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Productivity and wellbeing in the 21st century workplace: Implications of choice

Hanc, Madalina-Luiza; (2019) Productivity and wellbeing in the 21st century workplace: Implications of choice. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The shift from industrial production to a knowledge-based economy in Western countries and internationally emphasises the growing importance of knowledge workers, i.e. highly-skilled professionals. Their productivity and wellbeing may be essential for maintaining organisational success and national prosperity. However, the role played by the workspace in achieving these outcomes is not fully established. A gap of knowledge exists between the environmental and social sciences approaches to workspace productivity and wellbeing. The environmental sciences perspective emphasizes the role of the physical ‘workspace’ environment on productivity and wellbeing. In contrast, the social sciences approach focuses on the psychosocial processes in the ‘workplace’. Considering the physical and psychosocial determinants as independent from each other leads to an incomplete understanding of workspace productivity and wellbeing. A global shift towards flexible working styles highlights the necessity to explore both perspectives. Aided by the development of digital work technologies, a growing number of employees are becoming able to work anytime, anywhere. This maximises the role of personal choice of space and time of work on productivity and wellbeing and may require re-examination of the role played by the physical workspace environment. The research aims to understand both environmental and social sciences perspectives on workplace outcomes of productivity and wellbeing, particularly focussing on ‘knowledge’ work conducted in office buildings and other locations. It explores the relationship between personal choice over the space and time of work, and the quality of the physical office environment, on two outcomes: productivity and wellbeing. The methodology adopted for this 'WorQ’, Workspace Quality and Choice study, includes a novel tool to measure productivity using a proxy: cognitive learning. It applies the established Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale and adopts the ecological momentary assessment approach. The methodology uses short digital questionnaires and a smartphone-based cognitive testing application to assess the short- and medium-term effects of physical and psychosocial factors in the workspace. The results show statistically significant associations with wellbeing: participants with higher levels of choice of work space and time reported higher levels of wellbeing. No clear patterns were found regarding the relationship between choice of work space and time and cognitive learning, but choice of time alone was suggested to have a potentially positive impact on learning. The practical implications of the findings for workplace management are addressed, as is the further development of research to better understand the interactions of personal choice and the design of physical work environments.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Productivity and wellbeing in the 21st century workplace: Implications of choice
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ 4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms.
Keywords: workplace, productivity, wellbeing, choice
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10073396
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