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Office design's impact on sick leave rates

  • School of Architecture, KTH Royal Institute of Technology
  • Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University

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Unlabelled: The effect of office type on sickness absence among office employees was studied prospectively in 1852 employees working in (1) cell-offices; (2) shared-room offices; (3) small, (4) medium-sized and (5) large open-plan offices; (6) flex-offices and (7) combi-offices. Sick leaves were self-reported two years later as number of (a) short and (b) long (medically certified) sick leave spells as well as (c) total number of sick leave days. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used, with adjustment for background factors. A significant excess risk for sickness absence was found only in terms of short sick leave spells in the three open-plan offices. In the gender separate analysis, this remained for women, whereas men had a significantly increased risk in flex-offices. For long sick leave spells, a significantly higher risk was found among women in large open-plan offices and for total number of sick days among men in flex-offices. Practitioner summary: A prospective study of the office environment's effect on employees is motivated by the high rates of sick leaves in the workforce. The results indicate differences between office types, depending on the number of people sharing workspace and the opportunity to exert personal control as influenced by the features that define the office types.
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Office design's impact on sick leave rates
Christina Bodin Danielssona, Holendro Singh Chungkhama, Cornelia Wulffb & Hugo
a The Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
b The Psychology Department, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Published online: 27 Jan 2014.
To cite this article: Christina Bodin Danielsson, Holendro Singh Chungkham, Cornelia Wulff & Hugo Westerlund (2014) Office
design's impact on sick leave rates, Ergonomics, 57:2, 139-147, DOI: 10.1080/00140139.2013.871064
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Office design’s impact on sick leave rates
Christina Bodin Danielsson
*, Holendro Singh Chungkham
, Cornelia Wulff
and Hugo Westerlund
The Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden;
The Psychology Department, Stockholm
University, Stockholm, Sweden
(Received 10 June 2013; accepted 22 November 2013)
The effect of office type on sickness absence among office employees was studied prospectively in 1852 employees working
in (1) cell-offices; (2) shared-room offices; (3) small, (4) medium-sized and (5) large open-plan offices; (6) flex-offices and
(7) combi-offices. Sick leaves were self-reported two years later as number of (a) short and (b) long (medically certified) sick
leave spells as well as (c) total number of sick leave days. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used, with adjustment
for background factors. A significant excess risk for sickness absence was found only in terms of short sick leave spells in the
three open-plan offices. In the gender separate analysis, this remained for women, whereas men had a significantly increased
risk in flex-offices. For long sick leave spells, a significantly higher risk was found among women in large open-plan offices
and for total number of sick days among men in flex-offices.
Practitioner Summary: A prospective study of the office environment’s effect on employees is motivated by the high rates of
sick leaves in the workforce. The results indicate differences between office types, depending on the number of people sharing
workspace and the opportunity to exert personal control as influenced by the features that define the office types.
Keywords: office design/office type; sick leaves; employees; prospective study; gender
1. Introduction
Although the different negative effects of sickness absence is fairly well researched (see, e.g. European Commission 2002;
Milczarek, Schneider, and Rial Gonza
´lez 2009; Mustard, Lavis, and Ostry 2006), there is a lack of studies concerning
the determinants of sickness absence among white-collar workers, despite the fact that they make up the majority of
the workforce in the Western world today (Brill et al. 2001; Duffy 1999). In particular, the possible relationship between the
physical office environment and sick leave rates is under-studied. We know from empirical studies that absenteeism is
related to job characteristics such as high work demands, poor job control, monotonous work and so on. (e.g. Allebeck and
Mastekaasa 2004; Karasek and Theorell 1990; Vahtera, Pentti, and Uutela 1996). There are gender differences in sickness
absence both in terms of risk factors (e.g. Kivima
¨ki et al. 2007; Krantz 2003) and rates, with higher rates among women
(Blank and Diderichsen 1995; Niedhammer et al. 1998).
When investigating the office environment’s impact on employee health and well-being, the concept of personal control
is of special interest since the need for personal control over the surrounding environment is considered fundamental for
human well-being (see, e.g. Rothbaum, Weisz, and Snyder 1982; Ward 2012). Personal control is strongly related to office
employees’ environmental satisfaction (Bodin Danielsson and Bodin 2009), as well as perception of privacy (Haans,
Kaiser, and de Kort 2007; Kupritz 1998) and distraction (Lee and Brand 2010). In the increasingly ubiquitous open-plan
offices, the latter two factors are combined with noise and often hard to satisfy. The latter is considered the major stressor in
open-plan offices when perceived as ‘irrelevant sound’ (Banbury and Berry 2005), with negative effects on both health
outcomes and cognitive performance (Evans and Johnson 2000; Jahncke et al. 2011; Liebl et al. 2012). Since privacy
besides acoustic also includes visual privacy, the architectural design of the office, including workstation design and office
layout, is important (Charles and Veitch 2002; Lee 2010; Marquardt, Veitch, and Charles 2002). Office layout is highly
related to office types; hence their defining features are important when investigating the office environment’s possible
impact on employees’ health and well-being.
There are to our knowledge only a few studies that have investigated the office environment’s relation to health among
office employees, and sick leaves specifically. Differences in health status between employees in various office types have
been found, with the best health among those in flex-offices and cell-offices, and the worst in medium-sized open-plan office
(Bodin Danielsson and Bodin 2008). The explanation for the equally good health in the former two, very different, office
types could be that they both enable personal control, albeit through different means. In a Dutch study, in which the
researchers followed a company’s move from cell-offices to flex-offices (called ‘innovative office’ in the article) over a
q2014 Taylor & Francis
*Corresponding author. Email:;
Ergonomics, 2014
Vol. 57, No. 2, 139–147,
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period of 15 months, it was found that employees reported better general health and less complaints concerning upper
extremities after the move (Meijer, Frings-Dresen, and Sluiter 2009). Here, the authors explained the result by the extra
efforts put into the ergonomics of the workstations in the new flex-offices. Concerning gender differences, a cross-sectional
study found differences regarding in which office types men and women reported the highest stress levels (Bodin
Danielsson 2007). With regard to sick leave, a large longitudinal study found that employees in cell-offices reported lower
rates than those working in open offices with more than six people (Pejtersen et al. 2011).
Beside the scarcity of health-related office research, there are substantial shortcomings in the existing office research,
e.g. in most cases the definitions are too vague regarding the office environments studied. Many studies compare cell-offices
with open-plan offices without any recognition of the fact that different types of open-plan offices exist which vary
substantially in their spatial and functional arrangements (Hedge 1982; Pejtersen et al. 2011). In addition, most studies are
post occupancy evaluations after relocation (Kaarlela-Tuomaala et al. 2009; Meijer, Frings-Dresen, and Sluiter 2009)or
cross-sectional (e.g. Bodin Danielsson and Bodin 2008; Bodin Danielsson and Bodin 2009; Bodin Danielsson, Wulff, and
Westerlund in press). A limitation in the former is that the actual shift of environment in itself may have a different impact
on the outcomes than the office environment per se. In cross-sectional studies, no causal relations can be established.
Despite this, the majority of office research is cross-sectional since office environments are difficult to study for a long
period of time because offices, for symbolic reasons, are often relocated or redesigned in connection with the shift of
management and leadership.
To the best of our knowledge, there are only two studies in which office employees’ health has been studied over a
longer period of time in relation to the office environment: Meijer, Frings-Dresen, and Sluiter’s study (2009), which
examined employee health status after a move from cell-office to flex-office, and Pejtersen et al.’s study (2011) of sickness
absenteeism in relation to individuals sharing workspace. However, in the former study, the sample is small (138 subjects)
and only two office types are studied. The second study has the benefit of being a large, longitudinal study; however, the
offices are defined only by the number of people sharing workspace.
The purpose of this article was to investigate whether office type has a prospective effect on employees’ sickness
absence. The environmental factors in an office can be classified as physical, psychosocial and organisational, which may
interact in their impact on employees. Recognising this, this study applies a more comprehensive definition of office type
that in addition to the number of employees sharing workspace also studies the opportunity to exert personal control in the
different office type. Our hypothesis was that sick leave rates differ between office types due to difference in terms of the
two former conditions.
2. Methods
2.1. Sample
Our sample comes from the 2010 and 2012 waves of the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health (SLOSH).
These respondents originally participated in the Swedish Work Environment Survey (SWES) in the years 2003 or 2005,
when they were gainfully employed and 16 –64 years of age. SLOSH is a nationally representative longitudinal cohort study
of work environment and health covering different aspects of the general life situation and working life, including
organisational aspects as well as the physical work environment with questions about office types. The fact that SLOSH
covers office types makes it useful for the purpose of this article. To our knowledge no other large survey does this. The
survey is conducted every second year. Data are collected by paper-and-pencil questionnaires (Hanson et al. 2011;
Magnusson Hanson et al. 2009), but with an internet questionnaire option offered in 2012. Participation is voluntary. In the
2010 wave, 20,291 persons were asked to participate, with a total response rate of 56.8%.
We restricted our sample to those employees who worked at both waves, i.e. in SLOSH 2010 and 2012, and did not
change their job in-between since the objective of the article was to understand the prospective association between office
type and sickness absence. We thus followed the individuals from 2010 and studied the association between the exposure to
office type in this year and the outcome, i.e. sickness absence measured in 2012 and referring to the last 12 months before
the measurement. With these exclusion criteria a total of 1852 participants remained in the analytic sample (Figure 1).
Employees who stated that they worked in a cell-office, but also worked 20% or more in team work elsewhere in the office
were excluded since it was unclear whether they worked in combi-offices or not.
2.2. Office definitions
The study is based on the seven office types that have been identified in contemporary office design. These are: (1) cell-
office, (2) shared-room office, (3) small open-plan office, (4) medium-sized open-plan office, (5) large open-plan office, (6)
flex-office and (7) combi-office (Bodin Danielsson 2007; Bodin Danielsson and Bodin 2008). These seven office types are
C. Bodin Danielsson et al.140
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defined by their unique combinations of architectural and functional features (Table 1). The architectural features are the
physical features of an office type, such as access to windows, spatial arrangements of rooms (e.g. corridors or open-plan
layout) and furniture arrangements which are partly given by the spatial organisation. Of the architectural features, the plan
layout is the most prominent. The functional features of an office type are determined by the work taking place and how it is
organised, i.e. the use of the office and functions related to this. These features are in turn determined by factors such as
functional needs, technical feasibility (information communication technology [ICT]) and so on. But it also works vice
versa, as technical and functional possibilities can lead to new organisation of work that affects the architectural design. The
seven office types should be viewed as both prototypes and ‘ideal’ office types, since there exists of the office that differs to
the described definitions.
SLOSH does not enable a detailed analysis of one particular functional feature, the individual employee’s decision
making power, which is an important functional feature that defines the different office types (see Bodin Danielsson &
Bodin 2008,2009). Thus a descriptive analysis based on mean values of employees’ degree of decision-making power in
work was done in the various office types (see Table A1 in Appendix). The degree of decision-making power in work was
measured by the three items of decision latitude dimension developed for the demand-control-support questionnaire
(Theorell et al. 1988) included in SLOSH.
2.3. Socio-demographics
Background data on sex, age, job rank, income and labour market sector, i.e. if the individual works in private or public
sector are given in Table 2 split by office type. Age is shown for the year 2010, job rank, income and labour market sector in
both 2010 and 2012.
The demographic data show some overall distinguishing characteristics in the sample. It shows that there are no
significant differences with respect to office type in the gender distribution or income in 2010. However, in 2012 there are
significant differences with respect to office type in terms of income. There are more women than men in the sample, and
the most equal gender distribution is found in medium-sized and large open-plan office together with flex-office. The
highest incomes are in both 2010 and 2012 found in medium-sized open-plan office followed by large open-plan office and
the lowest incomes in flex-office. The age distribution differs significantly between the office types with the highest
proportion of young people in small open-plan office and of old people in cell-office. Overall, there are fewer people in the
youngest age group than in the older age groups. The traditional open-plan offices (small, medium-sized and large open-
plan) are more common in the private than the public sector. The most common office type in the public sector is the combi-
office. Flex-office has also a larger representation in this sector. There are significant differences with respect to office type
in distribution of job rank in both 2010 and 2012. Lowest job ranks (unskilled and skilled manual workers combined with
non-manual workers) are in both years found in shared-room office and flex-office. The highest job rank (professional and
higher managers) has 2010 as its largest representation in combi-office followed by cell-office. It is the largest
representation found in medium-sized open-plan office followed by cell-office again.
2,555 respondents who worked 30% or less than full time at the time of SLOSH 2012 and were excluded.
1,478 respondents who had not responded to SLOSH 2010 were excluded.
278 respondents who worked 30% or less than full time at the time of SLOSH 2010 were excluded.
1,864 did not work in an office in 2006 and were excluded;
475 did not respond to the question on office type in 2010 and were excluded
465 worked <20% in an office in 2010 and were excluded.
587 had changed jobs between 2010 and 2012 and were excluded
29 with missing information on job change status were excluded
297 cell-office employees with 20% of teamwork elsewhere in office than in own office were excluded*
Final analytic sample available for analysis.
Figure 1. Exclusion of subjects from study base for the analysis. A total of 9880 people (44.2% men, 55.8% women) responded to
SLOSH 2012.
Ergonomics 141
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2.4. Descriptions of outcome variables
The following three dimensions were used as outcomes:
(a) Number of short sick leave spells was assessed by the question: ‘How many times have you taken sick leave for a
week or less during the past 12 months? Do not count care of a sick child.’ The responses were dichotomised into
one or no short absences (‘not at all or 1 spell’) vs. more than 2 spells (‘2 or more spells’).
(b) Number of long (medically certified) sick leave spells was assessed by the question: ‘How many times have you
taken sick leave for longer than a week during the past 12 months? Do not count care of a sick child.’ The response
was dichotomised into no long absences (‘On no occasion’) vs.all other categories. Sick leaves of longer than a
week require a certificate from a physician.
(c) Total number of sick leave days was measured by the response to the question: ‘Approximately how many days
have you in total been on sick leave during the last 12 months?’ The response was dichotomised into 7 days or less
(‘not at all’ or ‘1 7 days’) vs. more than 7 days (‘8 30 days’, ‘31 90 days’ and ‘91 days or more’).
2.5. Confounders
In the multivariate analysis, sex, age, labour market sector and job rank were treated as confounders (Table 2). All
confounders were treated as categorical variables. Age was divided into ,34 years, 35 –49 years and .49 years (consistent
Table 1. Office types prototypes defined by architectural and functional features.
Office type:
architectural features Functional features
1. Cell-office: single room office
The plan layout is characterised by corridors, either a single
or double corridor system
Individual room has access to a window
Most equipment is in the own room
Work is concentrated and independent
2. Shared-room office: 2 3 people/room
An office type sometimes a consequence of lack of workspace.
Workstations freely arranged in the room
For privacy reasons sometimes screens or other divisional
elements between workstations
No individual window, shares with roommate(s)
Team-based work or people with similar work assignment
share room
Most equipment outside of room, team-based shared room
tends to have own
Traditional open-plan offices:
Groups of employees sharing a common workspace in different
Found in following three sub-categories:
3. Small open-plan office: 49 people per room
4. Medium-sized open-plan office: 10 24 people per room
5. Large open-plan office: .24 people per room
Shared workspaces within the office
Plan layout is open, based on an open flow of workspaces
instead of corridor systems
Workstations freely arranged in the room or in rows in a
larger workspace
Flexible for organisational changes
Routine-based work
Low level of interaction between employees
Often no amenities at workstation
More flexible and activity based office types:
6. Flex-office: no individual workstation
Plan layout is open, based on an open flow of workspaces
instead of corridor systems
Back up spaces for work activities not suitable to carry out
at the personal workstation, e.g. rooms for concentrated
work, telephone calls, different type of meeting rooms
Flexible for organisational changes
Dimensioned for ,70% of the workforce
The choice of workstation is free, has the option to work outside
of office as well
Good ICT is a necessity as the common computer system is
accessible from all workstations within the office
Mainly independent work, sometimes project based
7. Combi-office: .20% of the work in the office not at the
personal workstation, team-based work
No strict spatial definition, personal workstations can be
either individual rooms or open-plan office
Back up spaces for work activities not suitable to carry
out at the personal workstation. Extra focus on rooms for
group activities such as meeting and project rooms (booked
for longer periods)
Sharing of common amenities in common spaces
Work is both independent and interactive team work with
The team move around in the office on an ‘as-needed basis’
using the wide range of common facilities
C. Bodin Danielsson et al.142
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with Bodin Danielsson and Bodin 2008) in order to account for possible nonlinear effects. Sector of business was
categorised into private and public. Job rank was categorised into (1) unskilled manual work, (2) skilled manual workers,
(3) non-manual workers, (4) intermediate/lower managers and (5) professionals and higher managers. These were formed
by combining the Swedish Socio-economic (SEI) code and the job rank classification used by Magnusson Hanson et al.
2.6. Data analyses
To understand the prospective association between office types in 2010 and sickness absences in 2012, we applied logistic
regression models controlling for several background characteristics in 2010. In accordance with the aim of the study, the
main explanatory variable of office type was used. For this, the seven office type categories defined previously were used.
Cell-office was chosen to represent the reference category with which the other office types were compared.
The results are presented as odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals. An OR greater than one indicates a higher
risk for sickness absence for the particular office type compared with the reference category. The statistical significance
level was fixed at p,0.05. For each of the outcomes analysed in this article, three models were shown total sample, male
and female separately.
Table 2. Socio-demographic characteristics participants by office types.
Small open-
plan office
open-plan office
Large open-
plan office
Sign. difference
between office
Office types n
¼851 n
¼243 n
¼124 n
¼84 n
¼144 n
¼91 n
¼315 n¼1852
Gender 0.220
Female 485 (57) 157 (65) 75 (60.5) 44 (52) 77 (53.5) 48 (53) 182 (58)
Male 366 (43) 86 (35) 49 (39.5) 40 (48) 67 (46.5) 43 (47) 289 (45)
Age group (years) #0.001
$34 34 (4) 15 (6) 21 (17) 8 (9.5) 14 (10) 5 (5.5) 22 (7)
3548 283 (33) 86 (35) 42 (34) 25 (30) 68 (47) 40 (44) 129 (41)
#49 534 (63) 142 (58) 61 (49) 51 (61) 62 (43) 46 (50.5) 164 (52)
Income (USD)
Income 2010 56.4 52.1 49.2 59.5 57.7 48.0 56.1 0.047
Income 2012 63.5
64.4 54.5
62.2 #0.001
Labour market sector #0.001
Private 384 (50) 118 (54) 82 (71) 63 (79) 111 (79) 36 (44) 132 (45)
Public 375 (49) 100 (46) 34 (29) 18 (22) 29 (21) 46 (56) 162 (55)
Job rank 2010 #0.001
Unskilled manual
11 (1) 6 (3) 3 (2) 0 (0) 0 (0) 6 (7.0) 16 (5)
Skilled manual
5 (1) 4 (2) 2 (2) 1 (1) 3 (2) 8 (9) 16 (5)
204 (25) 84 (37) 36 (30) 24 (29) 25 (18) 19 (22) 38 (13)
298 (36) 83 (36) 51 (42) 32 (39) 74 (52) 33 (38) 140 (47)
Professionals and
higher managers
299 (37) 53 (23) 29 (24) 25 (30.5) 40 (28) 20 (23) 255 (42.1)
Job rank 2012 #0.001
Unskilled manual
10 (1) 6 (2.5) 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0) 7 (8) 16 (5)
Skilled manual
6 (1) 2 (1) 3 (2.5) 1 (1) 2 (1) 8 (9) 18 (6)
216 (26) 84 (36) 37 (31) 18 (22) 25 (18) 20 (23) 33 (11)
298 (36) 95 (40) 48 (20) 33 (27) 30 (37) 36 (41) 137 (44)
Professionals and
higher managers
303 (36) 48 (20) 33 (27) 30 (37) 45 (32) 17 (19) 103 (34)
Note: Post-hoc (Sidak) tests for mean differences are indicated X
(1)– (4), (6)
p,0.001. Figures in parentheses are percentages.
Values in bold indicate significances reported in SPSS as 0.000.
Ergonomics 143
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3. Results
The results from the multivariate logistic analyses in Table 3 showed a clear difference in prospective risks for sickness
absence between the three outcomes used. With regard to short sick leave spells ($2 spells), a significant association with
office type was found in the analysis of the total sample as well as in the separate analyses for men and women. In the total
sample, elevated risks were found among employees in all three traditional open-plan offices in comparison with cell-
offices. The highest significant risk for short sick leave spells was found among employees in small (OR ¼1.9, p#0.001)
and large open-plan office (OR ¼1.82, p#0.001) followed by medium-sized open-plan offices (OR ¼1.22, p#0.05).
The same office types had the highest risk also in the women-only analysis, although less significantly than in the total
sample, with ORs of 1.97, 2.28 and 1.86, respectively, p#0.05. For men-only analysis, flex-offices were associated with a
significantly higher risk for short sick leave spells (OR ¼2.56, p#0.05). In terms of less negative outcomes, there was a
non-significant tendency towards lower rates of short sick leave spells in cell- and combi-offices.
With regard to long (medically certified) sick leave spells and total number of sick days ($8 days), the only significant
associations were found in the separate analyses for men and women. Here a significantly higher risk of long sick leave
spells was found among women in large open-plan offices (OR ¼2.14, p#0.05) than in cell-office. In men the risk of a
high total number of sick days was significantly higher in flex-offices (OR ¼2.63, p#0.05).
4. Discussion
This study of the prospective effect of office environment on sickness absence showed very different results for our three
outcomes, with a significant association found mainly in terms of short sick leave spells. In this regard, the three traditional
open-plan offices stood out negatively for both the total sample and women separately. For men, short sick leave spells were
significantly more common in flex-offices. In addition, women had higher risk of long sick leave spells in large open-plan
offices, and in men the total number of sick days was higher in flex-offices.
We found an excess risk of short sick leave spells in the same office types, which in other studies were found lessconducive to
employee health. That employees in traditional open-plan offices have a significantly highest risk for ill-health was for instance
found in a cross-sectional study (Bodin Danielsson and Bodin 2008), but also in a large longitudinal study (Pejtersen et al. 2011).
Table 3. Prospective associations between office types in 2010 and sickness absence outcomes in 2012 expressed as ORs from logistic
models adjusted for background factors.
Small open-plan
Medium-sized open-plan
Large open-plan
office Flex-office Combi-office
n¼1852 n
¼851 n
¼243 n
¼124 n
¼84 n
¼144 n
¼91 n
Short sick
leave spells
($2 spells)
1.00 1.23 (0.81 1.86) 1.9
(1.16– 3.1)1.92
(1.08– 3.4)1.82
(1.14– 2.88) 1.69 (0.95 3.01) 0.95 (0.63– 1.42)
Women 1.00 1.48 (0.91– 2.42) 1.97
(1.08– 3.6)2.28
(1.11– 4.67)1.86
(1.04– 3.35) 1.56 (0.73 3.34) 1.0 (0.621.61)
Men 1.00 0.77 (0.32– 1.84) 1.92 (0.834.47) 1.48 (0.56 –3.95) 1.8 (0.84– 3.85) 2.56
(1.04– 6.34) 0.78 (0.37– 1.68)
Long sick
leave spells
1.00 0.79 (0.46 1.36) 0.7 (0.321.5) 0.51 (0.18– 1.44) 1.1 (0.592.05) 0.89 (0.56 1.42) 0.73 (0.50– 1.07)
Women 1.00 1.02 (0.55– 1.93) 0.53 (0.18– 1.54) 0.42 (0.98– 1.83) 2.14
(1.08– 4.26) 1.97 (0.87 4.44) 1.08 (0.61– 1.90)
Men 1.00 0.37 (0.11– 1.26) 0.97 (0.322.98) 0.56 (0.12 –2.5)
1.5 (0.514.28) 0.68 (0.30– 1.53)
of days
($8 days)
1.00 1.37 (0.92 2.04) 1.02 (0.591.79) 0.88 (0.44 –1.78) 1.29 (0.782.14) 1.58 (0.89 2.81) 1.05 (0.71– 1.54)
Women 1.00 1.54 (0.96– 2.47) 0.94 (0.47– 1.87) 0.52 (0.18– 1.51) 1.71 (0.94 3.11) 1.16 (0.54 –2.5) 1.07 (0.671.7)
Men 1.00 1.0 (0.46 2.22) 1.21 (0.47– 3.11) 1.59 (0.61– 4.17) 0.69 (0.25 1.87) 2.63
(1.11– 6.26) 1.0 (0.5– 1.98)
Reference category. Figures in brackets are confidence intervals;
Adjusted for age, sex, job rank and labour market sector in 2010.
ORs are not reported due to empty cells.
C. Bodin Danielsson et al.144
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The cumulative evidence thus indicates that traditional open-plan offices are less good for employee health. There could be
several explanations for this. The risk of infection could be higher among people sharing workspace, the exposure to
environmental stressors, such as noise and less ability for personal control in traditional office open-plan offices. Group
dynamics could also explain the negative outcomes in traditional open-plan offices, particularly large open-plan offices. Strong
group identity is after all more likely to develop in a smaller group of people (Svedberg 1992) as well as the peer control among
employees working in close collaboration with each other (Barker 1993). The non-significant tendency for better outcomes on
sickness absence in cell-offices and combi-offices could indicate that high personal control and low risks for infection in the
former and strong social coherence and peer control in the latter may decrease the risk of absenteeism. Positive aspect of social
control could be that people are more missed when absent in a small group due to a better visualoverlook and a greater concern
for team members. It could also be that the individual’s work effort is more noticeable or that the individual is less easily
replaceable in a smaller workgroup or team, due to a greater dependence of each other. The latter hypothesis is supported by
research on sickness presenteeism, i.e. being present at work despite being sick, which has found that people who work
collectively have more sickness presenteeism (Aronsson and Gustafsson 2005). According to this hypothesis, the social control
and group dynamics of the teams would then have a preventive effect on sick leaves prospectively.
Some gender differences were found. The association between short sick leave spells and office type was stronger
among women than among men working in the three traditional open-plan offices, and for long sick leave spells among
women in large open-plan offices. This may be due to a higher sensitivity to physical stimuli or a greater importance of
social support at work among women. Support for the latter hypothesis may be found in that women appear to receive more
social support than men at work (Plaisier et al. 2007; Winter et al. 2006). Additional explanations may be that the well-
established excess risk for sick leaves among women overall, which was found also in this study, may indicate a greater
vulnerability to the negative environmental stimuli that may be found in traditional open-plan offices. For men, there is
instead a stronger association between flex-office and risk of short sick leave spells and total sick days. This difference
between men and women indicates a possible larger importance of a personal workstation for the welfare of men than of
women, which in turn could depend on factors such as social status and so on. Flex-offices stood out as a less good office
type from a sick leave perspective than other office types independently of gender.
4.1. Concluding remarks and limitations
The fact that the study is based solely on self-reported data is a limitation that comes with most surveys and could lead to
spurious findings, especially if dissatisfaction with the office environment influences ratings of health. However, self-reported
sickness absence should be less affected than direct ratings of health, since the questions are about factual phenomena, although
these can be misremembered or consciously inflated to express dissatisfaction. Additional observations of the employees’
office environments would have been beneficial, although difficult to perform in a large national survey such as SLOSH.
Another weakness is that we have not adjusted for baseline health, which means that we cannot rule out reverse causality.
However, adjusting for baseline health could also lead to over adjustment, as long-term exposure to a certain office environment
could already have affected health at baseline. We therefore chose not to adjust for baseline health on the assumption that
selection into particular office types based on health would be rare and less of a problem than over adjustment. The major
limitation in our opinion is that the definition of office type based on the SLOSH 2010 is not precise enough to accurately define
office type, since the questionnaire contained only a couple of items on the office environment such as employee’s office type
and degree of collaboration and work at workstation but lack many environmental factors. The respondents may thus have
misunderstood the purpose of the questions on the office environment, which in turn may explain why (a) critical items
concerning the office type often were not filled in and (b) the responses were not always consistent. This, in turn, may lead to an
imprecision in the exposure measure and possibly lead to an underestimation of the effect of office design on health.
Whether or not sickness absence is a good measure of employee health and well-being can also be discussed, since it
measures health-related behaviour rather than health per se. Sickness absence could thus also be influenced by factors such as
attitudes towards health and work, as well as, e.g. job control and adjustment latitude (Kivima
¨ki et al. 2003). The different
association between office type and the risk of short versus long sick leave spells could, therefore, be due to differences in
attitudes towards the different types of absence and not on employee health, meaning that short spells of sick leaves are more
accepted or easier ‘to get away with’ in certain offices types than others. When discussing how good an indicator absenteeism is
of employee health and well-being, it should be noted that medically certified sickness absence is considered a good predictor of
poor health (Kivima
¨ki et al. 2003). However, regardless of these considerations, sickness absence is a relevant factor since it
negatively impacts on productivity and increases costs for businesses and put a pressure on the social insurance system.
In conclusion, the results of this prospective study indicate a higher 12-month prevalence of short sick leave spells
among employees in traditional open-plan offices, especially among women. The study also indicates a higher prevalence
of both short sick leave spells and more than eight days of total number of sick days among men in flex-offices. All together,
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the results indicate lower odds of sick leave in office types with high personal control and a lower degree of environmental
stressors or more collaboration in teams with colleagues. There could be several explanations for these results. For example,
the lower potential to exert personal control in traditional open-plan offices associated with architectural features that lead
to a lack of visual and acoustic privacy in combination with the functional features that are related to job characteristics such
as lack of autonomy, freedom and so on. (e.g. Bodin Danielsson 2007,2008; Evans and Johnson 2000). This, combined with
the fact that social cohesion is more likely to develop in office types with a lot of team work, is thus in our opinion possible
explanations for the difference in short sick leave spells between the different office types.
To summarise, the results of this explorative study should only be viewed a first step in the investigation of the long-
term effect of the office environment’s impact on employee sickness absence. These results can thus only be viewed as
indications of the possible effect of office type on sickness absence. Future studies need a more precise study design focused
on the office environment in order to establish if these preliminary results on a prospective association between office type
and sickness absence hold true or not. Also studying the possible effect of office environment on health over a longer period
of time than 2 years would be beneficial since it is our firm belief that with such knowledge of the office environment’s
influence on different dimensions of employee health, important gains can be achieved in the long run.
This research was supported by FORTE, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (formerly FAS)
[Postdoctoral grant number 2011-0402], with additional support from Magnus Bergwalls Stiftelse (MBS).
1. Email:
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Table A1. Mean values of routine-based work, freedom to plan and freedom to decide by office types in 2010.
Office types Cell-office Shared room
Small open-plan
open-plan office
Large open-
plan office Flex-office Combi-office
¼1852 n
¼851 n
¼243 n
¼124 n
¼84 N
¼144 n
¼91 N
Routine-based work
[1: often; 4: rarely]
2.2 2.1 2.01 2.12 2.31 2.22 2.37
Freedom to plan
(How to do your work)
[1: rarely; 4: often]
3.52 3.41 3.3 3.23 3.21 3.12 3.47
Freedom to decide
(What to do)
[1: rarely; 4: often]
3.01 2.87 2.77 2.69 2.76 2.55 2.92
Note:Highest mean value is reported in bold and lowest mean value in italics.
Ergonomics 147
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... Previous quantitative research has mostly focused on the workplace level by comparing ABOs to traditional offices (e.g., Bodin Danielsson & Bodin, 2009;Bodin Danielsson, Chungkham, Wulff, & Westerlund, 2014;De Been & Beijer, 2014;Haapakangas, Hallman, Mathiassen, & Jahncke, 2019). Engelen et al. (2019) reviewed this literature and concluded that the ABO was a 'promising concept' although it had some downsides (e.g., regarding privacy). ...
... Such factors may relate to office use. As the empirical findings on gender effects in ABOs have been mixed (Bodin Danielsson et al., 2014, 2015Bodin Danielsson & Theorell, 2019), more studies of gender differences are needed. We also investigated work ability and satisfaction with ergonomics as factors that may be related to an individual's ability to use workspaces in an activity-based way. ...
... Danielsson et al., 2014Danielsson et al., , 2015Danielsson et al., , 2019 and hypotheses(Wohlers & Hertel, 2017) on gender differences are mixed, more research is needed on whether and how gender is relevant to office use. Previous research has overlooked individual limitations to flexibly using workspaces, despite employees' ability to create a good P-E fit being viewed as central to the benefits of ABOs(Gerdenitsch et al., 2018; Hoendervanger et al., 2022; Wohlers et al., 2019). ...
Little is known about the factors that explain the differences in the ways that individuals use activity-based offices (ABOs). The aim of this study was to investigate whether person-related and situational factors are associated with self-reported use of workspaces and the perceived person-environment (P-E) fit in ABOs, independently of job profile. Survey data were gathered in one organization (N=332) 7–11 months after an office re-design. Younger age, male gender, managerial position, and better work ability were associated with more frequent use of different workspaces. Workspace switching was perceived as more time-consuming by employees who worked at the office less, had a high workload, and were dissatisfied with ergonomics. All variables except gender were associated with the P-E fit. Person-related and situational factors appear relevant to workspace use and P-E fit, independently of job contents. Contextual, cultural and office design differences should be considered when generalizing these results.
... Office types (layout): smaller and protected is better for women Many office types exist. This paper adheres to Bodin Danielsson et al. (2014) classification, categorizing offices based on their layout. Seventeen articles (about one-third of our sample) focus mainly on office types (layout) effects on male and female workers. ...
... Finally, open-plan offices also affect workers' health, especially in the case of women. Bodin Danielsson et al. (2014) use sick leaves certified absenteeism as an indicator to evaluate this impact depending on the number of employees sharing the workspace. The authors show that women in open-plan offices hosting more than six people appear more inclined to take sick leaves than women in single offices. ...
... The authors show that women in open-plan offices hosting more than six people appear more inclined to take sick leaves than women in single offices. Instead, men have more sick leaves when working in offices that adopt hot-desking policies (Bodin Danielsson et al., 2014). Platts et al. (2020) achieves similar results considering self-reported sickness absences in a sample of Swedish employees in open-plan offices. ...
This study undertakes a systematic literature review (SLR) on how the workspace influences female workers and, more generally, gender equality. Within the broader context of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) matters, gender issues have attracted ample attention from scholars and policymakers. However, research on the specific topic of this SLR is sparse and fragmented, especially for what concerns the implications on workplace design and management. This paper systematizes the actual knowledge on the subject by reviewing 68 articles published in the last 10 years. Authors critically analyze these articles according to two vital spatial elements: workspace typologies and workspace interiors. The reviewed articles document a general convincement shared by different scientific fields that the workspace affects women and men differently. The results show that space is a crucial element for enhancing gender equality in the workplace. Although the reviewed articles cover multiple disciplines, an interdisciplinary approach is still missing. The concluding section proposes a future research agenda, novel theoretical approaches and methodological advancements, while highlighting practical implications.
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Abstract Purpose – This paper aims to compare employee well-being, information flow and relationships with coworkers and supervisors for people working at home and working in different office types before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Design/methodology/approach – A nationwide study of 2,845 Estonian office workers in autumn 2019 and 2,972 in spring 2020 was carried out. Findings – It was discovered that in normal circumstances, people at home had similar results to those in a cell office or activity-based office. Open-plan offices were found to be the worst in respect to the facets of work studied. However, in the context of the pandemic, the playing field became more level in some respects and worse in the case of activity-based offices. Practical implications – When telework is well arranged both in terms of facilities and organising the necessary communication and information flow, then it is a viable alternative to working in an office. What is more, employers need to pay more attention to the physical and social work conditions in open-plan offices and also activity-based offices in the context of a pandemic. Originality/value – Previous studies have only compared telework with working in an office in general. Comparing working at home with different kinds of offices gives valuable insights. Keywords Work at home, Office type, Well-being, Information flow, Relationships between office workers, COVID-19, Information flow
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Full-text available
The widespread adoption of remote and hybrid work due to COVID-19 calls for studies that explore the ramifications of these scenarios for office workers from an occupational health and wellbeing perspective. This paper aims to identify the needs and challenges in remote and hybrid work and the potential for a sustainable future work environment. Data collection involved two qualitative studies with a total of 53 participants, who represented employees, staff managers, and service/facility providers at three Swedish public service organisations (primarily healthcare and infrastructure administration). The results describe opportunities and challenges with the adoption of remote and hybrid work from individual, group, and leadership perspectives. The main benefits of remote work were increased flexibility, autonomy, work-life balance and individual performance, while major challenges were social aspects such as lost comradery and isolation. Hybrid work was perceived to provide the best of both worlds of remote and office work, given that employees and managers develop new skills and competencies to adjust to new ways of working. To achieve the expected individual and organisational benefits of hybrid work, employers are expected to provide support and flexibility and re-design the physical and digital workplaces to fit the new and diverse needs of employees.
... Utformning av kontor kan också spela roll för smittorisk. Några studier har visat på ökad sjukskrivning och effektiv spridning av smitta bland personer som arbetar i öppna kontorslandskap och flexkontor, där fler människor vanligtvis möts på nära håll under lång tid jämfört med i cellkontor (Danielsson et al., 2014, Park et al., 2020. Men här behövs mer forskning. ...
Full-text available
Att spridning av sjukdomsframkallande luftvägsvirus kostar samhället enorma resurser har blivit uppenbart för alla under covid-19, men ovälkomna virus har varit människans följeslagare genom hela historien och ständigt uppkommer nya varianter med särskilt hög smittsamhet eller dödlighet. Riskerna har ökat med befolkningstillväxt och globalisering. Samtidigt har våra förutsättningar att skydda oss också blivit bättre genom ökad kunskap och framsteg inom medicin och teknik. Syftet med denna kunskapssammanställning är att beskriva smittvägar, riskfaktorer och skyddsåtgärder för infektiös luftvägssjukdom och därmed bidra till en minskad smittrisk vid arbetsplatser. Mycket av innehållet bygger på forskning om influensa och covid-19, men även en rad andra luftvägsinfektioner är inkluderade. Spridning av virus har här delats upp i tre smittvägar: inandning, direkt deponering och kontakt. Risken för smitta via inandning av virus är särskilt stor när avstånden mellan människor är korta och uppehållstiden lång i lokaler med dålig ventilation. Risken ökar om det också pågår aktiviteter som innebär spridning av virusinnehållande aerosolpartiklar till luften, såsom högt tal eller sång eller vissa medicinska procedurer, eller om den inandade luftmängden är förhöjd, som vid tungt arbete. Virusöverföring via direkt deponering sker när stora smittbärande droppar stänker direkt på en mottagare vid exempelvis hosta. Virusspridning via både inandning och direkt deponering sker på olika sätt genom luften, men benämns här inte ”luftsmitta” eftersom detta begrepp åtminstone enligt klassisk medicinsk indelning syftat på (effektiv) smitta via inandning över avstånd mer än enstaka meter och eftersom det främst använts för sjukdomar som är mycket allvarliga och därför kräver extrema skyddsåtgärder. Smitta via kontakt kan ske antingen via direkt beröring eller genom mellanled, som handtag eller andra ytor. Samtliga tre smittvägar är välbelagda för luftvägsvirus i den vetenskapliga litteraturen, men deras relativa betydelse varierar beroende situation, virustyp och interventioner för att minska smitta. För covid-19 pekar mycket forskning mot att inandning är en dominerande smittväg i många miljöer. Vissa yrkesgrupper, särskilt inom vårdsektorn, löper en förhöjd risk att smittas av luftvägsvirus. En lång rad skyddsåtgärder finns tillgängliga för att på olika sätt minska smittrisker: distans, hygien, fysiska barriärer, ventilation, administrativa åtgärder (exempelvis information, regleringar, kontroller, checklistor) och personlig skyddsutrustning. De flesta av dessa åtgärder har starkt stöd av vetenskapliga studier.
... They frame the research within knowledge on medical conditions such as cardiovascular Interior design strategies diseases and musculoskeletal issues or take the psychological stress perspective: support of employee functioning (Vischer, 2008), the balance between environmental resources and demands (Demerouti et al., 2001) and privacy theory (Altman, 1975). Ten papers investigated the health risks of different office types, comparing physical health conditions, environmental stress, mood or sickness absence between occupants of workspaces varying in architectural openness and number of workstations (Bodin Danielsson et al., 2014Jaakkola and Heinonen, 1995;Lindberg et al., 2018;Pejtersen et al., 2006Pejtersen et al., , 2011 or before and after implementation of a different office concept (Brennan et al., 2002;Foley et al., 2016;Haapakangas et al., 2018;Meijer et al., 2009). These studies showed that workspaces for a larger number of people were related to increased health complaints and distractions, especially in open-plan offices without the backup spaces provided by an activity-based working concept. ...
Full-text available
Purpose It is widely recognized that interior office space can affect health in several ways. Strategic and evidence-based design, including explicit design objectives, well-chosen design solutions and evaluation of results, aid realization of desired health effects. Therefore, this paper aims to identify possibly effective interior design strategies and accompanying design solutions and to provide examples of effectiveness measures. Design/methodology/approach A literature sample of 59 peer-reviewed papers published across disciplines was used to collect examples of workplace design features that have positively influenced workers’ well-being. The papers were grouped by their health objective and design scope successively and their theoretical assumptions, measures and findings were analyzed. Findings Four main workplace design strategies were identified. Design for comfort aims at reducing or preventing health complaints, discomfort and stress, following a pathogenic approach. It has the longest tradition and is the most frequently addressed in the included papers. The other three take a salutogenic approach, promoting health by increasing resources for coping with demands through positive design. Design for restoration supports physical and mental recovery through connections with nature. Design for social well-being facilitates social cohesion and feelings of belonging. Design for healthy behavior aims at nudging physical activity in the workplace. Originality/value By drawing complementary perspectives and offering examples of design solutions and effectiveness measures, this paper encourages workplace designers, managers and researchers to take a transdisciplinary and evidence-based approach to healthy workplaces. It also serves as a starting point for future empirical research.
Conference Paper
People in today’s world spend more than three quarters of their time in a day, indoors. It is vital for us to understand how these built spaces affect the health, wellbeing, cognitive capacities and emotions of its users. The focus of this research is on the impact of work environments on user psychology.The main aim is to study the effects of workplace architecture on the behavioural traits of its employees, and to arrive at specific design strategies, that shall improve employee performance and organizational profit. The methodology followed is the factor-based analysis of spatial configurations and their influence on employee productivity, by means of a modular evaluation tool, i.e. space syntax. Space syntax is the predominant mode of quantitative assessment used, to study how each spatial module affects employee output in an open-plan workplace. Simulations are generated via DepthMapX, a software tool. Qualitative modes such as user surveys and literature studies are utilized to statistically record aspects responsible for employee perceptions and distractions at workplaces. Three common types of workplaces were analysed i.e. open-plan, activity-based and hot-desking. Comparing the three case studies, it could be concluded that activity-based workplaces were more successful in enhancing employee performance. Open-plan layout analysed in this paper was hypothetically altered into an activity-based configuration. As per simulations generated via space-syntax, altered activity-based layout offered better results in comparison with the existing open-plan. A flow chart is tabulated on the basis of these findings, to highlight various design strategies that may be adopted to improve productivity.
Purpose This paper aims to build on the presumption that defining the spatial solution of the activity-based office environment through user-centred interdisciplinary dialog would strengthen understanding of interdependencies between the environment and the worker. Secondly, this presumption also contributes to the idea that the shared and clarified concepts of a spatial solution through location-specific structuring, would support the research outcomes in being communicated to the design practice, and further improve the work environment design in the future. Thirdly, this supposition is that understanding, documenting and communicating of the interdependencies between the environment and the worker would contribute to increased interdisciplinary understanding, ultimately benefitting the end-user, the worker. Design/methodology/approach The driver of this conceptual paper is to encourage understanding across disciplinary boundaries and communication of work environment research results for implementation in design practice. The authors introduce an ecosystem-based approach to discuss the spatial solutions of activity-based office work environments. This approach is motivated by a need to understand the contradictory findings in former knowledge work environment research, such as ambiguities with shared concepts concerning interdisciplinary spatial discourse and shortcomings with user-centred methodologies in architectural design research. The transdisciplinarity forms the methodological framework of this paper, and it is reflected in relation to the design research approach Research by Design (RbD). RbD considers the professional designer’s viewpoint, which includes creative knowledge production, carrying out the operations of research in a real-life context with interdisciplinary interactions together with the worker’s user-experience. Findings The research outcome is the proposal of an activity-based office ecosystem-based approach, in which the physical environment is structured into two entities: architectural envelope and interior orchestration . In this twofold approach, both qualitative and quantitative contents are meant to be seen as part of the time-location-based framework of an office space. This integrative approach is intended to support the process of searching for understanding and unity of knowledge across disciplinary boundaries. The twofold structuring also has an essential role in supporting methodological choices and the communication of the research outcomes both between disciplines and to design practice. The twofold model also has a role in engaging users as participants and evidence providers in the design or research processes. Originality/value The location-specific ecosystem-based approach of the physical work environment compiles of a twofold entity architectural envelope and interior orchestration . This approach supports affordance-based thinking, understanding the ecosystem’s complexity and underpins spatial documentation. Furthermore, this location-specific ecosystem-based approach enables communication of the research outcomes to the design practice and participation actions with the users.
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Office setting in terms of workplace design is a broadly adequate source of providing an empowering environment that may best accelerate the performance of employees and a general boost in productivity. This study pursued to examine the impact of workplace design on the performance of employees using online platforms and collecting surveys from employee-related to different organizations as a case study. The purpose of the study was to investigate the factors related to office design such as office space, lighting, noise, and temperature surrounding the employees who were surveyed. The study assessed the impact of workplace design on the performance of employees and recommended detailed settings founded on interventions that would satisfy employees’ wellbeing and comfort and thereby enrich peak performance. The study was grounded on a sample of 83 respondents collected from online survey data platforms such as social sites and networking sites. To better examine the study, data collected was put into SPSS 16.0 and it was given a proper shape with the assistance of frequency distributions, tables, models, and graphs. The research showed the impacts of each factor on the performance of employees. The office design as per surveyed directed about the space where employees could maintain decorum and standard of job requirements. Secondly, lighting was mentioned as a hindrance since either they were lacking moderate lighting and ventilation for natural lighting. Unusual noise coming from objects such as door knots, printers distracted the flow of the performance, said the survey. The temperature varied from one organizational profession to another. An organization should work keeping this entire factor in mind and provide luxury facilities to the employees so that they focus on their job duties the way they need to, without considering any distraction. Keywords: Employee performance, Office space, Lighting, Noise, Temperature.
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Differences between office types may have an influence on the employees' satisfaction and psychological responses with respect to different aspects of the office environment. For this study, 469 employees rated their perceptions of and satisfaction with the office environments of seven different office types, which were classified as cell-office, shared-room office, small open-plan office, medium open-plan office, large open-plan office, flex-office, and combi-office. Three domains of environmental factors were analyzed: (1) ambient factors, (2) noise and privacy, and (3) design-related factors. Employee responses were evaluated using multivariate logistic and Poisson regression. Adjustments were made for potential confounders such as age, gender job rank, and line of business. Substantial differences between employees in different office types were found The analysis offrequencies in complaints within the three domains shows that noise and privacy is the domain that causes the most dissatisfaction among office employees. Cell-office employees are most satisfied with the physical environment overall, followed by those in flex-office. However, the results for cell-office are not uniformly best, since they score low with regard to the social aspects of design-related factors and, in particular, on support of affinity. The most dissatisfaction is reported in medium and large open-plan offices, where the complaints about noise and lack of privacy are especially negative. Architectural andfunctional features of the offices are discussed as the main explanatory factors for these results.
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Purpose ‐ This explorative study aims to examine the impact of office type on employees' perception of managerial leadership, a largely unexplored area. A gender perspective is applied to examine whether women and men perceive leadership differently in different office types. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Cross-sectional study is based on 5,358 office employees from the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Study of Health in 2010. The employees worked in the seven different office types identified in contemporary office design: cell-offices, shared-room offices, small open plan offices, medium-sized open plan offices, large open plan offices, flex-offices, and combi-offices. Cell-office was used as reference in the analysis. Findings ‐ Poorer ratings of leadership were found in shared-room offices, and better in medium-sized open plan offices. A tendency towards a gender difference in perceived leadership was found only in small open plan offices, which appear to be better for men and worse for women. Practical implications ‐ The results suggest that the office environment has an influence on perceived managerial leadership. This means office design should be considered in relation to leadership style in order for an organization to be successful. Originality/value ‐ To the authors' knowledge, no other study has investigated the relationship between office environment and managerial leadership.
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This article investigates the hypothesis that office type has an influence on workers' health status and job satisfaction and 469 employees in seven different types, defined by their unique setup of architectural and functional features, have rated their health status and job satisfaction. Multivariate regression models were used for analysis of these outcomes, with adjustment for age, gender, job rank, and line of business. Both health status and job satisfaction differed between the seven office types. Lowest health status was found in medium-sized and small open plan offices. Best health was among employees in cell offices and flex offices. Workers in these types of offices and in shared room offices also rated the highest job satisfaction. Lowest job satisfaction was in combi offices, followed by medium-sized open plan offices. The differences between employees could possibly be ascribed to variations in architectural and functional features of the office types.
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Overview of primary predictors of employee performance and job satisfaction, based on BOSTI Associates data base from 1994-2000. Focuses on the implications of those factors for workplace design; not a statistically oriented booklet. (That information may be obtained from Sue Weidemann.)
This chapter discusses the individual office employee's experience of the physical office environment; its influence on the individual employee and in the prolongation on the organization to which the employee belongs. Since most organizations and businesses operate in a physical environment and the physical office environment sets the conditions for the activities performed, its impact should be recognized. The office experience has an impact through its functional, social, and symbolic implications on interaction and cooperation among employees; thus office experiences are fundamental at both an individual and an organizational level. Research on how the work environment influences employees is found in numerous fields such as architecture, organizational and management theory, social and stress medicine, as well as environmental and social psychology. Although this chapter touches upon all those fields, its focus is on the interior experience of office environments among employees. The aim is to discuss how the office environments influence employees, with an interdisciplinary approach to the subject. The special focus is on the part of the research presented in it that investigates the influence on employees' office experience by different office types. When comparing the employees' experiences of different office environments it is important to use the variety of office types that exists in office design today, instead of only comparing a vaguely defined open plan office to a single room office. According to the research, the architectural and functional features that define the existing office types have a great impact on office employees in different respects, such as employees' health status, job satisfaction, and office experiences. Therefore, this chapter discusses how research results can be used in the professional practice of office design.
This chapter focuses on how labor market experiences affect workers' health. It presents an integrated framework for thinking about how work may influence health, with a specific focus on the cumulative effects of labor market experiences over the work career. The evidence documenting the biological consequences of adverse work experiences is then briefly reviewed. The chapter continues with a description of significant changes in the structure and organization of work over the past two decades and their implications for the health of working-age adults. Finally, it outlines some potential implications of these labor market changes for public and private sector labor market policies and practices, based on the belief that active labor market policies are not incompatible with robust economic growth.
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Claims that attributions and their related behaviors may reflect a type of perceived control that is generally overlooked. People attempt to gain control by bringing the environment into line with their wishes (primary control) and by bringing themselves into line with environmental forces (secondary control). Four manifestations of secondary control are considered: (a) Attributions to severely limited ability can serve to enhance predictive control and protect against disappointment; (b) attributions to chance can reflect illusory control, since people often construe chance as a personal characteristic akin to an ability ("luck"); (c) attributions to powerful others permit vicarious control when the individual identifies with these others; and (d) the preceding attributions may foster interpretive control, in which the individual seeks to understand and derive meaning from otherwise uncontrollable events in order to accept them. (5½ p ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This study examines the impact of building design on privacy in two office environments at Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, Inc., U.S.A. The findings offer a range of design resources that Facility Management at Gulfstream can utilize to manage privacy for their office workers. In a broader context, the theoretical considerations presented in this study, though still in their formative stage, offer additional insight into what office workers may think about privacy in the work environment. These theoretical considerations have far reaching implications for design professionals, and pending further research may prove cost effective.
This study applied Karaseks demand-control model, using sense of coherence (SOC), social support and job control as moderators of effects of job demands on ensuing sickness absence spells in a 3-year follow-up of 856 municipal employees. Among men the results supported the active learning hypothesis. Passive jobs predicted a high number of sickness absence spells and active jobs predicted a low number of spells. for short spells (1-3 days), the demand-control interaction, however, depended on SOC. In active jobs SOC was negatively associated with sickness absence spells; in passive jobs no such association was found. For long spells (3 days), the demand-control interaction depended on occupational level; active jobs were predictive of low absence spells among blue collar men. Among women, the results supported the strain hypothesis. The demand-control interaction, however, depended on household size. In small households, high-strain jobs predicted a high number of spells, while no increase in spells was found in active versus low-strain jobs. In larger households, the number of spells correlated positively with increasing demands even when control was good. The demand-control interaction, however, depended on SOC and spouse support. With strong SOC or spouse support, absence spells in active jobs remained on a relatively low level, otherwise active jobs led to a high number of spells. This suggests that SOC and spouse support may act as protective factors against female role conflicts associated with active jobs