University of Oulu

Markkanen, P., Juuti, E. and Herneoja, A. (2022), "Exploring ways to study the workplace design in a small knowledge work company", Journal of Corporate Real Estate, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 208-223.

Exploring ways to study the workplace design in a small knowledge work company

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Author: Markkanen, Piia1; Juuti, Eevi1; Herneoja, Aulikki1
Organizations: 1Oulu School of Architecture, Faculty of Technology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Emerald, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-06-20


Purpose: This study aims to find ways to bridge the gap between workplace design and research. Exploring the design process from general design aims to site-specific design makes the process visible to support workplace design research.

Design/methodology/approach: Participatory design methods were used to understand employees’ needs and preferences in work-related situations to support the design process. The design process was divided into three phases. The office was temporarily refurbished for the intervention study, and evaluation data was collected with qualitative methods.

Findings: Participatory design-generated data revealed typical knowledge work needs, such as the need for privacy, interaction, exposure and preferences for the atmosphere in the workspaces during different situations. The authors identified the following key points to obtain design data: design aims, affordance design and site-specific multidimensional design. An intervention study in a small organisation revealed that lack of activity-supporting spaces created undesirable overlaps for focused work, collaborative work and client communication.

Research limitations/implications: The findings of this paper are explorative and limited to a small knowledge work company. The present approach identifies valuable data collection points in different design phases of workplace design processes. Sharing knowledge from practice to research and vice versa could inform research and improve workplace design.

Originality/value: This study makes the workplace design phases more visible. It supports finding new ways to study the connection between the user-needs and workplaces; and understanding how different design solutions impact workplace experiences, such as satisfaction. This study also brings focus to understanding the versatile needs of small organisations and their workplace design.

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Series: Journal of corporate real estate
ISSN: 1463-001X
ISSN-E: 1479-1048
ISSN-L: 1463-001X
Volume: 24
Issue: 3
Pages: 208 - 223
DOI: 10.1108/JCRE-01-2021-0006
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 211 Architecture
Funding: This work was funded by European Regional Development Fund A71443 InnoStaVa, and partially by The Finnish Cultural Foundation and The Academy of Finland project 314597 ActiveWorkSpace.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 314597
Detailed Information: 314597 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2022, Piia Markkanen, Eevi Juuti and Aulikki Herneoja. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at