Conceptualizing social well-being in activity-based offices

Susanne Colenberg, Rianne Appel-Meulenbroek, Natalia Romero Herrera, David Keyson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this article is to aid conceptualization of social well-being at work by identifying its components in a contemporary office context, so adequate measures can be developed to monitor social well-being and to assess the impact of interventions in the workplace. Design/methodology/approach: This study used existing interview data from recent post-occupancy evaluations of two large activity-based flexible offices in the Dutch public sector. Data-driven concept mapping of 182 different employees' statements on social aspects of well-being was used to find communalities in their perceptions. Findings: From the data 14 key concepts emerged referring to employees' social needs, reactions to (anti-)social behaviour of others and perceived social affordances of the work environment. Contrary to established theory, social well-being appeared to be a context-bound phenomenon, including components of both short-term hedonic and long-term eudaimonic well-being. Research limitations/implications: The findings serve as an inductive source for the further development of adequate measures of social well-being at work. Limitations concern the specific (cultural) setting of the cases and the use of existing data. Practical implications: Preliminary suggestions for fostering social well-being include change management, participatory design, being alert of the identified risks of activity-based offices and supporting privacy regulation, identity marking and a sense of community, as well as a diversity of informal face-to-face interactions balanced with quiet spaces. Originality/value: This article contributes to the conceptualization of social well-being in contemporary offices by discussing established social well-being theory and analysing real-world data, using a method novel to management research.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Managerial Psychology
VolumeXX
Issue numberXX
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Activity-based working
  • Concept mapping
  • Office
  • Social interaction
  • Social well-being

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