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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Several recent reports conclude that open-plan offices negatively impact workers across a variety of outcome measures. This contrasts to a corporate trend to move from cellular to open-plan layouts, often justified by the same outcomes. Two explanations for this paradox are proposed: (1) the results are more complicated than critical reports suggest, and (2) methodological biases make open-plan layouts look more negative than they are. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the proposed explanations using a systematic literature review. METHODS: Google Scholar was used to find original research on the relationship between office openness and worker outcomes. 89 articles were coded for the variables and methods they used, and conclusions about the relationship between layout and outcomes were evaluated. RESULTS: The proposed explanations were partly supported. The relationship between layout openness and worker outcomes depends on the variables considered and the methods used, and a small subset of methods was used far more often than others. That said, more research is needed to evaluate impact of open-plan offices on worker outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: The relationship between office openness and worker outcomes varies widely depending on how it is measured. Several promising areas for future research may help clarify this relationship. Keywords: workplace performance, office type, shared office space, job satisfaction

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Office layout features and organizational culture have independently been shown to influence employee job satisfaction; however, little is known about whether office layout influences organizational culture. This study had two aims. The first was to investigate the association between office layout and organizational culture. The second was to investigate whether organizational culture mediates the relationship between office layout and job satisfaction. A total of 202 Australian workers completed an online survey. Structural equation modelling revealed that office layout features were significantly and positively associated with ratings of organizational culture. Additionally, culture ratings were shown to mediate the relationship between the office layout features and job satisfaction. These findings suggest that perceptions of office layout can influence employees’ perceptions of the organizational culture and important employee attitudes.
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As Google Scholar (GS) gains more ground as free scholarly literature retrieval source it’s becoming important to understand its quality and reliability in terms of scope and content. Studies comparing GS to controlled databases such as Scopus, Web of Science (WOS) and others have been published almost since GS inception. These studies focus on its coverage, quality and ability to replace controlled databases as a source of reliable scientific literature. In addition, GS introduction of citations tracking and journal metrics have spurred a body of literature focusing on its ability to produce reliable metrics. In this article we aimed to review some studies in these areas in an effort to provide insights into GS ability to replace controlled databases in various subject areas. We reviewed 91 comparative articles from 2005 until 2016 which compared GS to various databases and especially Web of Science (WOS) and Scopus in an effort to determine whether GS can be used as a suitable source of scientific information and as a source of data for scientific evaluation. Our results show that GS has significantly expanded its coverage through the years which makes it a powerful database of scholarly literature. However, the quality of resources indexed and overall policy still remains known. Caution should be exercised when relying on GS for citations and metrics mainly because it can be easily manipulated and its indexing quality still remains a challenge.
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Occupant surveys reveal how people in buildings perceive their internal environments. The Soft Landings extended handover process, which requires project teams to focus more on operational outcomes, has led to the use of occupant surveys during a three year Soft Landings aftercare period to provide a means of checking whether the desired outcomes have been met. However, little is known of the longitudinal perceptions of occupant satisfaction in buildings, and the relationships between those perceptions and the many environmental, seasonal and functional comfort variables that act upon occupant satisfaction. This paper reports the results of time-series surveys on two office buildings. Occupant satisfaction scores have been compared with the technical, organisational and functional contexts in the work environments, such as density, workgroup sizes, and cellular and open-plan layouts, to determine whether changes in these parameters have significantly altered levels of perceived occupant comfort and productivity. The research found stability in some contexts but statistical declines in others. Conclusions are made regarding the key operational factors that may contribute to changes in occupant satisfaction over time. Factors that might constitute limits to office carrying capacity are discussed.
Article
Many different multi-tenant offices have arisen over the last decades, as building owners address the changing nature of the workplace – a need for users to share facilities. However, the existing literature on multi-tenant buildings from the point of view of user satisfaction is scarce, limiting input for user-centred design. This study analyses the influence of personality on user satisfaction with multi-tenant office characteristics. Data were collected through a questionnaire distributed among users of 17 different multi-tenant offices (business centres, incubators serviced offices and co-working places), which yielded 190 respondents. To determine the effects of personal characteristics, a multiple regression model was performed per office variable category. Results showed that users who are more extraverted, open to new experiences and more agreeable were overall more satisfied with the multi-tenant office characteristics. However, the effects of demographics and work-related characteristics were much larger. Men, older users and users working in an open and flexible work environment were overall more satisfied with the office characteristics. Owners, developers and managers can use these results for developing user-centred designs, optimizing the level of satisfaction in their offices.
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to analyse the drivers that allow for enhanced personal productivity of knowledge-based workers in Central London focusing on the physical and social environment as well as worker’s individual preferences. Design/methodology/approach A closed-ended questionnaire was sent to employees of eight professional companies (Consultancy, Financial and Media Services) based in Central London. Of the 500 questionnaires sent, 213 were successfully completed and returned, representing a response rate of 42.6 per cent. Findings The findings from this trial study show that comfort, convenience, IT connectivity, good design and working to a specific time scale were strong drivers of personal productivity. Knowledge workers prefer a flexible range of office settings that enable both a stimulating open and connected work environment, knowledge sharing, collaboration, as well as quiet concentration locations, free of distractions and noise. It was also found that moves of knowledge workers into open-plan office space (and especially fee earners) is normally met with initial resistance. However, there is normally greater acceptance of open space after experiencing an actual move into open-plan, with benefits improving teamwork and communication being highlighted. The research also stresses that office design considerations need to be closer aligned with knowledge worker’s overall well-being and individual psychological needs. Research limitations/implications Limited to Central London offices and self-assessed evaluation of productivity drivers within the knowledge worker’s office environment. Practical implications Corporate real estate managers and office occupiers, designers and facilities managers can use the findings as part of their workplace strategy by providing a range of flexible workplaces that allow the knowledge worker a place for greater personal productivity through the provision of a well-designed collaborative office environment alongside private and quiet working spaces. Developers and landlords should also be aware of these requirements when taking their decisions. Originality/value This paper focuses specifically on the high-productivity knowledge-based work environment, demonstrating that there is a need to consider the collaborative physical and social environment and the individual preferences of knowledge workers to ensure enhanced personal productivity and well-being within the office. This can be achieved through the provision of a well-designed office space that allows for open, connected and comfortable work environments, as well as opportunities to use dedicated concentration spaces that are free of distraction. It was also shown that hot-desking was unanimously disliked by knowledge workers.
Article
Research has found that differences in workplace design have implications for worker performance and well-being, yet the vast majority of the research has evaluated differences at the group, rather than the individual, level. The present study expands the understanding of how workplaces affect workers by including measures of individual differences. In an online survey, 61 employees answered questions that measured several aspects of work-related productivity, well-being, personality, and work-space design. Window views and relatively enclosed office spaces were both correlated with several positive outcome variables, while age was positively correlated with preferences for enclosed versus exposed work spaces. Neuroticism moderated the relationship between work-space design and perceived control, such that highly neurotic workers experienced less control over exposed work spaces compared with enclosed work spaces. The moderating role of extroversion in the relationship between work-space design and perceived performance is also discussed. Together, these findings suggest that individual differences must be considered in order to more fully understand how workers are affected by the design of their workplaces.
Article
Combinations of concentrated work and interactions are facilitated by office environments such as activity-based flexible offices (A-FOs). A-FOs are characterized by activity-based workspaces, an open-plan layout, and desk sharing. Although there is a growing enthusiasm for replacing cellular offices with A-FOs, the effects of such changes on office workers are still unclear. Within this three-wave longitudinal study, we investigated the changes (time lag of 1 and 8 months after the redesign) in perceived need–supply fit, distraction, interaction across teams, and workspace satisfaction during relocation from a cellular office to an A-FO. Moreover, as previous case studies indicated individual differences in the use of A-FOs, we considered participants’ perceived need–supply fit as a moderator indicating an appropriate use of A-FO supplies. We found a linear increase of perceived need–supply fit, a decrease in distraction, and a significant interaction effect where workspace satisfaction and interaction across teams increased more strongly for participants reporting a better perceived need–supply fit.
Article
This paper describes and assesses lecturers’ perceptions of open-plan office in selected tertiary institutions in Botswana. A structured questionnaire was used to collect data from 222 randomly selected lecturers who were occupants of open-plan office in three different private tertiary institutions in Botswana. The results showed that lecturers have a negative perception of open-plan office. Lecturers believed that open-plan office is not suitable for their research and academic work. The findings suggest that open-plan office affects lecturers’ dignity negatively. Among other things, it is recommended that management of the institutions covered by this study and other institutions with similar challenges in Africa should consider the provision of office design that is ideal for knowledge workers such as lecturers in higher institutions in order to improve their efficiency.
Article
Background: Active Design is a relatively new concept and evaluation on its effects on healthy behaviour is lacking. Objective: To investigate Active Design influence on workplace physical activity, sedentary behaviour, musculoskeletal complaints, and perceptions of the workplace and productivity. Methods: Participants (n = 118 adults) moving from 14 workplaces into a new building completed an online questionnaire pre- and post-move. The questions related to health behaviours (physical activity, sitting time and sleep); musculoskeletal issues; perceptions of the office environment; productivity; and engagement. Results: After the move, 68% of participants were located in an open plan building (21% before the move). In the new workplace participants tended to sit less during their work time (72% - 66% ; p < 0.05) and stand more (15% - 19% ; p < 0.05) while walking remained unchanged. Participants reported less lower-back pain. The new work environment was perceived as more motivating and providing better light, air quality and temperature, but less storage space. Participants reported looking forward to going to work more than before. No difference was reported in productivity related measures. Conclusions: Moving to a new Active Design building can have some physical health-promoting effects on occupants. Satisfaction with environmental characteristics tended to improve in the new building though perceptions of productivity measures were variable.
Article
Purpose The study aims to provide insight on the relationship between a newly implemented workplace concept, its intentions, the actual use and ultimately its ability to function as a strategic tool. By addressing the intended and unintended consequences of planned spatial arrangements, the interest lies in studying underlying factors affecting the concepts’ ability to function as a strategic tool. Design/methodology/approach The case study builds on semi-structured interviews and observational studies from a larger Norwegian organisation that recently implemented an activity-based workplace concept. Concept descriptions and architectural drawings have also been important sources to study how the concept was interpreted and used by different groups. Findings Taking a socio-material perspective, the findings illustrate that spatial aspects and different concept structures, together with issues such as employee mobility and time spent in the office, different work processes, management style and departmental cultures influenced the way the activity-based workplace concept was perceived and taken into use. Originality/value The findings indicate that social and cultural aspects may play a more significant role in the adaptation process than previously emphasised. The article further provides knowledge on how organisations, in planning and implementation of such concepts, may address the right issues to overcome challenges and achieve the higher strategic ends.
Article
Background: The workplace is important for employees' daily life and well-being. This article investigates exploratory the office design's role for employees' welfare from different perspectives. Objective: By comparing different studies of the office, type's influence on different factors of employees' welfare the aim is to see if any common patterns exist in office design's impact. Methods: The three included studies investigate office type's association with employees' welfare by measuring its influence on: a) perception of leadership, b) sick leave, and c) job satisfaction.The sample consists of office employees from a large, national representative work environment survey that work in one of the seven identified office types in contemporary office design: (1) cell-offices; (2) shared-room offices; (3) small, (4) medium-sized and (5) large open-plan offices; (6) flex-offices and (7) combi-offices. Statistical method used is multivariate logistic and linear regression analysis with adjustment for background factors. Results: Overall results show that shared-room office, traditional open plan offices and flex-office stand out negatively, but to different degree(s) on the different outcomes measured. Conclusions: This explorative comparison of different studies finds a pattern of office types that repeatedly show indications of negative influence on employees' welfare, but further studies are needed to clarify this.
Article
The purpose of this paper is to review the existing literature to draw an understanding of the relationship between indoor environmental quality and occupant productivity in an office environment. The study reviews over 300 papers from 67 journals, conference articles and books focusing on indoor environment, occupant comfort, productivity and green buildings. It limits its focus to the physical aspects of an office environment. The literature outlines eight Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) factors that influence occupant productivity in an office environment. It also discusses different physical parameters under each of the IEQ factors. It proposes a conceptual model of different factors affecting occupant productivity. The study also presents a review of the data collection methods utilised by the research studies that aim to investigate the relationship between IEQ and occupant productivity. The study presents a comprehensive discussion and analysis of different IEQ factors that affect occupant productivity. The paper provides a concise starting point for future researchers interested in the area of indoor environmental quality.
Article
Purpose The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between organisational flexibility and individual adaptation in the implementation of integrated workplace concepts. The focus is on the interconnectedness between different concepts and organisational aspects, as well as on overcoming challenges to fully achieve the intended ends. Design/methodology/approach The discussion builds on a triangulated research design including: semi-structured interviews, observation studies and analysis of secondary material in the form of internal evaluation reports and quantitative questionnaire data. Findings To fully achieve the intended ends, organisational, cultural and managerial aspects need to be aligned with the interconnected workplace concept. To create alignment, the concept also needs to be supported by a process of continual improvement and organisational learning. Research limitations/implications The case study was conducted in one organisation. Additional empirical research is needed to provide more definite conclusions, guidelines and theories. Practical implications The findings highlight the importance of applying a socio-material perspective towards implementation and development of integrated workplace concepts. Emphasising change, learning and development rather than standardisation and equality, may, in the end, allow for better concept interconnectedness. Originality/value The originality of this study lies in the perspective of studying the implementation of integrated workplace concepts from a socio-material perspective, shedding light on employee and managerial adaptation to different interrelated aspects and measures.