Human response to Innovative Workplace Design

DJM van der Voordt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientific

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In the early 1990s, Dutch organisations started experimenting with flexible workplaces. Traditional cellular offices and open plan and group offices, which provided a fixed workspace for everyone, were no longer a matter-of-course. With the help of modern information and communication technology, pioneers switched over to sharing activity-related workplaces in a combi office. Personnel can choose from a wide range of workplaces, depending on the type of work that they do: open workplaces, concentration workplaces, touch-down workplaces, formal discussion areas, coffee corners, clubs, etc. Economic considerations (low occupancy of expensive workplaces), organisational developments (trend towards network organisations, teamwork, fast exchange of knowledge, part-time work) and external developments (globalisation, competition) are important motives for workplace innovation. Apart from stimulating new ways of working – more dynamic, less dependent on place and time – organisations hope to improve labour productivity and to make major cost savings (fewer workplaces, fewer square metres) without affecting employee satisfaction.
Various flexible offices have now been introduced within several organisation. An important question is whether these changes actually lead to improvements. Are the experiences really positive? What are the risks involved? What do we really know about the effects? What advice do we give to management? Research into the answers to these questions is still in its infancy. This is a new field of study with little academic tradition. The information on hand is inadequate and not consistent enough. The field is dominated by the opinions of proponents and opponents. Explanations for the success or failure of flexible offices are contradictory. This is remarkable given that the investments are considerable and the introduction of new working methods in an innovative office environment can involve major risks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalIaps Bulletin of People-Environment Studies
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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