“Office Space” Movie Analysis

Updated October 27, 2021

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“Office Space” Movie Analysis essay

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Industrial and Organizational Psychology (I/O) can be encountered every day at the workplaces and outside of the workplaces. Office Space is the kind of movie which depicts the work life and how the work life has an impact on the personal life. Peter Gibbons the lead role, works at Initech. He faces trouble at his work and does not like his job. He attends an occupational hypnotherapist which changes his life. There are scenarios where the employees working at Initech are frustrated about their jobs and does not show any interest in their jobs. The movie rotates around few concepts of the industrial and organizational psychology. The movie has a twist of humor in the way the co-workers handle the stressful situations and their interaction with other employees. The environment of the workplace can just be identified by the way the employees interact with each other.

One of the most important concepts seen in this movie is occupational stress. People deal with occupational stress almost every day at their workplace. Sometimes the employees have to deal with excess amounts of workload and panicking for their last minute of project completions and when the supervisor is concerned on the performance of the employee, the stress arises which can be known as job stress. Job strain is a concept under occupational stress which deals with the negative symptoms of person’s physical, psychological and behavioral reactions. In the movie, occupational stress is seen as the movie begins when Peter is being troubled by his boss about his TP reports and it is continued by other employees who are at higher position than peter telling him the same thing again and again.

The boss, Lumbergh is another reason the workplace looks stressful. Lumbergh treats his employees unequally and the way he feels like. His speech patterns and his irritating habits makes everyone nervous. The situation where he treats the employee unequally is when he changes Melvin’s cubicle few times in the movie and then finally he sends Melvin in the basement. Melvin out of his stress reacts to the behavioral reaction when he puts the building on fire. Stress is also seen when the consultants were interviewing the employees. Samir and Michael, Peter’s friends were not satisfied with their jobs but they were worried if they get fired, because they were not sure if they would get any better job than Initech. Occupational stress is described correctly in office setting. Occupational stress can be reduced if the boss treats everyone equally and if he motivates the employees in a right way, by giving incentives and rewards for their tasks.

Second concept in this movie is job satisfaction. Job satisfaction is the attitudes and behaviors that a person has for his/her job. Satisfying with their own jobs helps in the performance levels to be better in their job tasks. In the movie, the employees working at Initech had very low job satisfaction. They were not concerned about improving their job performance. The employees were frustrated about their jobs. The employees had meetings with consultants to improve the job performance. The consultants were interviewing them about the way the tasks work rather than asking them about their problems at work. The consultants were there just to fire the employees. Peter was promoted to a higher position by the consultants.

The consultants heard Peter’s views of his job, but Peter was not satisfied with his promotion as his two other friends were fired. The employees at the Initech were never going to be satisfied with their jobs because the consultants were just focused on firing people. Low satisfaction is also displayed when Peter attends a session with the occupational hypnotherapist, to relieve himself from the thoughts of his work. The hypnotherapist gets a heart attack while treating Peter, and Peter was not brought back to his present state of mind.

Not getting back to his complete state of mind, Peter’s situations are followed with other concepts of I/O psychology. Joanna, Peter’s girlfriend who works at Chotchkie’s, is not satisfied with her job because she always admires to work at Flingers, as her boss always lets her down complimenting her coworkers. Job satisfaction is not correctly shown in this movie. This is because employees are not satisfied with their jobs, and Lumbergh appointed the consultants for the company, so the employees can work better. The consultants did not focus on asking the employees about their satisfaction with their jobs. Job satisfaction can be improved if the employees are asked for their opinions about their feelings and attitudes about their work and focusing on enhancing it. It can also be improved with a happy work environment.

Third concept seen in this movie is employee motivation. Motivation is helpful in improving the performance at work. There are motivation theories which are useful for in predicting the task behaviors. Motivation plays a key role in determining the employee’s likelihood of satisfying with the job the employee do. Everybody has a different way of getting motivated. In Office Space, there seems to be no motivation in the employees. Everybody just works to receive their paychecks. Peter complains to the consultants that even if they work harder they will not get a raise. This shows that the employees are looking for a certain kind of reward for their work, which is not being given.

Lack of rewards and benefits prevents the employee from being motivated, an example of reinforcement theory. Lack of motivation also comes into play when the Peter and Joanna are having lunch at Flingers, when Peter addresses Joanna that he does not want to go back to work. He tells her about not liking his job and will never go back. Lack of motivation to work is also seen when the employees come late at work. It is also seen when Peter tries to get off early on Friday as he knows his boss will appoint him to work the weekends as well. Motivation in the movie is not applied correctly. This is because the employees working at Initech are trying to find reasons to work at Initech. The only reason they come up with is receiving paycheck. There is not even a single employee who is motivated to come to work, everybody working at Initech have become less and less concerned about the rules and guidelines.

Motivation is needed in the employees for the company to progress. Fourth topic seen in the movie is, “emotions at work”. Emotions at work, is basically the way people express their feelings according to their behavior. Emotions at work can also be caused by other extrinsic variables, like home, family or personal health. There can be positive emotions and negative emotions. Having positive emotions at work will more likely yield a positive outcome for the day and will keep the employees happy at their workplace. There are situations where both types of emotions can be experienced. Moods are also a part of emotions at work. In the movie Office Space, the employees are experiencing negative emotions from the start to the end of the movie.

Negative emotions can impact the work and its environment. At the beginning of the movie when Peter, Michael and Samir are annoyed as they are stuck in traffic, and so they not in a positive mood coming to work. As they come to work, Peter is welcomed with his boss’s infuriating complains about his TP reports. Peter gets tired and angry only after few minutes of coming to work and he goes to have a coffee at Chotchkie’s with Samir and Michael. Going to get coffee was a reason for him to so he can get away with his work environment. This shows having negative emotions which can have a bad impact on job. Everybody at Initech became conscious and worried when the Lumbergh appointed the consultants. The employees were all nervous because they thought they would be fired if the consultants did not like their work.

There is also part where Samir and Michael get really furious about the printer, because the printer is always having problems throughout the movie until it gets thrown out by Peter and his friends. As it is known that negative emotions at work can occur due to annoyance of any kind. In the scenario, where Melvin is listening to radio which is distracting Peter, and Peter asks Melvin to turn down the volume but Melvin comes up with an argument instead of listening to his employee. The employees are not supportive to each other, it can have a negative effect on their mood. All this shows how the emotions at work can be experienced by certain factors. Emotions at work was not treated correctly in this movie. The consultants did not ask everyone about their feelings and emotions at the Initech and Lumbergh never noticed the reactions and the emotions that the people had. It could have been improved if the employees had been supportive to each other.

The fifth concept which was discovered in the movie is counterproductive work behavior (CWB). CWB are the behaviors that harm the institution or the organization. It also impacts the coworkers, other members at work and the customers as well. CWB can be comprised of harming the organizations in physical way by destroying the property or verbally abusing other coworkers. Stealing and fraud are also part of CWB. In this movie, there are many scenes depicting CWB. One of the CWB is when Peter and his friends are planning on inserting software that contains a virus in the system at Initech which would generate money and it is connected to a bank account. The virus is supposed to generate only certain number of pennies a day but the software failed to work.

By the time they noticed the bank statement the money already went up to three million dollars. This was certainly a theft and a they were stealing from their own workplace. Another incident from the movie is the way Samir and Michael treat the printer at work. The printer at Initech does not work effectively from start of the movie, it stops working when the paper is almost printed and they have to snatch the paper out of it and the paper is torn. Whenever Samir and Michael are unsuccessful in printing their material, they would smash at the printer in aggressive way. This would impact other people at work and having aggressive behavior can influence many negative emotions later.

Peter and his two friends who gets fired from the company, at last they take the printer from the office. They take it far away from the office and break it down in pieces and burn it down. They could have done less harm to the company if they would have informed their boss about the printer. But they were involved in CWB because Lumbergh, their boss never listened and noticed the concerns of the employees. Another example of CWB is when Melvin puts the building on fire. Melvin is frustrated when Lumbergh keeps changing his cubicle and then he transfers him to the basement.

The management does not listen to any of Melvin’s request or opinions and always keeps Melvin left out from the other employees. His frustration level increased and he could not control himself and he sets the building on fire. He damages the property. This type of CWB could be prevented if Melvin was not intimidated. CWB in this movie is shown correctly. The employees were showing aggression because they were not satisfied with their jobs and they were not interested in working there. CWB could have been reduced or stopped if the management listened the views and the feeling of the employees. But the management was only focused on the tasks.

All the five concepts of I/O psychology that are seen in the movie has to do with the productivity of work. Job satisfaction and emotions at work are very important to help the employees perform their best and this would eventually benefit the company. In this movie, no one working at Initech had any satisfaction with their jobs which led them to negative behaviors or emotions at work. Motivation helps to relieve occupational stress, people in the movie had less motivation and more occupational stress. Having no motivation, satisfaction and negative emotions can lead a person to do CWB, which will bring the performance and productivity of the organization down and it damages the ocmpany. Office Space, is a kind of the movie where people are not satisfied with their work and more involved in CWB.

“Office Space” Movie Analysis essay

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“Office Space” Movie Analysis. (2021, Oct 27). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/office-space-movie-analysis/


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