Reality can be messy. The ABW concept is based on particular assumptions about user behaviour. Perhaps unsurprisingly, research shows that those assumptions do not always obtain in everyday office life. For example, one of ABWs central ideas is that of a status-free work environment. In several studies, however, it was observed how (some) managers recreate private offices by systematically commandeering small meeting rooms. 58, 59 ABWs assumption about sharing spaces is also often challenged, as was shown in a Dutch case study where a team territorialized a section of the office by leaving papers on cabinets and decorating the walls with posters. 60Such observations show that one should be not nave about the importance and difficultyof organizational change. Success depends on execution and implementationAs mentioned earlier, ABW research comes up with many different, often contrasting findings, with examples of both very successful and unsuccessful cases. Much seems to depend on how the concept is executed and implemented. This is nicely illustrated by a study carried out by the Center for People and Buildings in which four ABW projects of the same organization were compared, two with very high satisfaction ratings, and two with very low ratings. These differences were due to differences in the design (the worst-rated projects were more open plan), the implementation process (the best-rated projects had a lot of user involvement) and the role of management (the successful projects enjoyed strong management commitment). 61Q&AWim Pullen, Director of the Center for People and BuildingsWhy is workplace research relevant to practice? Why is it so difficult to prove ABWs impact on First because research looks for patterns, for exampleproductivity growth?in peoples behaviour, which is relevant input for theProductivity is a complex metric. It requires the design process. We try to discover the laws of naturemeasurement of all the organizations inputs and of the work environment. Second because researchoutputs, both before and after the introduction of ABW. can provide a rich understanding of reality. Research isAnd even then, it is difficult isolate the workplace from about numbers, but also about the stories behind thoseother variables.It is possible, however, to use perceived numbers. There is a lot that can be learnt from a goodproductivity as a description.What is on CfPBs research agenda for the coming years? In your database there are both successful andWe want to discover more about what we call Total unsuccessful ABW projects. What makes the difference?Benefits of Usership (as opposed to Total Cost of Success is very much about providing the right mixOwnership). We already know that there are many of settings that match peoples activities and theirvariables at play, but we want to know more about causal psychological needs, facilitating both communicationrelations and, thereby, about effective interventions. and concentration. Other success factors are strongThe word total describes our ideal of knowing it all. management commitment, a balance between top-down and bottom-up decision-making, and clear guidelines.30