Steelcase commissioned IPSOS to poll 10,500 workers in 14 different countries about their level of engagement with their employer and the design of their workplace. Steelcase learned that “employees who are highly satisfied with the places they work are also the most highly engaged.” This matters because “engaged employees are more productive, have lower turnover rates, lower absenteeism and drive higher profits.” Disengaged workers did not feel that their work environments supported their ability to:
Kim has reviewed research on workplace design, synthesizing “research drawn from environmental design, organizational ecology, social psychology, architecture, political science, and business and public administration.” Not surprisingly, he learned “that physical workplace has a significant impact on affective [emotional], behavioral, and performance outcomes.” Some of his most interesting comments relate to symbolic features of offices, for example: “Public buildings and workplace design have been used as symbolic identification of power and a means of communicating an image to
Duncan and his colleagues have developed a survey, which is available to all at the web address noted below, that collects Space Syntax-related information. The Office Environment and Sitting Scale (OFFESS) specifically assesses employee sitting behavior. Information gathered can inform the design of more healthy workplaces, ones that support physical activity among employees. As the authors report, “Spatial configurations of office environments assessed by Space Syntax methodologies are related to employee movement patterns.
Environmental psychologists have been saying for years that too much transparency (literally) in workplaces and elsewhere can create difficult situations. Ethan Bernstein, a professor of leadership and organizational behavior at Harvard, has reached similar conclusions after synthesizing many years of research done by himself and others. He describes the transparency paradox: “For all that transparency does to drive out wasteful practices and promote collaboration and shared learning, too much of it can trigger distortions of fact and counterproductive inhibitions.
Korpela and his team investigated restorative experiences at work. They report that “Increasing evidence shows that outdoor natural environments are more efficient in producing restoration than outdoor built environments. Anecdotal evidence shows that window views to natural elements buffer the negative impact of job stress on intention to quit; the more natural elements, the less the negative impact of job stress on turnover intentions.
Better support for learning
A study that will soon be published in Personnel Psychology, conducted by Gajendran, Harrison, and Delaney-Klinger, determined that telecommuting enhances performance overall and for some individuals more than others. Many current workplace design strategies require sets of employees to telecommute to work, at least occasionally. The researchers learned that “telecommuting is positively associated with improvements in task- and context-based performance, which refers to an employee’s organizational citizenship behavior, including their contributions toward creating a po
Health economists have identified a link between not driving to work and better mental health. A press release from the University of East Anglia reports that “Walking or cycling to work is better for people's mental health than driving to work. . . . people who stopped driving and started walking or cycling to work benefited from improved wellbeing [note, study participants changed their mode of travel to work]. In particular, active commuters felt better able to concentrate and were less under strain than if they travelled by car.
Sleeping area design can make "good sleeps" more likely.
Maguire and his teammates have comprehensively assessed ergonomics-related problems experienced by people over 60 in their home kitchens. Their full report is available free at the web address noted below. Highlights of their study: “personal problems with reaching, bending, dexterity and sight were more likely to be experienced with increasing age while for specific tasks, ironing and cleaning created the most difficulty.”