On workers' fit with activity-based work environments

Jan Gerard Hoendervanger


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Activity-based work (ABW) environments, providing workers with a variety of non-assigned work settings, seem heading to become the new normal in the post-COVID-19 world of work. Yet, research has shown mixed results, which call the effectiveness of the concept into question. To find clues for the optimization of ABW practice, the current PhD research project was designed to examine how workers’ jobs, tasks, behaviors, psychological needs, and demographic characteristics may be related to their perceived fit. Two survey-based studies revealed relevant workers’ attributes, which were further examined in experience-sampling field studies and a virtual reality experiment. The findings demonstrate that perceived fit, resulting from the alignment of workers’ needs and abilities with the environment’s supplies and demands, may explain mixed outcomes of ABW environments. From these findings, a clear profile arises of workers who best fit with ABW environments, i.e.: high task variety, job autonomy, external and internal mobility, social interaction, and need for relatedness; low need for privacy; few high-complexity tasks, many non-individual tasks; appropriately using open and closed work settings; frequently switching between work settings; relatively young age. Furthermore, lack of privacy for high-concentration work, due to the highly prevalent use of open work settings, appeared to be the single-most important issue in current ABW practice. The ABW concept is clearly not a one-size-fits-all solution and requires careful implementation to provide the right mix of work settings, and to stimulate workers to use them in accordance with their varying and changing needs.
Originele taal-2English
KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
Toekennende instantie
  • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  • van Yperen, Nico, Supervisor
  • Albers, Casper, Supervisor
  • Mobach, Mark, Co-supervisor
Datum van toekenning8-apr.-2021
Plaats van publicatie[Groningen]
Gedrukte ISBN's978-94-6421-230-3
StatusPublished - 2021

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