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Ergonomics. 2005 Feb;48(2):119-34.

The effect of office concepts on worker health and performance: a systematic review of the literature.

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Coronel Institute for Occupational and Environmental Health, Academic Medical Center, Research Institute Amsterdam Center for Health and Health Care Research, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Conventional and innovative office concepts can be described according to three dimensions: (1) the office location (e.g. telework office versus conventional office); (2) the office lay-out (e.g. open lay-out versus cellular office); and (3) the office use (e.g. fixed versus shared workplaces). This review examined how these three office dimensions affect the office worker's job demands, job resources, short- and long-term reactions. Using search terms related to the office concept (dimensions), a systematic literature search starting from 1972 was conducted in seven databases. Subsequently, based on the quality of the studies and the consistency of the findings, the level of evidence for the observed findings was assessed. Out of 1091 hits 49 relevant studies were identified. Results provide strong evidence that working in open workplaces reduces privacy and job satisfaction. Limited evidence is available that working in open workplaces intensifies cognitive workload and worsens interpersonal relations; close distance between workstations intensifies cognitive workload and reduces privacy; and desk-sharing improves communication. Due to a lack of studies no evidence was obtained for an effect of the three office dimensions on long-term reactions. The results suggest that ergonomists involved in office innovation could play a meaningful role in safeguarding the worker's job demands, job resources and well-being. Attention should be paid, in particular, to effects of workplace openness by providing acoustic and visual protection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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