Open-Plan Office Density and Environmental Satisfaction

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TypeTechnical Report
Series titleResearch Report (National Research Council Canada. Institute for Research in Construction); no. RR-150
Physical description25 p.
SubjectOffice/Workstation design; Open-plan offices [cubicles]
AbstractThe open-plan office has been popular among design professionals since the late 1960's. This office design tends to produce higher occupant density than is typically found in traditional enclosed offices, a factor that has the potential to influence environmental satisfaction. Therefore, we conducted a literature review to examine the effects of density on occupants' environmental satisfaction.We selected nineteen studies for this literature review. The first ten studies provided indirect evidence that density might play a role in affecting environmental satisfaction. Specifically, these studies showed that environmental satisfaction decreased in open-plan offices as compared to traditional offices, if offices were considered less private and more crowded, and in high-density laboratory settings.The remaining nine studies directly examined the relationship between density and environmental satisfaction, using either a measure of social density (occupants per office) or spatial density (ft2 per occupant). Two out of four social density studies, which examined a range of 1 to 30+ occupants per office, found that environmental satisfaction decreased as social density increased. Three out of five spatial density studies, which examined a range of 60 to 550 ft2 per person, found that the more space an employee had, the more satisfied they were with their work environment (see figure below). The remaining studies reported that density was not significantly related to occupant satisfaction. However, no studies found that satisfaction increased as density increased.
Publication date
PublisherNational Research Council Canada
AffiliationNRC Institute for Research in Construction; National Research Council Canada
Peer reviewedNo
NRC numberNRC-IRC-16112
NPARC number20377537
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Record identifierb5008ea2-42b7-40ae-ae93-ff6bb70279ce
Record created2012-07-24
Record modified2017-06-15
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