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The Office - An Explorative Study: Architectural Design's Impact on Health, Job Satisfaction & Well-being
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Architecture.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7987-1567
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This doctoral thesis examines the office environment’s influence on employees’ perception oftheir workplaces, their organizations and their job satisfaction, as well as their health and wellbeing.It is based on an empirical study of 491 office employees from twenty-six companies anddivisions in large companies. Seven office types, defined by their architectural and functionalfeatures, are represented in the study group: cell-office, shared-room office, small open planoffice, medium-sized open plan office, large open plan office, flex-office and combi-office. Theresearch has its basis in architecture, although an interdisciplinary approach using organizationaland management theory, environmental psychology, and social and stress medicine has beenemployed. Qualitative (Articles I & V) and quantitative methods(Articles II & IV) were used.The thesis also contains an explorative, review article. Thus it comprises all in all five articles.Article I is an analysis of the importance of architectural quality for employees´ perceptionand experience of the office using Lynch’s method (1960) developed to measure inhabitants’perception of architectural quality in cities. The study shows that in the office the experienceto a high degree is independent of both the scale of the office and office type; instead it isdetermined by the quality of the plan layout combined with the quality of other design features.It also shows Lynch’s method to be useful in foreseeing where the elements that reinforce‘imageability’ will most likely appear in an office environment.Article II investigates employees’ environmental satisfaction focusing on:1) ambient factors; 2) noise and privacy; and 3) design-related factors. The results, based onregression models with age, gender, job rank and line of business as additional covariates,show office type as a factor with a statistically significant impact on satisfaction with the officeenvironment. Employees in cell-offices are prominently most satisfied, followed by those inflex-offices, cell-offices rate low only on social aspects of design-related factors. A major findingis the internal differences between office types where employees share workspace and facilitieswith lowest satisfaction in medium-sized and large open plan offices.Article III is a review article that analyzes the employees’ office experiences in two ways:1) by framing the physical work environment’s influence on employees into the model oforganizational theorist Davis (1994); and 2) by categorizing the office experience into twogroups based on the nature of the experience and problems related to them. The results of theemperical study presented in Article II are the basis for the discussion in this article.Article IV examines employees’ health, well-being and job satisfaction. A multivariateanalysis applied to the study sample and equivalent to that of Article II shows significantly higherrisks for ill health and poor well-being in medium-sized and small open plan offices, comparedespecially with cell-office. In medium-sized open plan and combi-offices the employees evincethe lowest job satisfaction. The best chance for good health status and job satisfaction is in cellofficesand flex-offices.Article V examines the office architecture´s importance for employees’ perception of theirown workplaces and organizations based on the two key components of architecture—theaesthetical and functional dimensions. The results show that overall the employees had positiveexperiences of their office environments. These mainly concerned the aesthetical dimension,whereas the negative comments dealt with the functional dimension. The aesthetical dimensionappears not only to set the agenda for employees’ perception of the workplace and organizationas a whole, but also for the perception of the functional dimensions. The functional dimensionswere only in focus when the workstation and its proximate area were discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH , 2010. , xiii, 122 p.
Series
Trita-ARK. Akademisk avhandling, ISSN 1402-7461 ; 10:02
Keyword [en]
employees, office environment, office type, architectural features, functional features, architecture, experience, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, health, job satisfaction, perception
National Category
Architectural Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-24429ISBN: 978-91-7415-700-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-24429DiVA: diva2:349771
Public defence
2010-09-20, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20100908

Available from: 2010-09-08 Created: 2010-09-08 Last updated: 2012-11-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Applying Lynch’s Theory on Office Environments
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Applying Lynch’s Theory on Office Environments
2005 (English)In: Nordic Journal of Architectural Research, ISSN 1236-6064, E-ISSN 1893-5281, Vol. 4, 69-79 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
Architectural Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-24425 (URN)
Note

QC 20100908

Available from: 2010-09-08 Created: 2010-09-08 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
2. Difference in satisfaction with office environment among employees in different office types
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Difference in satisfaction with office environment among employees in different office types
2009 (English)In: Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, ISSN 0738-0895, ISSN 0738-0895, Vol. 26, no 3, 241-257 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Differences between office types may have an influence on the employees' satisfaction and psychological responses with respect to different aspects of the office environment. For this study, 469 employees rated their perceptions of and satisfaction with the office environments of seven different office types, which were classified as cell-office, shared-room office, small open-plan office, medium open-plan office, large open-plan office, flex-office, and combi-office. Three domains of environmental factors were analyzed: (1) ambient factors, (2) noise and privacy, and (3) design-related factors. Employee responses were evaluated using multivariate logistic and Poisson regression., Adjustments were made for potential confounders such as age, gender job rank, and line of business. Substantial differences between employees in different office types were found The analysis of frequencies in complaints within the three domains shows that noise and privacy is the domain that causes the most dissatisfaction among office employees. Cell-office employees are most satisfied with the physical environment overall, followed by those in flex-office. However the results for cell-office are not uniformly best, since they score low with regard to the social aspects of design-related factors and, in particular on support of affinity. The most dissatisfaction is reported in medium and large open-plan offices, where the complaints about noise and lack of privacy are especially negative. Architectural and functional features of the offices are discussed as the main explanatory factors for these results.

Keyword
age class, architectural design, building, differentiation, environmental gradient, frequency dependence, functional change, gender, ideology, job search, noise, office location, open space, perception, physiological response, policy analysis, private sector, workplace
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-24390 (URN)000271241800005 ()2-s2.0-70449113082 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20100907

Available from: 2010-09-07 Created: 2010-09-07 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
3. Office Experiences
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Office Experiences
2008 (English)In: Product Experience / [ed] H. Schifferstein, Elservier , 2008, 605-628 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This chapter discusses the individual office employee’s experience of the physical office environment; its influence on the individual employee and in the prolongation on the organization to which the employee belongs. Since most organizations and businesses operate in a physical environment and the physical office environment sets the conditions for the activities performed, its impact should be recognized. The office experience has an impact through its functional, social, and symbolic implications on interaction and cooperation among employees; thus office experiences are fundamental at both an individual and an organizational level. Research on how the work environment influences employees is found in numerous fields such as architecture, organizational and management theory, social and stress medicine, as well as environmental and social psychology. Although this chapter touches upon all those fields, its focus is on the interior experience of office environments among employees. The aim is to discuss how the office environments influence employees, with an interdisciplinary approach to the subject. The special focus is on the part of the research presented in it that investigates the influence on employees’ office experience by different office types. When comparing the employees’ experiences of different office environments it is important to use the variety of office types that exists in office design today, instead of only comparing a vaguely defined open plan office to a single room office. According to the research, the architectural and functional features that define the existing office types have a great impact on office employees in different respects, such as employees’ health status, job satisfaction, and office experiences. Therefore, this chapter discusses how research results can be used in the professional practice of office design.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elservier, 2008
National Category
Architectural Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-24426 (URN)10.1016/B978-008045089-6.50029-0 (DOI)2-s2.0-84882876692 (Scopus ID)978-008045089-6 (ISBN)
Note

QC 20140925

Available from: 2010-09-08 Created: 2010-09-08 Last updated: 2014-09-25Bibliographically approved
4. Office-type in Relation to Health, Well-being and Job Satisfaction Among Employees
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Office-type in Relation to Health, Well-being and Job Satisfaction Among Employees
2008 (English)In: Environment and Behavior, ISSN 0013-9165, E-ISSN 1552-390X, Vol. 40, 636-668 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article investigates the hypothesis that office type has an influence on workers’ health status and job satisfaction and 469 employees in seven different types, defined by their unique setup of architectural and functional features, have rated their health status and job satisfaction. Multivariate regression models were used for analysis of these outcomes, with adjustment for age, gender, job rank, and line of business. Both health status and job satisfaction differed between the seven office types. Lowest health status was found in medium-sized and small open plan offices. Best health was among employees in cell offices and flex offices. Workers in these types of offices and in shared room offices also rated the highest job satisfaction. Lowest job satisfaction was in combi offices, followed by medium-sized open plan offices. The differences between employees could possibly be ascribed to variations in architectural and functional features of the office types.

Keyword
employment, health status, modeling, multivariate analysis, regression analysis
National Category
Architectural Engineering Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-8315 (URN)10.1177/0013916507307459 (DOI)000259301500003 ()2-s2.0-48749115553 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20100908Available from: 2005-11-02 Created: 2005-11-02 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
5. Aesthetics versus Function: What matters to Office Employees?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Aesthetics versus Function: What matters to Office Employees?
(English)Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-24428 (URN)
Note
QC 20100908Available from: 2010-09-08 Created: 2010-09-08 Last updated: 2010-09-08Bibliographically approved

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