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Relocation to an activity-based flexible office: Design processes and outcomes
KTH, School of Engineering Sciences in Chemistry, Biotechnology and Health (CBH), Biomedical Engineering and Health Systems, Ergonomics.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2691-3580
2018 (English)In: Applied Ergonomics, ISSN 0003-6870, E-ISSN 1872-9126, Vol. 73, p. 141-150Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Many organizations relocate to activity-based flexible offices (A-FOs) and the results are mixed. This study aims at identifying factors in the design and implementation process that contribute to perceived performance and environmental satisfaction with A-FOs.

A company with 50 employees was studied using interviews, questionnaires and documentation before and after relocation. The results showed that process factors such as objectives, financial and time resources, employee participation and empowerment, and methodological approach contributed to the outcomes. Perceived performance and employee satisfaction with the physical environment increased significantly after the relocation. Employee empowerment, highlighted by the employees, correlated with the performance and satisfaction parameters.

A conceptual model is proposed relating process factors, internal and external organizational context, and physical office setting to work condition consequences and overall outcomes such as employee performance and satisfaction.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2018. Vol. 73, p. 141-150
Keywords [en]
Office planning Activity-based working Work analysis
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Technology and Health
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-239409DOI: 10.1016/j.apergo.2018.05.017ISI: 000442711000013PubMedID: 30098629Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85049111173OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-239409DiVA, id: diva2:1265047
Funder
AFA Insurance, 130200
Note

QC 20181122

Available from: 2018-11-22 Created: 2018-11-22 Last updated: 2018-11-22Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Activity-based Flexible Office work environments: Design and implementation processes and outcomes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Activity-based Flexible Office work environments: Design and implementation processes and outcomes
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: In recent years, there has been a reported increase in organizations relocating to Activity-based Flexible Offices (A-FOs) worldwide. The idea of A-FOs is to offer work conditions suitable for the workforce’s tasks and individual preferences. Benefits of the A-FO include employee autonomy, privacy and inter- and intra-team communication. However, there are reports within Swedish media on reduced performance, increased dissatisfaction, injustice, and workplace avoidance amongst employees occupying A-FOs. Added to which empirical research supporting A-FOs claimed benefits are scarce with inconsistent results.

Aim: The aim of this thesis is to explore and investigate perceptions of workspace, work conditions, work environment satisfaction, and perceived performance in A-FOs (aim of Studies I-V). Additionally, the sub-aims are to explore and investigate associations with underlying factors such as design and implementation process factors including methods suggestions (aims of Studies II, IV & VI), physical workspace factors (aim of Study III), desk-sharing and speech policies (aim of Study IV), and organizational preconditions (aim of Study V).  This thesis aims at integrating the contributions of each paper and making the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Method: A problem centered, pragmatic approach guided the methodological choices. Two in-depth longitudinal case (n=66 & 46) and two cross-sectional (n=202 & 105) studies were conducted at five single floor A-FOs. A mixed method approach was adopted comprising of six questionnaires, 105 individual interviews, documentation of plan layouts, photographs, planning documents and observations. A third cross-sectional study with 7 additional cases was conducted on 473-715 questionnaire responses.

Results & discussion: The results showed that work environment satisfaction and perceived performance can increase after relocation to A-FOs. Reported contributing design and implementation process factors included meaningful objectives for the employees, allocation of time and financial resources, having an organizational focus, employee empowerment, and a methodological approach. A methods framework divided into A-FO design stages is presented that can facilitate the design process of A-FOs. Reported contributing workspace design factors included ample desk-sharing ratios and workspace diversity. Desk-sharing and speech rules were identified: when to remove belongings, allowance to occupy the same workstation in open-plan and enclosed areas on consecutive days, and allocations of areas where speaking on the phone, and verbal interaction with colleagues and interruptions are allowed or forbidden. Organizational preconditions, such as innovative work tasks and an open-plan office type prior to relocation were associated with preference for the A-FO.

Conclusion: Design and implementation factors, workspace factors, application of rules and organizational preconditions are possible predictors of work conditions, work environment satisfaction, and perceived performance. A-FOs can be perceived as noisy workplaces that create extra work, decrease interaction as well as increase uncertainty on how to act within the office. However, A-FOs can also be preferred above other office types and be perceived with high work environment satisfaction and perceived performance. This thesis has stressed the importance of a holistic sociotechnical perspective during A-FO implementations, and the importance of employee involvement and empowerment, workspace diversity and desk-sharing policies.

Abstract [sv]

Bakgrund: Under senare år har andelen företag som flyttar till aktivitetsbaserade kontor ökat över hela världen för att bättre stödja nya sätt att arbeta. Det aktivitetsbaserade kontoret (ABW) föreslås medge hög arbetsmiljötillfredsställelse och prestation genom att tillhandahålla arbetsförhållanden som passar olika arbetsuppgifter och individuella preferenser. Exempelvis kan autonomi, avskildhet och kommunikation främjas. Dock rapporterar svensk media om medarbetares låga prestation, missnöje och upplevelse av orättvisa i ABWs och att medarbetare undviker sin arbetsplats. 

Syfte: Denna avhandling syftar till att utforska och undersöka arbetsförhållanden, medarbetares tillfredsställelse av arbetsmiljön och prestation i aktivitetsbaserade kontor, samt deras associationer till underliggande faktorer såsom processfaktorer, utformningsfaktorer, regler och organisatoriska förutsättningar. Avhandlingen avser att integrera artikelbidragen och att helheten ska vara större än summan av delarna.

Metod: En problemcentrerad, pragmatisk ansats har väglett de metodologiska valen. Grundliga longitudinella fallstudier och genomsnittsstudier genomfördes hos organisationer med aktivitetsbaserade kontor på ett våningsplan. En mixed method-ansats användes bestående av 6 enkätutskick, 105 intervjuer, dokumentation av planritningar, fotografier och planeringsdokument, samt observationer. En tredje tvärsnittsstudie genomfördes med ytterligare 7 fall med total 473-715 enkätsvar.

Resultat & diskussion: Resultaten visade att arbetsmiljötillfredsställelse och upplevd prestation kan öka efter flytt till ABW. Faktorer inom planeringsprocessen, såsom meningsfulla mål för medarbetarna, tilldelning av tid och finansiella resurser, fokus kring organisatoriska förändringar, medarbetares delaktighet och ett metodiskt tillvägagångssätt föreslogs relatera till goda utfall. För att underlätta i planeringsprocessen presenterades ett ramverk med metoder indelade i kontors olika planeringsfaser. Föreslagna utformningsfaktorer var att medge låg täckningsgrad av arbetsplatser och varierade akustiska arbetsmiljöer. Resultaten pekade på att regler behöver diskuteras och tydligt uttryckas, till exempel om medarbetarna får använda samma arbetsplats i öppna och avskärmade ytor flera dagar i rad och var medarbetarna får prata med varandra i telefon och var man får avbryta varandra för att ställa frågor. Den organisatoriska kontexten, såsom hög frekvens av innovativa arbetsuppgifter, stark kultur och att ha ett öppet kontor innan förändringen föreslogs också relatera till hög arbetsmiljötillfredsställelse i ABWs.

Konklusion: Planeringsfaktorer, utformningsfaktorer, tillämpning av regler och organisatoriska förutsättningar är möjliga prediktorer för arbetsförhållanden, arbetsmiljötillfredsställelse och upplevd prestation. ABWs kan medge oljud, skapa extra arbete, minska interaktion och skapa osäkerhet kring hur man bör agera. Dock kan ABWs föredras framför andra kontorstyper och upplevas medge hög prestation och arbetsmiljötillfredsställelse. Denna avhandling betonar vikten av ett sociotekniskt helhetsperspektiv under planering och implementering av ABWs och vikten av medarbetares involvering och påverkansmöjligheter, mångfald i typer av arbetsmiljöer och tydliga förhållningsregler kring delandet av arbetsplatser.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2018. p. 98
Series
TRITA-CBH-FOU ; 2018:52
Keywords
Activity-based working, ABW, New ways of working (NWW), hot-desking, clean desk, office policies, workspace, office layout, office design, office planning process, organizational change, conceptual framework for office design, office planning, Aktivitetsbaserade kontor, ABW, Nya sätt att arbeta (NWW), flexibelt arbete, förhållningsregler, kontorsutformning, organisationsförändring, konceptuellt ramverk för kontorsplanering, planeringsprocessen
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Technology and Health
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-239417 (URN)978-91-7729-999-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-12-14, T1, Hälsovägen 11 C, Huddinge, 13:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
AFA Insurance, 130200
Note

QC 20181122

Available from: 2018-11-22 Created: 2018-11-22 Last updated: 2018-11-30Bibliographically approved

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