By Ilana Rabin, MAJNM/MCM ‘17


This study explores the landscape of office spaces in the Jewish nonprofit sector and analyzes the relationship between those spaces, organizational culture, supervision, and employee performance and satisfaction. While many researchers have studied space, culture, and practice in the for-profit sector, it is unknown whether those same theories and principles apply to third sector organizations and employees. To complete this research, interviews were conducted with 14 nonprofit staff members and three organizational culture experts in for-profit industries.

Participants who worked in open address and coworking spaces were more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, maintain friendships with fellow coworkers, and have good relationships with their supervisors in comparison with participants who worked in more traditional spaces. Personal productivity and performance varied by participant. However, employees in open, hybrid, and coworking spaces were often provided with the elements they felt necessary for personal performance. Open address and coworking spaces appear more likely to foster positive organizational culture, greater employee satisfaction and performance, and stronger relationships with both coworkers and supervisors. However, there were participants who worked in open spaces who struggled with productivity, relationships with colleagues, and described “gossip-y” and hierarchical structures. A stronger indicator for overall employee performance and happiness was positive relationships with supervisors. Several participants had strong relationships with their supervisors and felt their supervisors genuinely cared about helping them succeed. This “people centered” culture fostered organizational collegiality and friendship and prioritized overall employee satisfaction. As one participant described, “People don’t leave jobs, people leave bosses.” Findings suggest that space can be indicative of positive organizational culture and happy employees so long as those spaces are occupied by leaders who prioritize and invest in those employees.  

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