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Does the Design of the Workplace Affect Individual Creativity


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This study aims to investigate the influence of the work environment in open‐plan workplaces on employees’ work‐related behavior (social interaction and communication) and their outcome (creativity). A quantitative methodology implying a cross‐sectional survey was used to fulfill the study's purposes in addition to the literature review. The Partial Least Square of Structural Equation Model (PLS‐SEM) was used to analyze data. The respondents were 117 staff employees working as programmers and video editors in creative multimedia companies in Tehran. The findings of this study revealed that although employees in an open‐plan office do not have the ability to control environmental features, a great deal of work‐related behavior and creativity is called for in their daily work. In fact, open‐plan spaces improve social interaction among co‐workers by increasing adjacency and reflect a more democratic working culture. Managers and space designers can use the findings of this study to boost workplace facilities in order to positively affect employees’ work behavior and outcome.
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Sanaz Ahmadpoor Samani, PhD Sayed Mohamad Shams Zadeh Alavi
This study aims to investigate the influence of the work environment in open-plan workplaces on
employees’ work-related behavior (social interaction and communication) and their outcome (creativity).
A quantitative methodology implying a cross-sectional survey was used to fulfill the study’s purposes in
addition to the literature review. The Partial Least Square of Structural Equation Model (PLS-SEM) was
used to analyze data. The respondents were 117 staff employees working as programmers and video
editors in creative multimedia companies in Tehran. The findings of this study revealed that although
employees in an open-plan office do not have the ability to control environmental features, a great deal
of work-related behavior and creativity is called for in their daily work. In fact, open-plan spaces
improve social interaction among co-workers by increasing adjacency and reflect a more democratic
working culture. Managers and space designers can use the findings of this study to boost workplace
facilities in order to positively affect employees’ work behavior and outcome.
Within a work environment the roles of both the social-
psychological work environment and the physical work
environment are supposed to aect and support creativ-
ity. As mentioned by Vithayathawornwong, Danko, and
Tolbert (2003), the physical work environment, by apply-
ing its indirect eects on creativity, can facilitate and sup-
port two important social-psychological conditions that
these two social-psychological conditions dynamism (the
amount of activity and energy) is the most important
one within an organization; it is supported by the phys-
ical work environment to promote and enhance creative
behavior. Dynamism itself has several sub-dimensions:
communication, interpersonal interaction, and informa-
tion and idea exchange (Vithayathawornwong et al., 2003)
which are also important for facilitating and enhancing
Generally, open-plan oce layouts are believed to facil-
itate communication and interaction among co-workers
by reducing environmental distance and promoting team-
work and creativity (Duval, Veitch, & Charles, 2002; Kim
& de Dear, 2013; O’Neill, 2008; Veitch, Charles, Farley, &
Newsham, 2007; Veitch, Charles, Newsham, Marquardt,
& Geerts, 2003). One basic reason for the creation of
open-plan oce arrangements was to increase social in-
teraction and communication among team members and
co-workers. In contrast, open-plan oces are commonly
known to be a more disruptive type of oce design due
to uncontrollable noise, loss of personal control over the
environmental features, and lack of privacy (Candido,
Chakraborty, & Tjondronegoro, 2019; Kim & de Dear,
2013; O’Neill, 2008; Pejtersen, Allermann, Kristensen, &
Poulsen, 2006; Veitch, Bradley, Legault, Norcross, & Svec,
2002). Previous studies have indicated that some envi-
ronmental variables such as the arrangement or design of
the spaces, exibility, size, and proximity of a workstation
(which is more common and possible in share and open-
plan oces) can facilitate the probabilities or limit the so-
cial occurrence (Bitner, 1992). The fact is people’s behav-
ior is limited and inuenced by the physical aspects of
Performance Improvement, vol. 59, no. 5, May/June 2020
©2020 International Society for Performance Improvement
Published online in Wiley Online Library ( DOI: 10.1002/pfi.21917
Within a work environment
both the social-psychological
work environment and the
physical work environment are
supposed to aect and support
walls and partitions, private rooms and cells can limit
their physical movement and limit their social interaction.
Therefore, an uncontrollable work environment becomes
crucial. Exhibit 1 shows the uncontrollable work environ-
ment in open-plan oces.
and employees’ reactions is very noticeable in oce de-
sign, especially in open-plan layouts (Duval et al., 2002;
Hua, 2007; Pejtersen et al., 2006; Veitch et al., 2002; Veitch,
Charles, & Newsham, 2004), because of the many distrac-
tions and complaints that are caused by this type of oce
design, The concept of physical distance is understood in
organizational design, and the area of attention in many
organizational communication studies is uncontrollable
noise, lack of privacy, uncontrollable social interaction,
and other distractions. So it seems dicult for employ-
ees to focus on their tasks, which eventually reduces their
overall productivity.
However, open-plan oce design reduces the cost of
real estate and enhances communication and creativity
among colleagues (Candido et al., 2019; Brennan, Chugh,
& Kline, 2002; Kim & de Dear, 2013; Navai & Veitch,
2003; Veitch et al., 2007). As indicated by Awang and
Denan (2016), due to lower costs and suitability the use
of the open-plan oce is increasing. Therefore, leaders
in creative organizations would do well to consider that
these factors would aect employees’ work-related behav-
to investigate the relationship between an uncontrollable
work environment (perceived level of personal control
over the physical aspects of the workplace and distraction
from them) on social interaction and creativity. Figure 2
presents the model of this study. Considering the nature of
this study, the unit of analysis was individuals (program-
mers and video editors) in creative multimedia industries.
The concept of physical distance is understood in orga-
Open-plan oces reduce the
environmental limitations and
individual privacy, which
carry some advantages and
some disadvantages.
organizational communication studies (Duval et al., 2002;
Huber, 1991). As indicated, in the process of social in-
teraction and face-to-face communication within a work-
place the chance of interactions will decrease at a distance
further than 50 meters. So, employees’ communication
(face-to-face) and interaction is inuenced considerably
by distance (Duxbury, 2012). Duxbury (2012) said that
the communication processes within organizations (espe-
cially oce environments) emphasize exchanging infor-
mation rather than exchanging energy.
However, other studies have found no relationship be-
tween physical accessibility and social interaction among
co-workers (e.g., Sundstrom, Burt, and Kamp (1980);
Brennan et al. (2002)). The result of empirical studies
suggests that employees prefer privacy over accessibility
because of the increase in environmental distractions
experienced in open-plan oces. As suggested by prior
studies, organizational functioning and performance
are inuenced by both task and social interaction (De
Dreu & Weingart, 2003; Schein, 1990). As mentioned by
previous studies, there are several contextual factors that
have been linked to creativity (Amabile, Conti, Coon,
Lazenby, & Herron, 1996; McLean, 2005; Woodman,
Sawyer, & Grin, 1993). Moreover, current technology
provides additional media, such as mobile telephones and
the Internet that make interactions easier, but managers
and many employees prefer to have face-to-face com-
munication (Nohria & Eccles, 2000). The preference for
face-to-face interaction relates to the nature of its social
support and transfers emotional information and even
task information.
Type of Noise in Workplace
sults from laboratory examinations have conrmed that
individuals perform worse in noisy environments (e.g.,
Leather, Beale, & Sullivan, 2003; Banbury & Berry, 2005;
Roelofsen, 2008). Generally, oce environments share
Performance Improvement Volume 59 Number 5 DOI: 10.1002/pfi 7
two types of noise. First is the continuous noise from
technical machines, ventilation systems, and various other
sources. Due to the nature of these noises, which are
softer and have the same rhythm, they are categorized
as having a normal level and producing less disturbance.
Prior studies have indicated that human-made noise, es-
vacy, are the strongest factors in the work environment
that cause dissatisfaction in open-plan oces (Brennan
et al., 2002; Kaarlela-Tuomaala et al., 2009). The second
type of oce noises that are more distracting in open-plan
oces are non-continuous noises and noises that include
more information, such as conversations of others, people
moving and walking, keyboard typing, and unpredictable
noises from the ventilation system (Rasila & Rothe, 2012;
E. Sundstrom, Town, Rice, Osborn, & Brill, 1994). These
noise problems, though they occur more often in open-
plan workplaces, exist in all types of oces even in private
Noise is one of the serious distractions addressed in ear-
lier studies. As suggested by Banbury and Berry (2005),
99% of employees in open-plan oces report that vari-
ous oce noises, especially telephones ringing and peo-
ple talking, have a negative eect on their concentration.
Within a workplace, distracting noise may contribute to
poor performance, stress, and exhaustion, all of which
increase employees’ cognitive workloads and ineciency
(Leather et al., 2003; Pejtersen et al., 2006; Perrin Jegen &
Chevret, 2016; Smith-Jackson & Klein, 2009). In addition,
Sundstrom et al. (1994) recognized noise as an ambient
stressor that negatively aects job satisfaction in the work
environment. Therefore, having personal control over the
work environment can reduce noise disturbance from un-
controllable sources.
Noise also aects dierent people in dierent ways de-
pending on individual dierences (e.g., age and gender)
as well as the tasks they are involved in (Lee & Brand,
2005; Maher & Von Hippel, 2005; Rasila & Rothe, 2012).
An individual can be disturbed by environmental noise,
but that may not be the case for another individual sitting
demand long-term concentration because they are more
complicated; thus, it will be dicult for an individual to
complete his or her task in noisy environments (Banbury
& Berry, 2005).
Social and spatial density are two kinds of density as
suggested by Duval et al. (2002). Social density refers to
density refers to the size of the place or the amount of
usable space per employee (Brennan et al., 2002; Duval
et al., 2002). Some researchers have suggested that in-
creased social density and closeness in the workplace lead
to improved opportunities for friendship and facilitate
interpersonal contact, information exchange, and com-
munication and promote job satisfaction (Kim & de Dear,
2013; Maher & Von Hippel, 2005; Veitch et al., 2003).
On the other hand, some researchers have reached the
opposite conclusion, and they suggested that satisfaction
with the work environment may decrease in places with
high social and spatial density because of the lack of
privacy and the uncontrolled social contact (Baldry &
Barnes, 2012; Duval et al., 2002; Jahncke, 2012; Rashid,
Wineman, & Zimring, 2009).
Within a workplace the amount of available space for
each person is recognized as the most important predic-
tor of environmental satisfaction (Kim & de Dear, 2013).
However, it is important to mention that density alone
(both social and spatial) cannot aect individual satisfac-
tion with the work environment; other factors such as pri-
vacy, distractions, and sense of crowding must be dealt
with (El-Zeiny, 2012; Lee & Brand, 2010). Therefore, em-
ployees’ interaction and communication in the workplace
(both formal and informal) are aected by the amount of
privacy and proximity (Zahn, 1991). Physical proximity
at work can increase individuals’ and groups’ productivity
by increasing the opportunity of both formal and infor-
mal (face-to-face) interaction and communication. Brand
(2009) suggested that open-plan oces should feature low
density, because high density increases visual and audi-
tory distractions; employees feel crowded, and tends to de-
crease employee’s satisfaction and productivity.
Still, the evidence indicated that on the positive side,
open-plan workstations facilitate open communication,
which enables workers to exchange information faster,
easier, and informally (Brennan et al., 2002; O’Neill, 2008;
Rasila & Rothe, 2012; Roelofsen, 2008). On the nega-
tive side, open-plan workplaces can produce environmen-
tal distractions that prevent employees from concentrat-
ing on their tasks and can cause other problems as well
(Brennan et al., 2002; Hua, 2007; Hwang & Kim, 2013;
O’Neill, 2008). However, the popularity of such ndings
has not stopped employers’ tendency to support, use, and
favor open-plan workstations. Open-plan workplaces are
traditional private or cellular oce design, and they re-
quire less square footage than private oces.
After replacing the oce (changing from private oce
rooms to an open-plan landscape), the F.T.S Group’s of-
ce was characterized by a landscape oce layout (totally
open-plan space) without any partitions or wall for divid-
ing individuals’ workstation. The oce contains a hall and
and a meeting room. In the main hall of the oce em-
ployees sat in a group of ve around a single table. Com-
pared with the previous workstation, employees have less
mental distraction. Moreover employees did not have per-
sonal control over environmental features, which also may
also cause distraction.
This study employed a cross-sectional survey to inves-
tigate the eect of an uncontrollable work environment on
employees’ social interaction and creativity. These factors
included having control over social interaction, privacy
and communication, distraction caused by the uncontrol-
lable noise from the environment as well as privacy issues
and ease of communication. The participants of this study
Group) in Tehran. The selection of research objective is
by the criterion that the data and information should be
easy to be arrived at and relevant to the main focus of the
research project. A well-designed questionnaire was dis-
tributed manually to 124 employees at the company. The
survey questionnaire was translated into Farsi, and there
was an eective sample of 117 to engage with the survey
questionnaire analysis process, which represented 83% of
the total number of survey questionnaires distributed. The
The questionnaire consisted of 20 items about working
condition and ve questions concerning personal demo-
ert scale (1 =strongly disagree; 5 =strongly agree) in re-
sponding. The measurement items addressed several en-
vironmental features, including having control over social
interaction, privacy, and communication in the oce (5
items adopted items from Lee and Brand (2005, 2010)),
distraction resulting from the uncontrollable noise from
the environment, and communication and privacy in the
oce (ve items adopted from Lee and Brand (2010)), ease
of communication (ve items adapted from Sundstrom
et al. (1982)), and perceived creativity (ve items adapted
from Amabile et al. (1996)). The items used in this analy-
sis were eectively measured in previous studies and were
& Brand, 2005, 2010; MacMillan, 2012; Eric Sundstrom,
Herbert, and Brown (1982).
This study employed conrmatory factor analysis for
evaluating the validity and unidimensionality of the scale,
while the calculation of convergent validity relied on t-
tests for factor loadings. Results of the conrmatory fac-
tor analysis conrmed convergent validity (t values >1.65;
Performance Improvement Volume 59 Number 5 DOI: 10.1002/pfi 9
Obviously open-plan offices reduce the environmental limitations and individual
privacy, which carry some advantages and some disadvantages. Open and
easy communication is the main advantage of open-plan offices and also the
most important and valuable reason behind the establishment of this type of
office design. In this regard some studies suggested that this type of office design
facilitates communication and collaboration among employees (as an
advantage), especially among team members placed in close proximity to one
another, and enhances creativity among co-workers (Brennan et al., 2002;
gatay, Yıldırım, Gökbulut, & Suba¸sı, 2017; Candido, Chakraborty, &
Tjondronegoro, 2019; Kim & de Dear, 2013; Lee & Brand, 2005; Lee & Guerin,
2009; Navai & Veitch, 2003; Veitch et al., 2007). On the contrary, some
studies suggest that open-plan workspaces do not facilitate social interaction and
communication among co-workers (Birnholtz, Gutwin, & Hawkey, 2007;
Brennan et al., 2002; Kim & de Dear, 2013; Passero & Zannin, 2012) due to
distractions caused by uncontrollable noise from co-workers talking or lack of
control over the workplace, along with lack of privacy for confidential
conversations (Brennan et al., 2002). Moreover, as suggested in previous
studies, a more positive social climate and interactions within the office
environment enhance the level of creativity at work (Amabile et al., 1996; Miller,
2005; Tsai, Horng, Liu, & Hu, 2015).
H1/H2: An uncontrollable working condition in
open-plan offices (by the mean of personal
control and environmental distraction) is
positively linked to social interaction.
H3: Social interaction among individuals has a
positive effect on individual creativity.
H4/H5: Social interaction in open-plan offices
positively mediates the relationship between
uncontrollable working conditions in
open-plan offices (by means of personal
control and environmental distraction) and
Personal control 50.858
Social interaction 50.866
Creativity 50.814
p=.05) and presented that each factor was a unidimen-
sional construct. Cronbach’s alpha for all variables also
showed high reliability (see Table 2).
In the survey questionnaires, the items succeeded in cap-
turing the underlying dimensions of the uncontrollable
working environment including personal control, envi-
ronmental distraction, and creativity. The mediating role
of social interaction in the relationship between individ-
ual control, environmental distraction, and creativity was
investigated as well. Under the advanced statistical mea-
sures, the survey questionnaire data collected were tested
for missing values, outliers, and normality using SPSS
21.0; after that, the measurement (inner model) and the
technique (Smart-PLS 3.0) were measured. The results
were discussed in relations to the literature review, the re-
search questions, and hypotheses to provide additional de-
tails on the work environment as well as the inuence of
also integrated other results that were not directly related
to the research hypotheses and the conceptual model to
inform broader research questions.
An analysis of the demographic characteristics of respon-
dents showed that 46.8% of the sample members were fe-
male; 32.0% were aged between 20 and 29; 51.6% had 1–4
years working experance within the company. In terms of
highest level of educational attainment, 40.6% of respon-
dents indicated they had a bachelor’s degree.
Means, standard deviations, and correlations among
the variables are presented in Table 3. There is a strong
positive signicant correlation between the dependent
variable (personal control and environmental distraction)
and independent measures (creativity). The mediating
variable (social interaction) is also positively and signi-
cantly correlated with personal control and environmen-
tal distraction. This suggests that the open-plan oce has
reached its main goal: to promote employee social interac-
tion by fostering communication and nearness and overall
The hypotheses are tested using ordinary least-squares
regression analysis (see Table 4). Hypothesis 1 states that
personal control over the work environment will be pos-
itively related to individual creativity. Model 1 supports
this hypothesis, indicating that personal control over the
10 DOI: 10.1002/pfi MAY/JUNE 2020
Personal control 4.01 7.054 0.529 0.817 0.727
Creative outcome 3.20 5.009 0.584 0.894 0.497 0.764
Environmental distraction 3.69 5.651 0.546 0.857 -0.212 -0.276 0.739
Social interaction 5.54 5.019 0.680 0.914 0.50 0.521 -0.238 0.825
Personal Control Social
+0.500 9.579 0.349 0.414 Yes
Environmental Distraction
Social Interaction
− −0.430 6.276 0.525 0.220 Yes
Social Interaction Individual
+0.227 3.150 0.212 0.381 Yes
work environemnt is signicantly related to individual
creativity (𝛽=0.500, p <0.001). Hypothesis 2 suggested
that environmental distraction will be negatively related
to social inetraction. Model 2 supports Hypothesis 2, in-
dicating the existence of a signicant negative relationship
(𝛽=-0.43, p <0. 001). Also, Hypothesis 3 suggested that
social inetraction will be positively related to individual
creativity. Model 3 supports Hypothesis 3, indicating the
existence of a signicant positive relationship (𝛽=0.227,
p<0. 001).
In the current study, the entity variables for social inter-
action were hypothesised to mediate the relationship be-
tween individual control and creativity (see Table 5). Sig-
nicant results were found (𝛽=0.229; t-value =5.376; and
CI was between 0.041 and 0.220), indicating that social
interaction positively mediates the relationship between
individual control and individual creativity at work in an
open-plan workspace in creative industries. The results of
between individual control and individual creativity was
partially mediated by social interaction.
Moreover, social interaction was hypothesised to me-
diate the relationship between environment distraction
and creativity. Signicant results were found (𝛽=–0.133;
t-value =2.646; and CI was between –0.120 and 0.045),
indicating that social interaction negatively mediates
the relationship between environmental distraction and
creativity at work in open-plan oces in creative in-
dustries. The present study attempted and succeeded in
establishing a link between environmental distraction
and creativity through social interaction. The results
of mediating-eects analysis showed that the relation-
ship between environmental distraction and individual
creativity was fully mediated by social interaction.
Work environments with norms that promote and support
individual freedom and autonomy at work, risk taking,
and external competition are highly expected to facilitate
creativity. Therefore, to some extent creativity is known
as a social process, which means that more social contact,
interaction, and communication are present in the work-
place and they facilitate and promote creativity (Shalley,
Gilson, & Blum, 2000; Woodman et al., 1993). So, based
employees’ positive or work-related social interaction and
overall creativity.
Based on the “Environmental Comfort Theory” and
previous studies, while individuals have the ability to
Performance Improvement Volume 59 Number 5 DOI: 10.1002/pfi 11
Control Social Interaction
𝛽2=0.229 5.376 0.041 0.220 Yes
Distraction Social Interaction
𝛽3=−0.133 2.646 0.120 0.045 Ye s
control, modify, and own their territoriality and privacy,
they feel more comfortable with the work environment
and they are more willing to communicate (Vischer,
2007). This means that in open-plan oces, social in-
teraction and more communication occur in conditions
where personal control is considered and can positively
aect creativity. The result of descriptive statistical anal-
ysis in the current study shows that the majority (over
50%) of stas in the Fakhr Tousehe Sanat (F.T.S) Group
have control over the timing and amount of their social
interaction with others. The results also showed that more
than 60% of employees indicated that they have eective
communication with others in the workplace and also that
the oce design enhances their communication. There-
fore, it is not surprising to infer that social interaction,
tionship between personal control and creative outcome
in open-plan oces in creative industries. Therefore, as
predicted, the ndings indicate that the availability of per-
sonal control can enhance employees’ productive social
interaction, which can positively mediate the relationship
between personal control and creativity in Fakhr Tousehe
Sanat (F.T.S) Group.
Within organizations, there are a number of related so-
cial and physical factors that have signicant eects on
supporting or hindering individual or group creative out-
comes. The results of this study, together with those of
prior studies (e.g., Brennan et al., 2002; McCoy & Evans,
2002) show that open-plan oces enhance employees’
communication and collaboration and aect their creative
outcome. The ndings of this study are consistent with
those of previous studies and theories (Amabile, 1996a;
Amabile & Pillemer, 2012; Tsai, Horng, Liu, & Hu, 2015;
Woodman, Sawyer, & Grin, 1993), which indicates that
social interaction and communication of information en-
hance the level of creativity (Woodman et al., 1993; Tsai
et al., 2015). Therefore, improving communication among
co-workers and individuals enhances the level of knowl-
edge sharing among them as well as their creativity, which
should be considered by innovative and creative compa-
Within the work environment, factors such as social
interactions positively inuence and signicantly aect
creativity. The ndings of Tsai et al. (2015) also illustrated
that social interaction aects and enhances creativity. Ac-
cording to the componential theory of Amabile (1996b),
there are some factors within the work environment that
enhance and encourage the overall creativity, and social
interaction is one of them. Therefore, more positive social
interaction in the workplace enhances the level of creative
outcome in creative industries. Miller (2005) also sug-
gested that a more positive social climate in the workplace
leads to greater creativity. Consequently, it is possible to
conclude that a positive social climate and interaction
play an important role in enhancing individual creative
productivity and overall innovation at work.
Furthermore, the result of the study conducted at
Fakhr Tousehe Sanat (F.T.S) Group’s workplace replace-
ment showed that more than 50% of employees indicated
easy, face-to0face and positive social interaction in their
oce room. In fact, open-plan workplaces are designed
to improve communication and social interaction among
employees, which is essential for creativity. Moreover, it is
important to mention that when creativity is highly valued
within organizations, it is possible to examine the physical
environment, which indirectly implies equality and facil-
itates interpersonal interaction. Generally, open-plan of-
interaction among co-workers by reducing environmen-
tal distance and promoting teamwork and creativity. Most
employees reported that because of the greater proximity
oered by open-plan oces they feel socialy closer to their
Previous studies have indicated that some environ-
mental variables such as the arrangements or design of
the spaces, exibility, size, and proximity of the work-
station (which is more common and possible in share
and open-plan oces) can facilitate the probabilities or
12 DOI: 10.1002/pfi MAY/JUNE 2020
limit the social occurrence (Candido et al., 2019; Duval
et al., 2002; Kim & de Dear, 2013; O’Neill, 2008; Veitch
et al., 2007; Veitch et al., 2003). As mentioned previously,
people’s behavior and actions are aected by the physical
design of the building. In fact private rooms and cells in
traditional oecs can limit individulas’ physical move-
ment and limit their social interaction. One basic reason
to increase social interaction and communication among
team members and co-workers.
In line with previous studies, in a creative environment
attention should be given to both the physical and the
social environment, ideally by creating an enabling social
climate while ensuring that distraction caused by the
physical environment is minimized (Brennan et al., 2002;
Galasiu & Veitch, 2006; Huang, Robertson, & Chang,
2004; Paciuk, 1990; Parker, Jimmieson, & Amiot, 2013;
Veitch & Giord, 1996). This means that organizations
can enhance creativity in their work environment by pay-
ing more attention to developing the physical and social
environment. Also, the creative environment improves
while the distraction of the environment decreases or
people will be able to handle and deal with the uncontrol-
distraction or an uncontrollable working condition do
not aect workers’ perceived performance (both creativity
and productivity) (Rasila & Rothe, 2012). Based on the
result of this study, employees in the F.T.S Group reported
improvement in their creativity in the new workspace.
Moreover, results showed that respondents indicated that
in their current working condition they still feel creative.
Moreover, dierent people have dierent reactions to
enviromental distraction. For instance, according to Rasila
and Rothe (2012), within a workplace young people, as
compared with older ones, are less bothered by distrac-
tion in the environment. Consequently, individual dier-
ences such as age and gender possibly aect people’s per-
ceptions of an uncontrollable work environment. Based
on the result of this study, about 76% of female employ-
ees were aware of an uncontrollable environment but still
believed that they had more social interaction and easy
communication with others in their current F.T.S Group’s
workplace, which was benecial for their creativity. So it’s
traction and control over the environment is dierent in
dierent people. Based on the survey results, about 81%
of male respondents do not feel distracted in their uncon-
trollable work environment, and their current work envi-
ronment positively aects their creativity.
The results of the study at Fakhr Tousehe Sanat (F.T.S)
Group illustrate that within a work environment so-
cial interactions with various co-workers and increased
communication with others are helpful both for under-
for establishing an important base for a social perspective.
Social climate and interaction have an important role to
play in enhancing creativity and overall innovation at
work. Thus, a higher level of creativity in the workspace
occurs in situations that oer a more positive social
climate. This nding should help managers and organi-
zational designers, especially in creative and innovative
industries, to appreciate the valuse of modifying their
work environment to motivate employees to have more
communication of ideas and information.
Social interaction and communication are supposed to
balance stability and change within the individual and the
organization with the purpose of promoting dynamism,
creativity, and innovation (Johannessen and Olsen, 2011;
Tsai et al., 2015). As indicated by the results of the study,
within a work environment social interactions with vari-
ous co-workers and increased communication with oth-
ers are good ways to understand how more social behav-
iors aect creativity and constitute an important base for
a social perspective. Consequently, it is in the best inter-
est of space designers and organizational managers to pay
appreciate the eect of that on employees’ work-related
As indicated by this study, open-plan oces improve so-
cial interaction and overall communication among co-
workers by increasing adjacency and reect a more demo-
cratic working culture, which leads to increased creativ-
ity. Therefore, it is possible to say that the social climate
and interaction that are oered by workplace conditions
play an important role in enhancing employees’ creativ-
ity. However, it is too early to conclude whether these
improvements are long-lasting. Therefore, additional re-
search would be benecial to determine whether an open-
plan workspace may enhance positive social interaction
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SANAZ AHAMADPOOR SAMANI, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Management and
Human Resource at Payame Noor University, Tehran, Alborz, Mahdasht, Iran. She earned her doctoral
degree in management at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Johor, Malaysia, and her research interests include
human resources, creativity, and innovation. She may be reached at
SAYED MOHAMAD SHAMS ZADEH ALAVI, has a Master;a degree in Public Administration-Human Re-
source. He earned his Master’s degree at the Faculty of Management and Human Resource, Payame Noor
University, Tehran, Alborz, Mahdasht, Iran. He may be reached at
16 DOI: 10.1002/pfi MAY/JUNE 2020
... Open-plan offices are one of the most popular forms of office design in today's industry. There some reasons behind the establishment of this type of office design in the first steps and increasing creativity, communication and reducing the cost of real estate are important ones (Landry, 2012;Samani & Alavi, 2020;Samani, Rasid, & Sofian, 2014;Wilkins & Holtham, 2012). As mentioned earlier open-plan office design refers to the use of open and large spaces and minimizes the use of private and enclosed rooms (Brennan et al., 2002;Mike O'Neill, 2008;Roelofsen, 2008). ...
... Openplan offices are a form of arrangement that supposes to enhance communication among co-workers and people placed near to each other. It also supposes to improve employees' creativity by giving employees the opportunity to share their knowledge and ideas (Samani, 2020 (Brennan et al., 2002;Samani & Alavi, 2020 Before the coronavirus outbreak, open-plan offices were popular for managers and space designers; meanwhile employees were trying to adapt themselves with this sort of office design. However, after the coronavirus employees are nervous about returning to open-plan offices, only because of crowding and uncontrollable working conditions. ...
... Openplan offices are a form of arrangement that supposes to enhance communication among co-workers and people placed near to each other. It also supposes to improve employees' creativity by giving employees the opportunity to share their knowledge and ideas (Samani, 2020 (Brennan et al., 2002;Samani & Alavi, 2020 Before the coronavirus outbreak, open-plan offices were popular for managers and space designers; meanwhile employees were trying to adapt themselves with this sort of office design. However, after the coronavirus employees are nervous about returning to open-plan offices, only because of crowding and uncontrollable working conditions. ...
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Recently the modern focus of management, human resource, and health research were on office design and reducing or minimizing workplace problems and overall cost for office design. Thus, the concepts of open-plan office design have been defined as providing at least a basic solution to many of these notable and current challenges in current working systems and organizations. In fact, open workspace are often suggested since they offer more flexibility for dynamic organizational changes and fast technological growth in the modern working style. Today because of the spread of Corona-virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) there is a need to focus even on new open-plan office designs to prevent and minimize health risks. The fact is the world needs to be ready for new viruses and or perhaps to unknown diseases in the future. The role of the workplace and the physical environment that affects employees’ perceptions about the work environment has always been challenging. In fact, managers and space designers need to pay careful attention to designing the work environment with a supportive workspace is a beneficial activity to promote individuals’ perceptions about the work environment, satisfaction, and outcome. In this condition, employees feel valued by the organization and management. Consequently, the role of environmental features in affecting employees’ perceptions about the workplace, environmental satisfaction, and overall outcome is remarkable and must be understood by managers and space designers.
... The findings show an increase in social interaction and creative output in OPO. A similar study from Teheran concludes that OPO increases interaction and employees experience a more democratic working culture (Samani and Alavi 2020b). The contradictory results of these two studies appear to be related to cultural differences. ...
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This systematic review critically analyzes the relationship between office concepts and individual and organizational performance. Based on the current literature, we identify seven key dimensions to guide our understanding: office concept, work, personality fit, satisfaction, health, control paradigm, and enabling paradigm. Our systematic search yielded 429 published papers on office concepts and performance between 2005 and 2022. Rigorous selection criteria narrowed them down to 46 empirical articles included in this analysis. The results show that activity-based working not only negatively impacts performance but also affects employee satisfaction and health. Open-plan offices can reduce real-estate costs but lead to lower performance levels, thereby imposing a tax on productivity which outweighs the initial cost savings. Activity-based working has the potential to enhance collaboration and interaction but is dependent on a professional and proactive management. In most cases, especially for knowledge workers, the single office turns out to be the environment in which employees show the best individual and organizational performance.
Within the literature devoted to studying the influence of environment factors on people’s creativity, the majority analyzed these factors as isolated elements and assess individual’s creativity in general. The aim of this work is to analyze the influence of some of these environmental factors on the design outcomes in terms of creativity, considering the potential emotion it can cause (relaxation or arousal). An experiment was developed to test the results generated in different settings combining environment factors that enhance creativity, in which designers were asked to develop different creative concepts. Different colors and music were combined in order to set arousing and relaxing environments. Results point to differences in the creativity parameters, according to the environment in which designers worked.
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This study aimed to identify key drivers behind workers’ satisfaction, perceived productivity, and health in open-plan offices while at the same time understanding design similarities shared by high-performance workspaces. Results from a dataset comprising a total of 8827 post-occupancy evaluation (POE) surveys conducted in 61 offices in Australia and a detailed analysis of a subset of 18 workspaces (n = 1949) are reported here. Combined, the database-level enquiry and the subset analysis helped identifying critical physical environment-related features with the highest correlation scores for perceived productivity, health, and overall comfort of the work area. Dataset-level analysis revealed large-size associations with spatial comfort, indoor air quality, building image and maintenance, noise distraction and privacy, visual comfort, personal control, and connection to the outdoor environment. All high-performance, open-plan offices presented a human-centered approach to interior design, purposely allocated spaces to support a variety of work-related tasks, and implemented biophilic design principles. These findings point to the importance of interior design in high-performance workspaces, especially in relation to open-plan offices.
Open-plan offices account for 60% of French office workspaces. The noise levels recorded in this type of environment are much lower than those encountered in industrial workplaces. Nevertheless, surveys show that noise is considered by employees as the main source of discomfort. A first questionnaire dedicated to noise discomfort was produced in 2013 and tested on a panel made up of 217 people working in 7 French companies. Today, it also makes it possible to address the issues of fatigue related to ambient sound, but above all, the survey aims to study the differences in how ambient noise is perceived depending on the type of open-plan office. On the basis of that new version, a second survey has been conducted in 23 open-plan offices, making it possible to collect the responses from 617 employees. Most of the results of the first survey have been confirmed, with an increase in the significance of the statistical analyses. Moreover, French Standard NF S 31-199, which is currently being drafted, establishes a typology of open-plan office spaces according to the types of work done in them. Based on this typology, it appears that when dealing with the impact on noise on workers, a distinction has to be made between the types of open plan offices. Practitioner Summary Surveys conducted in open-plan offices show that noise is considered by employees as the main source of discomfort even if the noise recorded in this type of environment is not hazardous. This work presents the result of a large survey dedicated to noise discomfort conducted in 23 open-plan offices.