September 10, 2015

Squabbles at work may be due to office design

Conflict and tension appear to be generated by certain popular office design concepts,
namely combo- and flex-offices.

(September 10, 2015)  Your likelihood of squabbling with co-workers could be due to the design of your office, a new study suggests.

A recent survey of Swedish office workers shows that, particularly for women, the risk of conflict at work increases in so-called combi- and flex-offices. And what's worse, women are more bothered by noise in these types of office plans than men are.

The findings were published recently in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, by co-authors Christina Bodin Danielsson, a researcher at Stockholm's KTH Royal Institute of Technology School of Architecture & Built Environment and Stockholm University's Stress Research Institute; Töres Theorell from SU's Stress Research Institute; Lennart Bodin from Karolinska Institute; and Cornelia Wulff, from Mäldardalen University.

Increasingly popular combi- and flex-offices are activity-based designs that offer employees a choice of work environments for different activities. Flex-offices also mean no one has their own, individual workstation. Combi-offices, on the other hand, offer individual workspaces but are designed for team-based work. They're highly stressful, too, says Bodin Danielsson.

"In a combi-office, the fact that you work as a team could be a possible explanation for the environment's negative impact on conflicts, Bodin Danielsson says. "Group work itself shown to lead to conflicts."

Surprisingly perhaps, the study also found that significantly fewer conflicts arise in large open office plans, where 25 more people work. This was especially true for women, Bodin Danielsson says. "Men appear to be less sensitive to the influence of office type for workplace conflicts."

journal reference >>