents’ hedonic and eudaimonic wellbeing were measured using two newly developed and validated scales. In an online mixed-method survey, Study 1 (N = 187) established a positive association between Flexibility of the home and residents’ Hedonic and Eudaimonic wellbeing. Qualitative data analyses provided insights into features of the home and modifications made to home, which were used to measure Flexibility more objectively in studies 2 and 3. In an online survey (N = 212), Study 2 found that Behavioural Flexibility substantially mediated the relationship between Architectural Flexibility of the home and residents’ Hedonic and Eudaimonic wellbeing. In an online survey, Study 3 further confirmed the mediating effect of behaviour of making modifications to home on the relationship between Architectural Flexibility and Eudaimonic wellbeing using a nationally representative sample (N = 300). The study also found that the residents’ personal factors of capabilities and motivations substantially contribute to the model. An additional experimental part of Study 3 suggested that there may exist a causal relationship between Architectural Flexibility of the home and residents’ wellbeing. Overall, findings from this thesis suggest that Architectural and Behavioural Flexibility of the home have varied but positive influence on residents’ Hedonic and Eudaimonic wellbeing at home. This relationship is substantially influenced by residents’ capabilities and motivations, and may need to be considered when designing homes or developing housing policies in the UK.
Conference Paper
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Workspace planning and design of an office is critical to employee's performance. Designing the office space around the needs of employees creates a workspace that is efficient and functional. Hence, studies show that employees who are satisfied with their workplace gave better results and outcomes. However, current office planning has proven to be insufficient for workspaces because planning goes beyond spatial configuration of the space. The aim of this paper is to access factors that influence workspace planning and design of office buildings in Lagos state, Nigeria. To establish these factors, this paper categorized workspace by its physical and functional make up and thus suggest a framework for workspace planning process that contains four phases; workspace requirement identification, utilization rate, workspace problem identification and workspace problem resolution. The result shows the importance and effectiveness of the proposed framework in improving the workspace planning process of an office
Synchronous collaborative virtual environments (CVEs) allow distributed teams to interact and work. CVEs afford a sense of presence, or “being there” in the workspace, as well as the opportunity to “do there” via interactions within the environment. However, there has been limited empirical evidence to support the link of presence and team performance, especially for CVE work. We identified multiple dimensions of presence that reflect relationships known to be essential to collaborative work and conducted a CVE experiment with 80 teams. Our results suggest certain aspects of presence are more important than others in driving virtual team performance.
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The lockdown resulting from the COVID-19 epidemic forced employees of various vocational and social groups into working from home. The article presents the results of the research on the organisation of remote workstations in the education sector conducted in scope of an international remote work project. Unlike the dominant research topic in the literature (well-being, WLB), our research focuses on a newer endeavor: analysis from a workplace design perspective. Statistical methods such as structure indices and correlations were used in the research. The results presented concern the organizational level of the surveyed positions and the impact of external factors on employee preferences in scope of being sent away, including position financing, position time, and organizational efficiency. The study showed a specific profile of remote work of education employees. The results also indicate employees' expectations regarding the financing of physical space and household equipment by employers, as well as the legal regulations of the right to disconnect (R2D). These are the preconditions for the strategic, permanent use of remote work as a tool for organization and management because when working remotely, new forms of the educational function must be developed
Editorial comment Office buildings provide the physical context for organizational processes, such as professional activities of individuals and teams, information sharing, and formal and informal meetings. Places inside the building acquire meaning as individuals and groups utilize them and develop habits and a history around them. With time, these places become connecting channels between individual workers and their organizational unit (e.g. large conference rooms are where strategic business policies are discussed, small meeting rooms are where decisions are made, smoking zones are the places for social exchanges, etc.). This process, termed placemaking (Shibley and Schneekloth, 1996), produces meanings that integrate into the overall building knowledge that is carried by its users and sought through user satisfaction surveys. This chapter describes a post-occupancy evaluation (Phase 5, occupancy, feedback loop in the BPE framework) in a specific social and cultural context. The results show how user attitudes towards placemaking affect people’s perception and assessment of the built environment.
By way of comparison between 2 case studies of environment-behaviour research programs, this paper discusses 3 issues important to the continued development of environment-behaviour studies: 1) holism and person-environment systems as the central unit of analysis; 2) the role of physical environmental variables; 3) ecological validity. -AuthorUniv of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, PO Box 413, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201, USA.
The creation and management of knowledge has become a central concern to business and management, both as a source of value and as an opportunity to achieve and sustain competitive advantage. This new book brings together leading thinkers in the area of knowledge and innovation management in a state of the art collection of studies in this field.
As the nature of the field of environment-behavior relations is interdis­ ciplinary, the collaboration of three persons of diverse professional backgrounds in writing this book is therefore not surprising. This col­ laboration started in 1972 with the offering of a graduate seminar "Envi­ ronment, Behavior, and Design Evaluation" at the University of Massa­ chusetts. Several research projects dealing with design evaluation which have been conducted at the University are also included as case studies in this book (Chapter III): the ELEMR study and the Visitor Center study. Two of the authors have worked as part of the instructional team in the seminar, and all of the authors have participated in varying degrees in the ELEMR Project. The authors' backgrounds in design, psychology, and landscape architecture suggest, by example, that professionals with diverse backgrounds but a common interest in environment-behavior problems can indeed learn to communicate and to collaborate. Since design evaluation is a new field and very little specific litera­ ture on the subject exists to date, we hope this book fills a current need.
Several pieces of the jigsaw puzzle of environmental design evaluation have now been presented; this chapter will fill in the remaining pieces. First, the direction of the field will be charted, both generally and by the use of specific cases. Second, following the conclusion that better methodology is needed, several broad issues will be presented, including both general issues of validity and summaries of techniques. However, these techniques involve some important ethical dangers; these are outlined in the fourth section. Finally, the structure-process approach will be summarized in the last section.