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“Designing for National Culture” De Mooij & Hofstede et al, 2011

The design of a workplace affects the quality of the work done by the people in it. Some of these effects are more direct—people need to be able to focus to do work requiring concentration—and others are more indirect—the symbolic meanings people attach to components of their workplace affect how tasks are completed, as well. Environments that seem pleasant, because we have some control of our physical environments there, are also spaces where we’re likely to do good work.

A useful way to think about how workplace design influences worker performance is to review how aspects of the physical environment shape mood. Our mood, influences how broadly or narrowly we think- better mood, broader thinking. Veitch (2012) presents in a synthesis of related research: “working under preferred conditions can create a state of positive affect [mood] that in turn leads to benefits in the form of increased cooperation, reduced competition, improved intellectual performance, and increased creativity.”

Even the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has an opinion about workplace design and its link to worker performance. After surveying the available research literature, Thompson has concluded that the design of the physical work environment influences knowledge worker productivity (2008). Thompson comes to this conclusion even though different researchers have used varying definitions of productivity: “there does not appear to be a universal understanding within business about the term productivity and this deficiency is duplicated in the arena of the office, particularly where the business is far removed from a data processing factory but trades in knowledge from the policy division, the marketing team, the business development unit or the innovation squad.” He concludes by stating that “To date, there isn’t a formula to ensure the particular workplace design that guarantees optimum productivity – and quite rightly so. The age of determinism has passed. We must now ask ourselves what occupiers need for their business, rather than expecting organizations to fit into the text book model of space.”

The researchers found “that people feel better and perform better and more sustainably when four basic needs are met….

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