The Impact of Office Design on Occupant Productivity Introduction The main purpose of this study is toinvestigate the connection between office environmental design and occupantproductivity. There has been a fundamental change in the structure of the worldeconomy in recent years. It has shifted from manufacturing-based to service andknowledge-based (Al horr, Arif, Katafygiotou, Mazroei, Kaushik, &Elsarrag,2016).
This has led to the movement of the workplace from factories toindoor offices. For example, today there are about 50% of North American worksin offices (Charles, Danforth,Veitch, Zwierzchowski, Johnson, & Pero, 2004). Inthe United States of America, the number of office workers has increased fromaround 18% in 1900 to about 60% in 2000 (Hedge, 2016). Meanwhile, according to Charles et al. (2004), people spend more than 90% of lifetime indoors, and “much of it inworkplace”. In addition, businesses, large and small, now face increasingcompetition from worldwide competitors because of globalization.
In order toincrease market competitiveness, how to improve their productivity has becomeparticularly important. Considering how much time people spend in offices, itis essential that office environment be well-designed to make them productive.Therefore, it is really necessary to understand how to create productive officespaces. Officeworker productivity Productivity is commonly defined as therate of output per unit of input (Al Horr et al., 2016; Charles et al.,2004).
The measures of productivity can be varied in different contexts, whichdepends on the purpose of measurement and/or data availability. In the officecontext, worker productivity can be categorized into “Individual TaskPerformance (ITP)” productivity and “Collaborative and Teamwork (CTW)”productivity (Vischer,2003; Vischer,2007). ITP productivity is usually used toanalyze how office environmental design impacts the individual work performanceat the scale of individual workspace; CTW productivity is typically used toevaluate how the office environmental design impacts the group productivity atthe scale of work-group (Vischer, 2007b). In addition to defining the workerproductivity, another question is the choice of measures to be used.
Both ITPand CTW productivity are difficult to accurately quantify, so researchers usecertain measures to assess them (Vischer, 2003). These measures include both positive and negative ones. Thepositive ones, such as “faster, more accurate output, faster and more effective employeerecruitment and retention, better quality service to clients, faster and betterquality decision-making”, can be attributed to highlyproductive environment (Vischer,2003).
On the other hand, those negative measures, such as “rate of absenteeism and illness, employee turnover, product returns orservice complaints, error and customer complaint rates, and reducing staff toperform the same amount of work” are usually accompanied by ineffectiveenvironment, so eliminating or reducing their occurrence can improve workerproductivity (Vischer,2003). In fact,according to these measures, office environment, by itself, does not have asubstantial effect on worker productivity; the office environmental designs canenhance or reduce worker productivity because it can affect workers attitudesand behaviors. In order to connect the environmentaldesign with worker productivity, there exist three theatrical models (Vischer, 2003). Vischer (2003) uses the names of “user satisfaction model”, “employeemotivation model”, “and adaptation and stress model”. The user satisfaction modelis the most common one, which adopts worker self-reported satisfaction with theoffice environmental design as a substitute for productivity (Haynes, 2008a). Many research uses questionnaire survey to ask workers to ratetheir satisfaction with features of their environment to infer their work productivity.
This model is based on the premise that there is a strong positivecorrelation between workers’ productivity and satisfaction, which means ifworkers express satisfaction with their work environment, they are moreproductive (Vischer, 2007a); However, there is no direct evidence to validate that relationship(Haynes, 2008a;Vischer, 2007a). Another one is employee motivation model. Some studies use it toinvestigate what environmental features can demotivate workers.
This model focuseson individual work instead of group work, and it only suggests “a binary choicebetween a natural and a negative outcome ” (Vischer, 2003). The third one is adaptation and stress model. It indicates thatoffice environmental design can cause stress if workers are unable to adapt orextremely difficult to adapt (Vischer, 2003).Therefore, a productive work environmental design should ensurethat it can be easily adapted by occupants. However, this model is failed in excludingthose irreverent sources of stress that are independent on work environment (Vischer, 2003).
These three models all have advantages and disadvantages, and thereis no unifying model of measuring the productivity of office worker(Haynes, 2008b).