The nature of work has changed gradually with the development of technological progress and spread of industrialization in the 18th and the 19th centuries. Furthermore, globalization processes and particularly the development of Information and Communication Technologies in the 20th century influenced the types of work people were doing even more: new professions appeared, work tasks were no longer bound to one location, and the speed of change gained momentum. The changing nature of work called for new types of places to accommodate it. The thesis is concerned with studying one of the places that accommodates it – a coworking space. The research is inspired by the gap in the academic literature about spatial characteristics in coworking spaces. The argument is presented, that while ‘soft’ features such as communication, networking, knowledge exchange, etc. were studied elaborately, ‘hard’ features such as the role of furniture or the different facilities offered in a coworking space, represent an under-researched field. In order to cover that gap and gain deeper insights into the studied phenomenon a three months long ethnographic research was conducted in one of the coworking spaces in Rotterdam. An inductive approach for the reasoning was applied. The methodology included several qualitative methods such as observations, behavioral mapping and interviews. The theoretical framework for the analysis was inspired by the earlier studies about work environments from the field of environmental psychology. Several concepts developed by the leading environmental psychologists appeared particularly helpful: behavior setting, proxemics, sociopetal and sociofugal spaces, approach and avoidance behaviors, high-load and low-load environments. The case study reported in the thesis first looked at the daily professional activities of the users of the coworking space, and then evaluated how well the facilities offered in this coworking space served the needs of the tenants. The typical daily activities of the users were found to be: highly concentrative activities (reading, writing), regular desk/laptop work (writing emails, researching), and ‘loud’ communication (phone calls, meetings). The analysis discovered that the tenants were satisfied with the offered general working area, where non-approach behavior was encouraged. However, the tenants lacked more secluded areas to make phone calls without disturbing others, and also some areas for relaxation, where they could fulfill their needs for socialization. The thesis also contributes to understanding of the history of coworking spaces and argues that it should be incorporated into the history of all work environments.

global markets, local creativities, glocal, Coworking space, Workplace, Daily activities, Nature of work, Spatial characteristics, Facilities, Environmental psychology, Inductive approach, Behavioral mapping
J. Euwe
Global Markets, Local Creativities (GLOCAL)
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

K. Stepanova. (2019, June 15). Work of people and the role of space in it: a research study of preferred spatial characteristics in a coworking space.. Global Markets, Local Creativities (GLOCAL). Retrieved from