Thesis

BEYONDTHE COFFEE CORNER Workplace design and social well-being Susanne Colenberg

BEYOND THE COFFEE CORNER Workplace design and social well-being Dissertation for the purpose of obtaining the degree of doctor at Delft University of Technology by the authority of the Rector Magnificus, Prof. dr. ir. T.H.J.J. van der Hagen, chair of the Board for Doctorates to be defended publicly on Wednesday 4 October 2023 at 12:30 o’clock By Susanne Elisabeth COLENBERG Master of Science Social & Organizational Psychology, Leiden University, The Netherlands born in Gouda, The Netherlands

This dissertation has been approved by the promotors. Composition of the doctoral committee: Prof. dr. ir. T.H.J.J. van der Hagen Rector magnificus, chairperson Prof. dr. D.V. Keyson Delft University of Technology, promotor Dr. N.A. Romero Herrera Delft University of Technology, co-promotor Independent members: Prof. dr. P. Vink Delft University of Technology Prof. dr. S.C. Pont Delft University of Technology Prof. dr. M.P. Tucker Liverpool John Moores University, UK Dr. M. Babapour Chafi Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden Other member: Dr. H.A.J.A. Appel-Meulenbroek Eindhoven University of Technology Cover design: Douwe Oppewal (Photo: Shutterstock) Layout: Susanne Colenberg (Font: Corbel, Minion Pro) Printed by: Ipskamp Printing Printed on: 100% recycled Everprint ISBN: 978-94-6473-187-3 © 2023 Susanne Colenberg All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission of the author. A digital copy of this dissertation is available at: https://repository.tudelft.nl

A healthy office is a social office. Drawing by Xueliang Li

5 TABLE OF CONTENTS SAMENVATTING .....................................................................................................7 SUMMARY .............................................................................................................. 11 1 INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................ 17 1.1 Ambition and Motivation of the Research........................................................ 17 1.2 Research Aim and Scope...................................................................................... 21 1.3 Positioning in the Field ........................................................................................ 27 1.4 Research Questions and Methodological Approach........................................ 29 1.5 Dissertation Overview.......................................................................................... 32 2 WORKPLACE DESIGN AND WORKER’S WELL-BEING ................................ 37 2.1 Introduction .......................................................................................................... 37 2.2 Method ................................................................................................................... 39 2.3 Results..................................................................................................................... 42 2.4 Discussion and Conclusion ................................................................................. 58 3 DESIGN STRATEGIES FOR WELL-BEING AT WORK ................................... 63 3.1 Introduction .......................................................................................................... 63 3.2 Method ................................................................................................................... 65 3.3 Results..................................................................................................................... 67 3.4 Discussion .............................................................................................................. 74 3.5 Conclusion............................................................................................................. 77 4 CONCEPTUALIZING SOCIAL WELL-BEING AT WORK .............................. 81 4.1 Introduction .......................................................................................................... 81 4.2 Social Well-being Theory .................................................................................... 82 4.3 Method ................................................................................................................... 86 4.4 Results..................................................................................................................... 89 4.5 Discussion .............................................................................................................. 93 4.6 Conclusion............................................................................................................. 96 5 MEASURING SOCIAL WELL-BEING AT WORK ........................................... 99 5.1 Introduction .......................................................................................................... 99 5.2 Theoretical Background..................................................................................... 101 5.3 Method ................................................................................................................. 104 5.4 Results................................................................................................................... 108 5.5 Discussion ............................................................................................................ 112 5.6 Conclusion........................................................................................................... 115

6 6 DESIGN FOR WORKSPACE PRIVACY ......................................................... 119 6.1 Introduction ........................................................................................................ 119 6.2 Method ................................................................................................................. 122 6.3 Results................................................................................................................... 126 6.4 Discussion and Conclusion ............................................................................... 131 7 DESIGN STRATEGIES FOR SOCIAL OFFICES ............................................. 135 7.1 Introduction ........................................................................................................ 135 7.2 Theoretical Background..................................................................................... 137 7.3 Method ................................................................................................................. 140 7.4 Results................................................................................................................... 144 7.5 Discussion and Conclusion ............................................................................... 150 8 GENERAL DISCUSSION AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS ................................ 157 8.1 Key Findings ........................................................................................................ 157 8.2 Synthesis and Discussion................................................................................... 158 8.3 Reflection on the Research Quality .................................................................. 164 8.4 Value for Science and Society ........................................................................... 167 8.5 Future Research Directions ............................................................................... 171 8.6 Overall Conclusion............................................................................................. 174 8.7 A look into the Future: the Ideal Social Office ............................................... 175 APPENDIX A: Social Well-being Item Descriptives and Correlations ........................ 181 APPENDIX B: Code System Social Office Design ......................................................... 185 APPENDIX C: Details Means-End Chain Analysis ....................................................... 189 REFERENCES .................................................................................................................. 191 GLOSSARY ....................................................................................................................... 229 LIST OF PUBLICATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS ................................................... 235 DATA AVAILABILITY ................................................................................................... 241 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.............................................................................................. 243 BIOGRAPHY ................................................................................................................... 245

7 SAMENVATTING Het doel van dit promotieonderzoek was om kennis te verzamelen over de manier waarop de indeling en inrichting van kantoren ervoor zou kunnen zorgen dat mensen zich prettiger voelen op hun werk. Ik ging ervan uit dat de invloed van het interieur op hoe mensen zich voelen en gedragen benut zou kunnen worden om hun welzijn en gezondheid te verbeteren. Uiteindelijk heeft het onderzoek vooral aandacht besteed aan de sociale aspecten van welzijn: hoe mensen met elkaar omgaan en of ze zich thuis voelen in de groep. Tijdens de coronapandemie was de belangstelling voor dit onderwerp gegroeid, omdat lange periodes van thuiswerken duidelijk maakten hoe essentieel sociaal contact is. De pragmatische aanpak van dit verkennende onderzoek bestond uit zes studies met een mix van uiteenlopende methoden. Eerst is gekeken welke kennis er al beschikbaar was over de gezondheidseffecten van kantoorinterieurs. Daarna is dieper ingegaan op de betekenis van ‘sociaal welzijn’ op het werk en hoe je het kunt meten. Tenslotte is gekeken naar manieren om kantoorruimtes te ontwerpen zodat een ‘sociaal kantoor’ ontstaat. Uit de resultaten blijkt dat daarvoor meer nodig is dan een knappe koffiehoek. Kantoorinterieur en gezondheid Het onderzoek startte met de analyse van een ruime verzameling wetenschappelijke artikelen over de invloed van kantoorinterieur op gezondheid. Het uitgangspunt daarbij was dat gezondheid een combinatie is van lichamelijk, psychisch en sociaal welzijn. Voor het zoeken naar artikelen zijn brede zoektermen gebruikt en grote zoekmachines waarna de gevonden artikelen systematisch werden geselecteerd op relevantie. De analyse liet zien dat onderzoek naar gezonde kantoren sterk in opkomst was, maar ook versnipperd over uiteenlopende wetenschapsgebieden. Hoewel de onderbouwing van gezondheidseffecten vaak nog mager was, bleek duidelijk dat het kantoorinterieur de gezondheid kan beïnvloeden in zowel positieve als negatieve zin. Uit de artikelen kwam bijvoorbeeld naar voren dat grote open werkruimtes (‘kantoortuinen’) en veel achtergrondgeluid niet bevorderlijk waren voor het welzijn terwijl goed licht, de aanwezigheid van planten en persoonlijke invloed op de omgeving juist een positieve invloed hadden. De meeste onderzoeken hadden vooral naar lichamelijk en minder naar psychisch welzijn gekeken; voor sociale aspecten was maar weinig aandacht. De conclusie was dat dit onderzoeksgebied baat zou hebben bij een gemeenschappelijke taal, sterkere methoden en een ruimere opvatting van gezondheid. In een tweede studie zijn ontwerpstrategieën voor gezonde kantoren afgeleid uit de verzamelde artikelen. Er is daarbij gekeken naar de aangetoonde gezondheidseffecten van interieurkenmerken en de theorieën waarmee die effecten werden verklaard. Door

Samenvatting 8 in de schoenen te gaan staan van de interieurontwerper en de beproefde ontwerpoplossingen te koppelen aan gezondheidsdoelstellingen, kwamen vier typen strategieën naar voren: comfort realiseren, gezond gedrag stimuleren, herstel ondersteunen en sociaal welzijn bevorderen. De ‘comfortstrategie’ was het meest prominent aanwezig en was vooral gericht op het verminderen van belasting en gezondheidsrisico's zoals stress door geluid of drukte. De andere drie benaderingen hadden positievere uitgangspunten en waren gericht op het aanvullen van mentale en fysieke reserves van medewerkers in plaats van het minimaliseren van klachten. De analyse van de artikelen liet ook zien dat het bevorderen van sociaal welzijn via het kantoorinterieur tot dan toe de minste aandacht had gekregen, terwijl daar genoeg mogelijkheden voor leken te zijn. De kantoorinrichting zou bijvoorbeeld gewenste sociale interacties en een gevoel van verbondenheid kunnen stimuleren. De volgende studies naar gezonde kantoren zijn daarom toegespitst op sociaal welzijn op het werk. Sociaal welzijn op het werk Om meer inzicht te krijgen in wat sociaal welzijn op het werk inhoudt en welke rol het kantoor daarin speelt, zijn uitspraken van kantoorwerkers bestudeerd over hoe zij hun werkomgeving ervaren. Er is gebruik gemaakt van bestaande interviewdata waarop ‘concept mapping’ is toegepast. Dit is een methode die kwalitatieve en kwantitatieve technieken combineert voor het vinden van overeenkomsten in bijvoorbeeld tekstfragmenten. Uit de analyse kwamen veertien thema's naar voren over sociale interacties op het werk, relaties met collega's en gevoelens van verbondenheid. De inhoudelijke verschillen met een bekende theorie over sociaal welzijn zouden erop kunnen wijzen dat sociaal welzijn een contextueel verschijnsel is dat vraagt om definities en meetinstrumenten die passen bij die context, bijvoorbeeld werk. In de daaropvolgende studie zijn de uitspraken van kantoormedewerkers en bestaande vragenlijsten over het onderwerp gebruikt om enquêtevragen te formuleren over sociaal welzijn op het werk. Het doel van deze studie was om een brede maar compact set vragen (schaal) te ontwikkelen. Daarmee zou iemand kunnen meten welk effect veranderingen in de organisatie of werkomgeving hebben op sociaal welzijn. Een ruime selectie van die vagen is via een online enquête voorgelegd aan medewerkers van vier organisaties. Hun antwoorden zijn gebruikt om via statistisch modelleren te bepalen welke set het sociaal welzijn van medewerknemers het beste weergeeft. Het best passende model bleek te bestaan uit twee groepen met elk vijf indicatoren. De eerste groep, ‘verbondenheid’ gedoopt, omvatte goede relaties met collega’s en een gevoel van saamhorigheid op het werk. De tweede, die we ‘veiligheid’ hebben genoemd, betrof de meer basale behoefte om geaccepteerd en gerespecteerd te worden. Verder bleek het model vooral lange-termijnaspecten van sociaal welzijn te bevatten en niet

Samenvatting 9 zozeer de kortstondige ervaringen. Hoewel deze voorlopige schaal nog verder getest moet worden op betrouwbaarheid en onderscheidend vermogen, kan hij alvast gebruikt worden voor het monitoren van sociaal welzijn en evalueren van interventies of ontwerpoplossingen. Ontwerprichtingen Uitgerust met meer gedetailleerde kennis over sociaal welzijn in de context van werk zijn twee studies uitgevoerd om te ontdekken hoe we kantoorruimtes zo kunnen ontwerpen dat ze sociale interacties en een gevoel van verbondenheid bevorderen. Eerder onderzoek had al laten zien dat negatieve interacties en het ontbreken van privacy nadelig zijn voor het welzijn op kantoor. Daarom was de vijfde studie binnen dit promotieonderzoek gericht op het verbeteren van privacy op de werkvloer. Eerst zijn ruimtelijke beslotenheid en afzondering (‘architecturale privacy’) vertaald naar concrete, tastbare kenmerken van werkruimtes die mensen gemakkelijk kunnen herkennen en beschrijven. Om het vinden van passende ontwerpoplossingen eenvoudiger te maken, is tevredenheid met privacy onderverdeeld in verschillende aspecten, gebaseerd op wat mensen zintuiglijk ervaren. Vervolgens zijn via een online enquête mensen die in verschillende kantooromgevingen werken gevraagd naar de fysieke kenmerken van hun gebruikelijke werkplek en hoe tevreden ze waren met verschillende vormen van privacy op die plek. Met behulp van statistische analyse is gekeken welke kenmerken van de werkplek het meest van invloed waren op hoe tevreden mensen waren over hun privacy. De resultaten toonden aan dat kleine, relatief afgezonderde kamers een grotere tevredenheid met privacy en minder hinder van geluid voorspelden dan bijvoorbeeld privacy-schermen rondom het bureau, zachte vloerbedekking en mogelijkheden om de zichtbaarheid van de medewerker in te perken. Het doel van de laatste studie van dit promotieonderzoek was om te achterhalen hoe interieurontwerpers in de praktijk proberen om kantoorruimtes te creëren die sociale interacties en verbondenheid bevorderen, en zo het welzijn van de mensen die er werken verbeteren. Via diepte-interviews met ervaren interieurontwerpers over concrete kantoorprojecten waar ze aan hadden gewerkt, zijn hun aannames en keuzes expliciet gemaakt. De analyse bracht verschillende manieren aan het licht waarop de ontwerpers proberen om informele contacten en verbondenheid te stimuleren. Ze maken daarbij gebruik van 'ontworpen functionaliteiten': eigenschappen van de ruimte die ze doelbewust creëren, zoals een gevoel van privacy of een bepaalde sfeer. De resultaten lieten zien dat de ontwerpers vooral bezig waren met het stimuleren van toevallige ontmoetingen en het creëren van plekken waar mensen in een informele sfeer bij elkaar kunnen zijn. Ze wilden bijvoorbeeld aantrekkelijke, ruime, herkenbare en

Samenvatting 10 centraal gelegen pauzeruimtes maken. Dit zou bijdragen aan het gevoel van verbondenheid tussen de mensen die in het kantoor werken. Ze wilden ook dat deze plekken groepsidentiteit en een gevoel van geborgenheid zouden uitstralen. Daarnaast probeerden ze via het ontwerp mensen aan te moedigen om deze pauzeruimtes te gebruiken en informele interacties weg te houden van de werkplekken, om daarmee ongewenste afleiding tegen te gaan. De ontwerpers waren zich ervan bewust dat verbondenheid ook gestimuleerd kan worden door het bieden van groeps-privacy voor persoonlijke gesprekken. De ideeën en aannames van deze ontwerpers kunnen nuttig zijn voor verder onderzoek naar de feitelijke invloed van kantoorruimtes op hoe mensen zich voelen en gedragen in relatie tot anderen. Toepassingen en aanbevelingen voor verder onderzoek De vergaarde inzichten over de invloed van kantoorinrichting op welzijn en gezondheid en mogelijke strategieën voor het ontwerpen van gezonde en sociale kantoren kunnen dienen als bronnen van kennis en inspiratie voor ontwerppraktijk en onderwijs. Zo kan de ‘kaart’ van ontwerpstrategieën een nuttig instrument zijn bij gesprekken tussen interieurontwerpers en hun klanten over de gewenste veranderingen en mogelijke opties voor een nieuwe kantoorinrichting. Dit kan vooral handig zijn voor beginnende ontwerpers. De onderzoeksresultaten die het belang aangeven van acceptatie en integratie binnen de groep van werknemers en hoe de werkomgeving kan bijdragen aan een gevoel van verbondenheid, zijn met name relevant voor leidinggevenden. Toekomstig onderzoek naar de invloed van werkomgevingen op welzijn kan voortbouwen op de classificatie van het kantoorinterieur die in dit onderzoek is ontwikkeld en de indicatoren van sociaal welzijn die zijn gevonden. Een volgende stap zou kunnen zijn om in kaart te brengen wat kantoormedewerkers ervaren als een sociaal kantoor. Met andere woorden, welke ontworpen functionaliteiten nemen zij waar en hoe beïnvloeden die hun beleving en gedrag? Een meer geavanceerde stap zou zijn om een model te ontwikkelen dat sociaal welzijn voorspelt aan de hand van interieurkenmerken en de invloed daarop van externe factoren zoals de cultuur van de organisatie en de persoonlijkheid van individuele werknemers. Zo’n model biedt inzicht in welke specifieke elementen het meest van invloed zijn op hoe mensen zich voelen op het werk. Uiteindelijk kan verder onderzoek ook inzicht bieden in obstakels voor het gebruik van wetenschappelijke kennis in de ontwerppraktijk. Dit zou kunnen helpen om de toepassing van wetenschappelijke inzichten bij het ontwerpen van kantoorinterieurs te verbeteren, en zo een meer 'evidence-based' benadering te bevorderen.

11 SUMMARY The aim of this doctoral research was to contribute to better working environments by generating knowledge for designers and organizations about the relationship between office interiors and well-being. This was based on the belief that the influence of an office’s layout and design on the experience and behaviour of its users can be utilized to promote their well-being and health. Gradually, the focus narrowed down to the social dimension of well-being, a largely underexposed field that has gained importance during the Covid-19 pandemic. The pragmatic mixed methods approach included six studies. First, the available knowledge about the health effects of office interiors was collected and analysed. Subsequently, the research delved into the meaning of social well-being for office workers and how it could be measured. Finally, design strategies for a 'social office' were identified. The results show that promoting social well-being through interior office design requires more than offering a fancy coffee corner. Interior Design and Healthy Workplaces The research started with a broad inquiry into the available evidence of interior office space’s health impact in peer-reviewed articles. In this inquiry, health was considered to consist of physical, psychological and social well-being. This literature review, applying a deliberately wide-scoped and systematic search procedure, showed that the research in this rapidly emerging field was scattered and evidence had hardly been accumulated. However, it was clear that the interior office design was capable of influencing employee well-being in both a positive and negative manner. The reviewed studies indicated that open-plan offices, shared workspaces, and high levels of background noise were associated with reduced well-being. In contrast, satisfying light conditions, greenery, and personal control of the environment were found to support well-being. Most of the reviewed studies focused on physical rather than psychological well-being and social well-being was generally neglected. It was concluded that to advance this area of workplace research, the field needed a collective vocabulary, more methodological strength, and a holistic approach that would include social well-being. In the second study, potentially effective design strategies for healthy workplaces were inferred from the collected evidence about the design features’ health impact and the rationales of the reviewed studies. By taking the perspective of the interior designer and connecting evidence-based design solutions to health objectives, four types of strategies were identified: increasing comfort, stimulating healthy behaviour, supporting recovery, and enhancing social well-being. Designing for comfort was the most

Summary 12 prominent in the literature and referred to the pathogenic approach of reducing demands, such as environmental stress and physical risks. The other three were classified as salutogenic approaches that go beyond minimizing complaints and mismatches by stimulating positive health outcomes that aim to increase the office worker’s resources. From this secondary analysis of the literature, it was concluded that the strategy of enhancing social well-being was the least developed of the four while it may have a large potential, for example, by creating affordances which enable social interactions and increase belonging. Therefore, this strategy was taken as the starting point for further inquiry into the relationship between interior design and the social dimension of well-being at work. Exploring Social Well-being at Work To improve an understanding of social well-being in a work context and the relationship with workplace design, office workers’ statements about their new office environment were studied. Existing interview data were analysed by concept mapping, a technique that combines qualitative judgements with quantitative techniques to identify commonalities in, for example, textual data. From the analysis, fourteen themes emerged that reflected the office workers’ experiences of social interactions, coworker relationships, and feelings of belonging at work. The deviations from established theory seemed to indicate that social well-being is a context-bound phenomenon that requires conceptualization and measurement appropriate to the relevant domain. In a fourth study, the insights about what mattered to office workers and existing questionnaires were used to collect and phrase items about potential indicators of social well-being at work. The study aimed to develop a broad yet concise measurement scale that could be used to establish the impact of interventions and organizational changes on social well-being. A large set of items was included in a survey that was administered to four organizations. Through statistical modelling of the employees’ scores, it was analysed which set of items best reflected the underlying construct of social well-being at work. The resulting model indicated a two-dimensional structure with five items for each dimension. The first dimension, named ‘bonding’, reflected the joy of positive relationships with others at work and a sense of community, while the second dimension, named ‘psychological safety’, reflected a basic need for inclusion and a climate of trust and respect. Furthermore, the model was dominated by long-term aspects of well-being rather than short-lived experiences. Although this initial scale has

Summary 13 to be validated more extensively, it can be used already for monitoring the social wellbeing of employees or evaluation of design interventions. Directions for Positive Workplace Design Equipped with more detailed knowledge about social well-being in the office context, two studies were conducted to explore directions for workplace design that stimulate the users’ social well-being. Since the previous studies showed how negative encounters and a lack of privacy undermined employees’ social well-being, the subsequent study focused on how to increase perceived workspace privacy. First, architectural privacy was operationalized into concrete workspace features that could be easily reported by the users. To facilitate the development of appropriate design solutions, different dimensions of privacy perception were distinguished based on sensory perception. Through an online survey, office workers in different work environments were asked to report the physical characteristics of their usual workspace and their average satisfaction with privacy aspects in that workspace. Through ordinal regression analysis, the relative contribution of the reported design features on privacy satisfaction was analysed. The results indicated that small, relatively isolated rooms better predicted satisfaction with privacy and noise than privacy screens, soft flooring and visibility control. The sixth study aimed to identify design strategies practised by interior designers to create ‘social offices’ that support the social well-being of the users. Through in-depth interviews with expert designers about realized office projects, their assumptions and design decisions were made explicit. Means-end chain analysis revealed the different pathways from concrete design attributes to social well-being goals. Affordances, referring to designed functionalities or qualities, acted as the design strategies’ backbone. This final study shows that the workplace designers interviewed aimed to stimulate informal social interactions by creating attractive, spacious, recognizable, and spatially integrated breakout spaces. Communicating group identity, promoting visibility, and offering cosiness were meant to support connectedness. Several affordances intended to nudge office workers to visit breakout spaces and keep the interaction away from workspaces to prevent distractions. The designers recognised that social well-being could increase by offering group privacy for personal conversations. The designers’ assumptions can serve as testable hypotheses to collect more evidence on the impact of interior office design on the behaviour, experience, and social well-being of office workers.

Summary 14 Implications and Future Research The insights gathered about the nature of social well-being at work and design strategies identified for healthy workplaces can inform and inspire design practice and education. For example, the ‘map’ of design strategies can serve as a tool for workplace designers and their clients to discuss desires and options for the new office. It can also be of use for less experienced workplace designers. From a management perspective, the research highlights the importance of inclusion at work and indicates how the workplace may support a sense of community. Future transdisciplinary workplace research can build on the developed taxonomy of interior office design and key concepts of social well-being at work. A next step could be to study the office workers’ perspective on social offices: which affordances do they perceive? In the end, a causal model could be developed that predicts social well-being at work based on interior design features and taking into account external factors such as organizational culture and personality. Finally, research to identify the obstacles to more evidence-based design practice could provide starting points to increase the application of scientific knowledge in the design practice.

1 CHAPTER 1

17 1 1 INTRODUCTION The purpose of this dissertation was to help improve workers’ experience at the office and contribute to theory on positive workplace design. The research was motivated by observed mismatches between workplace design and office workers’ needs and the belief that evidence-based design could increase workplace quality for the users. The aim, therefore, was to generate knowledge to inform design decisions and support future transdisciplinary workplace research. The work presented in this dissertation revolved around the question of how interior office design could stimulate the social well-being of employees. It focused on identifying essential elements of positive design strategies, from pinpointing the desired outcomes to unravelling ways to turn the design in the right direction. This first chapter serves to introduce the topic and its multi-disciplinary audience, define the main concepts and their assumed relationships, and explain the pragmatic mixed-methods approach to the research. It concludes with an overview of the dissertation that serves as a reading guide to the following chapters. 1.1 Ambition and Motivation of the Research 1.1.1 Positive workplace design Due to the bad press of open-plan offices in the past decade (e.g. Borzykowski, 2017; Brooks, 2022; Burkeman, 2013), one may forget that office life can also be enjoyable. The office could be a place where one can feel competent and part of a community, surrounded by people with similar backgrounds, interests, and objectives. Working at a well-designed office may stimulate creativity and connectedness and provide a sense of purpose. The office environment could function as a resource that addresses meaningful goals (Desmet & Pohlmeyer, 2013). Positive design is an effect-driven approach that aims to stimulate subjective well-being and human flourishing by grounding the design in psychological theory and user research on what makes people happy (Desmet & Pohlmeyer, 2013). It builds on user experience research and positive psychology to promote well-being beyond a neutral state and extend design objectives beyond fixing problems toward adopting positive activities, evoking positive emotions, and offering valuable experiences (Pohlmeyer, 2013). Positive design matches the development across the social sciences to seek a better understanding of positive aspects of human experience and the salutogenic approach that focuses on the origins of health rather than those of disease (Mittelmark & Bauer, 2017).

Chapter 1 18 Nurturing social relationships is one of those activities that make people happy (Lyubomirsky & Layous, 2013). Feeling connected to other people is a basic psychological need (Deci & Ryan, 2008). This social dimension of relatedness and belonging features in several established well-being models (Gallagher et al., 2009; Magyar & Keyes, 2019). Moreover, Reis and Gable (2003) have suggested that good social relationships may be the single most important source of happiness. At work too, social relationships are important to people’s well-being (Rath & Harter, 2010) and face-to-face interactions are crucial to sustaining them (Nardi & Whittaker, 2002). For example, small talk at work is experienced as uplifting, enhancing positive emotions, and creating a sense of community, even though it disrupts cognitive engagement (Methot et al., 2021) and positive relationships promote employee flourishing by providing emotional support, friendship, and the opportunity to give to others (Colbert et al., 2016). According to Desmet and Pohlmeyer (2013), positive workplace design may be a source of well-being through the affordance of happiness-enhancing activities at work, the experience of beauty, and the symbolic representation of what is important to the employees. Similarly, Vischer (2008) argued that a user-centred design approach can create a positive and supportive working environment that enhances human activities and helps people fulfil their aspirations. Workplace design is considered crucial to the nature, quality, and duration of employee social interactions at work (Ayoko & Ashkanasy, 2020) and may support or constrain relationship building through, for example, interaction opportunities or crowding (Khazanchi et al., 2018; Wohlers & Hertel, 2017). In summary, workplace design may enhance workers’ well-being by stimulating positive social interactions and relationships as long as it does not interfere with focused work. Organizations benefit as well because healthy and happy workers are productive workers (Diener & Seligman, 2004; Fisher, 2010; Oswald et al., 2015). However, in nowadays offices, this potential seems to be under-utilized. 1.1.2 Current office environments In the past decades, offices increasingly featured open workspaces, either in open-plan offices or as an activity-based working (ABW) environment. The ABW office concept offers a variety of spaces that are designed to support specific work activities and from which office workers are supposed to choose the space that fits their current activity or preferences in order to increase productivity (Appel-Meulenbroek et al., 2011). Usually, ABW environments emphasize open and exposed workspaces above enclosed ones. In practice, office workers in ABW environments value the different types of workspaces provided but the preferred workspaces are not always available (de Been et al., 2015; Hoendervanger, 2021) which leads to problems of noise and lack of privacy.

Introduction 19 1 Spatial openness has been found to support social interaction at work, but not just in a positive manner. In the popular media, a fierce debate about the pros and cons of open plans went on for years while overwhelming evidence accumulated of the negative consequences for employee well-being. Evaluations of relocations to offices featuring open workspaces reported problems of noise, crowding, and deteriorated relationships (Engelen et al., 2019; Forooraghi et al., 2021). Improvement of communication possibilities was exchanged for loss of privacy (Kim & de Dear, 2013). Employees became more irritated, suspicious and withdrawn in open offices (Morrison & Macky, 2017), which negatively affected relationships. However, the open-plan office debate often was very black-and-white and it was not clear how specific characteristics of the open office space impacted specific aspects of well-being, thus lacking concrete starting points for improvement of the design. For example, the degree of correspondence between the spatial and conceptual closeness of people better indicates the fit between spatial design and privacy needs (Sailer & Thomas, 2020). Open-plan offices may have a positive influence on relationships if they are based on a thoughtful assessment of user needs (Morrison & Smollan, 2020) and their overall performance increases when a user-centred approach to interior design is applied (Candido et al., 2019). The forced and prolonged working from home for most office workers during the Covid-19 pandemic from 2019 to 2022 raised awareness of the social function of the office. At first, office workers welcomed increased autonomy and reduced commuting, but soon it became clear that the extensive digital communication had its limitations, and the lack of personal contact was negatively impacting social cohesion. Organizations were quick to calculate the gains for cuts in office space. However, after a few months, many workers wanted to return to the office, above all for meeting with colleagues, socialising with people, and have impromptu face-to-face interactions (Gensler Research Institute, 2020a). The important weak-tie connections (Sandstrom & Dunn, 2014) suffered and new employees experienced difficulties in getting to know their colleagues and organizational values (de Bruin, 2020). Although shortly after the first lockdown, the death of the office (Veldhoen, 1995) was announced again (Walsh, 2020), it is now commonly recognized that the office will survive as a place for being together and sharing experiences as well as for individual working (Humberd et al., 2020; Kirkpatrick & Marinho, 2021). According to Leesman (2021), intentions to return to the office depended on the home working experience and perceived quality of the office workplace (‘Home is the new benchmark’).

Chapter 1 20 Today, organizations are busy sorting out how to adapt their office to the expected new reality of hybrid working, which refers to the combination of working at the office and connecting online from home or third places. Probable consequences are expanding desk-sharing policies, supporting remote working platforms, and turning some of the desk areas into coffee corners and video conferencing rooms, but much is still unsure. Time has to tell if office use will change in the long run and if pre-pandemic habits will be abandoned. However, the social function of the office as contributing to fulfilling employees’ social needs seems to be increasingly recognized. 1.1.3 Knowledge gaps Successful design of social offices requires a thorough understanding of the relationship between specific design elements on the one hand and well-being outcomes on the other, and every step in between. Strategic workplace design needs clear goals, an overview of the different attributes that make up the desired environment, and credible information about the possible effects of this environment on the user’s experience and behaviour. Scientific research can support the articulation of design goals, goal-oriented development of design solutions, and evaluation of their effect. In such a process of evidence-based design, design decisions are based on the best available information from credible research (Hamilton & Watkins, 2008). Within workplace research, approaches to well-being vary widely and often are not clear (Hanc et al., 2019) or too general (Engelen et al., 2019). Lack of clear well-being goals impedes evidence-based design processes and evaluation of their effectiveness. Regarding office space, research on its health and well-being impact tends to emphasize building physics, such as temperature, air quality, light, and noise, while paying less attention to the layout and tangible elements of the interior design (Altomonte et al., 2020; Jensen & van der Voordt, 2020). The emphasis on indoor air quality research may have resulted from the rise of the sick building syndrome (Ghaffarianhoseini et al., 2018; Redlich et al., 1997) at the end of the last century and a pathogenic approach to health. However, much of the indoor air research does not address the relationship between the perceived problems and the actual design features of the work environment, which makes it difficult to improve the design in this respect. Empirical evidence on how workplace design stimulates activities and experiences that fulfil workers’ social needs seems scarce. Although several studies relate social interaction to workspace layout (Appel-Meulenbroek et al., 2017; Sailer & McCulloh, 2012; Weijs-Perrée et al., 2019), they focus on mapping and predicting locations of face-to-face interaction without connecting these data to experienced well-being. On the other hand, studies on satisfaction with workplace characteristics that may support social well-being, such as privacy and possibilities for communication (Iris de Been & Beijer, 2014; Haapakangas et al., 2019; Rolfö et al., 2018), often do not connect this

Introduction 21 1 satisfaction to the actual spatial planning or specific design features of the office. Moreover, satisfaction does not automatically imply well-being. In summary, increasing positive and evidence-based workplace design requires a better understanding of well-being in the office environment, the design components that may impact this well-being, and the mechanism of this process of influence. 1.2 Research Aim and Scope 1.2.1 Aim and conceptual model The aim of the research was to gather knowledge on the possible relationship between workplace design and social well-being to guide practitioners in their design decisions and provide a foundation for future research. The conceptual model in Figure 1 depicts the concrete design attributes as the starting point of a process of perception, behaviour, and experience that may impact the individual’s social well-being. Regarding workplace design, the research focused on the interior design of office environments. It considered both the elemental design attributes and their composition into affordances. Affordances refer to functionalities of the design as intended by the designer or perceived by the user (see also Sections 1.2.3 and 7.2.1). Figure 1 Conceptual framework showing the research scope of workplace design for social well-being through affordances and behaviour.

Chapter 1 22 In contrast to architectural determinism, which refers to the simplistic point of view that space directly shapes behaviour (Bell et al., 2001, p.373), current environmental psychology has a probabilistic vision of the relationship between interior space, behaviour, and well-being. In this vision, perception, cognition, and external factors mediate and moderate the relationship between design and well-being. Therefore, this research acknowledges that the designer’s view may differ from the users’ perception and that aspects of the organizational context, such as job characteristics and hotdesking policies, or the personal context, such as personality and physical impairment, will influence the user’s perception of the working environment. Similarly, varying circumstances, such as work activities and mood, will also shape the perception. However, since not much was known yet about the relationship between workplace design and social well-being, the scope of this research was limited to the aspects of interior office design that may impact the individual experience of social well-being at work and it leaves the investigation of the impact of contextual factors to future research. Furthermore, the conceptual model underlying the research assumed that the perception of interior design qualities would impact the experience of social well-being both indirectly, through enabling particular social interactions, and directly, through values communicated by the design. After all, the cues about the people that use the space and the behaviour that is possible or appropriate in the place are important aspects of the psychological experience of interior space (Augustin, 2009, p.21). People can develop a bond with a place similar to interpersonal bonds which provides a sense of safety and comfort and is maintained by proximity-seeking (Scannell et al., 2021). This implies that one may experience feelings of connectedness to other people in a space without actually interacting with them. The following sections further explain the main concepts of the conceptual model as depicted in Figure 1. 1.2.2 Interior design The research focused on interior office design because interiors directly connect humans and space by forming a second layer, on top of clothing, between the body and the outside world (Caan, 2011). A second, more pragmatic reason to focus on interior design was the relatively frequent and easy replacement of interiors compared to building construction and air-conditioning installations (Brand, 1994). This adds to the usability of design guidelines for this field. Interior design deals with all qualities of human experience in the built environment, including the occupants’ mutual relationships (Caan, 2011). It reaches beyond the visual decoration and includes spatial elements, such as walls and windows, and user-

Introduction 23 1 relevant technology, such as artificial lighting and automated adjustability of furniture, but excludes construction and engineering, such as building materials and airconditioning installations (Fig. 2). Interior design has interfaces with architecture, which deals with the design of interior volumes, and industrial design, which deals with the interaction between an individual and a product. Figure 2 Office building layers (after Brand, 1994, and Duffy, 1990) Interior design includes form, finishings, and spatial arrangement of design attributes inside a building that make the space habitable and support human functioning (Ching & Binggeli, 2018). Figure 3 (next page) depicts these attributes as the palette of workplace designers. The components that interior designers can use to create the desired functionality and aesthetics of an office include the organization of spaces and objects within them, the modification of spaces and creation of enclosure by physical elements such as walls and doors, and the application of surface materials of different textures and colours, lamps and lighting fixtures, and furnishings, such as furniture, indoor plants, other objects, and window treatments. For example, finishings influence transparency and the distribution of light and sound which impacts the spatial and qualitative perception of a space. The combination of pattern, texture, and colour of textiles can create sensory delight (Caan, 2011). The designers dealing with interior design usually are educated in interior architecture, interior design, architecture, or industrial design, with only the latter having a tradition of systematically studying user needs. Section 7.2.2 further explains the profession of interior design.

Chapter 1 24 Figure 3 The palette of the interior office designer (after Ching & Binggeli, 2018) 1.2.3 Workplace affordances The composition of interior design elements, as depicted in Figure 3, makes up the anatomy of the physical work environment as perceived by the user. To identify interior design features that may impact workers’ social well-being, the work in this dissertation applied the theoretical lens of affordances. Gibson (1979) coined the term ‘affordances’ and defined them as ‘what it [the environment] offers the animal, what it provides or furnishes, either for good or ill’. According to Gibson, affordances are arrangements of observable cues, which consist of substances and surfaces and provide detectable functions for the users. He insisted that perception of the environment is not composed of elemental building blocks, but instead, the users perceive affordances: they don’t see environmental qualities but what the place can do for them (Gifford, 2014, p.30). Affordances that allow or block particular actions are strong determinants of behaviour (Bell et al., 2001, p.2). Since Norman's (1988) popularization of affordances, different understandings of the concept have widely spread in the design community. Following McGrenere and Ho (2000), in this dissertation, an affordance is considered the actual utility or functional purpose (usefulness) of a design, recognizing that the degree of usability (perceived affordance) may vary depending on perceptual information and the ease of undertaking the action. This means that an environment may actually possess a certain possibility for the user (affordance), but if the users do not recognize it or are not able to make use of it, the affordance is still there but is not perceived as such. Several scholars have applied the concept of affordances to the physical work environment and its support of social behaviour. Fayard and Weeks (2007) used the theory of affordances to study how the work setting shapes informal social interactions. They argue that affordances arise from both the physical properties of an environment and its social meaning, such as conventional rules regarding space use, which they call

Introduction 25 1 ‘social affordances’. They identified propinquity, privacy, and social designation as essential affordances for informal interaction in photocopier rooms. Spreitzer et al. (2020) defined ‘social affordances’ in the work context as ‘the capacity of the physical environment to promote possibilities of social connection,’ for example by offering coffee bars, and opportunities for playful engagement and assimilation of teams. Affordances for social interaction can also be derived from space syntax theory, which argues that the layout of buildings allows for encounters and avoidance between users (Hillier et al., 1984). By analysing floorplans and observing behaviour, Rashid et al. (2006) and Koutsolampros et al. (2015) found that visibility and accessibility influenced face-to-face interactions and improved perceived privacy. According to Ashkanasy et al. (2014), affordances like architectural privacy, spatial density, and possibilities for workspace personalization are critical characteristics related to office users’ needs. 1.2.4 Health and (social) well-being Definitions of health The work in this dissertation adopted the widely accepted definition of health by the WHO (2006) and took the perspective of the individual office worker. In the past decades, there has been a debate about the WHO definition, especially the unrealistic standard of ‘a complete state’ of health instead of, for example, the successful coping with chronic disease (Huber et al., 2011). Nevertheless, I consider the WHO definition a useful model for research on healthy workplaces because (a) it equals health to wellbeing, thus including the subjective experience of health, and (b) considers three dimensions of health, social, physical, and psychological, thus highlighting various aspects of human life. It implies a wider scope than, for example, narrow views of occupational health and safety in practice as a management response to the legal obligations of the employer (Zanko & Dawson, 2012) and the pathogenic perspective on health as the mere absence of disease. The WHO definition paved the way for positive approaches to health that highlight the importance of creating environments that support well-being and reduce stress. However, an emphasis on ‘the ability to adapt and self-manage in the face of social, physical, and emotional challenges’, as Huber et al. (2011) propose, seems less useful to research on the impact of the rather static physical environment and seems to ignore the experience of happiness in favour of satisfaction or a sense of achievement. According to Kieman Fallon and Karlawish (2019), there has been little response to the proposal of Huber et al. (2011).

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