The present thesis investigates environmental factors impact on office employees. More specifically, it investigates: 1) perception and experience of office environments, 2) satisfaction with office environments, and 3) health status and job satisfaction in connection to office environment. It is based on an empirical study with 491 office employees from twenty-six companies and divisions in larger companies. Each one respectively represents one of seven identified office-types in office design: cell-office, sharedroom office, small open plan office, medium open plan office, large open plan office, flex-office and combi-office. This study takes its basis in architecture, although an interdisciplinary approach from organizational and management theory, environmental psychology, and social and stress medicine has been used. Qualitative and quantitative methods were used.
In Article I a review of the different research fields that investigate environmental influences are presented with a focus on office environments. Different perspectives on the environmental impact on office employees are investigated.
In Article II an analysis of office environment based on the employee’s perception and experience of the architecture is done based on in-depth interviews using a method originally developed by Kevin Lynch (1960). The method measures the "imagebility" of a space, rated by the users with following elements: landmark, node, path, edge and district. The result showed that the method, based on employees’ perception and use of space, is a possible tool in the design process to get a better understanding of where the elements that reinforce "imageability" most likely will appear in an office environment. The method thus gives a better idea of the future "imageability" of a space and could be useful as guidance in the design process of how the architectural design will be received by the users in the end.
In Article III employees’ satisfaction with the office environment in different office-types is investigated. The article focuses on three domains: 1) Ambient factors, 2) Noise and Privacy and 3) Designrelated factors. The statistical analysis was done using a logistic regression model with multivariate analysis. Adjustment was done for: age, gender, job rank, job satisfaction and market division. The results show differences in satisfaction with the office environment between employees in different office-types, many of which were statistically significant. When differences persist in the multivariate analysis they can possibly be ascribed to the office-type. Results show that employees in cell-offices are prominently most satisfied followed by those in flex-offices. Cell-offices rate only low on social aspects of Design-related factors. A major finding is internal differences between different office-types where employees share workspace and facilities. The medium and large open plan offices could be described as high-risk officetypes.
In Article IV differences between employees in different office-types with regard to health, wellbeing and job satisfaction are analyzed. A multivariate analysis of the data was done with adjustment for the confounders: age, gender, job rank and market division. The results show that there are risks of ill health and poor well-being in medium and small open plan offices. Employees in these office-types show significantly higher risks compared with those in other office-types. In medium open plan and combioffices the employees show the highest prevalence of low job satisfaction. The best chance for good health status and job satisfaction is among employees in cell-offices and flex-offices; there are, however, internal differences in distribution on different outcome variables for job satisfaction. The major finding of these studies is that there are significant differences with regard to satisfaction with office environments as well as health status and job satisfaction between employees in different office-types; differences that can possibly can be ascribed to the office-types as they persist after adjustment for important confounders.