|M.Sc Student||Sagie Eyal|
|Subject||Considerations in the Design of the Physical Environment for|
Teamwork in Knowledge based Companies
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisors||Professor Dafna Fisher Gewirtzm|
|Professor Daniel Czamanski|
In the past decade the work environment of the modern organization has been undergoing several changes caused mainly due to the economic, social and technological changes of the new business world. The composition of the work force changes as more and more companies rely on intellectual capital for their success. As companies strive to optimally exploit the collective knowledge and creativeness of their employees, many organizations abandon traditional work patterns for flatter organizational structures supported by open communication channels and collaborative work patterns. The main change variant relates to the increasing importance of team-work.
As a result of these changes new work spaces are evolving - different in their definition, size, functionality and social significance from the traditional work space. Their appearance greatly influence the interactive work patterns generated in the workplace. Patterns which have a major role in the organizational strategy of any Knowledge based Company.
While most research on the transition to team-based work environments is reviewed from managerial and social point of views, the discussion on the space planning and design implications of the phenomenon is very limited. This paper, through knowledge surveys and case-study analysis, examines the physical architectural aspects of the team work environment - specifically among Knowledge based companies, where the phenomenon is common.
The research consists of two main parts:
A Literature Survey - This part introduces the teamwork phenomenon and its principles by reviewing the organizational, social and cultural processes connected to teamwork in Knowledge-based companies. In parallel, the survey reviews the evolvement of the physical work environment behind the transition towards team based work patterns. The discussion includes examples from the literature and the field, of physical design solutions supporting teamwork.
Case-study Analysis - After reviewing the theoretical principles involved in the design of the team work environment, the study moves to examine the pragmatic expression of these principles through Formal and Functional analysis of selected team environments in a variety of spatial situations. Finally, the study reveals its prognosis by evaluating design programs based on the levels of interaction and autonomy associated to their teamwork environments.
The knowledge reflects how the appearance of new work spaces supporting intensive teamwork affects the office landscape - both physically and functionally. Team activities shift from their traditional work environments (i.e. formal conference rooms and private offices) to new places - such as public circulation areas, lounges, designated team commons - and often to “virtual” places which the traditional physical work environment can hardly support.
It is concludes from the case-study analysis, that there is a strong connection between the formal and physical composition of the work environment and the degree of interaction (and autonomy) desired from the teamwork. This connection may be quantified by calculating the relative influence coefficient of each spatial factor on the nature of the teamwork performed in the work environment. Never-the-less, it must be acknowledged that physical workspace alone cannot “determine” the amount of interaction between people. The functional success of the team environment depends highly on the involvement of the organizations’ executives: first in increasing the awareness of the teamwork culture among their employees - and only then to the physical environment supporting it.