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Article

Natalya Monaghan and Oluremi Bolanle Ayoko

Research on the physical work environment and employee territorial behavior in the field of organizational behavior is limited. In particular, while the prevalence of…

Abstract

Purpose

Research on the physical work environment and employee territorial behavior in the field of organizational behavior is limited. In particular, while the prevalence of territorial behaviors in organizations is not new, little is known about how the physical work environment (e.g. open-plan offices) may influence the enactment, interpretation and reactions to territoriality. The purpose of this paper is to explore the connection between the physical environment of work (e.g. open-plan office), employee territorial behaviors (including infringement) and affective environment.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected by means of in-depth-interviews from 27 participants from two large Australian public organizations involved in recruitment, marketing, consulting and education.

Findings

Results revealed that employees’ personalization in the open-plan office is driven by the nature of their tasks, appointment, duration of time spent on their desk, level of adaptation to the open-plan office configurations and the proximity of desks to senior managers, hallways and passers-by. Additionally, affective environment has a critical effect on employee personalization and the enactment and perception of territoriality and infringements in open-plan offices. Additionally, the authors found that the affective environment is dynamic and that employees in open-plan offices experienced emotional contagion (positive and negative).

Research limitations/implications

Due to the demographic make-up of one of the participating organizations, less than a third of participants were male. While the data did not suggest any disparity in the territorial behaviors of male and female, future research should include an even representation of male and female participants. Similarly, the authors did not examine the impact of ethnicity and cultural background on employees’ territoriality. However, given that the workforce is increasingly becoming multicultural, future research should explore how ethnicity might impact the use of space, work processes and productivity in open-plan office. Additionally, scholars should continue to tease out the impact of affective environment (positive and negative) on team processes (e.g. conflict, communication, collaboration and the development of team mental models) in the open-plan office.

Practical implications

The results indicate some practical implications. Noise and distraction are indicated in the results. Therefore, human resource managers and organizational leaders should work with employees to develop some ground rules and norms to curb excessive noise in the open-plan office. Additionally, the authors found in the current study that the affective environment is dynamic and that employees in open-plan offices experienced emotional contagion (positive and negative). Managers should watch out for how individuals react to the prevailing emotions and moods in the open-plan office with the intention of diffusing negative emotions as quickly as possible, for example, by changing the topic under discussion in the open-plan office. The results speak to the need for more active collaboration and engagement between policy makers, workspace architects, designers and employees especially prior to the building of such workspaces.

Social implications

The results suggest that effective employee interactions in open-plan office may be enhanced by positive emotional contagion and office affective environment.

Originality/value

So far, little is known about the impact of the physical work context (e.g. open-plan offices) on the enactment, interpretation and reactions to territoriality. The current paper explores the connection between the physical environment of work (e.g. open-plan office), employee territorial behaviors (including infringement) and affective environment. The findings demonstrate for the first time and especially in an open-plan office that ownership and personalization of objects and workspaces are more likely to be driven by the amount of time spent at one’s desk, the nature of employees’ appointments and tasks. Additionally, the present research is one of the first to report on affective environment dynamism in the open-plan office.

Details

International Journal of Manpower, vol. 40 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-7720

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Article

B.D. Ilozor and D.B. Ilozor

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the effect coefficients of the complex connections between selected openplan office and effective facilities space management…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the effect coefficients of the complex connections between selected openplan office and effective facilities space management variables.

Design/methodology/approach

Data on offices, management control and effective facilities space management measures were collected through questionnaires administered to 102 facilities space managers of 102 randomly selected openplan offices in Sydney.

Findings

Some openplan attributes were found to have direct impacts on several effective facilities space management variables, while others exhibited indirect effects through management control aspects. In most cases, management control considerably reduced the effect coefficients.

Research limitations/implications

While the study is limited to discrete effective facilities space management aspects of only selected openplan commercial offices in Sydney, the research implications though far‐reaching, may not be universally applicable. However, a better understanding of the associations provides directions to where attention would be fruitfully focused in future research replications and practice.

Practical implications

The practical implication of this result is for re‐engineering of work environments to consider aspects of management that invariably moderates and/or intervenes in the relationship of space, people and work process. This paper concludes that, with dedicated management control, the impact of openplan on facilities space management may be less extensive.

Originality/value

The paper's utilization of this quantitative approach is novel to understanding the connections between office attributes and effective facilities management. This approach offers a veritable alternative to examining and validating these constructs that are useful to space providers, designers, managers and users in understanding the interactions between space, people and process.

Details

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol. 13 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-9988

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Article

B.D. Ilozor and D.B. Ilozor

Presented is a path analysis of causal connections between several openplan attributes and discrete effective facilities space management aspects of commercial offices in…

Abstract

Presented is a path analysis of causal connections between several openplan attributes and discrete effective facilities space management aspects of commercial offices in Sydney. The aim is to use quantitative estimates to demonstrate in structural equations the effect coefficients of the complex connections between selected openplan and effective facilities space management variables. Over one hundred openplan offices in the Sydney CBD were examined. Some openplan attributes were found to have direct impacts on several effective facilities space management variables, while others exhibited indirect effects through management control aspects. In most cases, management control reduced the effect coefficients. This paper concludes that, with dedicated management control, the impact of openplan on facilities space management may be less extensive. The implication of this result is for re‐engineering of work environments to consider aspects of management that invariably moderates and/or intervenes in the relationship of space, people and work process.

Details

Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, vol. 3 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1726-0531

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Article

Kemal Yıldırım, Elif Güneş and Gülcan Pervan Yilmaz

The purpose of this paper is to determine the effects of environmental factors in open-plan offices with the same characteristics but with different workstation partition…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to determine the effects of environmental factors in open-plan offices with the same characteristics but with different workstation partition heights (1.10, 1.40 and 1.65 m) on perceptual evaluations of office employees.

Design/methodology/approach

In this research, the effects of environmental factors on employees’ perceptual evaluations in open-plan offices at the Gölbaşı Region of Ankara were measured with a detailed questionnaire. The research data were obtained from 81 employees who agreed to fill out the questionnaire and who use open-plan offices.

Findings

It was found that the office environments with 1.65 m workstation partition heights were more favorably assessed for each of the items of planning and of privacy that form the dependent variables compared to the office environments with 1.10  and 1.40 m partition heights. On the other hand, the office environments with the 1.10 and 1.40 m partition heights were more favorable for lighting items than the 1.65 m partition height office environments. In addition, young employees had a more positive tendency toward the perceptions of environmental factors, including different workstation partition heights in open-plan offices, compared to older employees.

Research limitations/implications

Results of this research provide a fundamental contribution for the impact of various partition heights that have substantial implications on the perceptions of open-plan office environments. At this point, as open-plan offices have important effects on the quality of employees’ work experiences, the influence of various partition heights on the performance of employees should be emphasized in future studies. The diversity of performance (reading comprehension, calculation, design, drawing, etc.) will be an important decision.

Originality/value

The significant contribution of this research is that it provides valid data and makes a valuable contribution to the body of knowledge in open-plan office design.

Details

Journal of Corporate Real Estate , vol. 21 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-001X

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Article

Suining Ding

The purpose of this paper is to explore managers' and employees' opinions regarding privacy in open plan offices and also investigate the relationship between the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore managers' and employees' opinions regarding privacy in open plan offices and also investigate the relationship between the perception of managers and employees on visual and acoustical privacy in order to provide better design solutions in an open plan office setting.

Design/methodology/approach

The research method is a structured interview. The categorized data are analyzed with percentage of frequency distributions and Chi square analysis. A total of 42 subjects were interviewed and separated in two groups as managers and employees.

Findings

It was found that lack of privacy still exists as an unsolved negative aspect in open plan offices. Findings indicated that there is a strong desire for employees to change and control their physical working space when both visual and acoustical privacy is needed in an open plan office setting. Another finding is that there is a difference of opinion regarding visual privacy between managers and employees.

Research limitations/implications

The limitation of the paper is that the sample is small and all subjects' occupations are computer‐related. Future studies are needed to further investigate diverse subjects in a larger population. Any future research instrument would have to be different from a structured interview.

Practical implications

Research findings provide valid recommendations to system furniture designers and manufacturers. System furniture design needs to be modular and easily changeable and adjustable for open plan offices.

Originality/value

The significant contribution of this research is that it provided valid data and makes a valuable contribution to the body of knowledge in open plan office design.

Details

Facilities, vol. 26 no. 9/10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0263-2772

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Article

Roy K. Smollan and Rachel L. Morrison

The purpose of this paper is to compare different employee perceptions of the success of one change: a move to new offices and an open-plan design.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to compare different employee perceptions of the success of one change: a move to new offices and an open-plan design.

Design/methodology/approach

In sum, 25 interviews were carried out in a New Zealand law firm that six months earlier had moved to new premises.

Findings

Contrary to academic and practitioner reports that open-plan offices are disliked, participants appreciated the new office space. A well-planned and highly participative program of change management led to positive perceptions of aesthetic design, open communication, collegiality, egalitarianism and inclusiveness.

Research limitations/implications

Given the small sample used in one organization, the study highlights the need for more research into the processes and outcomes of office space changes.

Originality/value

The roles of communication and culture, in particular, collegiality and egalitarianism, were salient factors in a complex web of causes and consequences in this context of change.

Details

Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 32 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0953-4814

Keywords

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Article

Heidi Rasila and Peggie Rothe

The purpose of this paper is to understand how the youngest generation at work perceives problems that are linked to openplan offices. They are the future users of the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to understand how the youngest generation at work perceives problems that are linked to openplan offices. They are the future users of the work environments and thus it is important to understand how they perceive different office solutions. The paper looks at one specific type of job and one group of office employees: generation Y – those born in the 1980s and early 1990s – working in a contact centre environment.

Design/methodology/approach

The research was carried out as a case study. In total, 20 thematic interviews were conducted among the representatives of generation Y from three different sites of one big Finnish telecommunications company. The themes of the interviews were outlined by a thorough literature review concerning problems that are often linked to open office solutions.

Findings

The findings suggest that in this case, the generation Y employees in fact liked their openplan office. They acknowledged most of the issues or “problems” that the literature suggests, but they did not necessarily see these purely in a negative way. Instead, they often perceived these issues as fair trade‐offs for some greater good. This result supports the idea that openplan offices are complex and interrelated systems where all parts affect the others.

Research limitation/implications

The main limitation of this research is the small sample size. The results cannot be generalized to all young office employees; rather, they are intended to give a first in‐depth insight into the experiences of one specific group of users in the complex interrelated openplan office system.

Originality/value

The paper's findings add to the understanding about how generation Y perceives their work environment. The research also highlights a limitation in earlier openplan offices and suggests that future research needs to take a broader perspective on this complex system.

Details

Property Management, vol. 30 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0263-7472

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Article

Kerstin Sailer and Matt Thomas

This research provides a new perspective on the long-standing debate of open-plan versus cellular offices. It analyzes the effects of workplace layouts on organizational…

Abstract

Purpose

This research provides a new perspective on the long-standing debate of open-plan versus cellular offices. It analyzes the effects of workplace layouts on organizational outputs such as innovation, efficiency and privacy by considering the physical space of an organization alongside its organizational structure. This socio-spatial approach draws on correspondence theory originating from space syntax to understand the potential for unplanned encounters between diverse groups of people.

Design/methodology/approach

Three different organizations are studied, two open-plan and one cellular office. Floor and seating plans are analyzed to calculate the degree of correspondence between the spatial and conceptual closeness of people. Demands for each organization are derived from semi-structured interviews and publicly available information.

Findings

The three studied organizations present very different degrees of openness toward others in ways that challenge conventional views of cellular and open-plan offices. In each case, the degree of correspondence matches the demands placed on the organization, and hence, providing a relatively good fit between the organization and interior environment.

Research limitations/implications

A larger sample of open-plan and cellular offices would be useful to consider in further research.

Practical implications

Managers can use the concept of correspondence to generate the appropriate degree of unplanned encounters between the right sets of people in order to achieve the best organization-environment fit.

Originality/value

The main innovation of this paper lies in its socio-spatial approach, considering physical space alongside managerial, organizational choices.

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Article

Barry Haynes, Louise Suckley and Nick Nunnington

Open-plan office environments are considered to offer workplace productivity benefits because of the opportunities that they create for interaction and knowledge exchange…

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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.

Details

Journal of Corporate Real Estate, vol. 19 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-001X

Keywords

Content available
Article

Michael Roskams, Barry Haynes, Pyoung-Jik Lee and Sang-Hee Park

This paper aims to determine the extent to which employees’ experiences of acoustic comfort, well-being and productivity in open-plan offices are determined by specific…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to determine the extent to which employees’ experiences of acoustic comfort, well-being and productivity in open-plan offices are determined by specific characteristics (including demographic information, task characteristics, and personality traits).

Design/methodology/approach

A questionnaire was distributed to the occupants of three open-plan office sites and was completed by 166 employees in total.

Findings

The results indicated that acoustic comfort in open-plan offices is largely determined by noise sensitivity. Higher noise sensitivity was associated with more negative ratings of acoustical quality, more perceived disturbance by speech and more difficulties in concentration. More negative experiences were also reported by employees with lower interactivity with colleagues.

Practical implications

There is significant inter-individual variability in experiences of acoustic comfort, well-being and productivity in open-plan offices. As such, workplace practitioners should consider acoustic and behavioural solutions for introducing a greater diversity of functional workspaces within the office, so that employees can choose the most suitable working area for their requirements.

Originality/value

Whereas the majority of past acoustics research has been laboratory-based, this study is conducted in real office environments with a representative sample of knowledge workers.

Details

Journal of Corporate Real Estate, vol. 21 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-001X

Keywords

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