Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Centre for Innovative and Collaborative Construction Engineering


Dr Xiaoxing (Grace) Zhang


Organisational development: values and the sustainable workplace

Project Title

Lean Office Environments


Currie and Brown


Professor J Glass
Professor S Austin

Mr R Steele
Mr S Robison

Director of Research:
Dr C Pasquire

Research Period

2004 - 2008

Lean Office Environments


In the last few years, the construction industry has become increasingly aware that its client-occupiers derive the majority of their value (and invest much of their money) on the business operations accommodated within buildings.

Organisations such as CABE and BE now place great emphasis on this, regularly citing the 1:5:200 ratio, first proposed by the Royal Academy of Engineering, for an office building over 20 years, where:

• 1 is the initial capital cost of a building
• 5 is the operation and maintenance costs
• 200 is the business operation costs (mainly staff salaries)

Whilst the magnitude of the multipliers can be debated (and will vary with building and business types) the message is not disputed – the construction industry should be more concerned with the impact of its products on its clients’ business operations and success.

This EngD research focuses on two key aspects, namely the design of the workplace environment and the success of the business operations that it supports.

Aims and Objectives

The aim of this research is to identify and test ways in which the design and operation of offices and the business operations they support can be improved. This will be achieved through the attainment of the following objectives:

• To identify the critical success factors in relation to effective workplace environments
• To add significantly to the levels of knowledge so that the services sector of the property and construction industries can be more effective in the management of their business processes
• To create a new service/product stream based on lean design of business processes centred around a new interactive office environment
• To develop and validate suitable metrics for the above
• To trial and implement improvement measures with the sponsoring company

Method and Current Status

• State of the art review of research on the workplace environment
• Investigate lean theory and its applications within other industries (e.g. manufacturing industry and aerospace industry) and its application to service provision
• Carry out questionnaire surveys, workshop discussions and semi-structured interviews to identify the values of staff in offices of the sponsoring company. By aligning individual values with the organisational values, define the organisation’s mission and goals
• Investigate office work processes, practices and habits, and explore the impact of different office environments on the offices’ business performance and the alignment with the organisation’s values and goals
• Conduct interviews and action research to capture office users’ requirements
• Develop and test a prototype system for measuring and benchmarking office designs, activity and productivity, based upon appropriate metrics
• Carry out focussed case studies to test validity of approach
• Undertake financial analyses to explore short and long term cost-effectiveness
• Provide ongoing feedback to supervisory team by written and verbal reports

• Literature review and information gathering
• Questionnaire survey, workshop discussion and semi-structured interviews to identify organisational values in one office of the sponsoring company

Benefits/Expected Outcomes

The research will identify and test a viable, comprehensive approach to provide leading-edge workplaces that: are integrated with an organisation’s values and culture; facilitate the development of lean business processes; enhance the organisation’s brand image; and therefore increase its profitability.

The expected outcomes will include guidance documents for the design of workplace environments and the business capability to apply the methods/techniques in practice, which may be developed into a service for appropriate clients

Zhang, X. … et al. (2008). Toward collective organizational values: a case study in UK construction. Construction Management and Economics, 26(10), pp. 1009-1028.

Zhang, G., Glass, J. And Austin, S.A. (2008). Developing a framework for sustainable workforces using a values-based approach, Proceedings of the 2nd International Sustainability Conference, 2nd International Sustainability Conference, 21-22 August 2008, Basel, Switzerland.

Zhang, X., Austin, S.A. and Glass, J. (2008). Understanding Values Diversity within the organisation: a case study in UK Construction. IN: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Nations, 17-20 June 2008, Montreal, Canada.

Zhang, X., Austin, S.A. and Glass, J. (2006). Linking individual and organisational values: a case study in UK construction. IN: Proceedings of the 22nd Annual ARCOM Conference, Association of Researchers in Construction Management, Birmingham, UK, September 2006, pp 833 - 842.





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Loughborough University
LE11 3TU

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