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Workplace productivity and office type: An evaluation of office occupier differences based on age and gender

Barry Haynes (Department of Natural Built Environment, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Louise Suckley (Sheffield Business School, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Nick Nunnington (Department of Real Estate, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)

Journal of Corporate Real Estate

ISSN: 1463-001X

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




Open-plan office environments are considered to offer workplace productivity benefits because of the opportunities that they create for interaction and knowledge exchange, but more recent research has highlighted noise, distraction and loss of privacy as significant productivity penalties with this office layout. This study aims to investigate if the purported productivity benefits of open plan outweigh the potential productivity penalties.


Previous research suggests that office environments are experienced differently according to the gender and age of the occupier across both open-plan and enclosed configurations. Empirical research undertaken with office occupiers in the Middle East (N = 220) led to evaluations to establish the impact different offices had on perceived productivity. Factor analysis was used to establish five underlying components of office productivity. The five factors are subsequently used as the basis for comparison between office occupiers based on age, gender and office type.


This research shows that benefits and penalties to workplace productivity are experienced equally across open-plan and enclosed office environments. The greatest impact on perceived workplace productivity however was availability of a variety of physical layouts, control over interaction and the “downtime” offered by social interaction points. Male occupiers and those from younger generations were also found to consider the office environment to have more of a negative impact on their perceived workplace productivity compared to female and older occupiers.


The originality of this paper is that it develops the concept of profiling office occupiers with the aim of better matching office provision. This paper aims to establish different occupier profiles based on age, gender and office type. Data analysis techniques such as factor analysis and t-test analysis identify the need for different spaces so that occupiers can choose the most appropriate space to best undertake a particular work task. In addition, it emphasises the value that occupiers place on “downtime” leading to the need for appropriate social space.



Haynes, B., Suckley, L. and Nunnington, N. (2017), "Workplace productivity and office type: An evaluation of office occupier differences based on age and gender", Journal of Corporate Real Estate, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 111-138.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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