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On workers’ fit with activity-based work environments

PhD ceremony:Mr J.G. (Jan Gerard) Hoendervanger
When:April 08, 2021
Start:11:00
Supervisors:prof. dr. N. (Nico) van Yperen, prof. dr. C.J. (Casper) Albers
Co-supervisor:dr. M.P. Mobach
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
On workers’ fit with activity-based work environments

The rise of activity-based work environments calls for improving them

Activity-based work (ABW) environments provide a variety of non-assigned work settings for different tasks. The adoption of ABW has been growing and is expected to accelerate in the post-COVID-19 world of work. Should workers welcome or fear this prospect? According to the findings from this PhD research, the answer it is dependent on their jobs, tasks, behaviors, psychological needs, and age. An ABW environment appears suitable for typical knowledge workers, whose jobs are characterized by high task variety, autonomy, and social interaction. These workers are flexibly using different places to work, both inside and outside the office. They are experiencing a better fit with the work environment compared to workers in different types of jobs. The findings demonstrate how perceived fit is linked to satisfaction and performance.

The ABW concept should be implemented carefully, to enable all workers to experience good fit with their work environment. In current ABW practice, the single-most important issue to solve concerns concentration work. Typically, the supply of quiet work settings is insufficient. In addition, these work settings are often not optimally used, due to practical and psychosocial barriers. As a consequence, the use of open wok settings for concentration work is common. This is an undesirable situation for all workers involved and in particular for those who are high in need for privacy. Findings from this research provide clues for better alignment of work the environment with the diverse needs within an organization.