Offices are workspaces designed for regular use to achieve personal, group or organizational goals through the accomplishment of tasks. Sanders and McCormick, (2002) go on to state that these tasks can be grouped into cognitive, physical, social or procedural tasks. The office provides a location for contact and could also be a repository for tools, information and other resources required to meet business objectives. It is also a business resource, this a point most people fail to understand thus, the failure to properly design and evaluate work spaces.
The work place or office is one of the places the modern man spends the bulk of his waking hours. Sanders and McCormick, (2002) say almost half of ones waking hours are spent in and around the office. This would provide explanation for research efforts into the design and utilization of offices.
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According to Myerson and Ross (2003) the office grew out of the factory and then followed the trend of bureaucratization of industry. Thus, offices have been viewed differently by users and companies. Some view it as an address, others as a necessary evil but to others it is considered to be an asset. Bjerrum and Bødker (2003) noted that the design of an office was mostly considered as a cost and done to support quiet work and also show peoples status. While the purpose of the “New office” is to be that of attracting and retaining staff as well as to revolutionalize corporate culture.
Work places or offices have been described variously as; conventional, traditional, and closed or open plan offices. Some, group them as large or small, landscaped etc. (Sanders and McCormick, 2002). The general descriptions of workspaces fall under the categories of open plan and cellular offices and this is based on the architectural and functional features of the work spaces (Duffy, Laing and Crisp, 1992).
Other descriptions and categorization of offices include the hive; which is suited to individual processes. The den; suited to group processes. The cell; designed for concentrated study while the club supports transactional knowledge (Sailer, Budgen, Lonsdale, Turner and Penn, 2009). There are other descriptions of office types for example, Myerson and Ross (2003) from an architectural point of view, showed that views of property and space as related to the office environment have been evolving and as such, they identify four thematic categories of offices namely: narrative which presents the “office as a brand experience.” Nodal where the “office as knowledge connector.” The neighborly theme sees the “office as a social landscape” and lastly nomadic “office as distributed work space” these grouping reflect more of necessity and corporate culture not necessarily a collection of generally practically replicable models.
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