The influence of facility layout on operations explored

Emma Zijlstra (Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands)
Mark P. Mobach (Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands)

Journal of Facilities Management

ISSN: 1472-5967

Publication date: 3 May 2011



The purpose of this study is to explore the influence of an office canteen layout on operations, specifically on customer behaviour before checkout, waiting times, and congestion.


The current study was made in the context of discovery and exemplification. The sample was not randomly obtained: the method of recruitment was purposive and convenient. Two Dutch office canteens were selected based on their motivation to participate in the study. A small exploratory study aiming to report on current practices and to inform on possibilities for future research and intervention. With direct observations the behaviour, waiting times, and congestion of 47 customers were analyzed. Customer behaviour was reported qualitatively, waiting times and congestion were reported quantitatively.


Canteens where customers can move freely before checkout queue, allow them to move away from congestion towards food products and to have more favourable waiting times than customers in canteens with layouts requiring a strict order and line‐up for self‐service and checkout.

Practical implications

The results contribute to the managerial repertoire of facilities managers by illuminating latent positive influences of facility layout on operations, which can stimulate the design of better facilities.


This paper contributes to the understanding of how facilities are interwoven with operations. It also informs on possibilities for future research in this area, for instance, combining approaches that originate from facilities management and operations management. This may lead to future research to recommend specific designs or behaviour‐inducing layouts for increased operational enhancements.



Zijlstra, E. and Mobach, M. (2011), "The influence of facility layout on operations explored", Journal of Facilities Management, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 127-144.

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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