Proximity and collaboration: measuring workplace configuration

M. Gordon Brown (Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, The Netherlands Space Analytics, llc, Chicago, Illinois, USA)

Journal of Corporate Real Estate

ISSN: 1463-001X

Publication date: 1 February 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe how to measure workplace configuration, show its application in, and the results of, a field experiment aimed at improving collaborative knowledge work and identify and discuss larger problems involved with research on workplace configuration.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reviews recent thought on density, proximity and problems with evaluating configuration. It then describes a method of spatial network analysis used in a field experiment involving the reconfiguration of a workplace. This is followed with a discussion of recent research on knowledge work from economic geography.

Findings

It was found that, instead of increasing it, the reconfigured workplace decreased collaborative activity. The spatial network analysis shows how this occurred.

Research limitations/implications

This method of spatial network analysis, when used carefully, is a robust technique for analyzing and comparing spatial configuration. Further research needs to address the links between spatial proximity and information and communications technologies as well as the relation of types of knowledge bases and associated forms of proximity that can stimulate collaboration.

Practical implications

While spatial network analysis methods are not do‐it‐yourself tools, corporate real estate managers should employ them, especially in larger‐scale projects, before committing to final workplace designs. They can also use them to identify and map best spatial patterns (like best practices) to identify strategic spatial patterns.

Originality/value

This appears to be the first rigorous application of spatial network methods in a field experiment involving a real workplace. The paper shows the method can clearly extract and discriminate spatial network patterns underlying configurations and relate them both quantitatively and graphically to employee evaluations of collaborative performance. It introduces concepts of comparative knowledge bases that need to be understood in determining the types of collaboration needed in a workplace.

Keywords

Citation

Gordon Brown, M. (2008), "Proximity and collaboration: measuring workplace configuration", Journal of Corporate Real Estate, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 5-26. https://doi.org/10.1108/14630010810881630

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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