On Workers’ Fit with Activity-Based Work Environments

Jan Gerard Hoendervanger

Research output: Ph.D. ThesisPhD Research internal, graduation external

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Due to the rise of knowledge work since the 1980s, high job autonomy and high task variety have become common job characteristics. Knowledge workers increasingly work across multiple locations, using advanced information and communication technologies; a trend that is expected to accelerate in the post-COVID-19 world of work. As these developments fundamentally change the use of office work environments, organizations and workplace professionals have been searching for new ways to facilitate the workforce more effectively and efficiently. In the past two decades, more and more of them seem to have found the ultimate solution in activity-based working (ABW). According to this concept, workers share a variety of non-assigned work settings, enabling them to use different work settings in accordance with their varying tasks. Yet, outcomes of AWB environments generally fall short of expectations. Remarkably, while sharing the same ABW environment, some workers seem to experience fit while others do not.

Optimization of perceived fit with ABW environments is important for
organizations, since it is linked to various work outcomes. Currently, this is
particularly relevant in the context of expected post-COVID-19 changes in work
practices. To find clues for optimization of ABW practice, the current PhD research project was designed to examine how workers’ jobs, tasks, behaviors, psychological needs, and demographic characteristics may be related to their perceived fit. Two survey-based studies revealed relevant workers’ attributes, which were further examined in experience-sampling field studies and a virtual reality experiment. From the findings, a clear profile arises of workers who best fit with ABW environments, i.e.: high task variety, job autonomy, external and internal mobility, social interaction, and need for relatedness; low need for privacy; few highcomplexity tasks, many non-individual tasks; appropriately using open and closed work settings; frequently switching between work settings; relatively young age.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  • van Yperen, N.W., Advisor, External person
  • Alberts, C.J., Advisor, External person
  • Mobach, Mark P., Supervisor
Award date8 Apr 2022
Electronic ISBNs978-94-6421-230-3
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2021


  • healthy workplace
  • perceived fit
  • environment


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