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Can personal control over the physical environment ease distractions in office workplaces?

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The purpose of this study was to investigate whether perception of control over aspects of the physical environment reduces the previously documented negative effects of distraction in office workplaces on perceived job performance. This study analysed 384 questionnaires collected from employees in the corporate offices of three manufacturing companies in Michigan, USA. The role of a sense of personal control over physical environment features as a mediating influence between work attitudes and work outcomes was explored using structural equations modelling. The results showed that workers' sense of control over physical aspects of their work environment mediated the relationship between perceived distractions and perceived job performance. These results suggest that increasing perceptions of personal control over features of the physical work environment may serve to link work attitudes and work outcomes. Open-plan offices are common throughout the world, making this study relevant for researchers and practitioners alike. These results suggest that if employees can adjust aspects of their office work environment, this may increase their sense of personal control, reducing the effects of distractions, a frequent complaint in open offices.
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Keywords: distraction; mediating variable; perceived performance; personal control; workplace

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Housing and Interior Design, Chung-Ang University, Korea 2: Ideation Group, Haworth, Holland, U.S.A.

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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