The association between office use and the burnout-engagement continuum in activity-based offices

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: Activity Based offices (ABOs) provide a variety of flexible workspaces designed to support different types of activities. The success of such a work environment is based on certain rules (e.g. no desk claiming) and thus requires a certain type of workplace use. This paper studies how workspace use and obeying rules in ABOs is related to employee well-being, both positively (engagement) and negatively (burnout).
Theory: Research has shown that people do not use ABOs as intended (e.g. limited deskswitching) and need to cope with stressful conditions (e.g. disturbance by noise). This implies a poor (perceived) fit between those employees and their work environment, which according to person-environment fit theory would cause stress. Continuous stress is known to lead to burnout symptoms and decreased employee engagement.
Design/methodology/approach: After literature review, data has been collected by means of an online questionnaire with 184 respondents from 14 Dutch office organisations working in an ABO. Burnout/engagement was measured with the validated UBOS-GS scale, distinguishing 3 dimensions: exhaustion-energy, cynicism-involvement and inefficacy-efficacy. To measure office use, a scale with 10 items was developed. The data is analysed with descriptive statistics, bivariate correlation and factor analysis.
Findings: Respondents agree to clearing out the workspace after they have fully completed a task, but refuse to act similarly when they are out on a small break. They value desk-sharing and have a lot of interactions at/around the workspace. Notably, the respondents have also indicated to be able to concentrate quite well. Generally, they claim to follow the activity-based office rules fairly well. Factor analysis created four distinct office use factors, labelled ‘interaction’, ‘distraction’, ‘deskswitching’, and ‘claiming’. Distraction is related to decreased feelings of energy and involvement. Also, an increase in either interaction or desk-switching is related to increased feelings of professional efficacy. Desk claiming did not show significant associations.
Originality/value: Nowadays, job burnout has become the single most important occupational disease in Dutch work-life, and there is thus increased interest for a healthy office environment. There is very little research on health related to ABO environments, especially their use by the employees.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFuture workspaces
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Transdisciplinary Workplace Research (TWR) conference 2020
EditorsAnnette Kämpf-Dern, Mascha Will-Zocholl
Place of PublicationFrankfurt am Main
PublisherTWR network
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-00-066044-3
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event2nd Transdisciplinary Workplace Research Conference - Coworkstatt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Duration: 16 Sept 202019 Sept 2020
Conference number: 2


Conference2nd Transdisciplinary Workplace Research Conference
Abbreviated titleTWR 2020
CityFrankfurt am Main
Internet address


  • office use
  • stress
  • burout-engagement continuum
  • acitivity-based offices


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