Influence of dynamic changes of workplace on organisational culture

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Management and Organization, 2021, 27, (6), pp. 1003-1020
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Challenged by the effects of organisational flexibility and high corporate real estate costs, organisations are increasingly seeking flexibility and operational efficiency in their office spaces. To date, the literature relating to flexible office spaces has focused mainly on their physical characteristics. The full effects of such spaces on human reactions and the corporate culture of organisations are less understood. The objective of this paper is to examine the influence of introducing activity-based working (ABW) on existing organisational culture. It was addressed from the perspective of the management of large corporate organisations. A mixed-method research that included a qualitative approach followed by a quantitative approach was adopted. The first stage included semistructured interviews with 19 large organisations who had introduced flexible layouts. The second stage involved a questionnaire survey of 32 organisations which had experienced office layout changes. Findings identify that the nature of workplace designs has a considerable impact on the corporate culture of an organisation and can be used to leverage and change its culture. Workplace designs directly influence culture by supporting the systems, symbols, engagement/motivation and behaviours of the organisation and employees. However, some differences between the perceptions of public and private organisations were identified. In conclusion, office layouts are artefacts that can either support, or change, the existing organisational culture. Therefore, the critical achievement of workspace design is to integrate the cultures, values and behaviours of organisations to meet their ultimate goals.
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