Flexibility in use

Jan Gerard Hoendervanger (Knowledge Centre NoorderRuimte, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen, The Netherlands)
Iris De Been (Center for People and Buildings, Delft, The Netherlands)
Nico W. Van Yperen (Department of Psychology, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands)
Mark P. Mobach (Knowledge Centre NoorderRuimte, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen, The Netherlands)
Casper J. Albers (Department of Psychometrics and Statistics, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands)

Journal of Corporate Real Estate

ISSN: 1463-001X

Publication date: 4 April 2016



Despite their growing popularity among organisations, satisfaction with activity-based work (ABW) environments is found to be below expectations. Research also suggests that workers typically do not switch frequently, or not at all, between different activity settings. Hence, the purpose of this study is to answer two main questions: Is switching behaviour related to satisfaction with ABW environments? Which factors may explain switching behaviour?


Questionnaire data provided by users of ABW environments (n = 3,189) were used to carry out ANOVA and logistic regression analyses.


Satisfaction ratings of the 4 per cent of the respondents who switched several times a day appeared to be significantly above average. Switching frequency was found to be positively related to heterogeneity of the activity profile, share of communication work and external mobility.

Practical implications

Our findings suggest that satisfaction with ABW environments might be enhanced by stimulating workers to switch more frequently. However, as strong objections against switching were observed and switching frequently does not seem to be compatible with all work patterns, this will presumably not work for everyone. Many workers are likely to be more satisfied if provided with an assigned (multifunctional) workstation.


In a large representative sample, clear evidence was found for relationships between behavioural aspects and appreciation of ABW environments that had not been studied previously.



The authors would like to thank Theo van der Voordt for his initial suggestion to undertake this study and his comments on a preliminary draft of this paper and the Center for People and Buildings for making available their database. A PhD grant awarded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) enabled Jan Gerard Hoendervanger to work on this study.


Hoendervanger, J., De Been, I., Van Yperen, N., Mobach, M. and Albers, C. (2016), "Flexibility in use", Journal of Corporate Real Estate, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 48-62. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCRE-10-2015-0033

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