Chance encounters: Where do they take place and what is the benefit?

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Buildings facilitate or inhibit physical movement and also foster or hinder communicat. The designof a building influences the interactions between the employees and thus supports ohinders the flow ofinformation. Therefore it enhances the trust between the employees, promotes the coordinationof work, facilitates projects within an organization and supports knowledgtransfer and knowledge creation. All of thesefactors are particularly essential for innovatidriven research oriented companies. Places where chanceencounters and discussions can take place are crucial for communication between employees. By creating suchplaces in a thought-out manner, creativity and innovation activities can be increased. Based on a single casestudy research, we examined the behavior of the members of a research team (n=20) before and after moingfrom a traditional cell space research and work environment into a modern multi-space research environment. Onthe one hand, we tried to determine where creative ideas come from and on the other hand, we explored theevents and places where chance encounters occur. In this context, chance encounters were defned ascoincidental meetings between people who do not work in the same research group. The results show that newideas in a research environment emerge from an iterative process: both discussions between researchers anddeep individual reflection are important for innovative ideas. Chance encounters mostly occur during coffeebreaks or lunch. The new multi-space work environment has led to more chance encounters, because first, theemployees use the same infrastructure and second, the walking paths of the employees intersect more and lastbut not least, the employees are often forced to pass by the infrastructure used by the employees of otherresearch groups. The findings imply that a stimulating work environment provides both an area for the employeesto be social and spontaneously engage in unplannedmeetings and an area where they can retreat, be alone andconcentrate. The design of research buildings and workplaces is a significant factor in increasing chanceencounters. But architecture alone is not enough. The proposed framework is a useful tool for businessprofessionals like knowledge managers, innovation managers or architects when designing a creativity andinnovation promoting environment.

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Purpose This study aims to examine the associations of social networks with the sense of community (SOC) construct and spatial colocation or having an office. The study site was an institute for health-care policy research formed in 2011 by bringing together scientists from more than 20 different university units. Only 30% of the scientists were had an office or physical presence at the institute. Therefore, the institute was an ideal site to examine whether SOC was correlated with different dimensions of network position – connectedness, reachability and brokerage – even when the authors account for the lack of spatial colocation for the off-site scientists. Design/methodology/approach A two-part (sociometric and workplace) internet survey instrument was administered in 2014 to the institute’s population of 411 individuals. The sociometric data were used to create an undirected interaction network and the following dependent variables (DVs) or network centralities: normalized degree to measure connectedness; average reciprocal distance to capture reachability; and normalized betweenness to proxy brokerage. Separate node-level network regressions were then run with random permutations ( N = 10,000) and listwise deletion for each of the DVs with SOC and spatial colocation as the independent variables, and variables that controlled for gender, organizational affiliation and job category. Findings SOC and spatial colocation are both positively and significantly correlated with network connectedness and reachability. The results suggest that both SOC and spatial colocation have a larger impact on reachability than connectedness. However, neither SOC nor spatial colocation are significantly associated with network brokerage. Finally, the findings show that SOC and spatial colocation are more reliable predictors of network connectedness and reachability than are key individual- and unit-level control variables, specifically the individual’s sex, job category and organizational affiliation. The controls were not significantly associated with any of the three network centralities, namely, connectedness, reachability and brokerage. Originality/value This exploratory study used social network analysis and node-level network regressions to examine the associations from SOC and spatial colocation to dimensions of network position. SOC is positively and significantly associated with network connectedness and reachability, suggesting that SOC is an important consideration when individuals are disadvantaged from the absence of spatial colocation. The findings have implications for work in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic as they imply that interventions based on the SOC construct could potentially lessen the negative effects of remote work on workplace social networks due to factors such as the reduction of social contacts.
Purpose Serendipitous information discovery has become a unique and important approach to discovering and obtaining information, which has aroused a growing interest for serendipity in human information behavior. Despite numerous publications, few have systematically provided an overview of current state of serendipity research. Consequently, researchers and practitioners are less able to make effective use of existing achievements, which limits them from making advancements in this domain. Against this backdrop, we performed a systematic literature review to explore the world of serendipity and to recapitulate the current states of different research topics. Design/methodology/approach Guided by a prior designed review protocol, this paper conducted both automatic and manual search for available studies published from January 1990 to December 2020 on seven databases. A total of 207 serendipity studies closely related to human information behavior form the literature pool. Findings We provide an overview of distinct aspects of serendipity, that is research topics, potential benefits, related concepts, theoretical models, contextual factors and data collection methods. Based on these findings, this review reveals limitations and gaps in the current serendipity research and proposes an agenda for future research directions. Originality/value By analyzing current serendipity research, developing a knowledge framework and providing a research agenda, this review is of significance for researchers who want to find new research questions or re-align current work, for beginners who need to quickly understand serendipity, and for practitioners who seek to cultivate serendipity in information environments.
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he question of how office workers are affected by features of the physical environment in which they work has preoccupied researchers as well as designers and building industry professionals for many years. However, in spite of a growing need for, and expo- sure to, workspace design decision making, managers still tend to see "space" as peripheral to their core activities and, indeed, to the mission of their companies. Our growing knowledge about environmental effects on building occupants' productivity and morale is creating a need to integrate workspace considerations into core business decision making. Increasingly, managers are required to make decisions that affect the quality of the environments in which people work. The range of workspace types is proliferating—open plan, teamspace, moveable furniture, personal har- bors or personal environment modules, and gruppenraum (group office), to name but a few. The workspace in most companies today combines more than one type of space and, furthermore, is in a state of constant change. These changes can be small-scale (e.g., adding new desks or offices for new employees) or large-scale (moving the entire company into a new building) and anywhere in-between. Consequently, managers make decisions about space regularly and often, whether they are aware of it or not. Familiarity with the environmental psychology of the workspace will help managers in any organization make more cost-effective and beneficial workspace decisions.
Research in the area of work sciences clearly indicates that working environments and work organisation have an impact on the performance of knowledge workers and the ability of an organisation to cultivate creativity and innovation. To elucidate how environments can influence innovation, a case company is presented which has implemented a strategic plan for increased innovation by changing the way the corporate units work and cooperate, including issues such as collocation, changes in the physical layout of the corporate headquarters, and mobile working practices. The paper explores different mechanisms through which changes in the work environment may promote innovative activities.
Driving innovation and creativity has relied heavily on new information technologies in the last decade. Human capital has certainly had its importance, but how to coordinate human capital in order to push productivity in research and development without compromising individual initiative is still not well understood. In this paper, we provide results showing that geometry of workspace has indeed an impact on communication patterns and may thus be used as a means to drive both innovation and efficient research. In order to be creative, new knowledge has to be created. Communication facilitates knowledge creation. We try to close the bridge between areas of creation of tacit knowledge and transfer of knowledge highlighted by authors like Nonaka, Takeuchi, Konno, von Krogh and von Hippel with the area of communication patterns pioneered by Allen, Hatch, and Stryker, by considering face-to-face (FTF) communication as a first step for socialization, socialization as a means for knowledge creation. In this article, we compare two different office environments within the same site, same activity, same hierarchical level and same company: a traditional cell office area and a new multi-space office, used by people who used to work in cell offices. We observed FTF communication patterns during 120h in two areas and measured over 2,000 communication events. We found that people communicate three times more often in a multi-space area than in a cell-space area. We also found that the mean duration of communication events decreased from 9 to 3min when transferring collaborators from a cell-space to a multi-space. Finally time spent without communication increased from 5% to 29% when going from cell-offices to multi-space areas leaving more time for people to work and think on their own. And we found that most communication events during work time in the multi-space took place at the work place and seldom or never in soft sitting areas installed for the purpose of communication.