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Exploring the effectiveness of unassigned workspaces: a case study analysis of two workplaces

Tina Patel (College of Architecture and Environmental Design, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA)
Sarah M. Angne Alfaro (Department of Construction Management and Interior Design, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, USA)


ISSN: 2631-6862

Article publication date: 9 December 2020

Issue publication date: 23 June 2021




The purpose of this study is to understand how unassigned workspaces translate into an effective workplace. This is achieved by examining employees and their understanding of how unassigned workspaces impact their engagement, satisfaction and desire to stay with their workplace.


Two workplaces designed on the strategy of 100% unassigned workspaces are analyzed as case studies to understand this phenomenon. Mixed methodology, primarily qualitative method with a survey nested within is used for this study. Grounded theory, one of the strategies of qualitative research methodology is applied as a method for analyzing the data. The study is aimed to reveal the participants' perspectives and interpretations of their actions and physical environment on effectiveness in relation to the unassigned work environment.


The information afforded the development of an overarching theoretical scheme for integrating spatial categories and describing the employees' experiences of their work environment from the various perspectives. The research reveals that unassigned and flexible spatial attributes contribute positively to employee satisfaction, engagement and retention. However, some of the goals surrounding the culture of trust and autonomy such as privacy, personalization and lack of control are compromised in these environments.

Research limitations/implications

The insights obtained from this study will provide designers, architects, facility planners and managers a new design tool to aid in making the unassigned workspaces model more effective.


This study bridges the gap while documenting how unassigned workspaces translate into an effective workplace for the employees to be productive, engaged and satisfied.



The authors would like to acknowledge the two firms located in Midwest, USA to allow us to study their workplaces and conduct interviews and surveys. The identity of the firms is kept anonymous and they are represented in the study as firm A and firm B.


Patel, T. and Angne Alfaro, S.M. (2021), "Exploring the effectiveness of unassigned workspaces: a case study analysis of two workplaces", Archnet-IJAR, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 300-313.



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