Exploring the Relationship Between Personality, Gender and Preferences in Contemporary Office Workspace Design
Abstract: Objective: The study explores office workspace design preferences, and their psychological antecedents (personality and gender), among a sample of professionals before they have commenced work in an office environment – an approach not previously undertaken. Background: The physical environment of an office workspace and its design characteristics are important to employees’ psychological well-being. Organisations are increasingly adopting new office design concepts – known as Lean / Activity Based Working (ABW) / Flex-offices, however, there is a lack of research on the appropriateness and effect of these types of workspaces with the few studies conducted reporting deleterious well-being consequences. Method: Participants (n=199) completed the Authenticity Scale, the HEXACO MiniIPIP6, and instruments designed to measure preference for office type, workspace personalization and biophilia / nature in office workspaces. The battery of questionnaires was administered via an online form distributed to four universities in Sweden. Results: 14.57% of participants preferred the Lean / ABW / Flex-office compared with 81.92% preferring other office types (p<0.000). Participants expressed a preference for biophilia and nature in the office (81.41%) over those that did not (p<0.000). Binary logistic regression revealed that HEXACO traits were able to significantly predict participant preference for non-Flex offices over Flex-offices. Authenticity yielded no significant findings. One-way ANOVA analyses revealed an unexpected gender effect with females exhibiting greater proclivity for biophilia / nature in the office (F (1, 197) = 6.67, p = 0.011, η2= 0.03), and supported previous research in respect to gender and personalization F (1, 197) = 14.34, p = 0.000, η2= 0.07). Conclusion: Future office-based professionals appear to exhibit a priori office workspace design preferences consistent with research identifying good psycho-environmental design but contrasting with contemporary organisational practise.
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