A mobile methods pilot study of surgical spaces: ‘fit for purpose? Organisational productivity and workforce wellbeing in workspaces in hospital’ (FLOURISH)

Frances Rapport*, Emilie Francis-Auton, John Cartmill, Tayhla Ryder, Jeffrey Braithwaite, Robyn Clay-Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
45 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Good workspace design is key to the quality of work, safety, and wellbeing for workers, yet we lack vital knowledge about optimal hospital design to meet healthcare workforce needs. This study used novel mobile methods to examine the concept of Work-as-Done and the effect of workspace-use on healthcare professional practice, productivity, health and safety in an Australian university hospital.
Methods: This pilot study took place in one gastroenterological surgical unit between 2018 and 2019. Data collection involved 50 h of observations and informal conversations, followed by interpretation of five architectural plans and 45 photographs. Fieldnotes were thematically analysed and corroborated by analysis of visual data using a predefined taxonomy.
Results: Six themes were identified, revealing spaces that both support and hinder Work-as-Done. Fit-for-purpose spaces facilitated effective communication between staff, patients and families, conferred relative comfort and privacy, and supported effective teamwork. Unfit-for-purpose spaces were characterised by disruptions to work practices, disharmony among team members, and physical discomfort for staff. Staff employed workarounds to
manage unfit-for-purpose spaces.
Conclusion: The results identified negative impacts of negotiating unfit-for-purpose workspaces on the work andwellbeing of staff. While the use of workarounds and adaptations enable staff to maintain everyday working
practices, they can also lead to unexpected consequences. Results indicated the need to identify and support fitfor-purpose spaces and minimize the detrimental qualities of unfit-for-purpose spaces. This study showed that mobile methods were suitable for examining Work-as-Done in a fast-moving, adaptive hospital setting.
Original languageEnglish
Article number78
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Mobile methods
  • Work-as-imagined
  • Work-as-done
  • Photographs
  • Workforce
  • Workspace


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