Space for thought: designing for knowledge workers

C. Greene (Helen Hamlyn Centre, Royal College of Art, London, UK)
J. Myerson (Helen Hamlyn Centre, Royal College of Art, London, UK)


ISSN: 0263-2772

Publication date: 1 February 2011



Generic use of the term “knowledge worker” has resulted in a generic approach to designing office environments for this group. The purpose of this paper is to probe the mobility patterns and motivations of knowledge workers in order to provide a classification of different types of knowledge worker.


The study was undertaken using a range of qualitative research methods including semi‐structured interviews with 20 knowledge workers representing different levels of mobility and experience, ethnographic studies in a media company, real estate business and a public relations firm, and a user workshop. A novel drawing exercise was introduced to elicit responses during the interview process.


Four knowledge worker “character types” emerged from the research: the Anchor and the Connector, who are mainly office‐based, and the Gatherer and the Navigator, who work more widely afield.

Research limitations/implications

This is a small study revealing characteristics particular to the participating individuals and organisations. However, it has wider implications in that the more complex set of requirements revealed by the project requires a more responsive and service‐led approach to office design for knowledge workers and the development of new protocols of use within office space.


The originality/value lies in giving designers and facilities managers an insight into the different needs of knowledge workers, who are commonly treated as a homogeneous group. The typologies are an active tool for better brief‐making in design for creative facilities.



Greene, C. and Myerson, J. (2011), "Space for thought: designing for knowledge workers", Facilities, Vol. 29 No. 1/2, pp. 19-30.

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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