Transdisciplinary Workplace Research Conference 2020
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Session 16 Learning and Community@work

"Relation between working environment and learning outcomes in agile student projects"

Anika Dittmar,  Hochschule Mittweida UAS/Germany

Abstract: Agile methods in academic teaching seems to be pioneering work by now but could rapidly establish themselves. Since two years at Hochschule Mittweida - University of Applied Sciences (HSMW) a subject is offered, where students manage a transdisciplinary project using the agile method SCRUM. The theory claims that agile project teams are more engaged, intrinsically motivated and gain better results because they get the freedom and space they need. Furthermore, agile methods can improve the learning process (in appropriate subjects) and be especially useful facing complex problems. To take full advantage of those benefits several conditions must be met. The current literature focuses on the method itself or when discussing the work environment do not mention special requirements for academic issues. As the author experienced, the didactical concept with SCRUM turns the way students are used to solve problems upside down and requires mental flexibility. It seems to be important to give students a comprehensive and sophisticated introduction to this method and practical insights. At HSMW this recently takes place in a specific room with an agile work environment which students can also use to work on their projects. Since then the process of learning as well as the motivation and commitment of the students and even the willingness to face challenges improved significantly. Therefore, the work environment in this context seemed to be worth analysed.

As a result of this experience a small study was started to analyse the following research question: What impact has the learning and working environment for learning outcomes in agile student projects? Based on a semi-qualitative survey a normal classroom and the agile working environment were compared regarding student’s satisfaction and their self-assessed performance. Moreover, work conditions were classified using the Kano method. The results indicate an impact of the work environment, especially on team interaction and establishing constructive review meetings. This contribution is supposed to support lectures to improve learning outcomes when working with agile methods as well as universities to prepare themselves to future requirements.

"The workplace as a community - the role of the community manager as host"

Brenda Groen, Hester Van Sprang, Saxion University of Applied Sciences/Hospitality Business School Enschede/The Netherlands

Abstract: The labour market is changing. An increasing number of people are self-employed and need affordable workspace (Moriset, 2013). As a result, workplaces like incubators, start-ups and coworking spaces are booming. Foertsch (2019) predicts that more than 2.2 million people will use a coworking space over 22,000 coworking spaces worldwide by the end of 2019. Capdevila (2013) emphasises the importance of creating communities and sharing knowledge in the coworking spaces hosts. Surprisingly, research into the role of these hosts and hospitality is limited. Therefore, this paper answers the question 'How do community managers of incubators and coworking spaces see their role? To what extent and how do they fulfil a role as host and thereby support a sense of community?' Research on Business ecosystems pays attention to community building (Graca & Camarinha-Matos, 2017). Initiatives like start-ups and coworking spaces are small ecosystems that support their community of users. According to, e.g. Capdevilla (2013) and Garrett et al. (2017) users regard being part of such communities is even more critical than the workspace itself. The users need to be able to network and to share knowledge; co-presence is essential; this requires meeting areas, proximity and visual and aural accessibility (Appel-Meulenbroek, 2010). Most research into these initiatives is focused on functional user preferences (Weijs-Perrée et al., 2019) and social dimensions (Garrett et al., 2017). However, research into aspects of hospitality as an enabler of building and supporting communities is limited. According to Pijls et al. (2017), both the physical environment and behavioural components determine whether people experience the hospitality and its three dimensions, welcome, care and comfort. We argue that research into the elements of hospitality in these communities is worthwhile.

The conducted in-depth interviews show that community managers may have different roles, depending on the kind of coworking space. In incubators the emphasis is on support and care for the members, there is cohesion within the community, but the turnover is high, and the focus of the members is not on the community but on the outside world. Community managers do foster a hospitable atmosphere. In the shared studios and coworking hotels, the community manager is rather a service provider, and cohesion is low. Hospitality is focussed on workspace and amenities, not so much on fostering social cohesion and community. In serviced offices there are no community managers.

Co-working and Co-learning Environment between North and South - Case Future Tech Lab in Namibia

Marko Lahti, Erkki Sutinen, Suvi Nenonen, Tampere University/Finland

Abstract: Future places for learning and working are digitally and physically integrated immersive environments. The purpose of this paper is to analyse the co-creation process of remote-presence based digital and physical co-learning and co-working place. The context is cross-cultural when Nordic space approach is applied and further developed in Namibia. The analysis is based on Action Design Research (ADR) process model by Mullarkey & Hevner (2019), which integrates the process of designing an artefact, shared space with its technology and process of continuous improvement.

The findings of the qualitative study conducted in the Future Tech Lab indicate that the co-design of immersive learning environment sets requirements for the physical solution, which need to be taken into account by co-creation from the shared vision to realization of the space. The co-creation involves many stakeholders and cultural differences effect differently to various stages of the co-creation.