Insights Through Participation

Behavioural changes aren’t easy to make. Yet they are crucial if a business or organisation wishes to implement a new way of working, especially if the move is towards a flexible or hybrid method. 

Research shows that the majority of organisational changes concerning behaviour patterns do not meet their goals. A change in the way of working is no exception. As these changes often include a change in workplace culture, they are both difficult and demanding to achieve.

By including employees in the change process, you can smooth out some of these bumps along the road. Gaining insights through participation is one of the five overarching principles in the development of a workplace strategy (Workplace Adequacy™ Framework). In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of welcoming participation along with how to do so. 

The connection between participation and acceptance

Change is hard, and is often met with resistance. An organisation might try hard to inform employees about the change – explain what’s going to happen and why it’s beneficial – but if people aren’t involved in the process, they aren’t likely to accept it. 

Employee participation in a change leads to a feeling of ownership and acceptance.

Research concerning office design and the changing of working methods demonstrates that participation can have positive effects on acceptance of the new work environment, along with a feeling of ownership and acceptance of agreements. The opposite is also true. There is actually a correlation between a lack of support for agreements and a flexible working method not functioning.

Let’s go through some of the psychological reasons behind this connection. 

Predictability and understanding

Participation in an event creates a feeling of predictability and understanding of the process that allows people to relate to the change. 

By involving employees in the process early on, you give them time to re-evaluate old norms and values, accept the change, and practice using new tools for the new way of working. Why some are able to implement flexible ways of working and others aren’t can be due to the transformation journey itself.

Participation helps the workplace strategist

Another benefit of participation is that it helps the workplace strategist, or the people leading the transformation, to get a clearer picture of what the business needs and what challenges and possibilities the new way of working may carry. 

By inviting employees to participate through surveys or activity analyses, you can create spaces that work for them. Accommodating needs increases satisfaction and acceptance, which in turn will boost productivity in the new working environment. 

Without participation and the relevant data, the workplace strategy will be built on assumptions, which increases the risk of a poor match between needs and solutions.

Want more tips?

There are several aspects to consider when gathering insights through employee participation. These include: 

  1. Understanding the scope of the change 
  2. Resistance 
  3. An individual’s reaction to the change 
  4. Change at different levels
  5. Encourage useful participation 

Further reading

This article is based on the five principles for the development of a workplace strategy that we at WeOffice use to create bespoke workplace strategies. You can read more about them here.

References are taken from the book Workplace Strategy for the Flexible Office by Aram Seddigh. For more information on the book and workplace strategy in general, click here.


Seddigh, A. 2022. Arbetsplatsstrategi för det flexibla kontoret : metoder, verktyg och case med fokus på hybrid och aktivitetsbaserat arbetssätt, Stockholm, Blue Publishing.

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Babapour M. From fading novelty effects to emergent appreciation of Activity­based Flexible Offices: Comparing the individual, organisational and spatial adaptations in two case organisations. Applied ergonomics. 2019;81:102877.

Brunia S, Hartjes­Gosselink A. Personalization in non­territorial offices: A study of a human need. Journal of Corporate Real Estate. 2009;11(3):169–82.

Burke WW. Organization change: Theory and practice (3rd ed.): Sage Publications, Inc, Thousand Oaks, CA; 2011.

Haapakangas A, Hallman DM, Mathiassen SE, Jahncke H. Self­rated productivity and employee well­being in activity­based offices: The role of environmental perceptions and workspace use. Building and Environment. 2018;145:115–24.

Grenness T. Culture matters: Space and leadership in a cross­cultural perspective. Leadership in Spaces and Places 2015. p. 199–214.

M. BC, Rolfö L. Policies in Activity­based Flexible Offices: ‘I am sloppy with clean­desking. We don’t really know the rules.’ Ergonomics. 2019;62:1–20.

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