Aesthetics Versus Function in Office Architecture: Employees' Perception of the Workplace

Christina Bodin Danielsson

Abstract


This study investigates the influence of the aesthetic and functional dimensions of architecture on office employees’ perceptions of their own workplace and organization. It is motivated by the lack of architectural research on employees’ identification with, and emotions related to, workplaces and organizations. Hereby potentially important insights have the chance to emerge that otherwise would not do so.

An explorative approach is taken to investigate the ways that: 1) type of office, 2) different dimensions of architecture, and 3) architectural quality play in influencing employees’ perceptions of their workplaces and organizations. The sample consists of nineteen in-depth interviews with employees working in different types of offices and employed by varying organizations of different sizes.

Results show that employee’s office category has several impacts, e.g. if the employee’s workplace focus is on work itself, the social life among employees, or the physical environment at work. When workplace focus is on the physical environment, the employees emphasize the aesthetic more than functional dimensions of the space, which are only in focus when the proximate work environment is discussed. Most importantly, the aesthetic dimensions appear to influence both the employee’s perception of their workplace and the organization as a whole.

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