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Article
Publication date: 8 November 2018

Hanne Berthelsen, Tuija Muhonen and Susanna Toivanen

There is an increased interest for introducing activity-based offices at universities. The purpose of this study is to contribute to the knowledge about the importance of…

Abstract

Purpose

There is an increased interest for introducing activity-based offices at universities. The purpose of this study is to contribute to the knowledge about the importance of the built environment for the psychosocial work environment within academia by analyzing how staff at a large Swedish university experienced the physical and psychosocial work environment before and after moving to activity-based offices.

Design/methodology/approach

A Web-based survey was distributed to all employees at two faculties at a university three months before (2015, n = 217, response rate 51 per cent) and nine months after (2016, n = 200, response rate 47 per cent) relocation to a new activity-based university building.

Findings

In the new premises, a vast majority (86 per cent) always occupied the same place when possible, and worked also more often from home. The social community at work had declined and social support from colleagues and supervisors was perceived to have decreased. The participants reported a lower job satisfaction after the relocation and were more likely to seek new jobs. No aspects in the physical or psychosocial work environment were found to have improved after the relocation.

Research/limitations implications

The study had a two-wave cross-sectional design, which does not allow establishing causal relations.

Practical implications

There is reason to be cautious about relocation to activity-based offices at universities. The potential savings in costs for premises may lead to may be followed by an increase in other costs. The risk that staff cannot concentrate on their work in activity-based university workplaces and lose their sense of community with colleagues are factors, which in the long run may lead to decreased efficiency, more conflicts and poorer well-being.

Originality/value

This paper contributes with new knowledge concerning changes in the physical and psychosocial work environment when relocating from cell offices to activity-based offices in a university setting.

Details

Journal of Corporate Real Estate, vol. 20 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-001X

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Article
Publication date: 6 February 2017

Mari Anna Chatarina Skogland

The study aims to provide insight on the relationship between a newly implemented workplace concept, its intentions, the actual use and ultimately its ability to function…

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2411

Abstract

Purpose

The study aims to provide insight on the relationship between a newly implemented workplace concept, its intentions, the actual use and ultimately its ability to function as a strategic tool. By addressing the intended and unintended consequences of planned spatial arrangements, the interest lies in studying underlying factors affecting the concepts’ ability to function as a strategic tool.

Design/methodology/approach

The case study builds on semi-structured interviews and observational studies from a larger Norwegian organisation that recently implemented an activity-based workplace concept. Concept descriptions and architectural drawings have also been important sources to study how the concept was interpreted and used by different groups.

Findings

Taking a socio-material perspective, the findings illustrate that spatial aspects and different concept structures, together with issues such as employee mobility and time spent in the office, different work processes, management style and departmental cultures influenced the way the activity-based workplace concept was perceived and taken into use.

Originality/value

The findings indicate that social and cultural aspects may play a more significant role in the adaptation process than previously emphasised. The article further provides knowledge on how organisations, in planning and implementation of such concepts, may address the right issues to overcome challenges and achieve the higher strategic ends.

Details

Journal of Facilities Management, vol. 15 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1472-5967

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Article
Publication date: 10 November 2020

Chiara Lai, Marc-Eric Bobillier Chaumon, Jacqueline Vacherand-Revel and Audrey Abitan

This paper aims to focus on activity-based workplaces, which offer a diversity of typologies and configurations which, instead of being attributed to users, are shared…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to focus on activity-based workplaces, which offer a diversity of typologies and configurations which, instead of being attributed to users, are shared according to the needs of their activities. Indeed, this paper questions the way these activity-based workplaces configure the ways in which individuals and collectives carry out their activity.

Design/methodology/approach

To do so, this paper established a two-phase methodology. Three days of observation amid three different units evolving in activity-based workplaces have helped us to identify the uses that emerged from these spatial typologies. Then, a set of two interviews with eight participants have been conducted based on the four dimensions of the situated acceptance model (Bobillier Chaumon, 2013) and on picture elicitation.

Findings

The results allow us to understand how activity-based workspaces can be considered as artefacts for the activity that needs to be appropriated to allow the worker to realise his activity.

Research limitations/implications

The results provide an overview of the social and psychological consequences of activity-based workspaces on workers, their work collective and their activity. Thus, the conclusions can be mobilised in activity-based real estate projects, for example, during the design stage.

Originality/value

This research conducted with a situated approach based upon the study of the development of the activity proposes a change from the usual managerial approach about these activity-based workplaces, which prescribe an ideal way of working within the workplace.

Details

Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 33 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 4 April 2016

Sandra Brunia, Iris De Been and Theo J.M. van der Voordt

The purpose of this study is to explore which factors may explain the high or low percentages of satisfied employees in offices with shared activity-based workplaces.

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3210

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to explore which factors may explain the high or low percentages of satisfied employees in offices with shared activity-based workplaces.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper compares data on employee satisfaction from two cases with remarkably high satisfaction scores and two cases with significantly lower satisfaction scores (total N = 930), all of the same organisation. These cases were selected from a database with employee responses to a standardised questionnaire in 52 flexible work environments. In the four case studies, also group interviews were conducted.

Findings

Overall, there are large differences in employee satisfaction between cases with, at first sight, a similar activity-based office concept. The main differences between the best and worst cases regard employee satisfaction with the interior design, level of openness, subdivision of space, number and diversity of work places and accessibility of the building. Employee satisfaction shows to be influenced by many physical characteristics of the work environment and by the implementation process. Satisfaction with the organisation may have an impact as well.

Research limitations/implications

Almost all cases regard Dutch organisations. Due to the lack of quantitative scales to define the physical characteristics of the work environment, the study is mainly descriptive and explorative and does not include advanced multivariate statistical analyses.

Practical implications

The data revealed clear critical success factors including a supportive spatial layout to facilitate communication and concentration, attractive architectural design, ergonomic furniture, appropriate storage facilities and coping with psychological and physical needs, such as privacy, thermal comfort, daylight and view. Critical process factors are the commitment of managers, a balance between a top-down and a bottom-up approach and clear instructions on how to use activity-based workplaces.

Originality/value

The study connects descriptive research with inductive reasoning to explore why employees may be satisfied or dissatisfied with flex offices. It is based on a combination of quantitative survey data from 52 cases and a closer look at two best cases and two worst cases based on qualitative data from interviews and personal observations. The study has high practical value due to the integral approach that incorporates many items of the physical environment and context factors like the implementation process.

Details

Journal of Corporate Real Estate, vol. 18 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-001X

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 10 November 2020

Susanne Colenberg, Rianne Appel-Meulenbroek, Natalia Romero Herrera and David Keyson

The purpose of this article is to aid conceptualization of social well-being at work by identifying its components in a contemporary office context, so adequate measures…

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1908

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to aid conceptualization of social well-being at work by identifying its components in a contemporary office context, so adequate measures can be developed to monitor social well-being and to assess the impact of interventions in the workplace.

Design/methodology/approach

This study used existing interview data from recent post-occupancy evaluations of two large activity-based flexible offices in the Dutch public sector. Data-driven concept mapping of 182 different employees' statements on social aspects of well-being was used to find communalities in their perceptions.

Findings

From the data 14 key concepts emerged referring to employees' social needs, reactions to (anti-)social behaviour of others and perceived social affordances of the work environment. Contrary to established theory, social well-being appeared to be a context-bound phenomenon, including components of both short-term hedonic and long-term eudaimonic well-being.

Research limitations/implications

The findings serve as an inductive source for the further development of adequate measures of social well-being at work. Limitations concern the specific (cultural) setting of the cases and the use of existing data.

Practical implications

Preliminary suggestions for fostering social well-being include change management, participatory design, being alert of the identified risks of activity-based offices and supporting privacy regulation, identity marking and a sense of community, as well as a diversity of informal face-to-face interactions balanced with quiet spaces.

Originality/value

This article contributes to the conceptualization of social well-being in contemporary offices by discussing established social well-being theory and analysing real-world data, using a method novel to management research.

Details

Journal of Managerial Psychology, vol. 36 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0268-3946

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 6 July 2015

Rianne Appel-Meulenbroek, Astrid Kemperman, Marleen Kleijn and Els Hendriks

Corporate real estate (CRE) is a costly and risky asset in need of more rigorous evaluation methods to support strategic decision making for portfolio and asset…

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1036

Abstract

Purpose

Corporate real estate (CRE) is a costly and risky asset in need of more rigorous evaluation methods to support strategic decision making for portfolio and asset management. Especially the indirect added value on organizational revenues is hard to quantify, while it is gaining importance. The purpose of this paper is to describe a quantitative technique that predicts office use as input for CRE management (CREM) decisions.

Design/methodology/approach

After a literature study to identify relevant aspects influencing office use in modern work environments, a Bayesian belief network (BN) is constructed from a large database of 80,907 observations of office use in three organizations in Belgium and the Netherlands. Next specific evidence from future scenarios of organizational change is entered to discuss the application of BN for CRE decision-making processes.

Findings

This study showed that the use of activity-based offices might be influenced by a complex network of office design variables and user characteristics. The use of the predicting possibilities of a BN model can help CRE managers identify employee behaviour inside their offices. That information is valuable input for future workplace decisions and strategic CREM activities.

Practical implications

This study provides CRE managers with a model to gain knowledge on office use to get a better grip on how to add value with activity-based office concepts. The results obtained through using such a model can help support decision making on their office layouts.

Originality/value

Bayesian BNs have not been used in this area of research before. This paper provides both academics and practitioners with valuable insights in the possibilities of this methodology for the field.

Details

Journal of Property Investment & Finance, vol. 33 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-578X

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Article
Publication date: 3 May 2016

Mari Ekstrand and Sigrid Damman

The ability of employees to handle work-related demands, structure their own work and manage workflow is highly important in today’s complex organisations. This paper aims…

Downloads
1337

Abstract

Purpose

The ability of employees to handle work-related demands, structure their own work and manage workflow is highly important in today’s complex organisations. This paper aims to explore the impact of the office environment on employees’ ability to control interaction, structure their own work processes and handle work-related demands. The focus is on the influence of the physical premises, especially on how work within private, privileged and public work zones may affect perceptions of, and possibilities to control, customer interactions and other work-related demands.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on a qualitative case study of a Norwegian finance corporation. The core method was semi-structured interviews, carried out with 29 employees and managers. The triangulated research design included observations, field notes, user logs and document analyses.

Findings

The findings indicate that, in a customer-centred work process, separate zones for customer-related work and for internal work provide employees with increased scope to handle work demands and perceive control in their work. Zoning helped structure the workflow and provided employees with new resources in customer interaction and other work tasks.

Originality/value

Broadening the focus on environmental control and work-related demands from individual coping to social interaction may provide more insight into factors influencing work processes and employee well-being in emerging workplace concepts.

Details

Journal of Facilities Management, vol. 14 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1472-5967

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 9 September 2020

Tuija Muhonen and Hanne Berthelsen

The aim of the current interview study was to investigate how the university staff and their immediate managers perceived the academic work environment after a transition…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of the current interview study was to investigate how the university staff and their immediate managers perceived the academic work environment after a transition to activity-based workplaces (ABW).

Design/methodology/approach

Interviews were conducted with 11 university lecturers/researchers and 12 academic middle managers, that is, heads of departments or units in a Swedish university.

Findings

The qualitative content analysis revealed four central themes indicating how the academic environment had been affected: challenges related to decision-making and implementation of ABW, interpersonal relations and communication, consequences for academic identity and issues related to the physical work environment.

Research limitations/implications

The non-purposive sampling of participants coming from a single university is a limitation of the current study. More studies are needed to deepen the knowledge and to further corroborate the transferability of the findings.

Practical implications

The savings the universities expect to achieve in terms of reduced costs for premises, when introducing ABW, may lead to other kinds of costs, such as jeopardizing employee performance, comfort and well-being. It is therefore important that the academic staff is empowered and involved during the planning and implementation process of new offices.

Originality/value

The study contributes new knowledge concerning implementation of ABW and its consequences for the academic work environment.

Details

Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, vol. 13 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2050-7003

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 22 March 2019

Jayantha Wadu Mesthrige and Yat Hung Chiang

This study aims to analyse the impact on employee productivity of adopting the activity-based working (ABW) a form of new work practices (NWPs). A study of this nature has…

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2912

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to analyse the impact on employee productivity of adopting the activity-based working (ABW) a form of new work practices (NWPs). A study of this nature has never been made in Asia.

Design/methodology/approach

A mixed methods design was used, which combined a comprehensive literature review, three interviews with senior professionals and a questionnaire survey with 37 office occupiers all from one international real estate consultancy firm in Hong Kong, as a case study, to analyse the impact of ABW on employee productivity.

Findings

Findings suggest that ABW influences employee productivity to a certain degree. Though both physical and behavioural working environmental factors influence employee productivity in general, the latter factors were relatively more influential. Interestingly, though space-per-employee has been reduced under the ABW, this has not affected employee performance negatively. However, findings indicate that distraction elements (e.g. interruptions, overcrowding and noise) do have a negative influence on employee performance.

Research limitations/implications

The scope of this exploratory study is limited to Hong Kong and to a small sample of respondents representing one international real estate firm. However, the results could be interpreted for critical learning in other similarly expensive real estate rental markets.

Originality/value

The study highlighted the impact of not only physical but also behavioural working environment factors on employee productivity. The maximum benefits of NWPs can only be accomplished by striking a balance between aspects of physical and behavioural working environments.

Details

Journal of Facilities Management , vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1472-5967

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Article
Publication date: 5 June 2020

Megan Divett

This paper aims to evaluate perceptions of leaders and team members on productivity, satisfaction and leader-led team dynamics within an activity-based, flexible…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to evaluate perceptions of leaders and team members on productivity, satisfaction and leader-led team dynamics within an activity-based, flexible environment compared to an open plan workplace.

Design/methodology/approach

This study uses cross-sectional (N = 1,275) and longitudinal survey data (N = 138) collected from three offices in Australia. Baseline responses were collected 3–12 months prior to the transition into a new environment and comparison responses were collected after at least three months of working in the new environment. Paired sample t-tests and linear regression were used.

Findings

Team members were more satisfied and felt more productive within the activity-based working (ABW) environment compared to the open plan workplace. Leaders were more satisfied and felt team productivity improved, yet individual productivity for leaders remained the same. Occupants felt the key drivers of productivity were team Interaction and decision-making.

Research limitations/implications

This study focused on one activity-based building based in Australia that was consciously designed for individual focus, team working and cross-team collaboration. This style of workplace may not be representative of all activity-based environments.

Originality/value

Most research into ABW has relied on cross-sectional data. This study also adopts a within group, longitudinal approach to directly compare the perceptions of the same individuals over time. Activity-based environments are changing the way we think of leaders and the way they encourage productivity. This study showed that despite relinquishing an office, leaders were more satisfied and equally productive within an activity-based environment. The study also showed that teams realise greater productivity by focussing on team interaction and effective decision-making.

Details

Journal of Facilities Management , vol. 18 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1472-5967

Keywords

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