Knowledge worker preferences for physical workplace aspects affecting productivity

J.C. van den Berg, H.A.J.A. Appel - Meulenbroek, A.D.A.M. Kemperman, Marco Sotthewes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: Productive employees are of important value for organizations. Both in practice as in research, the importance of the workplace in affecting productivity of employees is accepted. However, the effect of the work environment on productivity is difficult to measure and therefore, difficult to improve. This study addresses the trade-off that knowledge workers make when choosing a space for different work activities. Specifically, the preferences of knowledge workers for different physical workspace characteristics that support productivity are measured and predicted.
Design/methodology/approach: After a literature study to identify relevant physical workspace characteristics, a stated choice experiment is conducted as part of a questionnaire among 251 knowledge workers from various types of companies. The experiment measured preferences for hypothetical workspaces described by their most relevant aspects. Multinomial logit models were estimated on the data collected to identify preferences for three types of activities, namely individual concentration work, informal interactions and formal interactions.
Findings: The top three of most preferred physical workspace aspects that affect perceived productivity are noise, level of workspace enclosure and lighting. For individual concentrated work and formal interactions the most preferred workspace is located in an enclosed environment with low noise levels, full control over the workspace, specialised ergonomic furniture and a pleasant lighting and temperature condition. For informal interactions the ideal environment would be a noise neutral, semi-enclosed environment with a pleasant lighting and temperature situation.
Practical implications: The results suggest that workplace managers should give priority to lighting, workspace enclosure and noise reduction, when choosing/renovating an office building. However, modern offices increasingly offer many workspaces in larger open settings, so it is important to manage both employee expectations towards noise and privacy and negative influences caused by possible consequences of this choice for open settings. Otherwise productivity decreases might nullify the cost savings that the open (and increasingly shared) workspace environment intended to yield.
Originality/value: This study is innovative in presenting employees with controlled hypothetical work environments and therefore being able to predict preferences for work space characteristics that support productivity. This approach has shown to be successful in other fields of consumer choice behaviour, however, it is relatively new in the field of workplace studies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of full papers TWR2018 Transdisciplinary Workplace Research Conference
Place of PublicationTampere, Finland
PublisherTampere University of Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventTransdisciplinary Workplace Research Conference - Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland
Duration: 19 Sep 201821 Sep 2018
Conference number: 1


ConferenceTransdisciplinary Workplace Research Conference
Abbreviated titleTWR conference


Dive into the research topics of 'Knowledge worker preferences for physical workplace aspects affecting productivity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this