Specification and empirical exploration of a usability concept in the workplace

; ; (). Specification and empirical exploration of a usability concept in the workplace. Facilities, 11/12. 649-661. Peer reviewed.

Purpose: Building on fundamental work on usability of workplaces this paper extends the perspective of usability as an approach in delivering workplace solutions. In order to explore the content and implications of usability, the concept is differentiated into two sub-concepts: usefulness and user-friendliness.

Design/methodology/approach: The theoretical rationale for the proposed conceptual specification is presented and explored using data from two independent research projects, a qualitative interview study in an office relocation project in Finland and a quantitative survey study of 1420 office users of 43 buildings in Switzerland. The goal of the empirical research is to capture the elements of user experience connected to usability using the distinction between usefulness and user-friendliness.

Findings: The results from both studies show that perceived support of work activities by workspaces in relation to work tasks is the main element of usefulness. User-friendliness incorporates comfort and control as the two most important aspects. Correlations between usefulness and user-friendliness and outcomes of usable workspace design are low for self-assessed performance, moderate for job satisfaction, and high for work area satisfaction.

Practical implications: Providing useful workplaces supports users’ job performance while designing for user-friendliness is correlated with user satisfaction

Originality/value: The differentiation of usefulness and user-friendliness of office environments provides a new way to describe user experience. The integration of qualitative and quantitative research strategies strengthens the research evidence.