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Consider employees’ personalities when creating workspaces, researchers say


Photo: vm/iStockphoto

Tucson, AZ — Are you at your happiest and most productive in a private workstation? Or does sharing an open space with your colleagues sound better?

Researchers at the University of Arizona; California State University, East Bay; and the General Services Administration recommend employers take individual workers’ personalities into account as part of “an employee-centered approach” to workspace design.

The researchers examined data from GSA’s Wellbuilt for Wellbeing research project, studying more than 270 adult office workers in four federal buildings. The workers wore health-tracking sensors and answered questions sent to their smartphones that assessed their feelings at given moments.  

Findings show that the workers who identified as more extroverted, or seeking social interaction, showed greater happiness and focus in offices with more open seating arrangements. Meanwhile, workers who were more introverted were more happy and focused in more private spaces.

“Our work illuminates the importance of considering both the individual’s personality and their environment in predicting important behavioral and mood outcomes, such as how happy a person is and how well a person is able to work,” Matthias Mehl, senior study author and professor in the UA Department of Psychology, said in a press release.

The researchers suggest that the approach may be sustainable as employees and job-seekers continue their call for workplaces with greater flexibility.

The study was published online in the Journal of Research and Personality.

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