Too much of a good thing? Using a spatial agent-based model to evaluate “unconventional” workplace sharing programmes

Using a spatial agent-based model of transport, this paper explores various “unconventional” workplace sharing programmes that allow employees to work remotely at other work sites in Northeast Scotland, with Aberdeenshire Council as the focal employer. The authors attempt to answer the following research questions: (i) To what extent do systemic effects arising from agent interactions within the transport network mitigate or enhance any potential benefits of workplace sharing? (ii) How are these effects changed by informal workplace practices influenced by organizational structure and corporate culture, as opposed to formal business policy? The authors have been able to show that there are potential benefits to workplace sharing, particularly within a large organization with spatially distributed workplaces. Indeed, the greater the flexibility available, the larger the potential gains, especially with participation of the whole workforce across all employers. However, the apparent benefits of workplace sharing for commuting times and CO2 emissions from transport can be negated by organizational structure and corporate culture. Informal policies whereby team leaders stipulate collocation of team members to facilitate day-to-day and face-to-face interaction can even lead to a worse situation than the case where there is no workplace sharing. The effect of the sharing programmes also depends on the spatial distribution of existing road network, as well as industrial and residential areas. The work acts as a warning that apparently attractive “win-win” policies with the potential to promote better staff welfare, reduce pollution and make more efficient use of infrastructure can be negated by informal practices in workplaces. It is a step towards a general policy simulation platform where the effectiveness of transport policies can be tested and potential unintended consequences detected before they are implemented in reality, by which time it may be too late or costly to correct any unintended negative effects.


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  • Accession Number: 01673106
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 29 2018 11:07AM