According to the Gulf news of 25th March 2010, " Qatar's gas-rich economy is expected to grow by 16 per cent in 2010-11.” The skyscrapers mushrooming allover Doha and the frenzied construction in Qatar in spite of the global financial crisis seem to reflect the attention Qatar has attracted in the global community. More than 90% of these new constructions would eventually develop as work spaces. A study that can foster the creation of a work environment that can contribute to employee satisfaction and eventually to their productivity will therefore be increasingly relevant and useful to corporate and governmental employers in the context of Qatar.
There are a host of studies conducted by environmental psychologists in the western world on satisfaction from space planning and environmental satisfaction in offices with the attempt to relate it to human productivity and ultimately profit. The method and objectives of the study have however depended on the affiliation of the researcher, the socio-cultural-economic background of those studied and the politico-economic setting of the study. The differences in characteristics have resulted in totally different results which may therefore be difficult to generalise. Some of the parameters used include spatial plan types and task types, accessibility, acoustic and visual privacy, varied partition heights, user previous experience, access to windows, size of windows, substitutes for windows, penetration of sunlight, gender and age and type of views seen through windows. Only limited studies in user satisfaction have been made in the cultural context of the Gulf Region. This strongly advocates the need to have culturally responsive design solutions for Work environments in the Gulf since it is believed that the physical, psychological, social and spiritual context of the Gulf needs region-specific design solutions. The Qatarisation efforts, and promotion of educational avenues are bringing an increasing number of Muslim women into the work force. Hence any studies undertaken in the western world cannot be directly applied in the Middle Eastern context due to the drastically different socio-religious context.
The research method and process involved case-based analyses with attitude surveys and self-administered questionnaires. The investigations encompassed a number of parameters that include accessibility, visual and acoustic privacy, thermal comfort, air and ventilation comfort, lighting, maintenance, safety and security, fenestration and views, space planning, flexibility, facilities, services, attractiveness of interiors, and indoor landscaping. Utilizing qualitative research methods and multiple regression analysis the results revealed that around half of the respondents were satisfied with the indoor environment of their offices. Presence of a window and access to daylighting are seen to contribute highly towards satisfaction. Most dissatisfaction expressed was less on account of actual physical conditions and related more to the poor ability of users to control the environmental conditions like temperature, lighting, ventilation and humidity. It is important that building designers provide some means of control over indoor environmental parameters to office workers in order to improve perceived satisfaction and increase their productivity.
The results would help in developing higher quality workspace design models that can achieve higher user satisfaction and contribute to increasing the productivity, physical. social, mental and psychological health and well being of precious human capital.
1- There is very little work done in the area of work environments in the Arabian context. The Gulf, Qatar included has a distinct cultural context completely different from the western world. Hence any studies undertaken in western contexts will have limited relevance and applicability here. With a sizeable number of working Muslim women, the study will throw new light on how the gender, religious and cultural context can influence satisfaction and perception of work environments. It is expected that this work can be undertaken quite successfully as the students are all female which makes it easier to have access to other working Muslim women. This study will become increasingly relevant due to the strong globalization trends and great volume of expatriate population currently in Qatar. This research will therefore benefit not only Qatar but the entire Muslim world through a contextual understanding of work environments.
2- Publishing the results of such practical research will expand knowledge about Qatar in the regional and international research community. This will increase the visibility of Qatar in the field of education and research particularly in the GCC.
3- Student interaction with government bodies and concerned professionals would help in enhancing the research culture in Qatar. It will also support the national drive to empower through education and increase the visibility of Qataris female students and showcase the technical competence and the progress being made by the younger generation of Qataris to the community.
4- The research findings will provide valuable information to architects, interior designers, corporate, builders and other professionals involved in the design of the work environments in Qatar and the GCC.
5- The results will be useful to the government of Qatar in identifying any interventions which may become necessary as Qatarisation progresses. Such information will help to enhance the experience of designing, and using work environments in a high level of satisfaction among all employees thus improving their productivity and thereby economic benefits to the corporate. This in turn will attract more successful multinationals to Qatar.