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The Physical Environment: An Evolving Topic Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Montréal, 9 th August 2010 Centre for Socio-Technical Systems Design.

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Presentation on theme: "The Physical Environment: An Evolving Topic Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Montréal, 9 th August 2010 Centre for Socio-Technical Systems Design."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Physical Environment: An Evolving Topic Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Montréal, 9 th August 2010 Centre for Socio-Technical Systems Design Matthew C. Davis, Desmond J. Leach & Chris W. Clegg

2 Patterns of Interaction Job Satisfaction Work Motivation An Introduction Physical Workspace Second Largest Financial Overhead Majority of Western workers work in office environments Affects approximately 20% productivity Involved in range of psychological and behavioral outcomes

3 Development of the Field I/O Psychologists study ambient conditions Open-plan offices become prevalent Tele-working, hot-desking, street scenes e.g., Morgan (1916); Vernon (1919, 1921) Hawthorne Studies (e.g., Roethlisberger & Dickson, 1939) Hundert & Greenfield (1969) Brookes & Kaplan (1972) Leaman & Bordass (2005) McElroy & Morrow (2010) e.g., Sommer (1959); Festinger, Schachter, & Back (1950) e.g., Sundstrom et al. (1982); Zalesny & Farace, (1987); Oldham et al.(1991) Social Psychologists Lead Resurgence in studies exploring configuration

4 Studies of Workspace So far….. A diverse range of theoretical stances has enabled a broad view to be taken of the topic – however limited assessment of theoretical efficacy and consistency. Whilst notable theories, such as social interference theory (e.g. Schopler and Stockdale, 1977), go some way towards explaining why individuals may react differently to the same environment, they often fail to consistently explain study outcomes (e.g. Oldham et al., 1995; Elsbach & Pratt, 2007). We suggest that although individual differences may form part of this explanation (e.g. Oldham et al., 1995, Fried et al., 2001), greater attention needs to be focussed on the wider organizational context.

5 Socio-Technical Systems Socio-technical systems thinking (e.g. Cherns, 1976) emphasizes the joint consideration of multiple aspects of the system (e.g. the physical environment, work processes, organizational structure) and increases the likelihood of interdependencies being identified. Workspace design has the potential to create conflict, for instance between what is most appropriate or desirable for the staff and other stakeholders involved and what is necessary or possible within organizational and technical constraints. Socio-technical theory acknowledges that design involves compromise, this can be viewed as part of the process that establishes a balance between competing elements of a work system (Clegg & Shepherd, 2007; Hendrick, 1997).

6 Socio-Technical Systems Challenger et al., 2010, p.74 Schematic to illustrate the interdependency of organizational systems

7 Factory of the Future Applied a systems approach throughout the design of a new R&D facility. The approach included: extensive user and stakeholder involvement (using a range of techniques); multi-disciplinary design meetings (consisting of architects, facilities managers, other professionals and academics); and post-occupancy evaluations. Results: – Insights into functional and social needs – Alignment of design with organizational culture and future structure – Identification of specific technical requirements – Protection of social aspects of the design in “value engineering” stage – High environmental satisfaction across all groups – Understanding and inclusion in process – Differing occupancy and usage patterns across work groups Davis, M. C., Leach, D., & Clegg, C. (2011). Contemporary and emerging issues in workspace design and facilities management. In G. P. Hodgkinson & J. K. Ford (Eds.), International review of industrial and organizational psychology (Vol. 26). Chichester: Wiley.

8 The Evolving Office “Work environments are in a state of transition from something familiar and predictable to something not yet defined, multi-locational, virtual and physical” Gillen (2006, p62) Open-plan is evolving in that the format is being adapted and modified to engineer spaces that better reflect modern workers and the modern business landscape. We believe that a fresh shift in workspace design is underway, driven in large part by: – increasing prevalence of knowledge working (e.g., Davenport, 2005), more team based work processes (e.g. Allen and Henn, 2007) and the diverse range of tasks that employees engage in (e.g., Becker & Sims, 2001). – advances in mobile and communications technology (e.g., Duffy, 1997; Felstead et al., 2005; Laing, 2006) – a desire for further cost reduction (e.g., Duffy, 2000)

9 The Evolving Office Evolving Offices Street ScenesSocial Hearts Greater Task Space Increased Social/Informa l Meeting Space Hot- desking/Hoteli ng Satellite/Neigh borhood offices

10 Future Opportunities Further direct empirical testing of competing theories to allow informed and incremental theorization to progress – together with integration of successful aspects of these competing theories. Provision of guidance to aid designers’, managers’ and stakeholders’ decision- making in selecting and optimizing office design – behavioral data to weigh up up the various trade-offs that need to be negotiated (cf. Elsbach & Pratt, 2007). To reflect the changing nature of the office; influence the form that these redesigns take and to promote consideration of the effects on individuals, organizational cultures and processes. Socio-technical systems principles provide a means of approaching workspace design and influencing new office design trends, in addition to designing more comprehensive evaluations - consistent with an action research philosophy (e.g., Cassell & Johnson, 2006; Susman & Evered, 1978).

11 Comments/Questions Please see our forthcoming review chapter for further discussion: Davis, M. C., Leach, D., & Clegg, C. (2011). Contemporary and emerging issues in workspace design and facilities management. In G. P. Hodgkinson & J. K. Ford (Eds.), International review of industrial and organizational psychology (Vol. 26). Chichester: Wiley.


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