Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate factors that influence effective workplace designs for knowledge workers. Design/methodology/approach: During spring 2016, the employees in a large institution for research and higher education, a large consultancy company and a medium-sized consultancy company (in total 4367 employees) in Norway received invitations to participate in an anonymous online survey about workplaces and facilities. In all, 1,670 employees answered the survey (38.2 per cent response rate). The data have been analyzed with IBM SPSS version 23, among others through use of exploratory factor analysis and two-way ANOVA. Findings: Most respondents at the institution for research and higher education have cell offices. Most respondents in the two consultancy companies have open and flexible offices. This paper indicate the respondents’ preferences or perception of their workstation and the workplace’s fit for their tasks is affected both by the respondents’ type of office and how much time they spend at their workstation during the week. There are also possible age or generation effects. Research limitations/implications: One methodical weakness in the present paper is that two-way ANOVA has been applied on survey data. Experiments are usually arranged to provide almost equal numbers of observations in each category. This is usually not possible with survey data. However, despite this weakness, the present paper provides several findings that challenge some of the workplace research’s taken for givens. Practical implications: The present paper indicates that facility managers and others responsible for office and workplace design are advised to take the employees’ tasks and work patterns into consideration when designing workplaces and providing offices and workstations to their end-users. The present paper also indicates that employees require different kinds of support facilities and services depending on what kind of offices and workplaces they have. Originality/value: This is a large N empirical study among knowledge workers in three organizations, one public administration and two private enterprises. The present paper indicate that provision of offices and workstations with supporting facilities should be differentiated according to the end-users’ work tasks and work patterns.
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