Wanted: Choice within work environments

Studie Wirksame Büro- und Arbeitswelten
© Fraunhofer IAO


Fraunhofer IAO presents initial findings from its Effective Office and Working Environments study

A survey conducted by Fraunhofer IAO shows that modernization of work organization is usually too slow. More than 1000 office and work environment experts from a variety of companies participated in the survey conducted on behalf of designfunktion Group. The “multispace” office is set to become the leading future office setup. A range of different working spaces offers numerous benefits, e.g. it has a positive impact on employer attractiveness, collaboration and personal autonomy.

How and to what extent do office and working environments support companies, ultimately helping them meet their goals? This question has important implications for work organization and was addressed in a study conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO on behalf of German company designfunktion. The initial findings will be presented today, April 25, 2018, at the Orgatec press conference– Orgatec is the leading international trade fair for office and workspace furniture and equipment.

Modernization of work organization usually too slow

In all sizes of company and across all functions, study participants feel that modernization of work organization at their company is clearly not happening fast enough. In fact, the larger their company, the greater the tendency for respondents to perceive the rate of transformation as too slow – (some) even substantially so. An exception were the respondents from top management, who deemed the modernization of work organization within their company to be happening at just the right speed. The results of the study further highlight that in companies with a slower pace of modernization, the supporting function of the office and work environment is less evident, the quality of spatial design is lower, collaboration is less evident and employer attractiveness drops significantly.

“Multispace” offices set to become leading future setup

Of those participating in the study, 54 percent expect that multispace offices will become the main office setup in their company. In a comparison of the various office setups, the study shows that, for a range of different criteria, a multispace working environment yields significantly better results than other office setups. This means that if there are a range of different spatial options available in the workspace, and if all employees can use these options on a flexible basis, the working environment provides a significantly higher support function. In addition, collaboration is more evident, a higher degree of autonomy prevails and employer attractiveness ratings are higher. When compared with other working environments, a multispace setup is least reflective of company hierarchy. The multispace working environment also offers many more possibilities for employees to retreat if they need to concentrate, or to take a short break, than all the other office setups – also compared to work environments with single-office layouts.

Reference data

The study was based on a survey of approximately 1000 people who are involved with the concept of “new work environments” within their organization. It was conducted between April and December 2017. The respondents came from a range of different sectors. They can be categorized as supply-side experts (broken down: 37 percent architecture/construction/real estate, 9 percent consultancy) or as demand-side experts (54 percent of respondents). Of all the participants, 55 percent belong to small- and medium-sized companies (with up to 500 employees), while 45 percent come from large companies (over 500 employees).  

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