The ideal office space depends on the employee’s personality, a study finds.
The study, published in Journal of Research and Personality, finds that people who are more extroverted are often happier and more focused in offices with open seating, offices that aren’t separated by partitions. On the other hand, people who are more introverted and tend to worry more are happier and more focused in private offices.
“This suggests that the workplace should be designed to fit the worker, not the other way around,” says study co-author Esther Sternberg, director of research for the University of Arizona’s Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine and director of the Institute of university on Place. Wellbeing and Performance.
“Our work illuminates the importance of looking at both a person’s personality and their environment in predicting important behavioral and mood outcomes, such as how happy a person is and how well they can work,” says senior study author Matthias Mehl , professor. in the psychology department. “In this vein, we demonstrate that when employers design and allocate workplaces, it can be beneficial to take a worker-centred approach.”
The researchers based their study on data collected through the Wellbuilt for Wellbeing research project, which Sternberg led.
More than 270 office workers in four federal buildings wore health-monitoring sensors and were sent questions on their smartphones about how they were feeling at the time. The researchers linked various aspects of workers’ health and well-being, including activity, stress, sleep, behavior, focus and mood, to different aspects of the environment in which workers worked, including the type of workstation.
Typically, how employees are assigned to different types of workplaces has little to do with who they are and what environment they thrive in.
“As personality psychologists, we know that people are very different and that they need different things to be well and to do well,” says lead author Erica Baranski, an assistant professor of psychology at California State University, East Bay.
“At the same time, as it is estimated that we spend up to 90% of our time indoors, much of it in the workplace, it is imperative that these spaces suit individual needs. Yet historically, organizations have treated all people as if they were and needed the same space – a one-size-fits-all model.”
Although the study’s data was collected before the pandemic, the issue of workplace design has become more relevant as the US grapples with the “great layoff”—the economic trend that saw many workers voluntarily leave their jobs in its wake COVID-19. says Sternberg.
Experts said the increased desire for variation and flexibility in workplaces is here to stay, and it’s here for scientists to understand.
“To recruit and retain employees—their most valuable asset—organizations must focus on the well-being of their workforce, front and center,” says Sternberg, who is also a professor of medicine and a member of the BIO5 Institute.
“This study provides quantitative data on the importance of considering individual personality in optimizing individual well-being in the workplace.”
The Wellbuilt for Wellbeing project was funded by the United States General Services Administration.
Source: University of Arizona