Transdisciplinary Workplace Research Conference 2020
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Session 6 Experiences of Collaborative Spaces


"Corporate Coworking Spaces – Determinants of Work Satisfaction in a Multispace Work Environment"

Felix Gauger, Kyra Voll, Andreas Pfnür, Technische Universität Darmstadt/Germany

Internal corporate coworking environments are gaining traction in the latest debate. The aim of this study is to obtain a deeper understanding of the factors that determine work satisfaction in a corporate coworking environment and to illuminate determinants for collaborative and interactive work. Survey data were collected through five corporates using an internal corporate coworking space in Germany (n=237). Work satisfaction in this environment was found to be high among the employees. Using regression analysis, major drivers of work satisfaction are the physical environmental factors, communication, concentration and social interaction. Spatial variety, and a supporting working environment to communicate, but also to concentrate were among the factors for work satisfaction. No differences were found between generations. The study reveals new insights into the flexible working environment of corporate coworking spaces and reveals factors influencing work satisfaction, which is commonly linked with organizational outcomes. To the best of the author’s knowledge this is the first study that applies workplace factors on corporate coworking environments.

"From Saint Jerome’s study to workplace seismographs: The role of spatial layouts in decision making speed across different industries"

Kerstin Sailer, University College London; Matthew Thomas, Birmingham University/UK

Abstract: Strategy literature demonstrates the importance of fast strategic decision making to performance in dynamic industries. While some industries such as financial services operate based on decisions that take milliseconds, other industries such as academia are much slower paced and organise work within time periods of months or years. This paper investigates speed in relation to visibility arrangements in workplaces. It asks which potential for unplanned encounters arises out of spatial layouts and how those encounters in turn affect decision making speed. Three main theory strands are brought together by this paper: firstly, the concept of industry clockspeed, which is used in management to understand the velocity of change in external business environments and how it relates to decision making speed in organisations. Secondly, space syntax theories as developed in architecture are employed to investigate visibility relationships in workplace layouts and the related affordances for encounter this creates. The concept of visibility acting as a ‘seismograph’ by creating awareness of what others are working on is elaborated on. Finally, theories of social networks and informal interactions are used to link management and space via a behavioural approach.

The conceptual ideas of the paper have been applied to a series of workplace layouts across different industries, including academia. Findings of the space syntax analysis suggest that floor plans generate encounter and awareness opportunities via the mechanism of visibility. Offices in high clockspeed industries were found to have significantly more integrated workplaces with higher levels of visibility. Nuances regarding required speed and the detailed role of layouts in mediating encounter opportunities are elaborated on. Spatial factors are found to be an additional and often overlooked resource when it comes to managing organisations. Spatial factors affecting strategic decision speed can be traded-off in favour of factors such as cost and privacy. Findings also show that the impact of spatial layout is particularly important in larger offices.


"Workplace design for social wellbeing: a conceptual model and research strategy"

 Susanne Colenberg, Natalia Romero Herrera, David Keyson, Delft University of Technology/The Netherlands

Abstract: The covid-19 pandemic has increased awareness of office workers’ need for real-life social interaction, connectedness and belongingness at work. The purpose of this paper is to present a way to study this important, but still under-examined, social dimension of employee well-being in relation to workplace design. A conceptual model outlines how the physical work environment might support or inhibit perception and behaviour related to social well-being of individual office workers. A research strategy is presented to develop a framework for guiding the design of workplaces. Several well-being theories consider relatedness a basic human need. Fulfilling this need requires satisfying social interactions, leading to positive relationships and feelings of belonging. Spatial characteristics could encourage or discourage social interaction by influencing natural movement, visibility and privacy. In the workplace social interaction can be a support as well as a burden, depending on, for instance, privacy preferences and work activities. Therefore, the conceptual model presented here includes spatial characteristics encouraging or discouraging social interaction as well as the employee’s perception, behaviour, personal and situational factors.

A mixed-methods approach has been in use to collect the empirical material and to develop a framework. The model states that workplace design influences social well-being through actual and perceived affordances and behaviour, influenced by organizational and personal factors. Therefore it is acknowledged that measures for both the actual and the perceived work environment need to be developed. Similarly, measurement of both actual and perceived social interaction adds value to the insight in the relationship between workplace design and social well-being. Collecting data in real-life settings in contemporary offices will enhance the internal and external validity of the framework.