The article “Workspace satisfaction: The privacy-communication trade-off” by Kim and de Dear (2013) has been focusing on the theme of Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) and its effect on the level of comfort experienced by the employees. Moreover, the benefits and limitations of the open and closed layout of the office on the employees has been elaborated. Employee perception of the pros and cons of closed and open office space has been used as a point of analysis for the research. Kim and de Dear (2013) have identified different components of IEQ, such as lighting, air quality, cleanliness etc. The researchers have sought to answer three questions through quantitative approach. The first area of consideration was the effect of office layout on the degree of satisfaction of personnel with IEQ components. Secondly, the degree of importance attached with each component of IEQ was examined in different workplace set ups. Third area addressed in this study was the positive effect of “ease of interaction” on reducing the negative perception of employees towards open offices. The key findings of the study show that enclosed private office is deemed as the type of layout that supports personnel to maintain high productivity (Kim and de Dear, 2013).

Critique of Article

The critical analysis of research involves the evaluation of different components ranging from the organization of ideas to the authenticity of the reported findings (Yeong, 2014). The first area under speculation is title of the article. The title has used keywords which indicates the content that has been covered in the paper. However, the title doesn’t fully reflect the different themes the researcher has addressed. The article has compared the different office set ups in terms of their pros and cons and the satisfaction experienced by employees for each type of layout. The abstract of the paper has summarized the assumptions, methodology used and the findings generated in the study. The purpose of the study has been clearly stated in the introduction section, mentioning the focus on personal enclosure and workplace set up and the impact on employee satisfaction for the different arrangements.

As far the literature is concerned, the discussion entails relevant literature that is related to the key themes of the article. The dominant theme of the researches included in the literature are related to the physical arrangement of the work space and employee attitude towards these different set ups. Furthermore, the advantages and disadvantages of open offices as mentioned in the literature have been covered. The benefit that open set up is considered to offer is increased communication between employees, while the disadvantage arises from the resultant noise that is caused by open workspace. The limitations in the existing literature have also been included in the literature, indicating the need for further study.

The research process has been objective in the sense that the authors have followed the quantitative approach to investigation, creating a research framework that focuses on numerical information that can be validated through statistical tests. Extensive data has been gathered from CBE database to evaluate the impact of different office spaces on employees and the preference of interaction over privacy for employees. The data collection didn’t involve the interaction between the researcher and respondents which could be a potential flaw in the data collection process. However, the data accessed was gathered by CBE which is renowned to offer reliable and valid data about employee and their office occupancy experiences. Therefore, the validity of data has been ensured before using it as a part of the study. In addition, the analysis of the data through statistical approach adds strength to the article as the findings are based on quantitative analysis rather than personal interpretation. Regression analysis has been used to test the data and answer the research questions. Moreover, the findings have been substantiated by evidence from relevant literature. For example, one of the finding was that amount of space doesn’t hold much significance for employees and studies with similar findings have been cited to back up the finding of Kim and de Dear (2013). The article has also drawn connection between research assumptions, finding and supporting literature to maintain objectivity of the article.

Overall, the article of Kim and de Dear (2013) has provided some interesting suggestions about the implications of the workplace set up and its influence on employee’s satisfaction. There have been other studies as well citing similar implications of office layout on the employee comfort level, communication levels and productivity. Boutellier, Ullman, Schreiber and Naef (2008) have argued that interaction between the employees is significantly greater in open spaces than the closed office set up. The increased level of interaction can reduce productivity of employees as a probable outcome of increased communication is noise in the workplace (Jahncke, Hygge, Halin, Green & Dimberg, 2011). Pejtersen, Allermann, Kristensen and Poulsen (2006) have shared similar findings of linkages between noise, productivity and satisfaction of the personnel.


Boutellier, R., Ullman, F., Schreiber, J., & Naef, R. (2008). Impact of office layout on communication in a science‐driven business. R&d Management, 38(4), 372-391.
Jahncke, H., Hygge, S., Halin, N., Green, A. M., & Dimberg, K. (2011). Open-plan office noise: Cognitive performance and restoration. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 31(4), 373-382.
Kim, J., & de Dear, R. (2013). Workspace satisfaction: The privacy-communication trade-off in open-plan offices. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 36, 18-26.
Pejtersen, J., Allermann, L., Kristensen, T. S., & Poulsen, O. M. (2006). Indoor climate, psychosocial work environment and symptoms in open‐plan offices. Indoor Air, 16(5), 392-401.
Yeong, F. M. (2014). How to read and critique a scientific research article: Notes to guide students reading primary literature. USA: World Scientific.