Methods for identifying and measuring the performance impacts of work environment changes
Palvalin, Miikka; Vuolle, Maiju (2016-09-12)
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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to introduce and evaluate methods for analysing the impacts of work environment changes. New working practices and work environments present the potential to improve both the productivity and the wellbeing of knowledge workers, and more widely, the performance of organisations and the wider society. The flexibility offered by information and communication technology has influenced changes in the physical environment where activity-based offices are becoming the standard. Research offers some evidence on the impacts of work environment changes, but studies examining methods that could be useful in capturing the overall impacts and how to measure them are lacking. Design/methodology/approach: This paper concludes research of the last five years and includes data from several organisations. The paper presents and empirically demonstrates the application of three complementary ways to analyse the impacts of knowledge work redesigns. The methods include: interview framework for modelling the potential of new ways of working (NWoW); questionnaire tool for measuring the subjective knowledge work performance in the NWoW context; and multidimensional performance measurement for measuring the performance impacts at the organisational level. Findings: This paper presents a framework for identifying the productivity potential and measuring the impacts of work environment changes. The paper introduces the empirical examples of three different methods for analysing the impacts of NWoW and discusses the usefulness and challenges of the methods. The results also support the idea of a measurement process and confirm that it suits NWoW context. Practical implications: The three methods explored in this study can be used in organisations for planning and measuring work environment changes. The paper presents a comprehensive approach to work environment which could help managers to identify and improve the critical points of knowledge work. Originality/value: Changes in the work environment are huge for knowledge workers, but it is still unclear whether their effects on performance are negative or positive. The value of this paper is that it applies traditional measurement methods to NWoW contexts, and analyses how these could be used in research and management.
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