Contribution of facilities to business objectives : an inquiry into the appraisal of the performance of the physical environment
Today, competitive and effective enterprises are the organisations which successfully respond to the challenges derived from the business and socioeconomical environment. Due to the increasing importance of employees' attitudes towards the working environment, the significance of supporting systems to improve business efficiency takes new dimensions. The importance of corporate premises to productivity and other organisational issues has been acknowledged [Becker, 1990; Duffy, 1992a]. At the same time, increasing effort has been devoted to methods for the appraisal of the performance of premises. However, most existing methods are concerned with technical issues, and the performance of facilities is measured against a number of generalised and fragmented performance criteria, previously established according to the interests of the researcher or the financier. This study challenges the reliability of existing assessment methods to predict and evaluate the overall performance of faci lities by providing evidence about the contribution of premises to the communication of corporate identity, a domain hardly acknowledged by current assessment methods. Corporate communication is regarded by organisations as one of the emerging issues for consideration and management, since it may affect the images, attitudes and behaviour of the internal and external public. This work should be seen as an empirical study which provides new knowledge about the interaction between organisations and people, and the way in which buildings convey meaning, examples of the contribution that facilities can make in achieving business objectives. The case study demonstrates the potential of the physical environment to influence business dimensions, not traditionally associated with the existence of premises, thus not the subject of conventional methods. Furthermore, the importance of the findings relies on evidence that the answers concerning the impact of buildings to qualitative business dimensions can be found in other disciplines of science such as in environmental and cognitive psychology.