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The psychology behind office design(3)

Views: 86     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-08-16      Origin: Site


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Incremental social density

Perceptions of personal space and crowding were also studied at different social densities to test how the number of people in a space made us feel. Single rooms made people feel they had more space than they shared with others, but when we considered offices occupied by more than one person, we found that the actual number of people in this space (social density) had no significant effect on perceived personal space, feelings of crowdedness or perceived quality of work until the number of people reached 32, when this effect was a small but significant negative effect. This may indicate that if the number of people sharing an office exceeds 32, the quality of work will begin to decline and disruption will increase.

Overall, the study found that spatial density has a greater impact than social density in open plan offices, but there are also thresholds for spatial and social density which can be used to help designers define office work areas or neighbourhood type space layouts. Consideration should also be given to how much space is needed or applicable for different types of activity, and this is an area where future research would be valuable.

Control & variety of space

Control of the environment has also been shown to be an important factor in workplace satisfaction and well-being. Control can refer to environmental conditions, your ability to adapt to the workplace or to be able to choose between a variety of work spaces. This relates to our sense of ownership within a space, where greater control helps us to develop a greater sense of ownership and responsibility for our work environment.

The quality of work is perceived to be highest in a room without other people, and again in a single person workplace when participants are able to see out. This type of space will support focused or concentrated work in an activity-based work environment. It emphasises the importance of providing areas within the workplace where people can work alone when required, but also emphasises that this type of environment should provide a view and, if possible, help with the recovery of concentration.

While we are unlikely to see a revival of the cellular office layout, we need to consider the provision of dedicated quiet work areas that meet the potential needs of individual use. This also depends on the type of work and tasks undertaken by an organisation. The quality of work is considered to be highest in rooms without other people, and again in individual workplaces when participants have a view of the outside landscape. This type of space will support focused work, it emphasises the importance of providing different areas within the workplace where people can work individually when required, but also emphasises that if possible this type of environment should provide a window view, which helps in the recovery of energy after concentration.

work office


Considering the number of people working in offices today and the consequences of a poor working environment, understanding how offices affect different aspects of our wellbeing has the potential to bring many benefits to businesses and individuals. These studies will allow us to better define thresholds of disturbance, space and social density, taking into account the activities, tasks and personality traits of different groups at work and in buildings.

A deeper understanding of the relative impact of environmental and spatial variables will also help to better define the client's design brief in terms of prioritising project importance and taking into account financial, spatial or environmental constraints. This allows for the provision of appropriate spaces for different groups of people, customising space layouts and space proportions to support space planning and design for different user groups.

As activity-based work becomes more commonplace, a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to design is no longer appropriate. This way of working requires a better understanding of the attributes that support different activities, work tasks and people.

We need to understand the specific requirements of different user groups, take into account the role of personality types and preferences and actively involve users in the design process. Understanding the broad profile of the different user groups within the office will ensure that the different spaces and the right mix of spaces are designed to best support these groups. In addition, understanding our psychological responses to the workplace is as important as our physical responses to ensure that the workplace of the future is effective and healthy.

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