Designing Activity-based Workspaces – An Analysis of Creativity Enhancers and Inhibitors in Physical Work Environments

Marc Rücker, Oscar Pakos, Max Bauer, Kai-Ingo Voigt


Employee creativity is the origin of every innovation and therefore crucial for a company's success. For this reason, the promotion of employee creativity is gaining more and more attention among practitioners and companies are increasingly implementing activity-based workspaces (ABWs) to improve the creative performance of their employees. Based on desk sharing and a mix of open and closed spaces, ABWs allow employees to select optimal working conditions for the task at hand. Nevertheless, literature is divided on whether ABWs effectively promote employee creativity and which ABW elements enhance or inhibit creativity. To close this research gap, we conducted interviews with ABW experts (N = 101). In the experts’ accounts of creativity enhancers and inhibitors, the former were emphasized more strongly. Most of the identified enhancers and inhibitors were related more to the area of human resources and work practices (e.g., territorial flexibility, bustling activity) than physical layout and facilities (e.g., inspirational design, the person-environment fit) and organizational culture and structure (e.g., atmosphere, mindset), which indicates that employees and appropriate ABW use are the crucial factors for promoting creativity, while facilities serve mainly as enablers. These findings offer valuable guidance in designing and developing ABWs to foster employee creativity.

Keywords: activity-based workspace, physical work environment, creativity, innovation, qualitative study

DOI: 10.7176/EJBM/14-4-01

Publication date: February 28th 2022

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