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The Relationship Between Personality and Workspace Design

September 2015

Officing Today

At a roundtable discussion hosted by business psychologists OPP and workplace design firm KI, attended by Officing Today, it was revealed that most of today’s workplaces fail to accommodate the personality needs of individual employees. This is causing widespread discomfort and a severe drain on productivity.

Yet despite best efforts, solid evidence on the relationship between personality type and the workplace remains elusive. Here, Officing Today reports on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. The slightest and most subtle change in environment – be it a desk move, a new office, a standing desk – can have massive ramifications on an employee’s state of mind. It can contribute to a shift in their happiness and productivity at work. In the end, it comes down to one single essential ingredient: the individual.
Discussion Overview

Introduction: The vast majority of workplace design and furnishing makes little allowance for individual preferences with regard to work and communication styles. In a world of flexible working, a greater focus on employee welfare and a demanding, upwardly mobile workforce; the panel asks the question: how can our workplaces better reflect the needs of our workers?
Research – ‘Type and Work Environment’ The discussion was based on an extensive research report produced by KI and OPP, ‘Type and Work Environment’, which investigates the relationship between psychological type and the office environment.
In brief, the report (311 participants) found:
◾Most respondents would prefer a small shared or private office instead of a largely open-plan environment
◾Those with the ability to personalize their work area are happier at work; features such as desk-sharing or hot-desking are disliked by most people, including Extroverts
◾Having ‘quiet areas’ available for concentrated tasks is desired by most respondents, particularly Introverts

◾Jonathan Hindle (KI, Group Managing Director EMEA)
◾John Hackston (OPP, Head of R&D)
◾Jonny Gifford (CIPD, Research Advisor)
◾Bob Seddon (BIFM, Chair, Workplace Special Interest Group)
◾Jackie Murphy (Flagship Consulting) – Panel Moderator

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