Do personality types matter when designing a workplace?

By Dr Lusine Tarkhanyan & Mike Wood on 1 August 2018

Our development into the world of virtual technology has provided our designers with tools to create and experience spaces like never before. It’s also enabled us to push our research into how people use space even further, by allowing us to conduct behavioural experiments within virtual simulations. It's allowed us to create certain spaces and scenarios that would not have been possible in a real world environment, and measure how people react to them.

We created multiple virtual rooms where we used similar desk setups but we varied other factors. We captured participants’ reactions and choice of desk, view, degree of privacy, etc. We even tested unrealistic situations like a room with no door or a bank of desks on a roof with no walls.

Once we had captured users’ reactions and experiences, we cross-referenced this with their psychometric profile. We wanted to know why people choose different desks? And what would drive these people to sit at different desks within the same room?

So, does personality matter when designing workplaces for people?

The simple answer is yes.

We found that extroverts cared more about accessibility than privacy. They tended to choose their ideal workpoint quickly, selecting desks that allowed them to be seen and that were positioned near spaces that generated a high level of footfall, and thus opportunities for collaboration. Introverts meanwhile tended to take much longer selecting their ideal desk. They would choose more peripheral positions with a view of the whole room. These desks, with their backs facing a wall or window, had a higher level of privacy.

Using these findings and our experience, we can create an environment that matches the needs of the people using it. We can create a workplace which reflects the way they want to live their lives.

We are now able to create real spaces bespoke to the test we want to carry out. We can limit all extraneous factors to a minimum whilst keeping the test subjects on a dedicated path, capturing all data automatically. This presents a fantastic future for testing, simulation and experimentation. And an even better future for workplaces.

Topics: design, team, spacelab, architecture, workplace consultancy, Office wellbeing, workplace research, agile working, augmented reality