The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Academic Paper Critiques Large Open Plan Offices

Academic Paper Critiques Large Open Plan Offices
30 June 2021
 

A new paper examines the relationship between office workers’ visual control over their environment and their performance at work.

The paper, "Differential perceptions of teamwork, focused work and perceived productivity as an effect of desk characteristics within a workplace layout", discusses open-plan offices and critiques large office spaces.

The study finds that office workers with more visual control over their environment rated their focus, productivity and teamwork more highly.

As companies and workers navigate ways of returning to the workplace, the findings may help employers rethink how and where employees work, and how office spaces function and impact their teams’ experiences of their professional environment.

 

Image

Picture: a figure showing an annotated floor plan of the four floors of office accommodation that were included in the study

 

Four Floors of International Tech Company Studied

 

The study was carried out in spring 2018 when Sailer, Pachilova and Koutsolampros studied four floors of the London headquarters of a large international technology company. In a staff survey, they reviewed workers’ satisfaction with workspaces and meeting rooms, along with a floorplan and the seating positions of all participants.

Participants were asked in an online questionnaire to provide their seat asset number, which was found on a sticker on their desk. The researchers received a floor plan marked with those numbers, and the seat categorisation (mid-row, next to wall, next to window, next to corridor). Visible areas from desk positions were analyzed using space syntax techniques,calculating the visible area from a specific vantage point.

 

Image

Picture: a figure showing all spatial metrics illustrated for a sample desk and area, including : a) Degree; b) Density (Degree/Area 360°); c) Outdegree; d) Control (Isovist area 170°/Isovist area 360°); e) Seat types A-D. 

 

Workers seated beside windows, facing the room with a small number of desks in their field of vision, regarded themselves as more productive and focused and felt more connected to their teams. Some of the factors that negatively impacted how workers rated their environment included a high number of desks in their fields of vision and facing away from the main space with people behind them. The paper suggests counteracting these factors by designing smaller, more intimate workspaces where workers can see their colleagues.

 

What Were the Other Outcomes?

 

  • The higher the number of desks in someone’s forward-facing view, the less likely for the environment to be considered supportive of team identity, sharing information, meeting others in planned ways, concentrating on tasks and working productively.
  • A seat next to the wall was perceived as less favourable for productive work than a seat next to the window.
  • Satisfaction with the workplace varies since it depends on the characteristics of a desk and the spatial qualities associated with visible fields.

Published in PLoS journal, the paper is authored by Dr Kerstin Sailer, Dr Rosica Pachilova and Dr Petros Koutsolampros.

Dr. Sailer teaches at The Bartlett School of Architecture’s Space Syntax Laboratory on the Space Syntax: Architecture and Cities MSc/MRes programme.  Her co-authors, Dr Rosica Pachilova and Dr Petros Koutsolampros, both completed their PhDs at The Bartlett, supervised by Kerstin.

Picture: a photograph of an open-plan office with rows of occupied desks

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 30 June 2021

Share



Related Articles

In Pictures – JetBrains' St Petersburg Office

In 2019, two eight-story towers became the new office of JetBrains in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is now a best-in-class example of a "green...

 Read Full Article
University Researches AI Surveillance for Social Distancing Monitoring 

Researchers at Griffith University, Australia, have developed an AI video surveillance system to detect social distancing breaches in an airport without compromising...

 Read Full Article
AI Predicts Building Energy Rates in Less Than A Second

An artificial intelligence system that can predict building emissions rates almost instantly has been created. Current methods can take days to produce building...

 Read Full Article
Birmingham Office Refit for Compass Group Companies 

Compass Group has invested in its Birmingham workspace for Eurest and 14forty employees, in a refurbishment focussed on wellbeing and nutrition. Employees at caterer...

 Read Full Article
Sensors to Assist Academic Study on Workplace Occupancy Trends 

Data from Freespace workplace sensors is to support academic research studying worker’s spatial behavioural patterns. Freespace, a workplace technology...

 Read Full Article
Clerkenwell Design Week 2021

ThisWeekinFM attended Clerkenwell Design Week, which was held from 6 to 8 July 2021 and showcased a range of innovative workplace interiors. Clerkenwell is an area in...

 Read Full Article
Former Police Station Becomes Co-Working Space

Dartford Courts and Police Station has become The Hill Hub, a state-of-the-art co-working space. Located right in the heart of Kent, The Hill Hub consists of...

 Read Full Article
Leaked Report Suggests Perspex Screens in Offices Should be Scrapped

According to a draft cabinet report seen by POLITICO, ministers are being advised perspex screens do little to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. The report...

 Read Full Article
Post-COVID Working – What’s the Future of Co-Working Spaces? 

During initial national lockdowns, co-working companies incurred losses along with several other businesses, but what’s the future of these flexible...

 Read Full Article
The UK's Best Office Views

University College London researchers say that the view from your work desk can dramatically affect productivity, so where can you find the best office views in the...

 Read Full Article