Can the Office Environment Be a Motivator? What Makes a Good Enough Working Environment on the Eve of 2020?
A well-designed office environment is often touted as a key motivator nowdays, although it is not entirely clear how to use it consciously. Our goal was to understand the role of the physical environment in new generation offices and whether it can be a motivator at all. We asked open-office employees to describe the three main criteria of an excellent work environment. We analyzed 509 participants' 1456 answers and classified them into 146 content codes. These content codes were further categorized based on whether they refer to the physical or/and the social environment, as well as along the eight needs Maslow described. 82.07 % of the answers referred to the physical environment, ambient stimuli dominated the sample with 324 mentions under 6 content codes (eg.: bright (128), quiet (69)). The majority (55.59 %) of the responses could be categorized under Maslow’s safety needs, but 14.15 % of them referred to one of Maslow’s growth needs (eg.: plants (26), decoration (21)). Using the intersection of Maslow's and Herzberg's theory, we argue that certain physical environmental aspects can be considered as a hygiene factor, some of them as a motivator. And some of them as both meaning some aspects can be considered on more level from an emotional-motivational perspective. Planning an office is not just an architectural question, but a psychological one as well. In order to design human-focused work places we need to understand the exact role and the layering of the physical environmental aspects.