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Publication Detail
Differential perceptions of teamwork, focused work and perceived productivity as an effect of desk characteristics within a workplace layout
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Sailer K, Koutsolampros P, Pachilova R
  • Publisher:
    Public Library of Science (PLoS)
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    PLoS One
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Article number:
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
  • Keywords:
    space syntax, workplace, isovist, architectural layout, teamwork, productivity
The impact of the physical workplace on behaviors and attitudes at work is a much-studied topic. Major research streams over the last decades investigated either satisfaction with offices in relation to physical comfort, or how layout decisions influenced interaction and collaboration in the workplace with a focus on open-plan offices. Rather little is known on the effect a workplace layout (such as its openness) has on perceptions of staff regarding teamwork, focused work and perceived productivity. We aim to close this gap by taking a differential approach which appreciates detailed variations within open-plan offices. Not every corner of an office is the same, so the question arises whether satisfaction with workspace differs depending on where someone is sitting. Bringing results of a staff survey in the UK headquarters of a global technology company together with a detailed analysis of spatial qualities at desks based on isovist and visual field analysis, we find that staff are less likely to rate their workplace environment favorably when they have higher numbers of desks within their own field of vision; and when they are facing away from the room with a relatively larger area behind their back compared to the area surrounding them. Aspects of teamwork that are negatively affected include sharing information with others, as well as team identity and cohesion. Focused work (concentration) and working productively are impacted even more so with the largest effect sizes throughout. These findings highlight the relevance of investigating detailed spatial qualities of micro-locations in workplace layouts. Our results also raise important questions regarding the current popular practice in workplace design of providing large open-plan offices for technology companies.
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