Workplace and Language - Constructing the user experience of office space

Kaisa Airo

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


    The employees are the companies' most valuable asset, therefore it is essential that the work environment meets the employees' needs and supports their performance. Still "the space" is often a neglected attribute in management discourse. Thus experience based knowledge of office users is a crucial element in developing workplaces and -spaces. This dissertation claims that language constructs experience of workplace because, although we live in a physical reality all our concepts, values and ultimately experience is derived from a social linguistic process. Thus although words do not construct places, they have a profound role in constructing the experience of the places and spaces. The aim of this dissertation is to bring the sociolinguistic perspective into the workplace management research and to portray communicational patterns that lead to the user experience of the workplace. The theory of social constructionism by Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann was applied to workplace management research by using sociolinguistic methods of discourse- and narrative analysis in analyzing the user experience of office space. Communicational patterns were investigated with 3 empirical papers concerning relocation from enclosed office to the open plan office. One paper focused on public discourse concerning open plan office. Additionally literature review was conducted, in which the sociolinguistic perspective in workplace management research was reviewed. The literature review indicated that the linguistic methods of narrative and discourse analysis are not recognized in workplace management research in a comprehensive way by combining the research on built environment to the research on organization and culture. If they were used, methods were applied to the research of space and place as means of communication and means of identity construction. The 4 empirical papers suggest that the rhetorical patterns of the language of the workplace heavily reflect the ongoing identity work of the office users. Thus when looking into the user experience of workplace, it is crucial to identify what kind identities are displayed and what kind of contradiction are displayed. This is because the office users construct their experience based on their perception of their professional identity. Language about the spaces is still an unknown territory, and as such should be studied more extensively. This should be acknowledged among all the stakeholders in the facility management and built environment fields of study. Managing the space is important – not only as a physical asset but also as a source of conversations and reflection of social order. The workplace discourse is an important channel to deepen the understanding the workplace experience or any other spatial experience of the user.
    Translated title of the contributionTyöympäristö ja kieli - Käyttäjäkokemuksen rakentuminen keskusteluissa
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor's degree
    Awarding Institution
    • Aalto University
    • Saari, Arto, Supervisor
    • Nenonen, Suvi, Advisor
    Print ISBNs978-952-60-5953-2
    Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-5954-9
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


    • workplace
    • office
    • user experience
    • social constructionism
    • discourse analysis
    • narrative analysis

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