A lot of recent research suggests that open-plan layouts have a negative impact on worker performance and well-being. The research has received a lot of attention, in part because so many companies are moving from private offices to open-plan layouts with claims about positive worker outcomes that the research seems to contradict. One shortcoming of this research is that it has taken place in traditional company offices, although it has obvious implications for the coworking industry. As former coworking-space owners and scholars studying the coworking industry, our team suspect that this research does not tell the whole story. We expect open-plan layouts to have a more positive impact on remote workers and freelancers working from coworking spaces. We started with a literature review that has just been accepted for publication in the journal, “Work”.
We are beginning the data collection process now. As we have just started the collection, I am not able to share any conclusions. Right now we are doing the initial survey. There will be an almost identical follow-up survey 3-6 months after the initial one to see how outcomes have changed over time. Between those two surveys, a smaller group would participate in research using Experience Sampling Method. ESM involves a 5- to 7-day period where members are randomly pinged several time per day (using an app on their mobile phones) and asked to immediately fill out a brief survey (1-2 minutes) indicating where they are, what they are doing, how many people they are doing it with, and to evaluate their performance and well-being. If they’re in the middle of something important and unable to respond immediately, they can wait until they are free. ESM data allows researchers to see the impact of specific environments on outcomes that participants themselves are often unaware of. This method often provides novel and unexpected insights into how specific work environments impact performance.
After this process we will analyse the data and hopefully by the end of 2022 we will publish the outcome.