Transdisciplinary Workplace Research Conference 2020
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Session 9 Workplace Performance Management

"Contextual user research methods for eliciting user experience insights in workplace studies"

Maral Babapour, Division Design & Human Factors; Antonio Cobaleda Cordero, Chalmers University of Technology Gothenburg/Sweden

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to contribute with experiences and reflections on user research methods that we have tested in our studies of users’ experiences in office environments. Previous workplace studies with qualitative data approaches mainly rely on traditional methods such as interviews and observations. Based on user-centered design research, we outline methods that can be used to facilitate understanding the interrelations between users and their surrounding environment.

Three methods and their variations were applied in different case studies to facilitate understanding of user experiences in office environments: (i) spatial walkthroughs, (ii) card sorting, and (iii) experience curve mapping. Spatial walkthroughs were more immersive and provided most insights on the actual context with respect to spatial design qualities. The card sorting enabled exploring user experiences with respect to predetermined aspects. The experience curve mapping enabled understanding the temporal aspects of the user experience. The latter two methods were less immersive and less disruptive in the organisational context than the spatial walkthroughs. The flexibility of these methods allows for tailoring the application depending on the purpose of the workplace studies. We recommend using a combination of these methods to capture a more holistic understanding of user experiences and improving the workspace design to better fit the users.

"Flexible Workspace - Hype or sustainable investment Product"

Holger Weber,  Art-Invest Real Estate Funds GmbH Cologne/Germany

Abstract: Flexible workspace is a fast-growing phenomenon. As a real estate developer and investor, the aim of our survey was to analyse the opportunities and risks for landlords and investors resulting from the rise in the importance of flexible workspace, commonly better known as coworking spaces. To appreciate the magnitude of recent shifts in office market behaviour, we first mapped the history of the shared office industry. Our research showcases the evolution of flexible workspace, starting from a global perspective, with examples of flexible workspace markets in different phases of development, to focus later on the German market in particular. We go on to highlight characteristics of the flexible workspace industry from both a customer and a business perspective. Based on our assumption, “Flexible workspace is here to stay”, the paper deals with the following topics: “How does flexible workspace influence supply and demand in office leasing markets?”, “What impact can a flexible workspace operator in a building have on rental and capital values?” and “Does the proportion of space in a building leased to a flexible workspace operator have an impact on its valuation?”

Based on semi-structured interviews the results were conducted. Flexible workspace is not only here to stay, it is an integral part of the ongoing structural change in global office leasing markets. Not only will flexible workspace operators be more apparent in the coming years, there will also be an increasing number of landlords who will launch their own operators. After a decade of dynamic growth, the first signs of consolidation in the more mature markets are becoming visible. In general, strong operators will lead to a better positioning and branding of properties and therefore generate higher values. Nevertheless, investors are still risk averse regarding flexible workspace due to the risks inherent in the business model of the operators and the absence of a longer track record in respect of the majority of the major players.

"Unravelling the variables to calculate an organisations return on workplace investment: a scoping review process"

Matthew Tucker, Hannah Wilson, Liverpool John Moores University/UK; Nigel Oseland, Peter Brogan, Annie Horsley, Workplace Unlimited/UK

Abstract: This paper presents the initial findings of the first phase of a research project being conducted in  partnership with the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) to eventually  develop a user - friendly ‘tool’ to calculate the return on workplace investment. The first phase of  the project explores the  variables that should be measured to  eventually incorporate in to the ‘tool’  in order to  calculate the return on  workplace investment. The paper looks through the theoretical lens of ‘workplace’ by view the interaction and  interconnection between the ‘physical space ’, ‘digital space  and  ‘people’ for the  overarching  purpose of work activity.  A scoping review was conducted by adapting the framework used  by  Arksey and O'Malley (2005). A total of 70 sources were even mutually found, consisting of peer-reviewed journal papers, industry reports and other research documents. The sources were thematically analysed using an inductive thematic analysis approach.  A total of six ‘high level’ themes were uncovered, to which a total of 37 ‘lower level’ themes were  established.