Well-being architecture in academic workplace
Academic research work is well known to be flexible in the terms of time and place. However, several studies indicate that postgraduate students and academic professionals experience high levels of stress, due to the nature of their work. In the field of natural sciences, the academic workplace consists of offices as well as laboratories. Laboratories are specialized environments, where expensive instruments and spatial requirements play a significant role. Hence, these spaces are often designed according to technical needs, not according to human demands. However, the spaces should support well-being in all kinds of academic workplace environments, including laboratories.
The purpose of this paper is to study, which architectural solutions could support well-being in academic workplace, where laboratories form a major part of the working environment. The research approach is qualitative in nature and focus on a single case study. The empirical material is collected via interviews with academic researchers, and inductive content analysis is used as a method to analyse the interview material.
The results imply that well-being in academic workplace can be enhanced in a research laboratory environment, for example, by offering working spaces for concentration as well as collaboration. Laboratories can be seen as places for social interaction and collaboration, while offices are places for solitary work. Furthermore, the whole campus should support the varying nature of academic research work by offering different spaces and various activities.
The empirical research data is limited and it is based on a subjective opinion of the interviewees. Therefore, further studies are needed in order to compose a full understanding. However, the study provides a firm foundation for follow-up research. When designing academic workplace environments, elements that enhance well-being of the employees must be considered. The study offers novel insights to the workplace well-being from an architectural point of view in the context of research laboratory environment.
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