Article

The demands and resources arising from shared office spaces

Abstract and Figures

The prevalence of flexible and shared office spaces is increasing significantly, yet the socioemotional outcomes associated with these environments are under researched. Utilising the job demands-resources (JD-R) model we investigate both the demands and the resources that can accrue to workers as a result of shared work environments and hot-desking. Data were collected from work experienced respondents (n=1000) assessing the extent to which they shared their office space with others, along with demands comprising distractions, uncooperative behaviours, distrust, and negative relationships, and resources from co-worker friendships and supervisor support. We found that, as work environments became more shared (with hot-desking being at the extreme end of the continuum), not only were there increases in demands, but co-worker friendships were not improved and perceptions of supervisory support decreased. Findings are discussed in relation to employee well-being and recommendations are made regarding how best to ameliorate negative consequences of shared work environments.
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The demands and resources arising from shared office spaces
Rachel L. Morrison a
(Corresponding author)
Keith A. Mackyb
a Management Dept., Faculty of Business and Law, Auckland University of Technology,
Auckland, New Zealand, Private Bag 92006, Auckland 1142, New Zealand;
rachel.morrison@aut.ac.nz
b Business and Enterprise, MAINZ Campus, Tai Poutini Polytechnic, PO Box 90113
Auckland 1142, New Zealand
The prevalence of flexible and shared office spaces is increasing
significantly, yet the socioemotional outcomes associated with these
environments are under researched. Utilising the job demands-
resources (JD-R) model we investigate both the demands and the
resources that can accrue to workers as a result of shared work
environments and hot-desking. Data were collected from work
experienced respondents (n=1000) assessing the extent to which they
shared their office space with others, along with demands comprising
distractions, uncooperative behaviours, distrust, and negative
relationships, and resources from co-worker friendships and supervisor
support. We found that, as work environments became more shared
(with hot-desking being at the extreme end of the continuum), not only
were there increases in demands, but co-worker friendships were not
improved and perceptions of supervisory support decreased. Findings
are discussed in relation to employee well-being and recommendations
are made regarding how best to ameliorate negative consequences of
shared work environments.
Keywords: Hot-desking; Job demands-resources; Co-worker relationships
Title Page
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The demands and resources arising from shared office spaces
The prevalence of flexible and shared office spaces is increasing significantly,
yet the socioemotional outcomes associated with these environments are
under researched. Utilising the job demands-resources (JD-R) model we
investigate both the demands and the resources that can accrue to workers as
a result of shared work environments and hot-desking. Data were collected
from work experienced respondents (n=1000) assessing the extent to which
they shared their office space with others, along with demands comprising
distractions, uncooperative behaviours, distrust, and negative relationships,
and resources from co-worker friendships and supervisor support. We found
that, as work environments became more shared (with hot-desking being at
the extreme end of the continuum), not only were there increases in demands,
but co-worker friendships were not improved and perceptions of supervisory
support decreased. Findings are discussed in relation to employee well-being
and recommendations are made regarding how best to ameliorate negative
consequences of shared work environments.
Keywords: Hot-desking; Job demands-resources; Co-worker relationships
Research on the impact of the physical working environment on the social systems within
organisations has a long pedigree, from the socio-technical approach of the 1950s and 60s and
the quality of working life movement of the 1970s and 80s (e.g., Davis & Cherns, 1975),
through to a more contemporary interest in the impact the built environment has on employee
well-being (e.g., Cooper & Boyko, 2009). Much of this historical research has been focused
within manufacturing and the factory environment; with a concentration on a limited range of
environmental variables such as temperature, air quality, ambient noise levels, lighting, and
the design of physical production systems and labour process technologies, including lean
manufacturing (Cullinane, Bosak, Flood, & Demerouti, 2013) and team working (Appelbaum,
Bailey, Berg, & Kalleberg, 2000).
However, as we move into a new century the dominance of manufacturing has waned in
developed economies. Services typically now account for three-quarters of employment in
those economies (Boxall & Purcell, 2011), with the majority of these being white-collar
workers in office settings. In America for example, more than 70 percent of workers are
located in offices (Elsbach & Pratt, 2007). Yet the impact that physical work environments have
on office workers is a surprisingly under researched area in mainstream organisational
psychology and Human Resource Management (Ashkanasy, Ayoko, & Jehn, 2014). And while
some research does exist in the ergonomics literature (Kaarlela-Tuomaala, Helenius, Keskinen,
*Manuscript
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& Hongisto, 2009) and in publications with a focus on facilities management (Warren, 2003),
education (Rytivaara, 2011), and real estate (Voordt, 2004), the topic remains relatively under
explored.
The last decade has also brought about significant changes in the physical spaces many office
workers now find themselves in. Until the turn of the century, most white collar workers
remained securely bound to their office and their desk, simply because the tools to do their job
were fixed in one place (Felstead, Jewson, & Walters, 2003). Portable computers, tablets, and
smart phones have enabled a significant change in the physical spaces and places that work is
now carried out. This, together with the high cost of office space (only human resources are
more expensive; McCoy, 2005), has brought about a desire to encourage tele-work (working
remotely) (Bentley et al., 2016) and to use physical office space more flexibly. One example of
this has been the use of non-territorial workspaces” or “hot-desks” (also termed “hoteling”)
(Elsbach, 2003; p 622), which are found in workplaces where “…staff have no fixed personal
workspace and use any available desk as needed” (Felstead et al., 2003; p. 16). These
arrangements rely on flexible ICT systems and are characterised by interchangeable
workstations or the use of portable devices with internet connectivity.
The move towards shared work environments and hot-desks is certainly not new, and the
limited research to date has been generally positive. For example, flexible and/or shared work
environments have been associated with greater employee satisfaction (Cole, Bild, & Oliver,
2012; Sundstrom, Burt, & Kamp, 1980), projecting an image of being modern and forward
thinking (McElroy & Morrow, 2010), improving flexibility in the use of the physical space
(Elsbach, 2003), enabling closer working relationships (Chigot, 2003; McElroy & Morrow,
2010), higher productivity (Cole et al., 2012; Meijer, Frings-Dresen, & Sluiter, 2009), more
easily exchanged knowledge and skills (Ashkanasy et al., 2014; Chigot, 2003; Irving & Ayoko,
2014), increased networking opportunities (Elsbach & Bechky, 2007) and cost-savings (Duffy,
1997; Fawcett & Chadwick, 2007; McElroy & Morrow, 2010; Voordt, 2004; Warren, 2003).
These cost savings are generally made by using the available space more intensively and, in
addition, the amount of physical space needed does not have to increase in proportion to the
number of employees, so organisations can delay acquiring new space as they grow (Elsbach,
2003; Elsbach & Bechky, 2007).
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On the other hand, there can also be negative consequences of not allowing employees to have
their own work space; be it an office, a cubicle, or even a regular spot in an otherwise open-
plan room. Sundstrom et al., (1994) for example, report that while employees may tolerate
ambient noise from office equipment, overhearing the conversations of others (inevitable in
open plan workplaces) is a significant task distraction and source of irritation. It is the
potential for negative outcomes that form the focus of this study. Using the job demands-
resources (JD-R) model (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007; Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner, &
Schaufeli, 2001) we investigate both the demands and resources that can accrue to workers as
a result of shared work environments and hot-desking. We begin by framing the prior research
related to working with others in shared environments (including hot-desking) within JD-R
model; following this, the remainder of the paper is conventionally structured with an outline
of our methods, participants and findings followed by discussion and conclusions.
1 Theoretical framework: Demands and resources within shared workspaces
Within the JD-R model, job demands are the aspects of a job that require prolonged cognitive
and/or emotional effort, thereby incurring physiological and/or psychological “costs” (Bakker
& Demerouti, 2007). Bakker and Demerouti (2007) give examples of demands as including
“…high work pressure, an unfavorable physical environment, and emotionally demanding
interactions…” (p. 312). For the purposes of the current study, rather than workload per se, we
focus specifically on those demands outlined by Bakker and Demerouti (2007) which have
been found to be associated with shared work environments. More specifically, we propose
that shared office spaces, and particularly hot-desking, place additional demands and increased
load on workers by creating an unfavourable physical working environment. Also termed
indoor environment quality (IEQ) (Kim & de Dear, 2013), this becomes detrimental to the
individual located within it through reduced privacy, increased social distraction, and negative
or emotionally demanding interactions with others.
Job resources are the aspects of a job that: a) help in achieving work goals, b) reduce the costs
associated with job demands, or c) stimulate growth and development (Bakker & Demerouti,
2007). As Bakker and Demerouti, (2007) note, research has identified a veritable laundry list of
variables under the job resources rubric, including “social support from colleagues,
supervisory support, and performance feedback” (p. 311). Our focus here is on the specific
resources which have been posited to come from working in shared spaces; that is: more
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collegial friendships and increased support from managers and others (Chigot, 2003; Elsbach &
Bechky, 2007; Irving & Ayoko, 2014; McElroy & Morrow, 2010). More specifically, we
investigate whether an increase in the resources, that flexible and/or shared environments are
supposed to provide, are evident.
Also relevant here is Bakker and Demerouti’s (2007) notion of “dual processes”. On the one
hand, demands will incur costs, draining an individual’s energy and resulting in strain and
health impairment. Resources, on the other hand have “motivational potential” and lead to
increased engagement and performance, either through the satisfaction of basic needs (e.g.,
social support satisfying the “need to belong”) or through the achievement of desired work
goals (e.g., supportive colleagues assisting with tasks) (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). According
to the JD-R model, in addition to the direct impact of demands and resources, there will also be
an interaction whereby resources will potentially buffer the impact of demands (Bakker,
Demerouti, & Euwema, 2005; Bakker, Demerouti, Taris, Schaufeli, & Schreurs, 2003; Haines,
Hurlbert, & Zimmer, 1991). In the current study we examine the social support available in
shared workspaces, which is the most well-known variable found to buffer against job strain
(see for example; Bakker & Demerouti, 2007; Bakker et al., 2005; Bakker et al., 2003; Haines et
al., 1991), in relation to increased demands that might also arise from those same workspaces.
Through the operation of these dual processes, we see the JD-R model as potentially useful in
explaining what might appear to be contradictory findings regarding the impact of shared
work environments. Where such environments provide resources to employees, then it would
be reasonable to expect positive outcomes from such working arrangements. However, if
demands also arise from shared working spaces, and these outweigh or counter those
resources, then negative outcomes might also be anticipated. In some circumstances, the
research shows positive outcomes (e.g., Chigot, 2003; McElroy & Morrow, 2010), while other
researchers describe negative outcomes (e.g., Ashkanasy et al., 2014; Maher & von Hippel,
2005; Sundstrom et al., 1994). This study therefore aims to empirically ascertain if a
relationship exists between such work environments and the potential job demands and
resources accrued by workers. Below we first discuss the demands associated with open plan
workspaces and then outline the possible resources that these spaces might afford; providing
hypotheses derived from the literature.
1.1 Demands
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1.1.1 Distractions
Distractions resulting from a lack of privacy and increased noise are a key source of demand,
and have been found to be a significant issue in open plan environments (Ashkanasy et al.,
2014; Maher & von Hippel, 2005). Privacy includes both the ability to reduce or control
incoming stimuli, and also to limit outgoing information (Altman, 1975; cited in Ashkanasy et
al., 2014). In a study of indoor environment quality (IEQ) Kim and de Dear (2013) found that,
in open plan offices, noise level and visual privacy were consistently negatively evaluated, but
that “sound privacy” was by far the most unsatisfactory IEQ factor. In an open plan office
employees have little control over their levels of privacy and this, in itself, becomes a source of
job demand. There are consistent findings that distraction caused by overhearing irrelevant
conversations is a major issue in open plan office environments and, further, that distraction is
negatively linked with employee performance, negative perceptions of the workplace, and / or
stress (see for example; Loewen & Suedfeld, 1992; Maher & von Hippel, 2005; Nemecek &
Grandjean, 1973; Smith-Jackson & Klein, 2009; Sundstrom et al., 1994). This literature informs
our first hypothesis.
H1: Those in shared office environments (with hot-desking being at the extreme end of
the continuum) will report higher levels of distractions from work.
1.1.2 Uncooperative behaviours
Several studies have focused on co-worker interaction in workplaces featuring “activity based
working(Koetsveld & Kamperman, 2011; p. 304) flexible and non-dedicated workspaces
(Elsbach, 2003; p.622) and “open-plan offices” (Kim & de Dear, 2013; p. 18). Part of the
rationale for adopting flexible and/or open plan work environments is to enable cooperation,
networking and group work (Irving & Ayoko, 2014). The assumption is that a shared work
environment will facilitate communication and interaction which will, in turn, improve
performance and productivity (see for example: Brand & Smith, 2005; Chigot, 2003; Kupritz,
2003; cited in Kim & de Dear, 2013; Sundstrom et al., 1980).
However, there is now evidence that the opposite is true; that is, that shared work
environments have a negative impact on interpersonal interactions, including a decline in
cooperative behaviours (Brennan, Chugh, & Kline, 2002). Open plan offices have been found to
not only increase distraction and reduce privacy, but also to increase employees’ use of coping
strategies such as withdrawal (Kaarlela-Tuomaala et al., 2009), to negatively impact team
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member relations (Brennan et al., 2002), to make cooperation less pleasant (Kaarlela-
Tuomaala et al., 2009), and to decrease communication when compared to private offices
(Hatch, 1990; cited in McElroy & Morrow, 2010). Further, in terms of IEQ, private offices
outperform open-plan workspaces in almost all aspects of IEQ (privacy, noise, visual
distraction) (Kim & de Dear, 2013). While these authors found minimal benefits in terms of the
ease with which colleagues could communicate with one another, these were far outweighed
by the penalties of decreased IEQ. These findings, suggesting an increase in uncooperative
behaviours (and therefore increased demands), in open plan office environments informs our
second hypothesis.
H2: Those in shared office environments (with hot-desking being at the extreme end of
the continuum) will report higher levels of uncooperative behaviour from colleagues.
1.1.3 Negative relationships and distrust
Research investigating negative workplace relationships generally supports the notion that
workplace factors including workload, negative affect, and increased uncertainty and distrust
are all associated with co-worker incivility and a deterioration of interpersonal relationships
(see for example; Andersson & Pearson, 1999; Hutton, 2006; Labianca & Brass, 2006;
Moerbeek & Need, 2003; Morrison & Nolan, 2007; Pearson, Anderson, & Wegner, 2001).
Research into shared work environments has been linked to these factors. This research is
discussed below and informs the next two hypotheses.
Personalisation and territoriality: Extra effort and uncertainty
While “…office work is increasingly becoming detached from individual and personalised cubes
of space, marked by a walled cell or by an allocated desk…” (Felstead et al., 2003; p.22), there
are those who value the certainty of knowing what and where their workspace will be for the
coming day. Workplaces such as call centres (where employees typically work in their own
small cubicle) are frequently decorated with family photos, plants, and children’s drawings in
an effort by employees to mark a territory as their own, to make work seem more like “home”,
or to stamp their own identity on the space. Research from the United States indicates that
70% to 90% of employees who have their own workspace, personalise it (Wells & Thelen,
2002; Wells, Thelen, & Ruark, 2007). Personalising a workspace may been thought of as
“territorial behaviour” (Brown, 2009) and the ubiquity of this behaviour in society (e.g., gang
graffiti, locks on doors, or a jacket over a chair in a café) is evidence of the fundamental
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importance territory has for many people. Brown (2009) states that organisations are “fertile
grounds for territoriality” (p. 44) and, because an employees workspace is central to their
experience of work, many will be motivated to both mark and protect even temporary spaces
in a workplace.
Physical working arrangements, such as hot-desking, that prevent territorial behaviours seem
therefore to work against something fundamentally human. Coping with such an “unnatural”
situation might reasonably be expected to increase demands on employees. There is also
evidence that hot-desking creates additional demands for those employees forced to seek a
free workspace each day, or even sometimes several times a day (Hirst, 2011). In addition to
simply finding a workspace, another demand arises from the effort employees go to in order to
satisfy their “need for differentiation” (Elsbach, 2003; p. 625). Elsbach (2003) found that
workers, when stripped of the opportunity to personalise their workspace, would frequently
engage in a variety of often prohibited behaviours, and expend a great deal of energy, over and
above their assigned work, to assert their individuality. These activities were “effortful” and
included squatting in offices that were meant to be vacant, reconstructing a specific area or
territory for their group, displaying portable artefacts (e.g., pictures of their kids) or engaging
in salient behaviours (e.g., talking about weekend activities). Often these displays were
prohibited; breaking rules and norms of their organisation (such as saving spaces for others,
not letting people use particular workstations, or “hard gluing” pictures onto their equipment).
Brown (2009) describes an organisation which tried to create a non-territorial office; in
response, employees “…quickly started claiming favorite spaces and reacted when others tried
to use the supposedly “communal” resources.” (p. 44).
Psychosocial and psychological outcomes: Negative affect
People usually decorate or modify their work environment to reflect their own identity; and
personalisation has been found to have numerous positive psychological and psychosocial
outcomes. Wells (2007) describes the functions of workplace personalisation, claiming it will
express an employee’s personality, individuality, and uniqueness (Heidmets, 1994; Wells,
2000). In addition it has been found to buffer stress, evoke positive emotion (Scheiberg, 1990;
Wells, 2000), and give workers a sense of control and agency over their work environment
(Heidmets, 1994). Elsbach (2003) examined the loss of office personalisation in terms of the
threat it poses to an employee’s identity, finding that being prevented from personalising may
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reduce positive emotion, increase stress and lower the sense of control workers experience at
work.
Even where a shared environment may not, in itself, force workers to move every day (for
example where there are enough desks for all employees at a given time) hot-desking may be
rigorously promoted and reinforced by rules and “office etiquettes” (Allen et al., 2005; cited in
Hirst, 2011) which include clear desk policies aiming to keep offices free of ‘stuff’ (Bradley &
Hood, 2003; Meijer et al., 2009). With the removal of both status and group identity indicators,
people have no way signal their individuality or identity at work; individuals are not able to
satisfy their need for differentiation (Elsbach, 2003) which has been shown to be important for
the positive emotion, commitment, and motivation of group members (Sheldon & Bettencourt,
2002).
In sum, the research described above supports our notion that shared office environments, and
in particular hot desking, will be associated with a) increased demands from both distraction
and workload b) negative emotion, and c) increased uncertainty and distrust. As stated
previously, these factors are reliably associated a deterioration of interpersonal relationships
at work. In addition, there have been findings suggesting that open plan arrangements can lead
directly to a worsening in co-worker relations (Brennan et al., 2002). The literature outlined in
the previous two sections informs our next two hypotheses.
H3: Those in shared office environments (with hot-desking being at the extreme end of
the continuum) will report increased distrust between employees.
H4: Those in shared office environments (with hot-desking being at the extreme end of
the continuum) will report increased negative interpersonal relationships and interactions
between employees.
1.2 Resources
1.2.1 Co-worker friendships
As noted earlier, part of the rationale for the more open forms of physical office arrangement
has been to increase levels of sociability and communication between co-workers. Friendly
relationships with co-workers can provide both functional support and positive psychosocial
and psychological outcomes. Research in this area has highlighted the positive effects of co-
worker friendships (e.g., Morrison, 2004; Morrison, 2009; Richer, Blanchard, & Vallerand,
2002; Riordan & Griffeth, 1995). Positive outcomes of friendship have been found to include
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improved worker wellbeing (Nielsen, Jex, & Adams, 2000a), increased communication
(Kramer, 1996), social support (Buunk, Doosje, Liesbeth, Jans, & Hopstaken, 1993), trust and
co-operation, which has in turn been found to influence work related attitudes and behaviours
(Foote, 1985; Krackhardt & Stern, 1988; Riordan & Griffeth, 1995).
Proximity and propinquity have long been accepted precursors to friendship (Nahemow &
Lawton, 1975) and, within organisations, these factors play a key role in both the opportunities
for friendship and the prevalence of friends. Chigot (2003) argues that high-density and open
plan offices facilitate more productive interactions among organisational members; for
example, by improving communication flow and fostering closer working relationships.
Similarly, McElroy and Morrow (2010) found that employees experienced more positive
perceptions of culture and improved work-related attitudes when in an open plan
environment. Nielsen et al. (2000a) also found that both friendship prevalence and friendship
opportunities were significantly correlated to job satisfaction, affective commitment, and
turnover intention. However findings since then have highlighted the relatively greater
importance of friendship opportunities (Morrison, 2006), which includes the chance to
communicate and interact freely with colleagues something generally assumed to be afforded
by shared workspaces. We therefore hypothesize the following:
H5: Those in shared office environments (with hot-desking being at the extreme end of
the continuum) will report more collegial friendships.
1.2.2 Supervisor support
Workers will have perceptions of the extent to which they are supported and valued by their
organisation (perceived organisational support, POS) (Eisenberger, Huntington, Hutchison, &
Sowa, 1986) and will similarly develop general views concerning the degree to which their
supervisors value them and care about their well-being (perceived supervisor support, PSS)
(Eisenberger, Stinglhamber, Vandenberghe, Sucharski, & Rhoades, 2002; Kottke & Sharafinski,
1988). PSS has been found to be antecedent to POS (Eisenberger et al., 2002; Rhoades &
Eisenberger, 2002) and outcomes of both PSS and POS are generally positive, including
organisational commitment, job related affect, job involvement and the desire to remain (for a
review of this literature see; Rhoades & Eisenberger, 2002).
The majority of studies on PSS focus on the outcomes rather than the antecedents of this
variable. While there is some research that suggests that open plan working arrangements
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result in less supervisor feedback and support (Oldham & Brass, 1979), most research in this
area generally supports the notion that increased accessibility, contact, and opportunity to
communicate with supervisors facilitates perceptions of support (Beehr, King, & King, 1990;
Bippus, Brooks, Plax, & Kearney, 2001). This literature informs our sixth hypothesis.
H6: Those in shared office environments (with hot-desking being at the extreme end of
the continuum) will report increased supervisor support.
2 Method
2.1 Sample and Procedure
A total of 1000 Australian participants in permanent employment, aged 18 and over, were
recruited in 2014 using a Qualtrics survey panel of workers who had voluntarily agreed to
participate in research studies. Participants were told their responses would be kept
confidential and were compensated for their time, either by cash incentives or redeemable
points which can be used towards flights, discounted hotel stays, or products. Qualtrics keeps
its pricing strategy proprietary (Brandon, Long, Loraas, Mueller-Phillips, & Vansant, 2013) so
precise compensation estimates are not available. While responses were anonymous to the
researchers, the means by which panel respondents are tracked by the Qualtrix software
means that multiple submissions by a single person are not possible and each response is
unique.
The respondent characteristics are summarised in Table 1. Gender was fairly evenly
represented among the respondents and most were employed full time. The average age of the
respondents was just under 47 and, while the standard deviation appears high relative to the
mean, an examination of the age distribution shows it approximates a normal distribution
bounded with a range from 18 to 77 years. However, as is typical for such variables, years with
current employer, in current role and current career are positively skewed. A diverse range of
695 distinct occupations were stated by respondents, with no single occupation dominating.
The largest single occupational cluster was administration roles (n=50), followed by sales
(n=38), customer service (n=30), and manager (unspecified) (n=22). In total, 76.6% of
respondents indicated they worked in an office environment (see Table 1), whether that be a
personal office, a shared office, open plan with workstation, or hot desking. In the analyses that
follow, those reporting “other” (4.2%) were excluded. Respondents reporting that they worked
mainly at a clients in whatever space available to them, or who worked at home or on the road
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(19.2% in total) were retained as comparison groups to those who worked in their own office
environments.
Table 1: Respondent Characteristics
Sample Characteristic
N=1000
Male
45.0%
Female
55.0%
Full-time employed
64.7%
Part-time employed
35.3%
Usually works with others in a team
40.4%
Usually works independent of others
24.4%
Works sometimes in a team or on own
35.2%
Has own office
16.0%
Shares office with one or two others
11.2%
Works in open-plan office with own workstation
40.2%
Works in open-plan office and hot-desks
9.2%
Works mainly at clients in whatever space given
9.9%
Works mainly at home or on-the-road
Other arrangement
Age in Years
9.3%
4.2%
Mean = 46.84 SD = 12.67
Years tenure with current employer
Mdn = 6.29 range 0.8 - 50
Years in current role
Mdn = 5.17 range 0.8 - 50
Years in current career
Mdn = 12.50 range 0.8 - 56
2.2 Measures
In addition to demographics, the online questionnaire assessed the extent to which
participants shared office workspaces (they responded to items 1. I mainly work at home or on-
the-road, 2. I have my own office, 3. I share an office with one or two other people, 4. I work mostly
at clients' workplaces in whatever space they give me, 5. I work in an open plan office space but
have my own desk/work space/ work station, 6. I work in an open plan office and hot-desk; first in
first served). They were also asked the extent to which they worked independently
(participants responded to items 1. I usually work with others in a team environment, 2. I
sometimes work in a team and sometimes on my own, 3. I usually work independently of others on
my own tasks).
To create the measures of the variables related to our four demand hypotheses (distrust,
uncooperative behaviour, distractions , and negative relationships) and two resource hypotheses
(co-worker friendship and supervisor support) we followed practices outlined by prior
researchers and scholars who have discussed the process of developing and validating
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measures of constructs (e.g., Rich, Lepine, & Crawford, 2010; Schwab, 1980) and used a
sequential, three phased, mixed-method process.
In brief, the first phase generated an initial pool of 54 potential survey questionnaire items
reflective of an employee’s social demands and resources in their workplace. This included an
analysis of the prior literature on social capital at the individual level, including social support
(Cohen & Wills, 1985; Hill, Bahniuk, Dobos, & Rouner, 1989; Sarason, Sarason, Shearin, &
Pierce, 1987), interpersonal trust and reciprocity (Cummings & Bromiley, 1996; Kouvonen et
al., 2008; McAllister, 1995; Sapp, Kawachi, Sorensen, LaMontagne, & Subramanian, 2010;
Suzuki et al., 2010), relationship quality and satisfaction (Bridge & Baxter, 1992; Crosby, Evans,
& Cowles, 1990; White, Campbell, & Kacmar, 2012), and workplace friendliness (Morrison,
2004; Nielsen, Jex, & Adams, 2000b). In addition, aspects of negative interpersonal behaviour
at work were examined, including undermining (Duffy, Ganster, & Pagon, 2002; Duffy, Ganster,
Shaw, Johnson, & Pagon, 2006; Duffy, Scott, Shaw, Tepper, & Aquino, 2012), bullying (Einarsen,
1999; Einarsen & Skogstad, 1996), jealousy and envy (Vecchio, 2000), and workplace deviance
(Bennett & Robinson, 2000). In addition, two focus group sessions, one of MBA students and
the other comprising 28 professionals in five discussion groups, were used to generate
additional items.
The second phase, conducted within a month, involved 32 participants and included workplace
researchers and work experienced employees recruited using opportunity sampling. The main
selection requirement was that participants had a workplace social network from which they
might acquire social capital / benefit and or liabilities / demands. Using an online Q-sort
activity (where participants are asked to combine statements into meaningful clusters), they
sorted the 54 potential survey questionnaire items into pre-labelled categories: two relating to
the resources variables and the remaining four relating to the demand variables. Another
category was left blank for those items participants were unable to categorize.
Q-sorts, are a useful qualitative method to test if statements previously generated represent a
construct (Grey, 2014). In addition, to identify items unlikely to have sufficient variance to
differentiate between people, respondents were asked to indicate the extent to which they
agreed or disagreed that each item described their own workplace social network using a 7-
point Likert-scale, scored 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 7 (Strongly Agree). For an item to be
retained, more than 50% of the respondents needed to agree an item belonged to a particular
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Q-sort category. In addition, items were dropped for having insufficient variance if more than
80% disagreed or strongly disagreed that the item described their workplace social network.
From these analyses, 42 items were retained for use in the online Qualtrics survey
questionnaire (measuring constructs relating to our six hypotheses; co-worker friendship,
supervisor support and the four social demand components).
In the third phase of developing the measures for this study, responses from the 1000
respondents to the online survey were analysed using the principal axis factor analysis feature
available in IBM SPSS Statistics (V22). Because extant literature suggests that the four aspects
of social demand are positively related to each other, the direct oblimin method of oblique
rotation was used, allowing the factors to correlate. As Table 2 shows, the rotated pattern
matrix has six clear factors, corresponding to the two resource and four demand variables, and
explaining a total of 61.94% of the variance (a higher loading in Table 2 reflects an item which
has more importance within a given factor, thereby allowing us to cluster items according to
construct similarity). As is normative for factor analysis, a minimum factor loading of .4 was
used to determine if an item was retained on a given factor. Table 2 also shows the wording of
all demand and resource items used, with those in italics being the ones dropped from
subsequent analyses due to poor factor loadings. Responses to all items were obtained on a 5-
point Likert-type scale coded from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 5 (Strongly Agree).
As Table 2 shows Factor 1 contained 10 items with a loading above .4 that form the demand
variable negative relationships. All corrected item-total correlations (which indicate how well
an item measures a given construct) were above .6 (range .68 to .87) and the coefficient alpha
of the scale was .95 (a high alpha provides further evidence that all items measure the same
construct). Factor 4 has three items with factor loadings above .4 which relate to the demand
variable of distrust. Coefficient alpha was .82 and item-total correlations ranged from .58 to .74.
Factor 5 contains six items with factor loadings above .4 that all relate to the notion that others
in a workplace can serve as distractions from work and put demands on us. These six items
measure the demand variable, distractions (coefficient alpha = .84; item-total correlations
ranging from .53 to .72). The final employee demand variable, uncooperative behaviour, is
measured by the six items loading above .4 on Factor 6 (see Table 2). Coefficient alpha for the
six item measure was .90 and the inter-item correlation ranged from .68 to .80, indicating
strong internal item consistency.
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Table 2: Principal Axis factor Analysis with Oblique Rotation Pattern Matrix
Factor
1
2
3
4
5
6
.918
.918
.902
.879
.804
.658
.636
.506
.435
.422
.338
.388
.838
.753
.734
.710
.450
.401
-.331
.400
-.351
.372
.983
.961
.856
.827
.619
-.304
.564
.550
.414
.374
-.858
-.774
-.644
-.534
-.517
-.481
-.365
.757
.706
.320
.585
.544
.533
-.364
.432
.363
Notes: For clarity, factor loadings below .3 are not shown. (R) = reverse scored items
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The remaining two factors in Table 2 deal with the resource variables. Factor 2 contains 7
items loading at .4 or above that relate to having co-worker friendships in the workplace
(coefficient alpha = .89; inter-item correlation range = .61 to .78). And finally, Factor 3 contains
five items measuring the degree to which an employee perceives that they have supervisory
support at work (coefficient alpha = .95; inter-item correlation range = .80 to .90).
Because the data for all variables were collected at the same time using the same method, there
is potential for the methodological artefact of common method variance (CMV) to exist. To
reduce the possibility of CMV we followed the advice of Conway and Lance (2010) by including
multiple reverse-phrased items in order to the reduce response bias due to inattention and
acquiescence (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, & Podsakoff, 2012). We also made use of a Qualtrix
feature for online questionnaires that includes random questions requiring participants to
make a specified response. This reduces the potential for participants to endorse all items
using the same response option. Such procedural steps go some way to obviating common-
method concerns. In addition, a Harmon’s single factor test for common method variance was
performed, finding a forced factor containing all the scale items used in the current study
accounted for 25.1% of the variance; well short of indicating the presence of common method
variance bias in these data.
3 Results and Discussion
Table 3 shows means, standard deviations and Cronbach’s coefficient alpha for each of the
variables used to test H1 to H6, together with their intercorrelations. In each case scale scores
were the averages of the items, with higher scores indicating higher levels of demands and
resources. In addition a combined demands variable, that we have termed “social liabilities”
and including distrust, uncooperative behaviour, distraction and negative relationships
(coefficient alpha = .94) was analysed in relation to shared work environments.
As Table 3 shows, all four demand variables are significantly correlated with each other,
although not to a level to suggest multicollinearity. They are also negatively associated with the
resource variables, such that those with higher levels of supervisor support and co-worker
friendships are also more likely to report lower levels of distraction, negative relationships,
uncooperative behaviour and distrust in others. Gender is unrelated to any of the demand
variables, while weak correlations are found for the resource variables such that female
respondents are slightly more likely to report higher supervisor support and more co-worker
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friendships. Conversely, weak correlations are found for age with the four demand variables
but not the two resource ones, with older respondents slightly more likely to report lower
levels of distrust, negative relationships, uncooperative behaviour and social distractions at
work.
Table 3: Variable correlations and descriptive statistics
Variables
M
SD
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
1 Social liabilities (aggregate)
3.10
1.12
.94
2 Negative relationships
3.32
1.53
.94
.95
3 Distrust
3.43
1.44
.81
.68
.82
4 Distractions
3.18
1.19
.76
.61
.55
.84
5 Uncooperative behaviour
2.52
1.01
.77
.63
.68
.43
.90
6 Co-worker friendships
4.60
1.25
-.54
-.48
-.50
-.25
-.65
.89
7 Supervisor support
4.96
1.48
-.67
-.61
-.57
-.38
-.71
.57
.95
8 Gender (1 F; 0 M)
-
-
.00
.02
.00
-.03
-.00
.10
.07
9 Age in Years
46.84
12.58
-.16
-.14
-.13
-.18
-.08
-.03
.01
-.15
Note: All correlations > .07 significant at p < .01 (1-tailed); correlations = .07 significant at p < .05 (1-tailed)
High scores indicate increased social demands and / or increased support and friendship
N = 958. Coefficient alphas are shown in bold on the diagonal
3.1 Office environments and social demands
Given the relationships found between the demand and resource variables, and for age and
gender (see Table 3), the multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) function available in
IBM SPSS (V22) was used to test the hypotheses concerning differences between office
environments in the dependent variables, while controlling for gender and age as covariates.
Initial multivariate tests were statistically significant, justifying the inclusion of the shared
office space independent variable (trace = .069, p = .000) with gender (trace = .028, p = .000)
and age (trace = .043, p = .000) control variables in the full model.
Table 4 reports the estimated marginal means (controlling for age and gender) for each of the
demand and resource variables as a function of the different office working environments,
together with the univariate between-subjects F-tests for these means. Bonferroni corrections
were applied to all significance levels to reduce the potential for Type I errors arising from
multiple statistical tests. In addition, Levene’s tests of the equality of the error variances were
not significant indicating that this MANCOVA assumption has been met.
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Significant multivariate effects were found for all four demand variables (see Table 4). To test
the hypotheses more directly, multivariate LSD contrast tests on the marginal means were
performed.
Figure 1 shows the relationship between shared work environments and social liabilities (see
Table 4 for means and standard deviations). The figure demonstrates that these demands
significantly increase as work environments are more “shared” (the lower five lines, including
the full set of social liability items, which combines the four demand sub-constructs).
Hypotheses 1 to 4 are supported. Other than working at home or on the road, the work
environment with the lowest level of demands in the form of distrust, distractions,
uncooperative behaviours and negative interactions was found to be having one’s own office,
followed by sharing an office with one or two others. The working environments with the
highest levels of demands were open plan ones, with hot-desking having the most demands
(see Figure 1 and Table 4). Each hypothesis related to these social liabilities is addressed
briefly below:
H1: Those in shared office environments (with hot-desking being at the extreme end of
the continuum) will report higher levels of distractions from work.
H1 was supported with distraction being significantly worse in all the shared office
arrangements when compared to those working at home or on the road. Logically these remote
workers have fewer opportunities to interact with colleagues in general, and so were removed
from the potential distraction from others in their organisation.
H2: Those in shared office environments (with hot-desking being at the extreme end of
the continuum) will report higher levels of uncooperative behaviour from colleagues.
H2 was supported. For uncooperative behaviour, those in open plan offices, either hot-desking
or with their own workstations, report higher levels of uncooperative behaviours than those
with their own offices or who share an office with one or two others (hot-desking and working
in an open plan office with an assigned workstation were not significantly different from each
other for this variable). Those working on client premises report similar levels of
uncooperative behaviour to open plan office environments.
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H3: Those in shared office environments (with hot-desking being at the extreme end of
the continuum) will report increased distrust between employees.
H3 was supported. For distrust, the hot-desking condition was found to be significantly worse
than either having one’s own office or sharing with one or two others. As with uncooperative
behaviour, hot-desking and working in an open plan office with an assigned workstation were
not found to differ significantly in terms of distrust levels. Furthermore, those working on
client premises report similar levels of distrust to those who work in open plan offices.
H4: Those in shared office environments (with hot-desking being at the extreme end of
the continuum) will report increased negative interpersonal relationships between
employees.
H4 was supported. Those in a hot-desking arrangement reported significantly more negative
relationships than those in their own office, those sharing an office with one or two others,
those working on client’s premises or at home. Again there was no significant difference
between hot-desking and working in an open plan office with one’s own workstation on this
variable.
For the combined social liability measure, SPSS post hoc comparisons, using Bonferroni
corrections to reduce the potential for Type I errors, found those who hot-desk and those in
open plan offices with their own workstations to have significantly higher social liabilities
when compared to those with their own offices or who share their offices with one or two
others. Furthermore, those working at home or on the road report significantly fewer social
liabilities.
Thus, consistent with the JD-R model, when in shared workspaces and/or hot-desking
environments, the four liability variables, both individually and as a combined measure, are
likely to place additional demands and increased load on workers by creating an unfavourable
working environment thereby incurring physiological and/or psychological “costs” (Bakker &
Demerouti, 2007).
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2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
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Table 4: Demand and resource estimated marginal means and standard errors by office working arrangements
Co-worker
friendships
Supervisor
support
Negative
interactions and
behaviours
Distrust of others
Distractions
Uncooperative
behaviour
Combined social
liability items
N
Working arrangement
M
SE
M
SE
M
SE
M
SE
M
SE
M
SE
M
SE
I have my own office
160
4.73
.098
5.16
.116
3.18
.120
3.26
.113
3.21
.092
2.33
.079
2.99
.087
I share an office with
one or two others
112
4.86
.117
5.30
.138
3.13
.143
3.14
.134
3.15
.109
2.33
.094
2.95
.104
I work in an open plan
office but have my own
workspace
402
4.53
.062
4.96
.073
3.41
.076
3.48
.071
3.27
.058
2.55
.050
3.18
.055
I work in an open plan
office and hotdesk
92
4.29
.130
4.52
.153
3.70
.158
3.79
.149
3.25
.121
2.77
.105
3.38
.115
I work mostly at clients
workplaces in whatever
space they give me
99
4.53
.125
4.64
.147
3.28
.152
3.61
.143
3.15
.117
2.70
.101
3.15
.111
I mainly work at home
or on the road
93
4.73
.131
5.05
.154
3.04
.159
3.31
.150
2.69
.122
2.50
.105
2.86
.116
F (5,950)
2.90
4.42
2.62
3.04
3.73
3.68
3.09
p
.013
.001
.023
.010
.002
.003
.009
Notes: N=958. High scores indicate increased demands and / or increased support and friendship
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Figure 1: Mean score as a function of shared work environment
2
2.5
3
3.5
4
4.5
5
5.5
I mainly work at
home or on the road
I have my own office
I share an office with
one or two others
I work mostly at
clients workplaces in
whatever space they
give me
I work in an open
plan office but have
my own workspace
I work in an open
plan office and
hotdesk
Negative interactions and behaviours
Distrust of others
Social demands and distractions
Uncooperative behaviours
Supervisor support
Co-worker friendship
Combined social liability items
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3.2 Shared office environments and social resources
Table 4 shows an overall significant difference in both co-workers friendships and
supervisor support as a function of office working arrangements. Figure 1 demonstrates
that supervisor support and co-worker friendships generally decrease as work
environments are more shared (the top two lines in Figure 1). Each is discussed below.
H5: Those in shared office environments (with hot-desking being at the extreme
end of the continuum) will report more co-worker friendships.
Pairwise LSD post hoc comparisons show that co-worker friendships are actually lower
in hot desking and open plan office arrangements, when compared to those with their
own offices or who share offices. They are even significantly lower than those who
mainly work at home or on the road. Hypotheses 5 is therefore rejected. It would seem
that being in a shared environment does not facilitate friendships at work.
H6: Those in shared office environments (with hot-desking being at the extreme
end of the continuum) will report increased supervisor support.
There was no support for the sixth hypothesis. Figure 1 demonstrates that supervisor
support decreases as work environments become more shared and the pairwise LSD
comparisons between the marginal means supports this. Those in hot-desking office
environments reported statistically lower support compared to those who share offices
and who work on client premises. This is in the direction opposite to what was
hypothesised. It seems that shared work environments are associated with lower
quality supervision / manager relationships.
The finding that perceptions of supervisor support worsen in shared environments may
be related to the notion that, when workers do not see their supervisors every day, the
time they do have with them is perceived to be of higher quality. In this context, they
may have a supervision meeting with focused attention rather than simply working
nearby their manager on a daily basis. It is also possible that many of the factors related
to social demands at work also negatively impact on supervision relationships in shared
work environments, making them less satisfactory. The employee, the supervisor, or
both, may be irritated, distracted and attempting to combat this by withdrawing
(Kaarlela-Tuomaala et al., 2009), thereby worsening the supervisory relationship.
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In relation to the JD-R model it seems that shared work environments, and in particular
hot-desking increase demands without buffering by variables widely accepted as
resources. Shared environments did not improve friendship opportunities and, in
addition, were associated with perceptions of less supportive supervision.
3.3 Collaborative working
In terms of working collaboratively with others, no significant difference was found for
the combined social liability score between those who worked independently, in a team
or both (F (2,997) = 0.06, p = .95). However, as discussed above, significant differences
were found as a function of the physical working arrangements participants were in.
This implies that it is not working closely with others per se. that has a negative impact.
When colleagues work closely with others in a team, on projects, or towards common
goals (for example) we found no evidence of increased negative social impacts; it seems
only when workers are hot-desking or simply working nearby (as opposed to “with”)
others that these demands are increased. Perhaps, as Kaarlela-Tuomaala et al. (2009)
suggest, it is possible that we would have different results if the respondents in the
current study needed to continuously interact to do their jobs.
In terms of the resources we measured, there was no significant difference in
perceptions of supervisor support between those who worked independently, in a team
or both (F (2, 997) = 2.77, p = 0.63) but there were significant findings in terms of co-
worker friendships (F (2, 997) = 9.47, p = 0.00) indicating that those who worked
closely with others (either usually or sometimes) reported better co-worker friendship
than those who usually worked independently. In contrast, as Table 4 and Figure 1
shows, co-worker friendship did not vary significantly across physical working
arrangement. This suggests that working collaboratively in team environment facilitates
co-worker friendship whereas simply doing one’s own work nearby others in a shared
environment does not.
3.4 Limitations and directions for future research
One potential limitation of the current study is the use of data from a survey panel (in
this case Qualtrics), however the increasing use and external validity of data obtained
from survey panels such as Qualtrics and SurveyMonkey has received some research
attention; a recent review (Brandon et al., 2013) finding “…that participants who are
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recruited using non-traditional methods generate data that are as externally valid as
those provided by more traditional participant recruitment methods.” (p.21).
Another limitation of the current study is that we did not gather data specifically about
the proportion of their work day respondents spent in an office environment. Future
work in this area might explore this in order to evaluate the effects of relative exposure
to these potentially adverse conditions. In addition, although we measured both
demands and resources as they relate to shared work environments, we did not
measure employee outcomes of these, such as stress, directly. A direction for future
research would be to look at whether workplace social liability variables mediate or
moderate associations between shared environments and stress. The finding that
having one’s own office, or sharing with just one or two others, is associated with
significantly improved perceptions of supervisor support adds to the relatively sparse
literature on antecedents of perceived supervisor support. Future research could
examine whether having the physical distance / autonomy that offices provide
improves perceived supervisor support for all workers and perhaps explore further
why this is so.
Another direction for future research could be to explore ways to further transform
office design; to retain the flexibility and cost saving of flexible work arrangements
while avoiding the negative social, psychological, and physical outcomes. Some
organisations are already exploring ways to make this work. For example the Catholic
Commission for Employment Relations has adopted a “post hot-desking” office design;
moving on from their hot desk arrangements to embrace “zones” including a
collaboration zone with café style seating, where people can sit informally, and
communicate freely. These exist alongside task zones with ergonomically designed
chairs and desks. In addition there is a “cockpit” (a small separate office) available for
workers who need to be isolated and uninterrupted. The creation of these zones around
the office, designed specifically for particular work gives employees the autonomy to
move between them, depending on the specific task they are performing (Patty, 2015).
4 Conclusion and recommendations
As a result of the changing face of education in modern schools worldwide (such as
innovative student groupings, blended learning environments and flexible work spaces
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in class rooms) (see for example; Giles, 2006; Punie, 2007; Reh, Rabenstein, & Fritzsche,
2011; Rytivaara, 2011; Strayer, 2012; Thompson, 2015), there may well be a generation
of “new” employees (those yet to enter the workforce) who will be used to working with
many different colleagues and moving from space to space as their task, or as space
constraints, dictate. These future workers may have little or no expectation that their
employer will provide either privacy, or their own designated space.
Whether or not this is true in the future however, it seems that for now, shared work
environments, and in particular hot-desking, are associated with increases in
distraction, negative relationships, uncooperative behaviours and distrust. This may be
due to amplified demands in terms of workload in hot-desk environments (i.e., finding
and personalising a space), in addition to the uncertainly associated with not having an
assigned workstation, or the increased load from distraction in a shared space.
Withdrawal as a response to this load may account for the uncooperative behaviours
and lack of reciprocity reported.
Though we did not measure stress directly in the current study, we found that there
were increases in variables widely accepted as “demands” without any offset or
buffering by variables widely accepted as “resources”. Shared environments did not
improve friendship opportunities / supervisor support (and in fact were associated
with perceptions of less supportive supervision). In almost all our measured variables
the “best” case was having one’s own office or sharing with one or two others. In
addition to the negative social impacts of shared work spaces, our results align with
those of Kaarlela-Tuomaala et al. (2009) who found that the benefits which are often
claimed to be associated with shared spaces were not apparent, finding instead that
cooperation became less pleasant and information flow did not change. In sum, we agree
with Kaarlela-Tuomaala et al.’s conclusion, that “…the open-plan office is not
recommended for professional workers.” (p. 1423).
However, we acknowledge that the inexorable move towards shared office
environments and hot-desking, along with the perceived flexibility and genuine cost
saving they represent, is unlikely to be reversed. Though perhaps, in time, and with
more research in this area, there will increased consideration of these policies in the
context of worker well-being.
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4.1 Ergonomic principles
Prior to a discussion of what might be done to ameliorate any unintended negative
consequences of these work environments, it is necessary to also consider the work
done by those experiencing adverse effects; functional recommendations cannot be
made without a proper assessment of the roles and demands of their jobs. A systematic
approach within the ergonomic principle of assessment is needed. As it is outside the
scope of the current study, we have yet to ascertain if there are some roles, jobs,
professions, or industries in which the adverse effects of shared space are greater; for
example, are there particular aspects of work that make some employees more
vulnerable? Similarly, the inclusion of individual differences should to be a focus of
future work (Caple, 2008); for example, does personality, gender or age mean some
workers are comparatively more vulnerable?
Instead, the focus of the current study has been on an aspect of the physical
environment within which work is performed the office rather than on the nature of
that work, or the people doing the work. Thus, future research could deepen our
understanding of these issues by employing more focused surveys, engaging in
ergonomic assessments of specific organisations, analysing the tasks and work
processes of affected individuals, and capturing rich, qualitative data using focus groups
and interviews. Only then might we have confidence to select from the various types of
interventions and apply them to a given situation.
A “design centred approach” (Caple, 2008) where user needs are central, might suggest
that office space be designed, not for cost and space saving efficiencies, but to reflect the
well-being of the user (in this case the office worker). An ideal situation would be to
evaluate the worker, analyse the work, and create an “ideal” workspace thereby
obviating the need to minimize demands later on (Hale, Kirwan, & Kjellén, 2007). The
“hierarchy of controls” should influence decisions regarding which interventions or
changes are most appropriate. The most desirable levels, “eliminating” or “isolating”,
would imply a situation where distraction or interaction from nearby others is removed
altogether, or was never there in the first place. As we have shown in the current study,
having one’s own office or working from home is indeed the “best” situation in terms of
the demands we measured. However, given that this is not realistic for many
organisations, the recommendations below are aimed at “minimizing” the demands.
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4.2 If you’re going to do it, do it right
While acknowledging the importance of carefully assessing work environments and of
tailoring interventions specifically to the requirements of individuals, industries, and
organisations, there are several interventions that could reasonably be expected
improve the IEQ of the majority of shared and/or flexible work spaces. First, clear desk
requirements and banning the personalisation of work spaces are two policies that have
little obvious benefit, but potentially quite negative consequences for workers (Brown,
2009; Elsbach, 2003). These policies could be re-thought wherever possible, as it seems
that the personalisation of workspaces fulfils some quite fundamental human needs.
Second, visual distraction from nearby co-workers can be dramatically reduced with the
use of panels or book shelves (Smith-Jackson & Klein, 2009) or “green walls of plants,
termed “living wall systems” (LWS) (Perini & Rosasco, 2013). Researchers investigating
the benefits of LWS struggle to directly measure the psycho-social benefit of LWS due to
the “…impossibility to assign a value to the positive impact of vegetation.(Perini &
Rosasco, 2013; p. 118). That said, both aesthetic improvement and sound reduction are
commonly cited benefits of LWS (Rakhshandehroo, Yusof, & Najd, 2015). Third,
auditory distraction in shared environments may be reduced with noise reduction
equipment such as noise cancelling headphones; shown to reduce auditory interference
(Smith-Jackson & Klein, 2009). Both visual screens and noise reducing equipment are
relatively low-cost, flexible ways to improve the IEQ for office workers. It is worth
noting, however, that interventions such as headphones that put the onus onto
individuals to manage their own IEQ, and other associated demands, are not as
appropriate as wider policy, practice, and office designs aimed at improving the
environment in general. Organizations should evaluate technologies and equipment
within the context of the whole workstation, the type of work being done, and
individual preferences. Thus, a contingency approach is needed with the expectation
that provision of headphones (for example) will suit some organisational members but
may be unacceptable, or even more demanding, to others.
Case studies of hot-desk and / or flexible workspaces designed with worker well-being
in mind can also provide options regarding both physical workspace options and ways
of working. For example Pitt and Bennett (2008) describe a large office redesigned to
include not only hot-desking, but also “touchdown areas” (unassigned desks which
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allow for quick access to information), “bookable offices” (spaces that provide privacy
that can be booked in advance), “collaborative workspaces” (formal rooms to facilitate
group work which include teleconferencing capabilities) and finally “break-out
workspaces” (soft-seating and coffee tables arranged to allow for spontaneous, informal
collaborative work). This last initiative relates to the notion that there needs to be a
“critical density of spontaneous interaction” (Haynes & Price, 2004; p.11) for this type of
activity-based workplace initiative to succeed. Too much and the distractions will
outweigh any potential collaborative benefits. Too little and the benefits are not evident.
Industry, social / societal context, worker individual differences, sector, and type of
work will all no doubt play a role in what that critical density will be for a given
workplace or organisation.
Fulton (2005) outline other best practices in terms of hot-desking arrangements.
Relevant to the current study, they suggest providing some sort of “home base” for hot-
deskers as a way to ensure they feel included, and to ameliorate feelings of being
displaced, or stress from seeking a work station. This could take the form of an inviting
lounge or common room with lockers to store equipment or hard copies of documents.
In addition there should be information technology initiatives to ensure ease of
transitioning from one workstation to another; this could include seamless Wi-Fi when
computers are undocked, computers and software with ‘plug and play’ capability, access
to electronic networks and intranets, and timely access to paper-based information
(Fulton, 2005).
The reduction in perceived supervisor support in shared environments perhaps
indicates that the assumption that simply being nearby one’s supervisor obviates the
need for formal feedback or supervision meetings is misguided. Alternatively it might
suggest that seeing one’s manager too frequently puts extra strain on the supervisory
relationship in some way. A recommendation may be to have time for dedicated
supervision or team meetings set aside, possibly along with screens and headphones for
privacy within the supervision relationship, as above.
Ultimately, providing options for workers to suit both individual preferences and the
type of work being carried out, is likely to be the key to successful implementation of
shared office environments and hot-desking in situations where the provision of private
offices is deemed inappropriate or too expensive. Thus, ergonomists and others tasked
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with the design and implementation of such systems, should consider user-testing of the
work environment and employee participation in workspace design as part of a user-
centred approach to the introduction of shared workspaces (Cullen, 2007).
In addition, should changes be made, or recommendations applied to improve workers’
experiences, these must to be trialled, monitored and evaluated. It is not enough to
simply make changes aimed at improving the IEQ in a shared workspace. Without
ongoing assessment, it is impossible to know whether these changes are the right ones,
done in the correct way, or to the right extent. Further, as the workforce evolves and as
work processes change, ongoing, evidence based, assessment of the efficacy of
interventions should continue, encouraging employee-participation and feedback.
Acknowledgements: This research was made possible with a grant from the Work
Research Institute (WRI) within the Faculty of Business and Law, AUT University, NZ.
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This chapter sets out the main findings of a review developed for the Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing. The aim was to understand and identify how the physical environment impacts mental capital and wellbeing. Data were gathered through an extensive review of 280 academic articles about the physical environment and its direct and indirect impacts on learning, mental health, work, learning difficulties and mental capital. The chapter is multi-disciplinary in focus and multi-level in nature, from the small-scale level (e.g. light, noise) to the large scale (e.g. urban neighbourhood, rural area). (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)
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Salespeople involved in the marketing of complex services often perform the role of “relationship manager.” It is, in part, the quality of the relationship between the salesperson and the customer that determines the probability of continued interchange between those parties in the future. A relationship quality model is advanced and tested that examines the nature, consequences, and antecedents of relationship quality, as perceived by the customer. The findings suggest that future sales opportunities depend mostly on relationship quality (i.e., trust and satisfaction), whereas the ability to convert those opportunities into sales hinges more on conventional source characteristics of similarity and expertise. Relational selling behaviors such as cooperative intentions, mutual disclosure, and intensive followup contact generally produce a strong buyer-seller bond.
Article
The authors reviewed more than 70 studies concerning employees' general belief that their work organization values their contribution and cares about their well-being (perceived organizational support; POS). A meta-analysis indicated that 3 major categories of beneficial treatment received by employees (i.e., fairness, supervisor support, and organizational rewards and favorable job conditions) were associated with POS. POS, in turn, was related to outcomes favorable to employees (e.g., job satisfaction, positive mood) and the organization (e.g., affective commitment, performance, and lessened withdrawal behavior). These relationships depended on processes assumed by organizational support theory: employees' belief that the organization's actions were discretionary, feeling of obligation to aid the organization, fulfillment of socioemotional needs, and performance-reward expectancies.
Article
In this article we introduce the concept of workplace incivility and explain how incivility can potentially spiral into increasingly intense aggressive behaviors. To gain an understanding of the mechanisms that underlie an "incivility spiral," we examine what happens at key points: the starting and tipping points. Furthermore, we describe several factors that can facilitate the occurrence and escalation of an incivility spiral and the secondary spirals that can result. We offer research propositions and discuss implications of workplace incivility for researchers and practitioners.
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This study identifies design features perceived as regulating privacy for an intergenerational workforce and where privacy fits into what is important for office workers in their work environments. The findings are part of an extensive study on workplace design characteristics that impact worker performance. The study stresses the importance of privacy needs to facilitate work. Results indicate that even though older and younger workers often associate similar design features with regulating privacy, cohorts generally do not perceive similar weighings of importance for design features perceived to regulate privacy. This suggests that design changes in the office may be necessary to provide older workers with the same opportunity as their younger counterparts to perform efficiently. Even though older workers may not need special design adaptions, they do seem to need different physical features to accommodate privacy needs. Further research is needed to generalize these results.