Transdisciplinary Workplace Research Conference 2020
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Session 11 Architecture and New Work Concepts

"The spatial dimension of the flexible workplace. Exploring the relationship between utilization practices and architectural space quality"

Virna Moneró Flores,  Zurich University of Applied Sciences - ZHAW/Switzerland

Abstract: The observed gap between intended and actual utilization of activity-based workplaces indicates a lack of insights on what drives the knowledge workers to use the space and which are motivators and attractors in the office. Although there is a body of knowledge exploring the influence of factors like socio - spatial relationships, personal factors and preferences, job feature, functionality of the infrastructure and ambience upon the utilization of the workplace, the influence of the overall architectural quality of the workspace remains not widely explored. Therefore, this paper explores the relationship between workplace utilization practices and the architectural quality of activity-based flexible workspaces. This research aims to identify motivators and attractors in the flexible workplace and their relation to popular work zones, identify which dimensions of the office environment play a role. The research builds upon a conceptual framework of current literature in the topic of knowledge work, looking at new ways of working and their influence in the role organizational space in knowledge-based organizations. Furthermore, empirical studies in the areas of workplace utilization and workplace attractiveness were analysed to depict the state of knowledge.

The research case study followed mixed methods approach integrating continuous occupancy monitoring data with survey and observation data. The data was analysed quantitatively and qualitatively and aggregated by means of data triangulation. The association of behavioural practices and behavioural traces within the workplace by means of continuous occupancy monitoring data gave insights into how certain architectural and spatial features influenced workplace attractiveness, with ambience, connection to natural elements, task support and socio-spatial features being dominant. The findings have implications for designers, facility and workplace managers, indicating what factors should be focus points in workplace design and management, to create workplaces that better support the workforce.

"Analysing the Impact of a Room on our Perception and Experience – an Architectural Psychology Approach to Modern Working"

Sandra Gauer,  perspectives GmbH Bern/Switzerland

Abstract: To improve employees’ work efficiency, it is of importance that organisations provide them with optimum work conditions. These include among others the work environment. To create a workplace environment that empowers employees and where efficiency and motivation are enabled is the ultimate goal of perspectives GmbH. In order to do so, employees’ needs and motivations must be researched.

We are permanently influenced by the rooms we find ourselves in. The way we behave and the emotions we experience are directly impacted by our conscious and subconscious perception of our surroundings. On the one hand, we are actively shaping our environment. On the other hand, we often find ourselves passively navigating through it. Therefore, it should be taken into consideration in what ways this applies to work environments. People, places and technology are at the core of these working environments. If these factors interact in a positive way, they can form the basis for employees to live up to their potential. Having worked with different kinds of organisations and numerous leaders and employees for years enabled us to also observe their general needs and motivations regarding work conditions and work environments. With architectural as well as social psychological findings in mind we were able to detect certain ways of how premises affect employees at the workplace. In this paper we aim to give insight into the way rooms affect us, as well as proposing practical implications in navigating them in a productive manner. We take in an architectural psychological approach as we present and analyse our experiences in this field.

As our findings show, work environment not only plays a crucial role for employees’ work efficiency, but even more so for their behaviour and their use of premises. Since a room and its interior shape people’s perception and emotions, it also affects people’s behaviour in the room and their choice whether to use a room or not. For instance, a common fear in office spaces is noise, hence employees tend to act unnaturally and overly quiet in premises they share with others or that are new and open or worse avoid using them. Accordingly, this leads to discomfort amongst employees which then again influences their work performance. We found that room arrangement can make a difference, as well as particularly the preparation and training of leaders and employees. This applies for behaviour in and use of premises.

"Soul and Sense of Place – How architecture can support informal learning environments?"

Plia Vitanen, Suvi Nenonen, Tampere University/Finland

Abstract: Environment and architecture shape us in many ways without one noticing it. It has been stated that environment affects our lives and even our personalities. The shapes and measures of the environment affect our mood and spatial experience. A space can get us to feel or change our behaviour in a certain way; it can be attractive or aversive.  In the context of working and learning environments in campus, one can propose that environment influences work/study outlook, sensitivities and thought-mobility. Outlook affects how one behave, ultimately who one become. The changes in university learning environments have created a need to better understand the informal learning environments. This paper focus on understanding how to design informal learning environments to university campus. The intention is to focus on architectural elements in campus retrofitting context and how they can be developed.

The effects of the environment can be personal to diverse individuals, but also cultural or even universal. The environmental psychology and architecture can approach individual experience by reflecting restorative places. Restorative environment supports the wellbeing of human beings. It reduces mental fatigue, improves productivity and helps to relieve stress. Additional terms can be used to describe a restorative environment, such as a healing, therapeutic, integrative and revitalizing environment. All in all it helps the human capacity for physical, psychological and social regeneration and reversion. This is the essential part of informal learning environments and can be achieved by different ways.

The visual analysis is made by applying the model of semiology approach: spatial organization, and physical structure analysis is conducted as well the analysis of the social–cultural background of the users. Based on this three campus retrofitting concepts are presented. In terms of changing traditional university building towards informal learning environments the success factors are: 1.) Views: inside and outside views; 2.) Sense environment: lightning, colors, acoustics; 3.) Multifunctional spaces which are connected with architectural solution enhancing fluent people flow – identification of the main street is essential.