Øget trivsel og produktivitet gennem systematisk anvendelse af distancearbejde i Lægemiddelstyrelsens Forbrugersikkerhedsafdeling

Christian Fredberg

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


This master’s thesis deals with productivity and well-being in the Consumer Safety Division of the Danish Medicines Agency. The primary hypothesis is that there is a misalignment between office type and the different types of knowledge work that is performed in the division. This misalignment severely reduces productivity and well-being. The thesis examines the office type in the division through observation and characterizes the different types of knowledge work performed through studies of Standing Operating Procedures, process charts and through semi structured interviews with division leaders and employees. The hypothesis is confirmed – there is a misalignment between the large open plan office used by the division and the primary types of knowledge work conducted by the employees. The large open plan office is designed to facilitate cooperation and creativity whereas the knowledge work, characterized by both a high degree of routine and assessment, calls for an office type designed to provide an opportunity for the individual to concentrate, in other words: the cell office. The secondary hypothesis is, that these “missing” cell offices can be substituted by systematically working at home – provided the presence of the necessary IT software and hardware etc. In this case the individual knowledge worker has two offices: The large open plan office which facilitates sharing knowledge with colleagues and the cell office (at home), which facilitates the knowledge work characterized by the need for concentration. This way, the best of both can be achieved – provided the systematical use of working at home. The thesis shows, that there are some barriers towards working more at home. They comprise the practicalities of not having access to the necessary IT systems from home and the question of how the phone in the office is to be answered, if the employees are at home. The more substantial barriers are about maintaining the very good social life in the division, about the way coordination of the work is done through mutual adjustment (a process of informal communication between people conducting interdependent work) and last but not least, the mistrust towards working at home hinted at by the leaders. The thesis suggests that these barriers can be dealt with by shifting the focus from coordination through mutual adjustment to that of standardization and planning. In this way the coordination mechanisms will actually fit the character of the work. This, however, demands a change of mind from both leaders and employees, as the misalignments through the years have institutionalized themselves in a dysfunctional way of understanding work and coordination. The current hype about working at home, with its benefits of reducing time commuting to and from work, reducing the emission of carbon dioxide and the increased flexibility for the individual may, however, be a lever for a paradigmatic change in the way work and coordination is understood. There are three main perspectives based on the findings of the thesis. First, it is most likely that many other public and private organizations, which embrace the ideal of creativity and cooperation and as a result use large open plan offices, have the same misalignment as shown within the Consumer safety Division. Second, the findings suggest, that leaders lack the understanding of what motivates highly skilled knowledge workers and how to differentiate between them, and third, the suggestion, that misalignment between organizational elements over time will institutionalize a dysfunctional behavior in an organization, should make organizations look for other organizational misalignments – yet to be discovered.

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages71