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COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IN COWORKING SPACES

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Due to factors of a changing, multinational labour market and the pandemic situation, shared and mobile offices are more requested than ever before. We set out to explore Lisbon’s coworking communities, as well as the most beneficial resources available to foster and support flexible work practices worldwide. The goals of this research are: 1) to seek a clear definition of coworking and networks; 2) to understand the role of social capital, collaboration, and organizational leadership within coworking communities; 3) to identify community factors, motivations, and user preferences that allow business leaders and customers to make more suitable decisions regarding their unique contexts.
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COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IN
COWORKING SPACES
Dissertation submitted to Universidade Católica Portuguesa to
obtain a Master’s Degree in Communication Sciences with the
Specialization in Organization and Leadership
By
Simone Franke
Universidade Católica Portuguesa
November 2020
1
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IN COWORKING SPACES
Dissertation submitted to Universidade Católica Portuguesa to obtain a Master’s
Degree in Communication Sciences with the Specialization in Organization and
Leadership
By
Simone Franke
Universidade Católica Portuguesa
Faculty of Human Sciences
Under the supervision of Mariana Victorino
November 2020
2
Abstract
Due to factors of a changing, multinational labour market and the pandemic situation, shared
and mobile offices are more requested than ever before. We set out to explore Lisbon’s
coworking-communities, as well as the most beneficial resources available to foster and support
flexible work practices worldwide.
The goals of this research are: 1) to seek a clear definition of coworking and networks; 2) to
understand the role of social capital, collaboration, and organizational leadership within
coworking communities; 3) to identify community factors, motivations, and user preferences
that allow business leaders and customers to make more suitable decisions regarding their
unique contexts.
Therefore the topic has been approached from a broad to a narrow perspective, which includes
social, network, and leadership theories from Bourdieu (1986) Putnam (1993; 1995), Latour
(1996; 2005; 2007), and Goleman (2000; 2004), as well as recent coworking studies like
Gandini (2015), Weijs-Perrée et al. (2019), Orel & Dvoulety (2020). After considering case-
study examples, key findings were made to discover the motivations and tools from the
professionals at CW facilities. Based on the identified opportunities, suggestions were made to
develop their communities and social performances. Considering the diverse background of
scientific possibilities, the empirical part belongs to the field of interpretivism, containing a
mixed-method methodology: A survey of 102 Lisbon's co-workers has been conducted,
followed by semi-structured expert interviews of 9 community leading roles. Factors of
collaborative networks, innovation, and leadership structures stood out as the focus of the work.
The results should generate useful and credible outcomes in order to uncover new opportunities
for communities’ implementation. Discovered member preferences can be seen as a
contribution of already applied theories and knowledge of the status quo in Lisbon. Prioritizing
a set of working & environmental assets, for example professional networking, and the
identification of different member-types represents an extension to proceeded case studies like
Back & Josef (2016), Fuzi (2015), or Kyrö & Arto (2015). Because its outcome could not be
analysed concerning CW-locations specifically, it also proposes challenges and opportunities
for future research.
Keywords: coworking; community development; networks; collaboration; organizational
leadership
3
Resumo
Um mercado de trabalho multinacional em mutação, aliado à situações de pandemia atual levou
a que os espaços de escritórios móveis e partilhados fossem mais procurados que nunca. To
explore Lisbon's coworking (CW) communities to find out the most beneficial resources to
develop them should support flexible work practices worldwide.
Com esta investigação propusemo-nos a explorar as comunidades de Coworking (CW) de
Lisboa para descobrir quais os recursos mais benéficos para as desenvolver e para apoiar
práticas de trabalho flexível em todo o mundo. Os objetivos desta pesquisa são: 1) procurar
uma definição clara de Coworking e redes; 2) compreender o papel do capital social, da
colaboração e da liderança organizacional dentro das comunidades de Coworking; 3) identificar
fatores comunitários, motivações e preferências dos utilizadores que permitam aos líderes
empresariais e clientes tomar as decisões mais adequadas aos seus contextos únicos.
Assim, o tema foi abordado partindo de uma perspetiva mais ampla para uma perspetiva mais
específica, que inclui teorias sociais, de rede e de liderança de autores como Bourdieu (1986),
Putnam (1993; 1995), Latour (1996; 2005) e Goleman (2000;2004), bem como estudos recentes
sobre Coworking de Gandini (2015), Weijs-Perrée et al. (2019), Orel & Dvoulety (2020) entre
outros. Após analisar exemplos de estudos de caso, descobriram-se as principais motivações e
ferramentas dos profissionais que trabalham nestes locais hibridizados. Com base nas
oportunidades identificadas, foram desenvolvidas sugestões para desenvolver comunidades de
Coworking e as suas performances sociais. Após considerar a diversidade das possibilidades de
abordagem científica, definiu-se que a parte empírica se insere no campo do interpretivismo,
utilizando uma metodologia mista: foi realizado um inquérito a 102 profissionais de CW de
Lisboa, seguido de entrevistas semiestruturadas a especialistas - 9 anfitriões e/ou gestores
comunitários. Os conceitos de redes colaborativas, inovação e estruturas de liderança
destacaram-se como sendo o foco do trabalho. Com a informação obtida pretende-se chegar a
resultados úteis e credíveis, que permitam descobrir novas oportunidades para implementação
nos espaços comunitários. A identificação de motivações e preferências dos utilizadores pode
ser vista como uma contribuição para as teorias já aplicadas e como extensão dos estudos de
casos como os apresentados por Back & Josef (2016), Fuzi (2015), ou Kyrö & Arto (2015).
Uma vez que os resultados não podem ser analisados especificamente no que diz respeito a
instalações de CW, ficam lançadas as bases para futuras investigações.
Palavras-chave: Coworking; desenvolvimento de comunidades; redes; colaboração; liderança
organizacional
4
Dedication
I dedicate this dissertation
to my parents Ulrike Franke and Raimund Franke.
Thank you for allowing me to grow every day, for loving me, and for helping me with your
strong mindsets.
5
Acknowledgements
The following research was carried out within my thesis's scope in the Master's degree in
Communication Science at the University Católica of Lisbon. Working on it has been an
exciting time that helped me develop my path as a professional. I owe a debt of gratitude to
many people for making this possible.
First and foremost, my recognition goes to my supervisor, Professor Dr. Mariana Victorino,
for her support while elaborating this thesis. Her suggestions and responsiveness were always
upfront, and I see her as a personal example for my own future career.
Furthermore, I would like to thank all my professors that inspired and supported me during
my studies at Universidade Católica Portuguesa. In specific Professor Fernando Ilharco, Carla
Ganito, Patrícia Dias, João Lemos Diogo, and Alexandre Duarte.
As a big part of my work, I would like to thank all the survey participants for their open and
valuable contribution. My sincere thanks also go to the Coworking Experts Anni Sopp,
Mariana Nepomuceno, Rafaela Serrano, Lucy Crook, Manuel Bastos, Vanessa Nunes,
Fernando Mendes, Inês Segurado, Teresa Tavares, who shared their knowledge with me.
Special thanks go to the whole Cowork Community Resvés, its founder Manuel António
Mesquita, and the community manager Mariana Nepomuceno, for their always stimulating
support of the research process and real-life experiences.
I also thank my closest friends and family for maintaining my enthusiasm. I am immensely
grateful to them.
6
Statement of original authorship
I declare that the information contained in this dissertation is the result of my own work. Where
the work and research has been used, published or unpublished, full acknowledgments
according to the academic convention used in Universidade Católica Portuguesa have been
given. I also hereby declare that this thesis has not been presented or published before.
7
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ABSTRACT .............................................................................................................................. 2
RESUMO ................................................................................................................................. 3
DEDICATION ........................................................................................................................... 4
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .......................................................................................................... 5
STATEMENT OF ORIGINAL AUTHORSHIP .................................................................................. 6
LIST OF TABLES ....................................................................................................................... 9
LIST OF FIGURES ................................................................................................................... 10
I. INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................... 11
1.1 BACKGROUND AND JUSTIFICATION......................................................................... 11
1.2 RESEARCH GOALS & OBJECTIVES ........................................................................... 14
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTION AND DERIVATION ................................................................ 15
1.4 SCIENTIFIC POSITIONING ........................................................................................ 16
1.5 CONCEPTUAL GROUNDING ...................................................................................... 17
1.6 METHODOLOGICAL OPTIONS AND RESEARCH DESIGN ......................................... 19
1.7 LIMITATIONS............................................................................................................ 21
II. CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK ................................................................................. 23
2.1 THE ROLE OF SOCIAL CAPITAL .............................................................................. 23
2.2 COLLABORATION AND NETWORKS .......................................................................... 26
2.2.1 Factors of collaboration ....................................................................................... 26
2.2.2 Collaborative networks ........................................................................................ 28
2.2.3 Learning environments ......................................................................................... 29
2.3 COWORK COMMUNITIES ......................................................................................... 32
2.3.1 The emerge of Coworking .................................................................................... 32
2.3.2 The problem about the term ................................................................................. 33
2.3.3 Relevance of Cowork-Communities ..................................................................... 34
2.3.4 Cowork-communities in Practice ......................................................................... 36
2.3.5 Development and Innovation................................................................................ 38
2.4 ORGANISATION & LEADERSHIP .............................................................................. 39
2.5 THEORETICAL CONCLUSION.................................................................................... 41
III. EMPIRICAL RESEARCH ....................................................................................... 43
3.1 LISBONS COWORKING LANDSCAPE ........................................................................ 43
8
3.2 EMPIRICAL CORPUS................................................................................................. 45
3.2.1 Survey to the community members ....................................................................... 45
3.2.2 The Coworking experts’ interview ....................................................................... 47
3.3 DATA ANALYSIS........................................................................................................ 49
3.3.1 The Community Members ..................................................................................... 50
3.3.2 The Coworking Experts ........................................................................................ 64
3.4 RESULTS INTERSECTION AND CRITICAL REFLECTION .......................................... 91
IV. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS .................................................................. 98
BIBLIOGRAPHY ............................................................................................................ 102
APPENDIX A: SURVEY GUIDE ............................................................................................ 109
APPENDIX B: INTERVIEW GUIDE ...................................................................................... 111
APPENDIX C: CALL FOR EXPERT INTERVIEWS ................................................................. 112
APPENDIX D: TRANSCRIPTS OF THE EXPERTS .................................................................. 113
D 1: Interview Transcript Anni Sopp Wood Work is Good ...................................... 113
D 2: Interview Transcript Mariana Nepomuceno Resvés ........................................... 118
D 3: Interview Transcript Rafaela Serrano Avila Spaces ........................................... 123
D 4: Interview Transcript Lucy Crook Second Home ................................................. 127
D 5: Interview Transcript Manuel Bastos Heden ....................................................... 131
D 6: Interview Transcript Vanessa Gonçalves Nunes IDEA ...................................... 135
D 7: Interview Transcript Fernando Mendes NOW_Beato ........................................ 139
D 8: Interview Transcript Inês Segurado Lacs ........................................................... 145
D 9: Interview Notes: Teresa Tavares Outsite ............................................................ 148
APPENDIX E: COMMUNITY ECO-SYSTEM ......................................................................... 151
9
List of tables
Table 1: Survey Hypotheses ..................................................................................................... 64
Table 2: Interview findings for thematic field evaluation ........................................................ 65
Table 3: Future CW opportunities and challenges in Lisbon ................................................... 89
Table 4: Ranking CW-community assets ............................................................................... 152
Table 5: Ranking of CW-community assets, sorted by gender .............................................. 153
Table 6: Identification of the experts ..................................................................................... 154
Table 7: Crossover Survey Hypotheses and Interview Findings ........................................... 155
Table 8: Prioritisation of trust, sorted by participants identified leading roles ...................... 156
10
List of figures
Figure 1: Conceptual framework, developed by the author ..................................................... 23
Figure 2: Theoretical components of social learning ............................................................... 30
Figure 3: Alternative work scenarios ....................................................................................... 32
Figure 4: Identification of the participants CW-experience ..................................................... 50
Figure 5: Gender Distribution of CW-community members ................................................... 51
Figure 6: Age of CW-community members ............................................................................. 51
Figure 7: Leading roles in CW-communities ........................................................................... 52
Figure 8: Survey results ............................................................................................................ 53
Figure 9: CW-communities as source of inspiration ................................................................ 54
Figure 10: CW-practices and visit frequency ........................................................................... 55
Figure 11: General Interaction in CW-communities ................................................................ 56
Figure 12: Activity Participation in CW-communities ............................................................ 56
Figure 13: Collaboration of CW-community members ........................................................... 58
Figure 14: Perceived Collaboration of Co-Workers................................................................. 58
Figure 15: Value alignment and gender ................................................................................... 59
Figure 16: Perceived Collaboration of Co-Workers, sorted by age ......................................... 60
Figure 17: Prioritisation of formal/institutional guidance ........................................................ 61
Figure 18: Prioritisation of professional networking, sorted by age ........................................ 62
Figure 19: Concept of assisted serendipity, developed by the researcher ................................ 77
Figure 20: Framework of Critical Reflection ........................................................................... 91
11
I. INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background and Justification
Enjoy a sociable way of working in a communal workspace, with flexible options so you’ll
only ever pay for what you use
1
These and similar statements are given by coworking
2
(CW)
and serviced office providers who promise customers a professional and shared work
environment. The rise of CW spaces and their diffusion all over the world can be noticed online
and offline. Online, because of the high number of providers and user applications; offline
because of transformed practices and meanings of work “CW has become a commonplace
within a labour market(Gandini, 2015: 193). Besides that, the emergence of CW seems to
encourage new ways of nomadic or mobile work-life, which support freelancers
3
, start-ups
4
and
companies to extend their networks within flexible working hours and locations. Additionally,
pandemic situations like Covid-19
5
showed that the debate around ‘remote work
6
is of high
importance.
Studies of Deskmag
7
, for example, uncovered the profitability of CW facilities and, in the same
way, cities like Lisbon profit from the possibilities the individual labour market came across
with these “new ways of working [that] inevitably set new requirements for modern
workspaces” (Kyrö & Artto, 2015: 431). Their interconnected network capacities often appear
with aspects described as “assisted serendipity” (Back & Josef, 2016), creative tourism(
Putra & Agirachman, 2006), or “plug’n play” (Schürman, 2014). Due to the individual or
collective success stories, an increasing amount of business leaders became interested in
implementing CW within their organizations (Deskmag, 2020, Global Coworking Survey
Results 2018). Nevertheless, not all concepts provide aspects which promote a creative
environment that support entrepreneurship and development, such as interaction, collaboration,
1
Regus (2020). (https://www.regus.pt/en-
pt/workspace/portugal/lisbon?gclid=CjwKCAiAg9rxBRADEiwAxKDTuqiF0lMSlENl_suHEWzcvlMEewC5Q6
2EA6zvBcPA9UbGcg8JwUR90xoCLfkQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds)
2
This term will be shortened in the following work with the initials “CW.” Further explanation in 2.3.
3
The expression “freelancer” describes a person who acts independently or pursues a profession without a long-
term commitment or affiliation to any one employer. (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/freelance).
4
The expression “start-up” describes in the following a starting of “fledgling business enterprise” to describe a
specific state and size of a company that is in comparison to established business enterprises small.
(https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/start-up).
5
The coronavirus disease Covid-19 is an infectious disease with mainly respiratory system symptoms for that no
specific vaccines or treatments are available yet. (WHO, 2020).
6
With this terms is meant work outside the traditional enterprise office, for example from home etc.
7
Deskmag is an online magazine about coworking, its people and spaces (http://www.deskmag.com/).
12
and networking (Fuzi et al., 2015: 2). The implemented methodologies
8
to manage shared
working environments face the need for suitable communication procedures
9
and network tools.
Companies and coworking environments need to be accompanied to achieve desired benefits
within their community development Back & Josef (2016: 10). However, this presents three
challenges:
The concept of CW is vague, and the definition of CW remains too diverse. Therefore,
oftentimes managers and freelancers are unsure which model and community of CW they are
looking for or aim to implement.
Furthermore, a few resources present the different factors of a community or networks in
general that led to collaborative work forms or even their own ‘collaboration culture’.
Additionally, the user preferences and their motivations regarding being part of a coworking
community are rarely analysed. More often, studies have been chosen to look at this field from
an economic perspective, rather than consider social factors that led to their developments.
However, social capital as a resource ( Sisiiänen, 2000) and organizational leadership are deeply
linked, and often forgotten factors when it comes to performance and innovation. ( Almasi et
al., 2018).
These challenges result in the need for 1) a clear definition of CW and networks; 2) an
understanding of the role of social capital, collaboration, and organizational leadership
regarding CW communities; 3) the identification of the community factors and user preferences
that allow business leaders and freelancers to make informed decisions when choosing a CW
environment that suits to their unique context. This will guide them to make more informed
decisions about the various “memberships”
10
and the implementation of community activities.
From an academic perspective, this research needs to understand the role of social resources,
interaction, and collaboration for society and which factors are important for working
communities and networks in general. Additionally, it appears important to identify
organizational forms of learning environments and how CW communities as a phenomenon are
managed. Gaining knowledge in this research field allows community development and
optimization in the future.
8
The term “methodology“ will be used as defined in Merriam-Webster Dictionary: “a set of methods, rules or
ideas that are important in a science or art: a particular procedure or set of procedures” (http://www.merriam-
webster.com/dictionary/methodology).
9
The term “procedure“ will be used as defined in Merriam-Webster Dictionary: “a series of actions that are
done in a certain way or order; an established or accepted way of doing something” (http://www.merriam-
webster.com/dictionary/procedure).
10
The state or status of being a member which significates a relation between an element of the set or class, e.g.
an user contract with defined rules, and the class itself. (https://www.merriam-
webster.com/dictionary/membership)
13
Out of a personal perspective, this research is based on curiosity about social interactions and
progress. As a researcher, I was set up by myself in a community of Lisbon's CW-landscape. I
am curious about the different types of communities and their memberships. Does the
community influence work behaviour? Do specific activities or environmental factors make a
difference regarding the employees' performances? Can the innovation outcome be led?
Understanding the host and the facility managers' role and their view about their implemented
services and community activities will be one of the main objectives.
In summary, this dissertation aims to explore CW communities, against the background of
network theory knowledge, to provide the most beneficial resources for their development.
14
1.2 Research goals & objectives
To plan the empirical part of this work, a research object and its objectives need to be defined.
Because this dissertation discusses “community development in CW-spaces,” shared
workplaces and their communities can be defined as the research object. Communities will be
assumed as networks. Therefore, it is essential to clarify the concept and term ‘co-working’
against this background.
The main research goal is to understand how CW communities can be developed to add value
to their users. This significate not only individual but also collective outcome expressed as
‘innovation’. The following objectives for the researcher occurred:
Firstly, to understand how communities are organized as networks.
Second, to understand which factors are essential to develop a CW-community.
In theory, the relationship between social capital and collaboration has to be explained. To
investigate how they could foster innovation and examine general processes of establishing
meaning within organizational leadership are the main objectives.
In practice, Lisbon will shift into focus. The overall objective will be to outline the benefits and
challenges of its urban agglomeration. Therefore, the empirical part will investigate existent
CW-communities, evaluate members’ opinions, and understand motivations and preferences.
This should include the measurement of activity participation and satisfaction and insights on
how individuals perceive their co-workers. Because these results might underlie specific
community norms, an additional objective can be defined: To collect experts’ knowledge and
to investigate insights of leading community roles.
On the one hand, this work contributes to the development of already existing theories, on the
other hand, the results should generate useful and credible outcomes to discover opportunities
for implementing new community activities and leadership roles.
15
1.3 Research Question and Derivation
To guide the process of exploring CW-communities and their developments, the following
research question was comprised:
Assuming that CW-communities are networks, what role do social capital and
collaboration play and what factors foster them?
A few additional research questions will guide the process of exploring this research.
The sub-questions include:
2.1 How to define co-working?
2.2 How to foster innovation through organizational leadership in CW communities?
2.3 What motivations and preferences have CW-community members in Lisbon?
These questions guide and explore possibilities in implementing activities and leadership
structures in CW-communities while subsequently reflecting on user preferences and
motivations for the different types of community members. Since the available literature does
not provide clear answers that align with all international results, this research project sets out
to expand on the existing body of knowledge by exploring “Lisbon’s Co-working landscape”.
16
1.4 Scientific Positioning
The field of Communication Studies offers a broad range of areas and a varied array of
communicational phenomena. Although corporate communication
11
as a management function
offers an overall framework “for the effective coordination of all internal and external
communication” (Cornelissen 2013: 5) the focus of this dissertation will lay on internal
communication. This includes traditional constructivist theories in its framework, for example,
society organization & leadership, social capital, and communication network theories. Their
broad range of terms and definitions must be diminished and selected because not all of them
fit empirical studies of the more recent analysed phenomenon ‘coworking.’ Especially actor-
network theories that are often based on cybernetic studies must be considered carefully.
However, also social psychological and leadership studies are a good fit to analyse CW-
communities and their relations. This can be justified with the belief that this dissertation is
positioned within the sociocultural tradition, which is built largely through “symbolic codes
and media of communication” (Craig, 1999: 144). In the author’s view, communication and
culture mutually shape each other and their conditions when implementing communication
structures.
Respecting these points and the diversity of previous outlined research goals, this work
positioned as an interdisciplinary approach. To gain knowledge, exploratory research took
place. Together with the author’s embedded personal experience as a researcher, the dissertation
operates in the field of interpretivism
12
This contains the hermeneutic philosophy of
understanding and interpretation, e.g., by investigating different opinions or fields of studies.
11
The framework, covering internal and external processes, has the overall purpose of establishing and
maintaining favourable reputations with stakeholder groups upon which the organization is dependent.
(Cornelissen 2013: 5)
12
An interpretivist approach is based on a naturalistic approach of data collection, such as interviews and
observations, and tries to understand or interpret its research objects. (https://research-methodology.net/research-
philosophy/interpretivism/)
17
1.5 Conceptual grounding
To write this dissertation, the author engaged in an extensive review of the literature relating to
social communities and organizational forms. In doing so, relatively few research articles
addressing the phenomenon of co-working communities in specific exist and even fewer that
focused explicitly on their development. Therefore, a table listing the research relating to co-
working in general, sorted out components that may be relevant for the community. By sorting
in this manner, theoretical frameworks were used to research community development in CW
environments and ensured an interdisciplinarity perspective, which could provide additional
insights ( Repko, 2008). Through this process, patterns indicating three major disciplines
addressing CW-communities in academia were examined:
- Communication studies drawn from anthropological and social theories
- Sociology and leadership studies
- Case studies, and adult education.
One of the main aspects were brought forward by a substantial case study conducted by the
University St. Gallen and its researchers Back & Josef (2016; 2018) and helped find the starting
point of the dissertations research. Some more authors could shed light on limitations and
possibilities to explore the field of community development, e.g., Gandini (2015) and Orel &
Dvoulety (2020). However, the overall network and communication studies built the foundation
for further research on social capital, collaboration, and leadership
13
concepts.
Bourdieu (1986) and Putnam (1993; 1995) were essential to understanding how value and
meaning are negotiated in society by social practices Siisiäinen (2000) investigated a useful
comparison of their two concept-displays regarding social capital. Additionally, Bruno Latour
(1996; 2005; 2007) can be seen as the most supportive author in this field because he addresses
within ANT
14
social network environments on a structural level, which can be transferred to the
phenomenon of CW. Its social and sociological components, analysed by Weijs-Perrée et al.
(2019), were central in order to understand how their communities can best enrich their
environments. A first attempt to reflect on these debates has been the work of Waters-Lynch
13
Concepts related to Achor (2012), Goleman (2000; 2004), or Sinek (2009) that try to prove how different
styles of leadership, such as related to soft skills and other personal traits, can affect organizational forms.
14
ANT established as short form for Actor-Network-Theory which is not only researched also by other
communication scientists. However, Bruno Latour’s ANT was developed in the 1980s together with the
sociologist Michel Callon, firstly to explore science and tech-innovations. 1987 the author first published its
theory.
18
(2018) who researched CW practices in Melbourne, and which is considered, according to The
Coworking Library, as one of the most recent research when it comes to CW community
development in urban infrastructures.
19
1.6 Methodological Options and Research Design
As outlined above, the following research allows us to have a broad perspective to explore
related topics such as innovation and leadership. On the one hand, this work contributes to the
development of already existing theories, on the other hand, the results should generate useful
and credible outcomes to discover opportunities for implementing new community activities
and leadership roles. To gain knowledge for this exploratory research, an interdisciplinary
approach must be organized.
Because of the strong social component, this work is aligned with the authors’ Marshall &
Rossman (1995: 11-12), who stated that qualitative methods allow better identification and
description of complex social problems within their inconsistencies and conflicts as well as help
to find “natural” solutions in situations experiments would be unethical. Strauss & Corbin
(1990) share this opinion and point out the importance of non-statistical or quantitative research,
especially when it comes to “organizational functioning, social movements, or interactional
relationships (pp. 17-19). CW-spaces can be seen as an example of three types of research that
benefit, according to Marshall & Rossman (1995: 43) from pursuing qualitative methods:
- Research that delves deep into complexities and processes
- Research on little known phenomena or innovative systems
- Research on real, as opposed to stated, organizational goals
Therefore, given the object of research and the interpretivist positioning, a qualitative
methodology fits better when conducting and evaluating data of community phenomena (
Victorino, 2015). However, also a quantitative method is possible, depending on the amount
and use of primary data. Because more recent literature has suggested that there can be
significant discrepancies in what CW-providers, like Regus or founders, and co-working users
perceive as valuable ( Seo et al. 2017), motivations and preferences of community members
should be recorded and compared to find most common ‘membership traits’ as well as to reduce
the complexity of the phenomenon.
This approach would be grounded on theoretical insights provided by the literature review.
However, the major part of the data analysis refers to “everyday situations” of the researched
social group what Miles & Huberman (1994) describe further as an “intense and prolonged
contact with a field or life organization” (pp. 5-6) To follow the authors approach in-dept or a
participant observation could have been done for two reasons: Firstly, the researcher’s goal is
20
to gain a ‘holistic’ (systematic, encompassing, integrated) overview of the context under study
which would be aimed by conducting a survey and/or interviews in the co-working environment
or via Intranet
15
. Second, the researcher could attempt to capture data from a local/inner
standpoint, resulting in a more empathic understanding and perception. After weighing up all
presented options, it was decided to proceed with a mixed-method as a favourable option. How
quantitative and qualitative research tools will be presented in the empirical research (III).
15
This term describes an organizational or business-internal, closed IT-network that offers its users an
application- and communication-platform (Gabriel, Gabler Banklexikon, 2020)
21
1.7 Limitations
Limitations already were shown at an early stage of this work: Because of the Covid-19 crisis,
a CW-community as a single and unique research object could not be chosen. The closure of
facilities, health restrictions, and the physical absence of the communities led to the actual and
more broad decision.
As other researchers have pointed out, the fact that CW communities are difficult to grasp
makes it questionable whether an interview-based research design makes it possible to truly
gain insights about the topic since interviewees
16
may have different perceptions and
interpretations of the concept CW and community development. How Carlgren et al. (2016)
pointed out, the likelihood of interviewees having different perceptions of what CW
communities are, leads to the danger of potentially comparing 'apples and pears'. This limitation
was overcome by asking all interviewees to explain what the term community means to them
and define 'co-working'. This way, it was possible to take all answers into account when
analysing and comparing, despite having different concepts.
As mentioned in part 1.3, communication problems arise because of gaps across space and time
or due to technological change and problems in its infrastructure: On one hand, globalization
allows us to have more diversity that positively influences working environments and
possibilities. On the other hand, it brings competition and a higher risk of communication failure
( Almasi et al., 2018). Therefore, a challenging part of this dissertation is achieving a valuable
outcome for both sides: Members and CW facilitators/experts. In theory, a first try to reflect on
heterogeneous and homogenous learning environments is given. However, also, a set of
measurement tools must be chosen. It became certain that a rational approach to measuring
human social components on a structural level is not enough to get insight.
Additionally, the assumption that interactive activities result automatically in innovation can be
identified as a risky and premature conclusion. The number of community members and experts
analysed must be representative. Virtual and real/physical factors had to be considered at the
same time. It showed up that due to Covid-19 and the general fluctuation ( the rate of entry and
exit-rate) of the CW-users, the provided research time was not enough. Also, data rights made
it more complicated because personal data and characteristics could not be used without
individual agreement.
16
At this point, all participants via survey or in-debt interview were meant to be included to achieve comparable
results.
22
As a result, a theoretical approach was made to understand CW-communities as networks on a
structural level while focusing on its specific phenomenon and increasing popularity. Due to
academic and personal interest of the author, a major part of the research and empirical work
was conducted in Lisbon, Portugal
17
. However, it was mainly asked about motivations and
preferences than about the characteristics of current CW-locations. The relation between the
responses' current situation and their preferences could not be analysed and may influence the
hypothetical. Because this work concentrates on social factors and community as a network,
functional and financial aspects (renting contracts, etc.) were less considered. For future studies,
questionnaires could be more differentiated or separately provided for focused groups. Last, the
positional perspective of this research may influence the approach of this environment.
Interests, not positions, must stand up.
17
Furthermore this geographic focus will be named 'Lisbon's Co-working landscape' to imply its complexity for
which this work will create, metaphorically, a legend.
23
II. CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
To respect the research questions, the following conceptual map can be developed from the
bigger picture of the social components to the specific geographical landscape in which
community development was researched and could take place:
Figure 1: Conceptual framework
2.1 The Role of Social Capital
When developing communities, we need more than economic, physical, and human capital.
Social capital must be considered, especially when it comes to needs like information,
education, innovation, and creativity. ( Almasi et al., 2018) By the Cambridge Dictionary, it is
described as “the value of the relationships between people who work or live together and the
knowledge and skills that they have and share” (p. 155). Others consider it as ability (Ports),
process (Collier), or define it by its function the reason why all scholarships point out major
elements that combine psychological indicators with behavioural networks, e.g., community
participation, friendship, or neighbourhood.
Social Capital
Collaborative
Networks
Co-Work
Communities
CW-
Communities
Lisbon
24
Nevertheless, two authors should be mentioned in connection with these studies since no one
else has dealt so intensively with the meaning: Pierre Bourdieu and Robert Putnam, both
applying social capital to their opinions on civil society problems, follow two opposing
sociological traditions. ( Siisiäinen, 2000)
The original concept of social capital goes back to Bourdieu, who stated his thesis in the 1970s
and early 1980s. It is deeply connected to his ideas about societies’ classification, in which he
identified three dimensions: economic, cultural, and social capital. These resources become
socially effective and are empowered by the mediation of another form of capital, which he
calls “symbolic capital.” When social positions try to advance with their interests having
conflicts, according to Siisiäinen (2000) “trust as a potential component of symbolic capital can
be exploited in the practice of symbolic power and exchange.” (p. 2) Putnam (1995) elevated
this thought later on and incorporated the term ‘social values’ into his three components for the
result of a well-functioning system the successful accumulation of social capital or, as he
described it as: “interconnected networks of trust” (p. 14) He was convinced that the activity of
a civic community with its forms of participation was a major factor behind the success of
societies institutions. Trust, collaboration, mutual assistance, and vertical organization among
authorities were realized as a key to the community’s fertility. Considering trust as social
ability, it is important to mention that the author taught about a trust that is “generalized,” which
means that actors are doing something good in general, not because they expect something from
another interactor in return. Translated into nowadays, this serves the idea of community
sense
18
.
That this kind of ‘brave behaviouris difficult to achieve was already stated by Luhmann (1998;
1991) in his texts when he talked about reciprocity and that every network needs to have that
risk/ failure to develop further differentiations. However, if we focus like Putnam (1993) on a
good outcome, trust can create voluntary associations that influence social interactions. (pp.
163-185). The opposite of a “non-civic community” (Siisiäinen, 2000: 6) would be “distrust,
breaking the norms […] isolation, disorder, and stagnation. In resume it can be stated that trust
and collective activity, named as “facilitated communication” improves and serves a culture of
collaboration. However, Putnam neglects voluntary associations’ vertical dimension, which
means reduced in its complex meaning: no action without motivation. At this point, and in
contrast to Putnam, Bourdieu (1986) can explain the power situation. In his approach, each
actor is engaged in a struggle to pursue their interests: habitus and conflict. In his explanation,
18
This significates a common or mutual (outspoken or not) agreement of a group of people about certain ideas,
values or visions, preferably in a long term.
25
“habitus is a set of dispositions, reflexes, and forms of behaviour people acquire through acting
in society(p. 19). Nevertheless, what can be defined as an actor, and in which social fields
they operate?
Siisiäinen (2000) states, that all forms of capital are “core factors that define positions and
possibilities of various actors in any field” (p. 12), operating with individual profiles and
controlled by them. Nevertheless, Bourdieu’s most important outtake might be the notice that
social capital has two components: The connectivity with group membership and social
networks and its symbolic character based on mutual cognition and recognition. These
“original” opinions align with recent studies when authors like Almasi et al. (2018) point out
the importance of social capital, which overcomes even the economic one. Because “without
[it], the optimal use of other capital is not possible (p. 154).
To create a functional society system, it seems undeniable that parties of different interests work
hand in hand. Especially when it comes to establishing organizational forms of work, social
resources in a constant process of translation (symbolic capital) are indispensable for the
economic dimension. The conjunction cycles of growth and regression bond on the dynamics
of interaction within their social values (e.g., trust and empathy) are recognized as self-evident.
Voluntary associations, trade unions, political parties, and other communities are modern
examples of social capital embodiments with a facilitated communication that forms, including
all authors’ opinions, through social interactions, habitus, and conflict. How this ‘culture of
collaboration’ looks?
26
2.2 Collaboration and networks
As mentioned in 2.1.1, the economic, social, and symbolic “profit” that follows from belonging
to the association or community establishes a concrete base for the growth of solidarity and
performance. ( Siisiäianen, 2000). In practice, this significate a certain level of interaction in an
organization. Mattessich & Monsey (1992) record that “collaboration [reduces] individual
expenses in planning, research, training, and other development in the early stage of a new
initiative” (p. 10). Can this be valid not only for individuals but also for collective initiatives?
Where are the differences in cooperation and coordination established?
2.2.1 Factors of collaboration
First, a working definition of its term should be defined. I suggest the dynamic one from the
authors Mattessich & Monsey (1992):
“Collaboration is a […] well-defined relationship entered by two or more organizations [with]
a commitment to a definition or mutual relationship […; goals; responsibility; authority; accountability
for success;] and sharing of resources and rewards” (p. 11)
In communication studies, authors like Latour (1987; 2005), with its ANT are convinced, in an
early stage, that collaboration benefits the synergies of agents to enhance processes and
overcome obstacles. To understand the logic of Latour, it is important to outline that it is not
only human positions that constitute society with their actions and interactions. Although he
assigns a decisive role to technology in creating and developing social orders, he does not do
so in the sense of his own understanding of the subject. “The power of technology”
19
be
regarded merely as a technically mediated power of subjects over subjects.
Nevertheless, certain factors could be found out that influence the success of the human
collaboration. Summarized into six categories, these provide a first hint in which areas the
empirical research could lay on so that “people who want to initiate or enhance collaborative
effort can benefit” from this work. ( Mattessich & Monsey, 1992)
Through a broad and interdisciplinary scope, 133 studies were examined and screened, 18 valid,
and relevant studies reviewed by the researchers. Environmental; Membership;
19
The author completely rejects the term “technology” as a generic term and only allows it as an attribute. He
presents an agent model, which understands human and technical entities as actants, which in turn are composed
of a variety of components.
27
Process/Structure; Communication; Purpose and Resources are the key findings for the
effectiveness of collaboration. However, they must be considered whole because they rely on
each other ( Mattessich & Monsey, 1992). But how?
A deeper look into communication science research could answer this question. Bruno Latour
explored during the 80- and 90s the question of how humans and artifacts interact as actors and
how an action is generated via the hybrid actor as part of a complex network. The two words
“net” and “work” already indicate that the phenomenon “co-working -community” is not that
far from its definition. For Latour, technical mediation
20
as a transformation or translation
process becomes important in interactions, similar to the establishment of symbolic capital in
2.1.1. The actors themselves are part of their own stakeholder networks, which is why, in the
end, no clearly defined demarcations can be drawn in between the terms. A corrective attempt
is made by the scientist himself who introduced the terms of “quasi-object” or “quasi-subject.”
They should make it possible to express a transitional state better since they do not occupy,
provided by the constitution, the position of things not that of subjects.
21
Going back to Mattessich & Monsey (1992), it can be mentioned that the
optimal environment contains likely some tradition that enables the collaborative group
members’ trust within the process. Simultaneously, it appeared outstanding that
important membership characteristics are next to trust, mutual understanding, and respect.
Realizable, this seems by representatives of certain groups that cross-section and have a
personal drive to collaborate anyway.
Before referring explicitly to the mechanisms of collaboration and power, the question arises
as to its structure: Struction appears to the philosopher Jean-Luc-Nancy as one of the key
concepts if the basis and nature of a network need to be described in detail. “Stuction” (from
the lat. “struo” to accumulate; to pile; to cluster…) primarily refers to an “unassembled
totality” or “unassembled quantity” which in the sense of a simple co-presence does not require
a principle of coordination (Hörl, 2011: 25-35). However, compared to simple cooperation in
which no specific planning and communication roles are established, its complexity increases
towards coordinated projects and collaboration. New organizational structures and labour roles
constitute a formal division of labour, and many “levels” of communication need to be
respected. Because whereas the process and structure with its flexibility need to be analysed
20
In his theory, this is a matter of translating action programs as technical mediation that causes them to shift. As
a rule, this refers to the objectives and intentions of human actors and technical actors’ functions.
21
However, critics say that everything seems negotiable in Latour’s redefinition of the political, and “power
issues” are not sufficiently clarified.
28
individually, communication is an important category. Open and frequent communication and
the flexibility in the tone (Is the conversation formal/informal…) need to give in.
On a primary level, purpose and resources define a successful collaboration. Purpose, for
example, is to share visions or objectives as helpful, but not as important as the resources for
funds or convener themselves. The same possibilities must be given to everyone like in a
democratic network to reinforce the first, environmental and membership-factors, that enact
collaborative partners’ legitimacy. Resources (and rewards) make one of the main factors that
distinguish it from other similar practices. Resources are pooled jointly secured, and the
products are shared (Mattessich & Monsey, 1992: 43).
All these factors result in an organizational structure in which members are more committed to
each other, share common norms and values, often work for the same mission by providing
their own individual resources and reputation. Although the risk of failure is bigger than more
formal relationships like cooperation and coordination, its culture promises a sustainable and
innovation outcome (Mattessich & Monsey, 1992: 43).
In recent studies about changing work-culture, these network capacities often appear with the
aspect described as “assisted serendipity”, which appears in conjunction with co-work
communities (Back & Josef, 2016). Nevertheless, before focusing on the phenomenon of CW-
communities, an attempt is made to understand networks better.
2.2.2 Collaborative networks
According to Paulitz (2005), net structures are understood as intelligent, central, and, therefore,
with an omnipresent facticity that explains the networked world. Concerning each other and
their actors, they are regarded as a suitable or experiential system which by nature (e.g., the net
of a spider) can cope with complexity once transferred into the techno sphere (maps, roads,
rails…). The network's importance is not necessarily to be found in the collective but its
connectivity. It is a network of interactions that can also be called a communications network.
Nowadays, these exist in various types but of special relevance are collaborative networks. (
Paulitz, 2005). Therefore, scientists suggest acknowledging these largely autonomous,
geographically distributed but connected entities as a discipline per se. The conviction validates
this that the business and scientific world's challenges can be managed by their "highly
integrated supply chains, virtual organizations, enterprises, and communities. (Camarinha
Matos & Afsarmanesh, 2004: 439). Like Back & Josef (2016: 10) already pointed out, the
aspect of connectivity can be seen as a connection to a community that promotes indirectly
29
random discoveries. According to this view, we may assume that CW-communities can be seen
as part of a collaborative network that brings advantages regarding competitive business
opportunities or better described as innovation potential. Therefore, society is in need to
consolidate and synthesize existing knowledge (Camarinha Matos & Afsarmanesh, 2004: 440).
Instead of tracking the process of the establishment of a new scientific discipline, it would be
more interesting for this work to look at the individual manifestation or variants of CN
(communities?) that have emerged regarding CW.
According to the model of Camarinha Matos & Afsarmanesh (2004), every CW community is
set up in a "breeding environment" of collaborative networked organizations that operate at
least like a virtual organization (VO) that is temporary and goal-oriented. Depending on its
members' amount and professionalism, it can also be considered a professional virtual
community (PVC) that creates value. Agreed is on "principles of operation and interoperable
infrastructures" (p. 442). This is defined by its environment, which is decisively determined by
the composition of its entities. Because this dissertation is focused on people and social factors
in larger amounts, it is assumed that all CW-communities represent virtual communities, even
if technical platforms and internal tools were not considered.
22
Which social conception or
network of professionals creates the most value?
2.2.3 Learning environments
“Knowledge is always someone’s knowledge” (Wheatley 1991: 13)
Loyens & Gijbels (2008) tried to understand the effects of constructivist learning environments
how people create meaning, which can be defined and embodied in many ways. This can be
considered as an important approach because
“social network analyses can reveal much about the character of social relations, but they do not in
themselves explain the processes [neither practices] by which individuals subjectively identify with an
abstracted collective entity beyond the network of personal ties” (Waters-Lynch, 2018, p. 66-67).
Talking about shared heuristics introduce the theory of Social Learning which tries to explain
learned behaviours
23
. Theory found out that it is less about internalising stable constructions
22
This can be supported by the fact that the term' virtual community' was in the 1990s introduced into the
sociological lexicon (Rheingold 1993; 2000).
23
Waters-Lynch (2018: 70-72),who tried to find a link to community practice, adapted the former concept of
Wenger (1998) and Sadler (2014) for its own research goal to explain community practice.
30
of meaning than participating within a community, in which identity and social relationships
are constantly negotiated.
Figure 2: Theoretical components of social learning (Adapted from: Waters-Lynch, 2018 after Wenger, 1998)
Meaning, Practice, Community and Identity build a required set of actors with which
communities build their practices of creating meaning virtual or in real space. On the one
hand, these are individual cognitive processes; on the other hand, collective social co-
construction that stresses the collaborative processes in knowledge building. The environment
influences knowledge acquisition based on “problem-based learning,” but it is mainly
cooperative learning through negotiation and interaction. (Loyens & Gijbels, 2008: 352).
For the practices of these learning environments further elements have been proposed by
several authors: Mutual engagement, Joint enterprise and shared repertoire are suggested by
Waters-Lynch (2018: 70) , Loyens & Gijbels (2008: 352) highlight the process of self-
regulation, which is, according to the authors, an umbrella term for goal setting, and to plan,
monitor, and evaluate activities which is inevitable to understand and improve educational
effects. Another keyword in the discussion of community development or learning
environments and its community practices, is creativity.
Fuzi (2015) described it as “the ability to come up with new ideas,” which is inevitable in
management as well as in science when it comes to enhancing organizations and employees (p.
2). Access to knowledge and tools stood out, as well as “the interaction with people from diverse
backgrounds.” To communicate freely and collaborate with people from different disciplines
builds the ground for innovation potential ( FuziapudKakko, 2009). However, it is mentioned
31
as “still difficult to create such spaces” mainly because from a company’s perspective. There
are rare common spaces for creative activities. Therefore the authors suggest joining “local co-
working spaces to meet new people and form new collaborations or set up a co-working space
inside the research organisation itself” (p.3). Today CW-spaces are commonly perceived as
hybridized workspaces, although they might not always be the optimal space to work. The first
CW space C-Base in Berlin (Germany) created in 1995 was described as a “hackerspace” and,
consequently, the opposite: hosting a predominantly homogenous community (Orel &
Douvléty, 2020: 13). These smaller ‘niche communities’
24
are classified as goal-oriented
(profitable or non-profitable) based on their users’ developments. The same profession or
temporary established workplaces around an event or exhibition could be an example. However,
it is unclear(and would probably need another dissertation’s scope) the ‘perfect
mix.’ NOW_Beato in Lisbon points out: “We are keen on individuals, not collectives”. To
understand how working networks have pushed knowledge exchange and social learning, then,
following the term “co(-)working” itself has to be catechized.
24
Additionally also Waters-Lynch’s (2018) concept of micro-amenities can be applied that describes the
interplay of small communities with entrepreneurial potential in urban agglomeration.
32
2.3 Cowork Communities
2.3.1 The emerge of Coworking
In 2005, the computer programmer Brad Neuberg rented the facility Spiral Muse in San
Francisco that operated back then as a feminist collective his ‘open source’ concept Coworking
was born. He described it on his blog as solution and office of a traditional corporate job,
but in a unique way (Neuberg 2005). His solution is to regain freedom and control over
society’s dilemma to choose between a 9 to 5 job in a traditional office with a fixed community
and structure and working from home suffering loneliness and bad habits. Although the term
was introduced first in 2005, it has been a long history in space, including many contradictions
about what can be a “Cowork” and what can be described as Cowork practices (Waters-Lynch,
2018). Coworking is usually more than access to space and facilities - it is a complex social
phenomenon. A Coworking place is often identified as a transition from jelly.
25
Jelly is
described as a casual working event or gathering where people gather in a particular place,
usually a coffee shop or someone’s home (Jackson, 2014). However, it appears confusing to
include all forms of flexible workplaces available in the concept of Coworking. They are
emerging as several types from an alternative work scenario, a substitute for a corporate
office, or an alternative room for co-creation with externals and stakeholders that seem to
address different target groups. This dissertation, however, will focus on the third category:
The Coworking Space.
Figure 3: Alternative work scenarios (Adapted from: Josef & Back, 2016 after Amstutz & Schwehr, 2014)
25
Pioneered in NYC and ‚the hub ‘in London, this movement was invented parallel to Coworking in 2005.
Similar experiments in Europe were Vienna’s Schraubenfabrik or Denmark’s LYNfabriikken (cf . Waters-
Lynch, 2018).
33
Incubator hubs were often not considered because they are a specific, mostly publicly funded,
type of multi-tenant office that supports start-up enterprises.
CW- environments are predominant in urban metropoles, for example, London, Lisbon, or
Berlin, and were often described as third places
26
. In its evolution, work-communities are
spheres where social and productive activities co-exist. Until today, these are predominantly
occupied with ‘non-standard’ workers who are mainly solo-self-employed (freelancers) or
entrepreneurs in an early stage (Waters-Lynch, 2018: 48).
According to Deskmag´s
27
global coworking survey there are approximately 18.900 spaces and
1.690.000 Coworkers worldwide (2018), the theory of social capital can be found embedded in
these structures of communitarian relationships.
2.3.2 The problem about the term
From an academic perspective Co(-)working’ is a relatively new research area, despite
scholars' growing interest and attention. However, it turns out difficult because more than one
existing definition and its terms are used interchangeably (Gandini, 2015: 195). Its main values
are currently manifested as:
A simple community idea where independent professionals and those with workplace
flexibility work better together than they can do alone. Community building, sustainability, and
the agreement to uphold a set of values forth by the movement’s founder are central ground. To
avoid loneliness, interaction and sharing should be the key for a better way of work.
(Co-Working Manifesto, 2020).
Spinuzzi (2012) introduced its academic term primarily as a ‘co-presence‘ supporting
knowledge exchange in ‘inter-organizational and cross-disciplinary collaborations’ Coworkers
were meant to work ‘on their own, just side by side’ ( Fost, 2008) or ‘alone together’ ( Spinuzzi,
2012). According to the authors Back & Josef (2018), who analysed the phenomenon CW from
companies perspective:
26
This term was first coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg (1989, p.14) to refer to meeting places between
domestic homes and productive workplaces. However, third places like cafes, bookstores, etc. offer a social
atmosphere based on a community.
27
Deskmag is a coworking magazine based in Berlin that does periodic research studies and evaluations about
its social phenomenon.
34
“Coworking spaces are neutral places, owned and operated by a private or legal entity,
where affiliated and unaffiliated professionals work side by side or in collaboration. The spaces
are used by individuals, teams or other cross-organisational groups, during a specific project
phase or for an unlimited period, in addition to other work scenarios or exclusively”
What has shown off as an important finding is that although they seem to have the same values
in the first place, they do not all serve the same market needs. What has tried to grasp is that
CW appearances are, in principle, not business-oriented. They are “hybrid infrastructures of
interaction( Gandini, 2015) or “Begegnungsorte” ( Josef & Back, 2016) that can connect
technologies, spaces, and people. Alessandro Gandini (2015: 193-205) argues about the self-
proclaimed “CW movement,” the constant expectation of being a new model of work in the
context of the collaborative and sharing economy is connoted. This “third way of working”
brings the researcher back to its roots (Neuberg, 2005), where the confusion about its term
started. Originally it was coined coworking without a hyphen to indicate the practice of working
individually in a shared environment (p. 195). It meant to be to differentiate it
from coworking (with a hyphen), which indicates working closely together on a piece of work
( Gandiniapud Fost, 2008)
Despite the variety of all CW terms, sharing the same values could ground collaborative
environments to develop new production opportunities. It could be agreed on partially, for now,
that this takes place in neutral/non-hierarchical situations. An accessible, open, and sustainable
community might be the most common purpose for facilitators. Its essence can be found in a
“networked mode of organization” (Gandini, 2015: 199), which loose modality is located
between interactive structures such as cooperation, collaboration, or competition.
2.3.3 Relevance of Cowork-Communities
“Whether it’s asking for real time feedback on a product or service, asking for a
recommendation or simply drinking a beer after work [;] the power of our community is
invaluable(IDEA, 2020).
This quotation of Lisbon’s CW-space Idea Hub supports the significant element that
characterizes CW-spaces and their communities’ relevance. According to Gandini (2015), an
open-source approach intended as a collaborative practice seeks to establish communitarian
social relations ( Reed, 2007).
35
Etymologically the English word has roots in the Latin word communis and significates “things
held in common” ( OED, 2015).
28
Because this significates the physical or cognitive unity of
individuals that develop their own dynamics, also virtual communities
29
can be considered.
Having a look at most CW places could become a challenge to “co-work”. Flexible work
arrangements might increase personal control over schedule and work environment but there
are also negative aspects of this individual freedom. Blurred lines between social and
professional life and other social imbalances might become a relevant factor (Orel & Dvoulety,
2020: 10).
Nevertheless, CW-spaces facilitate positive effects on building communities because the
complex socio-economic scene is based upon networked dynamics of interaction, which gives
access to profit from resources and possibilities to and through their members. (Gandini, 2015:
199). Fuzi (2015) confirms this by saying that “originally, the term ‘co-working space’ refers
to a new shared working environment for freelancers and other location-independent
professionals who became tired of the isolation of their home offices (p. 2). ‘Common
areas’ like a shared kitchen, etc. as example give room for informal interactions and construct
a sense of community at work which tackles the recently addressed problem of “modern
knowledge workers” that has emerged as the big business of loneliness
30
” (Orel & Dvoulety,
2020: 10).
Because next to the opportunity for knowledge exchange tacit or explicit there is a human
need for community. We are social animals with a need for security, which can build trust
relationships among groups. According to Almasi et al. (2018), there can be found
differentiation between at least three types of trust (p. 5)
- Trust of relatives and relatives e.g. of a community to family members, relatives, …
- Social trust among individuals e.g. towards each other and the community
- Institutional trust e.g. perceived feelings towards institutions, professions, …
28
A difficulty concerning scientific research is that the term is used almost inflationary in its variety of forms. It
can refer to groups who physically share a place, and to groups that subjectively build an identity (academic
community). Therefore the researcher suggest to agree on a definition that relates to social relations which knit
in local interactions, but also in mediating, more impersonal, larger urban communities. This concept was
introduced, for example, under the term Gemeinschaft shifting within Gesellschaft. ( Tonnies 1887).
29
This term was introduced in the 1990s to the sociological lexicon to draft social relations online. ( Rheingold,
1993).
30
This term relates to Laura Entis article that outlined the facilitation of human connection with its investments
and infrastructure and asked in the body for the meaning of human interaction ( Entis, 2019).
36
As already mentioned in 2.1.1., without trust and other collaboration features, social capital
could not manifest. There would be no effects of enhancement, indicated as an economic return
( e.g., a higher salary) and social independence (e.g., relationships). Especially throughout the
last century, the need for community in interpersonal interaction and collaborative involvement
in working processes gained significance. The evolution to open office environments started
after the change to work automatization in the 19th century and aligns with transforming the
population that migrates from industrial work sectors to administratively-centred office spaces
(Orel & Dvoulety, 2020: 11). In the emergence of these professional social interactions, which
are simultaneously physical and digital, they respond to the necessities. Communities can
reterritorialize nomad working practices (Gandini, 2015: 201) and profit from international or
intercultural experiences. In addition to that, support and self-confirmation might be part of the
reciprocal process. Therefore, users belong to a community that has been established as a ‘social
contract’ that can also be described as membership purchased or not. Not only because of re-
creating social capital and the human need for relations, but we also need to build communities.
Research turned out that social structures in CW-environments are far more important than
“funky design features.” We see a constant effort in giving workers a sense of individual
autonomy that is still linked to a sense of collaboration. ( FastCompanyapudSpreizer, 2016).
On the one hand, socialization can be not forced, but on the other hand, all co-workers become
“members” that constantly shape their environment to improve working conditions. An
additional argument works the other way around. When users get the experience to escape the
competition, they can finally shape themselves because they have less internal competition.
However, the following chapter sets in motion, it is not easy to build a community with common
sense and assisted serendipity through interaction collaboration.
2.3.4 Cowork-communities in Practice
According to Gandini (2015), through repetition and change, “habitus” a ritual practice that
is established within social interactions and space can be built. Before going deeper into the
social features, it is essential to understand that “the community” itself is just one of the five
values that have been identified by Josef & Back
(2018). Community, Openness, Collaboration, Sustainability, and Accessibility have been
respected by most coworking spaces, depending on the type-specific stood out more (p. 16).
In Lisbon, most providers offer more than one location to work. Cowork companies have
multiple locations so that professionals have the flexibility to work from any location. Low
rental prices and flexible rental contracts are attractive and align with the nomad mentality to
37
work “anytime, anywhere” ( Chen & Nath, 2005). Nevertheless, they promote themselves as
‘membership communities’ ( Spinuzzi 2012; Gandini 2015) in which different memberships or
passes are offered. Being part of a shared environment significates almost selling parts of its
own availability because with being a ‘member,’ not only service is purchased, common
community expectations and values are incorporated. These are facilitated in ‘organic forms of
coordination’ and social networks that foster professional collaboration with other members. (
Waters-Lynch, 2018). Materials like whiteboards, phonebooths, and kitchen equipment are just
a few named assets. Design choices often make the difference and contrast practices celebrated
creativity and novelty over routine and predictability (Waters-Lynch, 2018: 53).
Because of users’ diversity and fluctuations that try to take advantage of shared workplaces,
user preferences should be analysed as one of the development aspects. Weijs-Perrée et al.
(2019) tried to find out through CW-space characteristics representing their users’ motivations.
Related to building up a community following its features can be found in their identified multi-
tenant office factors (p. 536):
o Location
o Office exterior and division
o Services
o Office leisure
o Information and communication technology
o Office climate
Nevertheless, individual differences like gender, age, and profession can influence preferences
and therefore mislead these categories with their often mentioned factors: accessibility
(including tools and resources), flexibility and leasing contacts. Therefore it might make more
sense to focus additionally on the general motivations of a heterogeneous environment.
Complementary skills are within sharing common sense important and emerging productivity.
According to case studies, this could be achieved through social events or tasks with community
participation, leading to a creative community. In specific “collaboration with co-workers”;
“feeling part of a community,”; interaction, social or professional support, sharing ideas and
knowledge” were named as parts of the main study results.
It could be outlined that facilities, in combination with services and social tasks that require
participation, have the potential to bring co-workers together, which makes a difference to a
multi-tenant office without a community approach ( Weijs-Perrée, 2019). Additionally, it stood
out in the researched samples that not many users were aware that, next to building up a physical
38
and digital network, it is needed to be engaged in collaborations with peers and facility hosts,
which goes further than a “reception satisfactory.”
2.3.5 Development and Innovation
One of the main aspects evolves, according to Gandini (2015), from non-hierarchical situations
Culturepreneurs” (p. 198) that represent a non-competitive and socialized philosophy of work,
are an essential part of the engine. Networking practices within their profession cause a fluid
aggregation of multifunctional knowledge and pertains to the digital economy. However, not to
forget that competitive structures are necessary to build symbolic value and norms for the use
of social capital.
Indeed, innovation plays an increasingly important role in modern business, and many
organizations strive to be innovative. Even though the topic of design has been studied
comprehensibly for the past 40 years, there are no clear answers to the question of when
development becomes innovation (Amabile, 1988; Serrat, 2017). As already outlined in point
2.2.1, collaboration led not only to a consistent and meaningful workflow it also enables
accidental discoveries. Unfortunately, this is one of the points where leading studies ( Josef &
Back, 2016) end because overall innovation measurements were hard to find. While the concept
of “assisted serendipity”
31
can be validated for the CW space in general, the researchers
specified its social components towards “creative collaboration” (p.10), which could be a
starting point for further research. However, innovation through collaboration
32
is a common
theme, according to Waters-Lynch (2018: 62), and is often promoted as the goal of many
coworking spaces that want to contribute to creating meaningful economic work.
Next to the link to the concept of innovation, the mental and social process fuelled by
conscious or unconscious insight is also linked to CW hosts and facilitators that lead pace and
co-work within it. Even better if they co-work, which means that leaders are involved in
community projects. According to Serrat (2017: 904), the successful exploitation of new ideas
is the profitable outcome of the creative process, which involves generating and applying
specific context products, services, procedures, and desirable and viable techniques. To
understand this, more research had to be done regarding the meaning and organization of work.
31
his concept convinces that innovation potential can behold and new ideas provoked by planned interior and
human interaction.
32
Also discussed with the term of micro amenities (Waters-Lynch, 2018, p. 62).
39
2.4 Organisation & Leadership
“In today’s fast-paced world, organizations are working to achieve organizational and economic
goals and use different patterns and methods to survive and gain a new competitive advantage
in order to avoid falling and downturns and the dangers of rapid environmental change.”
(Almasi et al., 2018)
CW-communities can be organized in many ways. They can be differentiated from an open
access/public environment, a facilitator, host, or specific community manager. What could be
outlined in part 2.3 is that there is a need for organizational/hierarchy-structures, even if they
tend to be flat. To link this with ideas found in theory, it can be mentioned what Almasi et al.
(2018) found out: social capital and organizational leadership go hand in hand for their
improvement. Although many consider social capital as an “invaluable organizational resource,
organizational initiatives [are an] important tool for measuring performance” (p. 3) for their
environments.
Organizational leadership significate an organizational commitment to sustained growth and
development that can be achieved through specific conditions. It is a culture that is negotiated
individually and belongs to an internal and external business environment. Nevertheless,
different “leadership styles” can be observed when it comes to change and development.
According to Achor (2012), a transformative approach has an advantage compared to a
transactional leadership style. Because of its specific decision-making process, its factors were
usually found in correlation with colleagues’ outcomes and satisfaction (p. 22). As a ‘leadership
tool’ it seems to have the highest potential to be useful when it comes to facilitators and hosts
which have the responsibility to ‘lead’ or are assigned to create a stimulating working
environment that allows interaction, networking, and collaboration between the community
members (Fuzi, 2015). Bass (1999, pp. 9-10) mentions that the concept of being a
transformational leader
33
goes behind directing and participating. It significates a higher moral
commitment to inspire and intellectually stimulating a community. However, when it comes to
establishing a ‘common sense,’ higher work ethic, and to foster collaboration in a shared
workplace, organizational leadership has its standpoint. Corresponding to the ideas of 2.3.3. To
grow communities, more in-depth insight into what values and user preferences ground is
necessary. The CW-space NOW_Beato, for example, gives a few interesting statements on their
website that let overthink the often predominant division between work-related attitudes like
33
Initially, this concept has been introduced by Burns in 1978.
40
engagement or commitment on the one hand, and on the other the personal/individual
perspective: “We don’t believe in managing communities. You are the community.
We nurture it the only way it can be done: taking part of it. “
This is a hint that society’s expectations create a gap between the public and the personal realm,
which can be destructive, especially for self-employees. Also, it is rarely acknowledged that
leadership qualities can destroy working meaning as well.
According to the study of Bailey & Madden (2016) about what makes work meaningful
declared “unexpected features” (p. 3) stood out. Self-transcendence when work matters more
to others than to themselves or in general the relevance of it poignant feelings pressure in a
good or bad way that leads to life changescontrasting episodic and sustained
work experiences. A few more stood out when their study showed deadly signs that disconnect
people from supportive relationships (like co-workers) or their values. Instead, it is suggested
to “cultivate an organizational ecosystem for meaningfulness” (p. 9), which contains four
elements of meaningfulness: organizational (general-purpose, core business strong culture
could also undermine meaningfulness generating artificiality and manipulation ), interactional,
task (understanding), job (individual tasks, re-crafting and extending the impact or significance
for the role of others, demonstrating), holistic. This also aligns with the findings of Bass (1999:
23) when he concludes that transformational leaders having an impact in their “followers”
guides to a higher understanding of the “collective identity” (…) and a better relationship with
the self. Also, the word “meaningfulness appears in the author’s statement. To enable or achieve
the holistic state of meaningfulness Bailey & Madden (2016) point out that these four elements
of the ecosystem (e.g., the Coworking-Space) need to be combined to benefit from the synergies
of multiple sources. As a host of community leaders, you might at least influence organizational
processes and purposes (even before a user contract starts) and the interactional efforts. Work
climate among all parties and recognizing “the importance of creating space in the working day
for meaningful interactions (p. 13) where communication in support & feedback plays a
significant role and positively impacts others’ lives.
41
2.5 Theoretical conclusion
What started as a phenomenon of a changing labour task- and nomadic work culture became
the concept of co-working. Depending on its maximum impact, it changed throughout the years
until it became, on some occasions, an economical service. Its typefaces changes related to its
intention, but it also got shaped by urban and global infrastructures. However, it is manifested
that its original idea corporates a community and ‘common’ sense ethic that tends to foster
collaboration and innovation. Although recently its term is written mostly without a hyphen, it
is essential to know that the original “co-work space” is an expression that resulted from social
synergies, early found in incubator hubs in Silicon Valley or Berlin.
It could be outlined that these processes are necessary for a modern society in which social
capital can be seen as a resource for negotiation and development. Interconnectivity and trust
as a general bonding for diverse participation form shape further motivations as part of
facilitated communication. Internally, the structure of diverse relations and interests tend to be
organized in a network that co-exists, cooperates, and collaborates. Nevertheless, depending on
the motivation and morale commitment, self-interests, and the collective (in this case, Cowork-
synergies) can develop and sustain better. Therefore, necessary are routines (habitus and
conflicts) based on mutual cognition and recognition.
Shared workplaces have grown up as communities where work and environmental factors come
together. Not only urban and digital infrastructures need to be created, but also the heterogeneity
is considered an essential factor. Social and professional intermix can be seen as a breeding
ground for ‘learning environments’ that need to be organized. Organizational leadership serves
when it comes to implementing user motivations, preferences, and community needs.
CW-environments could develop in several fields. However, not many users recognize the
value of their community or want to be part of it. Nevertheless, there are a few findings that
every member seems to share at first: Interaction, negotiation, knowledge exchange, open
sources, and being part of a (virtual) infrastructure. However, social factors that define CW
environments could be found, and also general work motivations and social hierarchies
influence the outcome of CW-facilities. Elements of meaningfulness and personal experiences
need to be balanced to search for the best community strategies for holistic development.
Especially cities like Lisbon became popular over the last years for social or tech-
entrepreneurs, bringing digital nomads and global players to the city centre to attract more
42
freelancers to live in “the city of light.
34
In its dynamic environment that seems to support a
healthier “work-life-balance” comparing to other capitals of Europe, a general receipt of what
works best for their communities, including social activities and leadership structures, can
probably not be found out overnight. However, there is a lot to find out when it comes to social
synergies that seem to attract more and more people to work outside their homes or regular
offices.
34
Situated by the widest stretch of the Tagus River, Lisbon further benefits from the sunlight reflected on its
calm waters, which prevails during the majority of the year. (https://www.imagetours.com/news/lisbon-
portugals-city-light/1527/).
43
III. EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
3.1 Lisbon’s Coworking landscape
In the last five years, an increasing amount of CW environments could be recorded. Lisbon’s
‘Expat community’ is continuously growing, which can be followed on platforms
like Uniplaces
35
, CBRE
36
, Regus
37
, or mobile applications like, for example, La Baguette.
(Viva News, 2019). Freelancers and Start-ups seemed to pop up everywhere, and they needed
facilities to proceed with their daily workload. Until the beginning of the year 2020, in the city
center an estimated amount of 60 CW-spaces could be counted by the researcher. However,
many more are opening (and closing due to recent events) every month. At first glance, the
spatial distribution of Co-working within cities might appear like a paradox for employees who
could technically perform anywhere (Waters-Lynch, 2018). However, in practice, booking and
consultant platforms, for example, Regus or Croissant, show that finding the optimal facility
can be seen as an advantage of participating in ‘micro cluster’ (Capdevila, 2014).
One of the first communities in Lisbon was founded in 2008 under the name Coworklisbon.
One of its founders, who has already opened his “second generation of Cowork,” Fernando
Mendes, describes himself as “grandfather o co-working”. (Now_Beato). A few spaces align
with the in Chapter 2.3.1 described, early movements of Co-working, such as the Impact
Hub and others, and therefore involved in political and social projects.
The founding idea of Lacs, for example, aligns with the definition of an “incubator space for
creators” (LACS, 2020); others are closer to the idea of a creative hub (e.g., todos; manicomio).
Furthermore, there can be found Cafés that offer select seated areas for freelancers, e.g., Tease,
Copenhagen. Among others, they are alternative workplaces that are always open for externals
to ‘co-create.’ Other Cowork spaces, for example, Idea Hub, Cowork Central, or B-Space, can
be considered larger communities. Cowork enterprises like Heden seem to spread their
various facilities communities all over Lisbon. Often providers do not only run one, more up to
three facilities.
35
Platform for booking accommodations, primarily for students and internationals which are provided additional
services. (https://find.uniplaces.com/how-it-works/).
36
Office consultant and real estate research. (https://www.cbre.pt/).
37
Office provider. (https://www.regus.pt/en-pt/office-space/portugal/lisbon).
44
What could have been observed is, since the increasing amount of locations, many CW spaces
use a form of ‘storytelling’ that almost seem to serve the ‘Portuguese dream’
38
(Outsite) or offer
exclusive/luxury services like options for wellness and well-being (Wood, Avila Spaces).
Some use geographical factors to promote their small communities as local extensions of a
specific neighbourhood (e.g., Heden Graca; Resvés) are named and managed after their
strongest beliefs (e.g., Hyggelig, Second Home, Rocket Hub). The majority of the locations
wish to be perceived own brand, and it could be observed an increasing number of foreign
investors, for example, from France, Germany, or the UK. Foreign companies and international
community members want to participate in symbolic space (Bourdieu, 1986) within urban
social milieus representing a kind of ‘lifestyle’ (Waters-Lynch, 2018). For this and other
reasons, “networks themselves should form the unit of analysis rather than geographical places
(…)” (p. 66). Therefore, the following empirical corpus concentrates on research inside
communities rather than on urban infrastructure.
38
Linked to the expression of the ‘American Dream’ that provides promising factors, e.g., regarding an
individual lifestyle or work-life balance in Portuguese society. More in chapter 3.3.2
45
3.2 Empirical Corpus
As mentioned already in the introduction part, due to Covid 19, data collection's empirical
process has been more difficult than expected. Established communities suffered under
decreasing inscriptions, and frequent community members preferred to stay more often at home.
Lisbon's CW-locations had to close temporarily because of governmental crisis management
measurements, others because they could not cope with the business break-in permanently. As
mentioned in the introduction part, the empirical investigation's main objectives are the
characterization of the current users' group of coworking spaces in Lisbon, such as their
expectations, working behaviour, motives, and preferences.
For this purpose, and due to this research's exploratory nature, a mix of quantitative and
qualitative research design was chosen. Building on Maxwell's (2013) map on research design,
all factors, such as goals, conceptual framework, research question, methods, and validity, have
been considered and will be explored further in this chapter. These sources will enable this
investigation to build on existing theories and case studies with secondary data, which will be
combined with the insights from a survey with Lisbon's co-workers and some expert interviews.
The survey's evaluation grounded on the CES questionnaire model guided into semi-structured
expert interviews with which hypotheses about motivations, preferences, or community
member archetypes could be recognized and/or validated.
Because mainly freelancers and self-employed can be found in CW spaces, and due to personal
accessibility to the experts during Covid-19, the empirical research has been conducted in
Lisbon, Portugal, with an overall time period of two and a half months from the 15.07. until
15.09. Data analysis options and further information are stated hereinafter.
3.2.1 Survey to the community members
The author, including a pre-test, prepared a survey before entering the field phase. The only
respondents considered were those currently part and work from one of Lisbon's CW-
communities. CES questions allowed further research in interpretivism because they do not
exclusively measure the satisfaction of participants' overall experience in coworking spaces. Its
particular focus serves to measure the ease of a user's experience, identifying features
underrated or unseen in a more significant economic picture.
This approach aims to close the research gap that has been identified earlier on: to deepen the
knowledge about societal factors that link with community development. Therefore, the chosen
demographics offer an interesting point of view to examine correlations in the survey results
46
later. Additionally, the researcher strived to explore different opinions and possibilities on how
CW communities are operating, how they could develop, or how to foster an innovative work
culture.
Considering that the first research question - Q1: What roles play social capital and
collaboration within networks? The empirical research is centred around Q2: How to foster
collaboration in CW-communities? to examine the definition of Coworking, work-,
environmental-, as well as leadership-factors. To find out more about their organizational forms
and reasons CW communities tend to develop and optimize themselves, the author focused on
factors mentioned in the key findings in 2.5.
Overall, it bases on the conceptual grounding and the knowledge acquired in literature research.
The results of the case study conducted in Switzerland from Josef & Back (2016) and Weijs-
Perée (2019) research regarding user-preferences and their motivations guided recognize areas
that can be analysed within a CW community in order to explore their possibilities of
development. After all these study examples, especially the categories gained interest in the
following survey sample.
1. User behaviour
2. Personal productivity
3. Individual creativity
4. Physical and virtual connectivity
5. Expectations/motivations
Since this dissertation focuses on networking while taking collaboration and leadership into
consideration, 6) collective outcomes/ community sense, and 7) leadership recognition were
also covered. As already mentioned in the methodological options 1.2., a definition of
coworking should be mediated by all. The following question catalogue could be developed
(Appendix A). The developed sample excludes potential users and focuses on the temporarily
available number of co-workers in Lisbon. No other specific preferences regarding their
characteristics were considered; however, participants were asked a few demographic questions
(D1-D6) without the respondents’ obligation. Merely the pre-test/ entry-question “Are you
currently a member of one of Lisbon’s Co-work-communities” had to be answered to proceed
with the field research. With this exclusion method, it was attempted only to get reliable results.
47
To measure individual experience and satisfaction, the CES model
39
was chosen. As a form for
the rating questionnaire, a Likert scale was identified as the best variable.
The first set (Q1) contained five closed-ended questions (Q1.1 Q1.5) that need to be
responded to by one of the five rating-selections: “agree; somewhat agree; undecided;
somewhat disagree and disagree”. The second and third set (Q2; Q3) alternated with seven
closed-ended questions (Q2.1 Q 2.7; Q3.1 Q3.7) and operated with the item of frequency
“always; most of the time; about half the time; sometimes and never”. While Q1 focuses on
general assumptions about coworking and its societal factors, Q2 and Q3 requested a more
specific activity declaration within participants’ CW communities. In turn, it has been asked
from two standpoints for the estimation of their activity and about their co-workers.
In the last and fourth set, Q4, participants had to rank eight attributes (Q4.1 Q4.8) of Cowork
communities according to their values, to be prioritized on a scale from rang one as the most
rang eight as least important. It can be mentioned that these characteristics are part of the study
examples and the previous question-sets.
The survey distribution took place mainly on Social Media and via the experts that have been
contacted. By targeting specific groups on Facebook related to Cowork interests, such as
freelancing, remote work, and Expat-groups in Lisbon, the number of valid respondents has
potentially increased. On Instagram, an IGTV-video
40
was created on the researcher’s public
account to introduce the topic to the potential target group. However, inside the communities,
their leads provided the survey link directly via internal communication tools such as Slack-
channels without adding background information.
3.2.2 The Coworking experts’ interview
As already mentioned in the methodical options in 1.2, the identified type of research has a
qualitative nature and is indicated through intense contact with the research object. The
researcher's engagement rate had to be chosen - its degree is in between a full participant and
an observer. The negotiation of the researcher's access to the participants (ethical issues) and
the need to be efficient in data collection guided into in-depth expert interviews with a medium
degree of researcher participation (Marshall and Rossman, 1995: 59-65). This interview form
resulted from the researcher's interpersonal skills, such as the language barrier in Portugal, and
the research's environment and time factor. According to Cohen and Crabtree (2006), semi-
39
https://www.qualtrics.com/de/erlebnismanagement/kunden/customer-effort-score/.
40
Franke, S. [_npurpose].(2020, 07,26). Co-workers of Lisbon: I would appreciate your opinion [Video] IGTV
(https://www.instagram.com/tv/CDG56ZBh7DsGrxqs8maZ0fZfnqMg0EVjH_3YL80/).
48
structured interviews enable us to gather uniform information and analyse and compare
answers.
For this reason, the execution of in-depth semi-structured interviews was evaluated as the best
research method to use for the collection of empirical data in the scope of this dissertation. Its
sample had been chosen after what Maxwell (2013: 98-99) calls a "purposeful selection."
Factors were respected to establish the ideal relationships in which the individuality and the
heterogeneity of the population could be respected.
Mainly experts that work as community managers/leaders or are its founders were chosen. To
recruit interviewees, Google Search, Social Media tools, and the researcher's network enabled
useful contacts. People inside this network reached out to their networks to recruit experts for
this research. In the period of mid-July 2020 until September 2020, ten expert interviews were
planned. As an introduction, an invitation (Appendix C) has been sent to a total of 20 Cowork
spaces in Lisbon. Conversations around 30-45 min face to face with the researcher or online
via ZOOM were planned. For the samples, it was asked for their names, age, nationality, and
education. To better understand the diversity of Lisbon's Cowork landscape, it was also asked
at the beginning of the conversation for their "Cowork-background," experience, and current
role in the community, even when mainly founders and community managers were the
respondents.
An interview guide (Appendix B) was created in order to structure the interviews. Nevertheless,
the questions were not necessarily asked in the same order every time, and deviations from the
interview guide to explore additional topics were also welcomed. Their ideas were collected for
a conclusion and advice for future works on related topics. An exception was made regarding
the entry of the conversation for that it was always asked for demographics, background, and
their definition of co(-)working. The goal was to gain this knowledge right in the beginning so
that the researcher could adjust and avoid further misunderstandings.
All interviews were transcribed and visualized in descriptive viewpoints after thematic research
methodology (Bogner, Littig & Menz, 2009). Furthermore, the experts' most important
mentions have been allocated and compared with the survey results in the discussion by using
the survey set of attributes (Q4). The overall framework is discussed in the findings as
discoveries of the research.
49
3.3 Data analysis
Overall data has been recorded from July to the end of September 2020. Due to Covid-19, these
three months extended the initially planned period. In the process of data analysis, Maxwell’s
(2013, pp. 105-120) recommendations on data analysis have been respected.
The survey has been evaluated with its creator tool Qualtrics
41
. Although the quantity of chosen
responses measures features, preferences, and individual motivations, suggested combinations
of characteristics allow, next to their percentage indicator, a more in-depth and, therefore,
qualitative insight. The information is given through tables and figures tables displayed in this
subchapter which exhibit the insights gained through the survey in this dissertation’s scope.
The aim of presenting these data is to guarantee transparency regarding the discussion and a
possible comparison with experts’ opinions.
All expert interviews were transcribed, and excerpts of the transcripts were grouped
thematically to structure the insights logically. Reading and making notes on what can be
considered as most relevant enabled tentative ideas when it came to the definition of each
category. Inspired by the analytic options proposed by Maxwell (2013), categorizing strategies,
such as coding and thematic analysis, were considered. Therefore, the list of attributes that is
part of the survey (D4) was used to collect critical statements. Additionally, connecting
strategies (narrative analysis) can help understand contextual relationships, however, not
exceeding. The transcript text has been analysed without making differentiation through
thematic research related to the proposed content analysis.
Adjusted to the researcher’s quantitative data, analytical strategies for the qualitative approach
were chosen because like Maxwell (2013) defends, there is no single correct way for doing
qualitative analysis. After Miles and Huberman (1994: 11), there must be a set of three flows
of activity, named: data reduction, data display, and a conclusion, including a draw or
verification. Because of this dissertation’s scope, the survey will sharpen and focus on the
interviews’ data analysis process. Afterwards, the data will be displayed in tables and figures
developed by the researcher. The emerging meanings will be checked for plausibility and
sturdiness, mainly within the experts’ trustworthiness and creative solutions.
41
Survey Software, retrieved from: https://www.qualtrics.com/core-xm/survey-software/.
50
3.3.1 The Community Members
In total, 102 answers of co-workers set up in a community in Lisbon could be obtained.
42
Within
the data collection process, all participants had to answer an entry question to determine if they
belonged to the target group. For “being currently a member in one of Lisbon’s CW-
communities,” their fail out rate has been 40,20%. It can be discussed later on if this exit rate
is a consequence of the limitations of Covid-19, because people are not physically present inside
their community; however, they still feel like part of it. Another reason could have been that
co-workers who use many spaces simultaneously (promoted by application like Croissant
43
did
not feel addressed by the question. In the comparatively young history of CW, 63,83% of the
participants identified themselves as “consistent users” of communities that were estimated,
including 93,03 people on average.
Figure 4: Identification of the participants CW-experience (D3)
What can be discussed later on is that the virtual community size might exceed previous
assumptions. Among all 47 remaining participants, 28 identified themselves as male, 19 as
female, and no one as “other.” This majority of 59,57% men supports the latest CW studies that
have been conducted in a larger, European, scope (Deskmag, 2019).
42
Answers will be supported, whenever considered as useful and visually appealing by the author, with their
evaluated graphs and tables. However, they just mirror survey results and don’t state a conclusion.
43
Croissant offers access to all participating CW spaces anywhere with one flexible membership. A check in
works over the platform and users are virtual seated, sometimes even before they arrived physically at the
location. Seats are controlled by CW space providers. (www.getcroissant.com).
51
Figure 5: Gender Distribution of CW-community members (D1)
Further, it could be recorded that members spend an average of 2,64 days per week working
inside the community, whereas 57,45% spend between three and five days working there.
This indicates a common workweek of assumed 40h. Nevertheless, it was not asked for the
actual number of hours spent in the CW.
The result of D5 can be linked to D2, in which it has been recorded that the majority of CW
members (59,57%) are in the age range of 31-45 years old.
Figure 6: Age of CW-community members (D2)
However, it appeared that 31,91% of the younger generation between 18-30 years represents
many of these communities. The age range 46-65+ recorded only 8,51% of the members.
Last but not least, communities, including facilities, are perceived, in most instances, led by a
Community (39%) - or Facility-Manager (34%), in some cases by “the community itself” (14%)
52
was mentioned. According to theory and experts, rarely recorded is the term “leader”, which
might be coherent with the difficulty of the job title itself.
Figure 7: Leading roles in CW-communities (D6)
User motivations and preferences of community members:
The first set of questions (Q1) strived for a general understanding and definition of co-working
in Lisbon's CW space users' perception. In an overall trend, participants seemed to sympathize
to agree upon the given statements. However, certain combinations could be recorded more
often, which directs survey results towards CW-community-users that could be represented as
a focus-group for further research in this area. 61,70% of the participants agreed on the fact that
"you get to know people through activities" (Q1.3), 36,17% somewhat agreed, and just one
participant has been undecided. Overall, this has been the only state with a low variance of 0.28.
Similar are the results of "you connect with people from the same background" (Q1.4) with a
variance of 0.83, and "you find inspiration for work and projects" (Q1.2) with a variance of
0.97. Although answer variances were in the same range, it showed up that more participants
categorized themselves as "undecided" regarding personal facts about others like the
background than about intangible assets like inspiration.
Nevertheless, all participants met, at least once, someone from the same profession area.
European Cowork Studies (Deskmag, 2019) examined the existing different work areas in CW
spaces, and it might be even an impact factor when it comes to other social attributes. 19,15%
of the participants were undecided concerning their collaboration; 14,89% tend to sympathize
with an item of disagreement. However, over half of respondents perceive a co-work as an
environment to collaborate even though the answers' variance is 1.14 compared to other results,
higher and might point out a general uncertainty of the respondents about the term. The same
53
is valid for "work without distraction" in Q1.1, with the addition that the maximum merit has
been four, who indicated no complete disagreement. Because most of the researched CW spaces
in Lisbon are offering an "open space," this result can be considered as the optimistic perception
of co-workers, which, on the one hand, want to work without distraction (mostly full-time
workers with 40h per week) but on the other hand, also accept distraction from time to time. To
have both options might be a significant advantage compared to regular coffee shops with work
lounges (e.g. Starbucks, Copenhagen, or Padaria Portuguesa
44
) and can be further investigated
in the discussion.
Figure 8: Survey results (Q1)
In correlation to the demographics, an interesting finding has been that female respondents have
been more often undecided when it came to the general perception of CW-spaces.
Consequently, especially when it comes to professional networking (Q1.4/D1) and
collaboration (Q1.5/D1), more male members agreed on the closed statements and made a
confident decision. Female members overall are likely more open to socializing, which aligns
with the agreements on activity participation (Q1.3/D1), as well as their perception of work
interruptions (Q1.1/D1). Looking more on inspiration (Q1.2), it reoffers, aside from a general
agreement on the surface, more significant demographic outcomes exist regarding the age
ranges (D2) and co-work experience (D3). Whereas in general, the 'youngsters' (18-30) agreed
44
Names of local or international brands that have various locations in Lisbon.
54
with 40% and 60% "somewhat" on looking for inspiration, this result does not align with the
traditional work age range of 31-45 years because 10,7% somewhat disagree and 7% disagreed
completely to have this as a motivation in mind (Q1.2/D2).
Additionally, newcomers seem to have higher expectations of getting inspired, which stabilizes
in the number of consistent users with a percentage of 43% average agreement and the answer
variance rate of 1.29 to 0.41. (Q1.2/D3).
Figure 9: CW-communities as source of inspiration (Q1.2/D3)
Therefore, it might be important, from an organizational perspective, to welcome and engage
especially with newcomers in a sustainable form regarding activities and member commitment.
This result exceeds the long-term collaboration rate in CW communities that go down,
especially regarding the primary age range (31-45) and females. Nevertheless, the oldest age
range of the participants (46-65+) are 'willed to be inspired' according to a result of 75% agree,
and 25% somewhat agree ((Q1.5/D2). Changing old monotonous work habits for new dynamic
ones could be one reason for an older generation trying to keep track of the new one and further
explore the discussion. When it comes to community use frequency, the most represented group
of weekly workers (3-5 days) indicated to search a less dynamic environment which might be
a consequence of workload.
In contrast, the best results regarding inspiration, networking, and collaboration are detected in
community members that work 2-3 days per week from their CW-community. In total, 87,5%
of the respondents chose an option of agreement (Q1.2/D5). With less than this 'physical
availability,' however, members might not be engaged enough to realize (potential)
outcomes. The optimal time to benefit from social practices and to get to know people is
estimated on merit of 3-5 days.
55
Figure 10: CW-practices and visit frequency (Q1/D5)
The second set of questions (Q2) strived for more individualized outcomes. Personal answers
of the participants about their current CW community were recorded. These results cannot be
compared directly with the general results of Q1. However, they link to these results from a
more personal point of view. Their frequency indicates variances in actual engagement
occasions and builds a complementary counterpart to the third set (Q3). Variances and the mean
average have been higher than in Q1, which indicates a (negative) discrepancy when
imagination comes to reality. Although people tend to be engaged within their communities,
differences in specific 'tasks' were noticed. 17% of the respondents always interacted with their
co-workers, and 44% answered: "most of the time" (Q2.1). However, just a small amount of
6% always participate in community events (Q2.3), which seem to be (with 42,55%) "most of
the time," a popular opportunity for members to interact. Nobody seems to be fully engaged -
this seems to depend on other factors - because the 2.87 mean is significantly higher than the
general and previous mean of 1.40 (Q1.3).
In comparison:
56
Figure 11: General Interaction in CW-communities (Q2)
Figure 12: Activity Participation in CW-communities (Q2)
This general 'trend' could also be confirmed when members were asked how often they "join
their co-workers for lunch" (Q2.4). On the one hand, this has been with 1.82 the closed-end
question with the highest variance in answers. On the other hand, surprisingly, 14,89% never
have lunch with their co-workers.
Similar the recorded frequency "to collaborate with others regarding work and projects" (Q2.2):
With a surprising mean of 3.87 and 2.13% for "about half the time," considering the previous
agreement rate of over 60%. (Q1.5). This might be the first evidence that there is still much
potential when it comes to fostering collaboration. Regarding participation, it can be pre-
assumed that communities have to engage with several types of members. It can be discussed
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later on what kind of division - for example, introverts vs. extroverts, full-time workers vs.
'nomads' - could be found on the spectrum. At least, it could explain the high variance.
Interaction happens, however, not all the time through planned activities. There seem to exist
in space for spontaneous social encounters.
Furthermore, Q2 added some new dimensions linked to human capital and its values, such as
trust. Also, it has been tried to outline leadership perceptions from an emotional point of view.
A clear tendency appeared: 53,19% of the participants said they trust their co-workers "most of
the time," 21,28% always (Q2.5) trust them.
However, respondents seem to be aware that everyone is unique, 55,32% merit that they share
the same values or ideas as their co-workers. The leadership question (Q2.7) had been a tricky
one, which indicates the high variance of 1,70 and its 2.67 average results. An amount of
23,91% feel "always" guided by their instance or 'authority'; 30,43%, however, just
"sometimes." Realizing that feelings are elementary things with shades that are hard to pinpoint,
it probably has been difficult for participants to align with the frequency item. Trust does not
only evolve due guidance structures such as leaders in space, more over potential 'unspoken
social contract,' can be discussed. No real conclusions about members' satisfaction could be
made, but just a comparison from the internal to an external point of view, introduced in the
next set.
The third set (Q3) tried to offer another perspective for which respondents needed empathy and
reflection. Similarly, like a “control group” in psychological studies, respondents should guess
their co-workers’ behaviour within the same actions. That this has been not always an easy task
for the participants, show the results which record that the frequency items “always” and
“never” have been avoided and beliefs are less radical. Due to this fact, it appears reasonable
that the overall variance of answers is with 0,75 average under 1. A tendency that has been
revealed is that members overall seem to estimate their co-workers’ behaviour as more engaged
than their own. Q3.1 - Q3.4 are all rated on average with a minor low mean, outstanding here
the 3,21 (Q 3.2) to the primarily 3,87 (Q 2.2). 48% of the participants share the opinion that
their co-workers collaborate most of the time, whereas just 10,64% say this over themselves.
In comparison:
58
Figure 13: Collaboration of CW-community members (Q2)
Figure 14: Perceived Collaboration of Co-Workers (Q3)
Similar has been the situation when members assumed with 46,65% guidance of their co-
workers for “most of the time” (Q3.7), whereas concerning the individual situation, it has been
just 28,26% (Q2.7). This enables the hypotheses that most communities’ leadership structures
were facilitated, however, not communicated personally. In a discussion with the experts’
opinions, this might reveal more insights. More self-confident, respondents answered Q3.5 -
Q3.7 because trust and common interests showed no specific rupture on the spectrum.
In correlation with the demographics, in both sets, Q2 and Q3, exciting findings were
discovered. After analysing male and female members’ perceptions, this survey’s scope
revealed that women are more socially engaged and aligned with their communities in this
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research scope. This tendency enacts not only in activity participation 57,9% answered: “most
of the time” (Q2.3/D1), whereas only 32% of the men did it also came to the surface that
female members are more optimistic about having the same values and trust. Future research
could be explored if the engagement rate can be linked to social alignments, which could
support the results of this discrepancy.
Figure 15: Value alignment and gender (Q2/D3)
Additionally, 44,4% “always” feel guided by their community leads (Q2.7/D1), and 33% “most
of the time”. Men’s perceptions vary and seem to balance out overall. This tendency appears
even more evident when asked about their co-workers’ feelings (Q 3.7/D1). In the discussion,
we can also use the fact that, although men build most CW-communities, most of the
community leads are female (excluding founders). Regarding the age ranges, it stands out that
participants between 18-30 years old seem to be genuinely more engaged and optimistic about
beliefs and alignment with others. 66% believe that they share, most of the time, the same values
as their co-workers, merit that has been exceeded with a percentage of 80% when it comes to
their co-workers’ beliefs (Q2.6/D2; Q3.6/D2). Furthermore, research results record that the
‘youngsters’ (57,1%) always feel guided by their leader, similar to what they think about their
co-workers. Q3.7/D2) Negotiated could be ‘a new generation of co-workers’ their optimism,
and their ability to adapt. For example:
60
Figure 16: Perceived Collaboration of Co-Workers, sorted by age (Q3/D2)
What can be discussed later on is that studies have shown that people that have grown up with
technology possess a higher ability for empathy. The young participants perceive the older ones
as role models or see new possibilities that came with technology, a possible reason why, in
this scope, for the surprisingly high amounts of 6,7% who believe that they (or their co-workers)
always collaborate (Q2.2; 3.2;/D2). These results exceed only by 11,8% of the newcomers, who
‘always’ collaborate, which could conclude that especially young people join Lisbon’s co-work
spaces recently.
On the contrary, mostly the 46-65 years old perceive their co-workers as always (25%) or most
of the time (75%) interacting (Q 3.1). In general, results of D3 (CW-experience) and D4
(workdays in the space) on both sides within the community showed that, with an increasing
amount of time, trust towards co-workers (Q 5/D3) and their community leads peaked for those
who worked three days (Q5/D4). Analysing results showed that co-workers need time to figure
out their needs and establish an opinion, which should be considered in community feedback
activities. In most instances, results have not been more positive, especially regarding the factor
collaboration. People seem to think about themselves quite negatively (Q2.2/D5) or
overestimate their co-workers (Q 3.2/D5).
The fourth set
45
let member prioritize a different set of attributes. Overall the top three attributes
that have been rated in the first place, as most important by percentage, have been 1) working
45
All general results can be reviewed in Table 4.
61
without distraction with a majority of 34,09% (Q4.1); 2) a trustful environment with 20,45%
(Q4.6); as well as 3) Professional networking with 15,91% (Q4.3). Nevertheless, especially Q
4.1 and Q 4.6 could record a 5.02 and higher variance, which marks strong individual opinions
by certain member-types. The community itself, rated, according to the attributes means,
similarly: Work without distraction (Q4.1) also in the first place; professional networking
(Q4.3) on the second; and inspiration for work and project on the third (Q4.2). Whereas place
one is still in doubt for some participants, inspiration and profession are strong motivations to
work in a CW community. Inspiration was never rated as least important and with only 4,55%
on its maximal position "7". Similarly, most people agreed that professional networking results
have the lowest variance in answers with merit of 2.54. What could be recorded as a preference
or "nice to have" without being the primary motivation for participants is the attribute "activities
and events" (Q 4.8). That this is not an obligation for CW environments elaborates the fact that
some respondents rated it with 18,18% as "least important" when imagining their ideal
workspace. Only the attribute "Formal/institutional guidance" (Q 4.7) has performed worse
with 54,55%. This tendency might have resulted from the specific description "formal" or by a
general decline - something this work will discuss later again.
Figure 17: Prioritisation of formal/institutional guidance (Q4)
In correlation with the demographics, the following findings are ambivalent to previous
question set results. Therefore, 44% of the male respondents value work without distraction,
whereas women responded with a higher variance within disaffirmation of 15,8% (Q 4.1/ D1).
Once more, it could be confirmed that female community members are more willing to engage
with their community, whereas men feel the same about professional networking. With around
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26% for each, females give the highest value to "making friends" (Q 4.5/D1) and a "trustful
environment" (Q4.6/D1). 28% of the males are likely to work without distraction or prefer
professional networking, as supported by other question set results.
"Inspiration" seems to go hand in hand with this factor. Formal/institutional guidance has been
rated by men and women in the last two places (Q4.7/D1).
46
Within the whole spectrum, a higher age (D2), Cowork experience (D3), as well as a higher
work frequency (D5), leadership importance decreases progressively. On the contrary,
attributes like trust (Q4.6) and "making friends" (Q4.5) are increasingly important, especially
in the age range of 18-30 years and within newcomers (D3; D4). Consistent and older
community members rank next to "work without distraction" (Q4.1), "professional networking"
(Q4.3) in the first three positions. Important for the discussion and future challenges might
become to create more networking and entrepreneurial opportunities for woman that
discrepancies, like outlined in this survey, can shrink.
Figure 18: Prioritisation of professional networking, sorted by age (Q4/D2)
Nevertheless, throughout all four sets of close-end statements, it became clear that there is a
split between member types/users. Extroverts tend to be “most of the time” engaged, and
introverts that “sometimes” join activities. Activities were not seen as most valuable asset of
46
All results related to gender can be reviewed in Table 5.
63
their facilities, however, possibilities of encounter that foster networking. Not significantly
during meals, co-workers overall admit individual schedules. Participation related to
experienced time in the CW community increases, however not related to frequency what is
documented by the age range of 31- 46 years old, probably most “full time workers”.
Considering genders, women tend to be more engaged in their communities and willing to make
friends; however, not taking a massive part in professional networking and collaboration.
Nevertheless, a potential ‘new generation of coworking’, containing a lower age range of 18-
30 years old, seems to be more optimistic, emphatic and trust-willing. Expectations regarding
factors like “inspiration” or “collaboration” are high, and they seem to adapt better to guidance.
Overall, experience and higher frequency impacted these results positive, also in other focus
groups. The feeling of belonging seems to guide higher participation within activities. Although
inspiration is rated overall as the primary motivation, preferences shift when it comes to
members that work from their communities the full workweek: “Work without distraction” is
overall valued the most. Additionally, members seem to become more autonomous within their
communities. Leaders are by percentage less “followed”, however, inclusiveness and personal
alignment seem to be a big advantage. The prioritization in set four revealed that formal or
institutional guidance is significantly less important. According to the respondents, the ideal
workspace is an inspiring, calm workspace where members trust and get to know each other
professionally wise. Activities and friendships seem “nice to have”, however, depending on the
member-type, age, gender and number of community-visits per week.
It can be discussed with the experts’ opinions if specific people prefer communities with another
atmosphere, communication tone, or implemented leadership style. However, in conclusion,
recent studies could be supported by the researcher’s survey. Networking is gaining importance
and guidance is not automatically manifested in formal institutional structures. Moreover
techno-socio spheres enable personal encounters that are necessarily in real-time. It might
become interesting to explore motivations to work in Lisbon’s Cowork landscape in general,
analysing social synergies, and member preferences to choose a specific community. The
diversity of Lisbon’s CW communities will be explored within the next chapter. To not forget
the results of the conducted survey, the following hypotheses were concluded by the researcher.
In the discussion it will be engaged with them further.
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Table 1: Survey Hypotheses
Hypotheses
H 1
Women engage and interact more within their community: A bond has to be created
when it comes to professional networking and collaboration (Q1;2/D5)
H 2
Women tend to align more with others while men take clearer decisions and don’t
accept a community lead that fast or long-term (Q1; 2/D1)
H 3
CW community user don’t understand necessarily the link of inspiration and
collaboration. (Q1;Q4)
H 4
CW spaces are mainly used for short term inspiration (change of routine vs. full time
workers)
H 5
Not all embers don’t share the same “daily routine” what enacts, e.g. in meal-
planning) (Q2.4/3.4)
H 6
Activities are popular but making professional connection is seen as more important
than friendship (Q2.6/3.6)
H 7
Members share an “unspoken social contract” however they do not automatically
share the same values or professional background. (Q1; Q2)
H 8
The job title ‘community manager’ does not fit or isn’t perceived well.
H 9
Leadership structures are facilitated in most communities but often not personal
enough (Q 3.7)
H 10
Members do not like to be lead formal and directive and full time worker seem to
gain autonomy with time. (Q4/D3:D5)
H 11
The young generation (members group 18-30) has better empathy & understanding
for collaboration. (Q2/D2)
3.3.2 The Coworking Experts
In the period of mid-July 2020 until September 2020, in total, eight expert interviews were held.
Eight recorded and in the scope of a personal conversation, one vial mail exchange.
Interviewees came from Portugal, Brazil, Germany, and Great Britain, and the conversations
took on average 40-45min. The shortest took place over ZOOM with 30 minutes (Expert
G, Second Home) and the longest with one hour and 27min (Expert J, Now Beato). During the
personal visits, the time around the conversation was not counted but contributed positively.
Real-life connections facilitated a better understanding of the participants and offered the author
a job possibility.
Miles and Huberman (1994: 7) emphasize that in the respected form of methodology, the
researcher is “the main measurement device” and “most analysis is done with words.” Results
are “assembled, sub-clustered, and broken into semiotic segments,” In contrast to the survey
results, they can be compared by patterns. In the following, all interviews were transcribed
(Appendix D).
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In the process of thematic field evaluation, emerging patterns across the data could be identified,
such as a definition of co-working. Iteratively, the themes were continuously adjusted and
examined to discussed topics of the literature. A letter (A-I) indicates which expert interview(s)
the insights are based on each insight. A legend of which letter corresponds to which expert can
be found in the first column of Table 6. Through this indication, readers can retrace which
expert interview a particular insight is based on and then consult detailed quotes in the
respective interview transcript. Findings are structured thematically by interview questions,
which the researcher summarized in the interview guide. (Appendix B).
Table 2 drafts what will be debated afterward, according to the themes. Categories constitute
main fields of communication that have been broached in the interviews. Sub-categories
illustrate first findings that are decisive for further explanations in the text. The last section of
the table evaluates or gives propositions.
Table 2: Interview findings for thematic field evaluation
Theme
Category
Sub-categories
Findings
(1) Coworking
a. Evolution of the term
b. Personal
understandings
Coworking as a
work model
Coworking as a
trend/phenomenon
Finding 1
(2) Community
c. Relevance of the
community
Community
structures
Community as a
‘second home’
Finding 2
(3) Community
development
d. Collaboration &
networking
e. Activities & events
Assisted
serendipity
Figure 19 &
Finding 3
(4) Cowork/-ing
Values
f. Membership
g. Social &
professional values
Facilitated
communication
Social alignments
Finding 4
(5) Leadership
h. Community
Guidance
Governance &
Motivation
Community
autonomy
Finding 5
(6) Lisbon
i. Urban conditions
Challenges
Future trends
Table 3:
Finding 6
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(1) Theme: ‘Coworking’
As was analysed in the previous studies outlined, the term Coworking and its meaning have
changed over time. Some consider it as “Cowork-history,” others as evolution, or an utterly
inadequate term for nowadays integration in the labour market. In the following pages, the
author will examine how the CW experts interviewed define or describe its incidence.
Category a: Evolution of the term
Since the birth of coworking and its facilitated communities, different definitions have been
recorded. According to local and international circumstances, the term already seemed to have
gone through many stages, which are quite complicated to grasp. Coworking
is present, the recent past and it is definitely the future it is inevitable. Coworking has
a broad, all in composing, definition. (E)
is a market term (…) flexible, shared facilities with people you are not used to work with
[and] from our business positioning point of view it is quite limiting, there is a package
that comes with the term. (D)
Evidence could also be found in expert opinions, that according to its interpretation, the term
changed over time and is influenced mainly by our human perception and social practices.
The way we see co-work and coworking, there are so many things you can find out (…)
what really makes a difference. (F)
Besides that, the following three aspects could be recorded as most responsible for its change
in meaning:
- the shift from industrial to individual labour
- technology and its competitive component
- globalization and digital forms of work
According to these reasons also its typography changed a fact experts are aware of and still
could not find a final common agreement on:
I looked it up what is the correct way to write it and I saw the hyphen I just do not like
the hyphen. It looks old school. (B)
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All our original documents are written with a hyphen. The way to simplify would be low
case all letters together. (E)
I use more the term Cowork than the action co-work but I usually use Cowork-space
and coworking. (F)
According to experts’ opinions, Cowork can be a noun, coworking a process or practice, as well
as co-work “a new verb” (G). The main change that occurred over time, which was examined
by the experts, is the switch from a two-word approach to just one word: small letters without
captions. For example, practical reasons to write it faster or use it in a unique marketing context
seem to overlap the awareness of the concept itself.
Coworking as a work model
It is a work model, but one that needs some work, meaning it needs some development.
(A)
It is something that came to the future. We are seeing especially at the moment, that all
the traditional ways of working are falling down. (C)
I see it as sustainable for sure and the Covid-19 situation had shown its value (B).
With the evidence of these statements, the researcher observed that ‘the Cowork model’ became
an alternative to ‘standardized work’ and an offered solution for many occasions defined by
time, locality, and user employment status.
Co-working is like its name: Working with different people, with a community not
particularly in the same company but with the possibility to share ideas in different
areas of activity. To not be alone and lonely (…) It is the possibility to gather all these
things, the opposite of the private office that proceeds in the “traditional” way in which
companies don’t work with each other and don’t have the possibility to develop and let
emotions and synergies grow. (C)
Coworking is about sharing resources, a space and a certain mindset of working in a
place where you could collaborate with others. (E)
A co-working is an excellent alternative to those who have the freedom of choosing their
daily office (I).
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On the one hand, Coworking seems to support individual freedom and autonomy, on the other
hand, people with different origins, social or political belongings seem to agree on a ‘common
sense’ inside a body of shared resources called community.
47
Coworking as a trend/phenomenon
On some occasions, Cowork facilities and their practices are perceived as a temporary trend or
local phenomena. This became more obvious through expert statements like:
Two years ago, Coworking would have been for me individuals working together,
networking and individuals growing their own business (…) coming to share a space.
(A)
And suddenly there are big operators, like WeWork who are managing offices for
companies. They are receiving benefits to have really flexible work solutions (…) a
company [which looks] after and to outsource all the facility management. (D)
I believe that it is a sustainable future work model. I think people are more productive
and happier. The environment that surrounds us during our work day is very important
since we spend so many hours there. (I)
However, regardless of their community processes and practices, counter voices can be found
that disagree on categorizing CW as just a temporary phenom, tendency, or, on the contrary, a
‘business idea’ as a whole:
I don’t think it ever was a tendency but it can be not really related to the common life
circle: To be born, to grow, to fall and to die. I think Coworking is a bit different and
already has many lives. (G)
Linked to social and technological movements (e.g., in Silicon Valley), their appearance has
also influenced other topics of interest in society. Design and entrepreneurship, for example,
seem to influence the corpus Cowork vice versa:
It is a cool place for modern companies to present their employees a new and modern
work environment like corporate offices. (A)
47
Refer to chapter 2.3.3 in which community is defined.
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The beginning happened with the portability of machines and the birth of WIFI. Like
the new oxygen of a space. Germany and Holland were really advanced in comparison
to others. (G)
Due to techno-socio systems, coworking practices and the perception of “how to be a successful
professional has changed” With the peculiarity of the whole start-up or entrepreneur culture,
for example, entrepreneurship formed its way in CW communities.
It is kind of a glorified office space of the 21st (E)
Cowork community numbers are continually growing, and providers get contacted by
companies, which had considered CW before as a flower power movement (G). Only with the
facilitation process, like a business plan, these movements turned into a tendency and now
into, as an expert stated, a new phase: The Open Source. (G)
Co-working became for me more enterprise focused and it is also easier from my
experience to rent out space for companies than to individuals. (A)
I see it as a future work model and also there are a lot of companies that are going to
convert to be in a Cowork Space. (H)
In addition to that, global economic challenges, like Covid-19, influenced traditional
proponents of the ‘closed-office’ work-culture to change:
We have a lot of requests now from companies that want to close their offices because
people work from home, but they want to give them an option. […] This way,
[companies] reduce the size of their facilities and they start using CW spaces. (C)
Lines blurred in between employers and employees, and ‘nomads’ are no longer just travellers.
A shred of evidence for that is that related business areas, for example, Selina Hostels,
implement and promote specific models of Coworking, almost as a lifestyle choice. In contrast,
others enter new experimental forms as a response to financial difficulties. Renting facilities
for a high amount of money has been a common phenomenon to guarantee income in difficult
periods
48
.
48
Compare theme (6).
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Category b: Personal understandings
As mentioned before, Cowork spaces are deeply linked to the technological and social practices
grounded on personal perceptions and interests. These provoke tendencies or cultural trends
that manifest in time and space. For some people, specific attributes like the Wi-Fi speed, Phone
Rooms, etc. turn almost into currency. Nevertheless, all experts agreed on one remarkable
finding: Processes like collaboration within the work ‘next to each other’ are ranked higher in
importance when outlining coworking values or general ideas.
CW for me is being in a place where you are able to feel both productive and collaborate
in community. To feel more productive with work like you feel at home or in a coffee
shop and at the same time you know you can get up from your desk and you can grab
water, go outside or talk with people, get away from the work stuff. A mix of
individualism and community. (B)
Heterogeneity seems predominant in these communities and is welcomed and highly
recommended from an innovation or development perspective.
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It is focus, energy, a space that offers comfort, you feel at home and you can share ideas
with different people and cultures. (C)
Coworking for me is mostly about co-creation, collaboration and all the co-words that
are linked to it. (F)
However, there seem to be just a few CW space ‘exceptions’ which define their mission well
and strive to have a specific impact, for example, in sustainability or educational projects.
Research showed that these are the ones who make assessments more often regarding their
potential community members.
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.
I felt we are much more than a CW space and I felt that when we are calling ourselves
a CW space we are pulling ourselves down to the bad sites of co-working. People just
coming and going in, stick there with their phones in, a quite cheap fit out. (D)
“Uma casa fora de casa” (A home outside home). (…) It is not business it is not an
office and it should not centre just around “work”. (G)
49
This has been examined before in chapter 2.2.3.
50
As an example can be mentioned Impact Hub (unfortunately not part of the Empirical Research) or Heden
Santa Apolonia.
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Finding 1: Co(-)workingis an open source
It can be concluded that the term Coworking changed its face and meaning over time, including
different manifested values. Looking at the written term, it could be examined that the ‘history
of Coworking’ is at the same time a ‘history of labour’, a ‘history of technology’ as well a
‘history of entrepreneurism’ . Personal opinions about social (work) practices, linked to
experience and location shaped its way. We have to be aware of a familiar pattern: What we
see documented as a temporary trend, an apparent evolution or history, is always just a ‘history
of success’. What has been validated as efficient in a specific context will manifest. However,
CW communities are still able to negotiate with their own experiences and will be able to create
different terms that evoke meaningful outcomes.
The word co-working is like open source. You cannot steal it but use it for almost
everything. (G)
On the one hand, the concept seems to be attractive for temporary labour projects and
collaborations. On the other hand, it has good chances to become a long term and sustainable
office alternative for remote workers, start-ups, or freelancers. Like a ‘Plug & Play,’ it became
a professional self-determination model nurtured by a wide variety of CW memberships,
opening hours, facilities, and communities.
(2) Theme: Community
The centre of this work is the appearance of CW communities, their impacts in urban
environments, and their constant growth. Their meaning link to social synergies and the
following excerpts will investigate development in space. Experts have been asked for existing
perceptions about community relevance and their management from a structural perspective.
Category c: Relevance of the community
The idea is that you work together, that you work with someone. And what it summed
up is the community, that is where you end up. I think most of the CW spaces aim to do
it but not all of them achieve it. (F)
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To build communities seem to be inevitable in the Coworking landscape. Nevertheless, it can
be seen as a ‘royal discipline’ to maintain and develop them. During the interviews, it appeared
that we could look at it from two perspectives:
- The relevance for the facility or company itself
- The relevance for the users
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One of the main reasons why communities are necessary for CW users has been described as
the escape from ‘a business of loneliness’
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linked to a general work motivation and
productivity.
Being somewhere where I see other people working being productive had a positive
effect on me. At home it would be myself putting the rules some days this works and
some days it doesn’t. Whenever I need a little more incentive, I think a place like this
is very useful. (B)
They want to have “a chave na mão” – turnkey) (C)
Most people get completely crazy if they would have to work from home every day. So I
think the idea of community for these people is important to establish personal
connections (…) a personal and loving bond, but also the professional connection. (E)
A community could be necessary for the facility itself: Reliance of the customers (regarding
profitability and value alignment) and to unite different business locations or ‘scaled
memberships’ from the same brand.
It is easy to keep the community strong and a unite of those values if you are present,
involved and the glue. But once you start scaling it gets a bit more complicated. (E)
For both parties it could (members and providers) assumed that
It is very helpful to work in a community that is inspiring, optimistic, encouraging
because it will help us to grow, be curious, ask questions, and know other perspectives.
(I)
You have the network. You don’t only network with your colleague next to your table.
[And] in personal terms you have the advantage to work from 3 buildings, means
more networking. (H)
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By intention the words members and co-workers are not used because they implicit already its existence and
consequences.
52
Reference to community relevance in chapter 2.3.3.
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Before this is elaborated in theme (3), it is essential to understand the structure and requirements
designed and negotiated in communities. What showed up in social and anthropological
studies is that organizational structures and their ‘habitus’
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take significant parts in their
characteristics. The interviewed experts revealed their opinions and knowledge in front of a
broad educational background that has been noticed by the researcher.
Community structures
Experts were asked by the researcher how they consider their communities on a structural level.
Almost all parties outlined that they see their communities rather as a network [than as an
organization] because things happen without you even noticing it.” (F) More in depth:
I see it more as a network than an organisation, but only my gut knows why. It is
professional wise and then new people like me are coming in creating a new dynamic.
(A)
We learn a lot from each other, so I consider it as a network. (I)
Therefore, network theory could be supported because experts examined the main
characteristics identified in theory. The structure of a network is a relational and complex one,
based on reciprocity and autonomous reproduction:
If Coworking works well it has a good network. I cannot force that everybody will love
it, but I can provide it and there is its possibility to grow in an organic way. (G)
In addition to that, most of the researched Cowork communities appear as an extension of a
larger company or part of another network:
We are part of a very large network of offices that is based in London that is called
iOffice. (C)
I think it is interesting to draw out some insights we have being a global business of
what community means in different cities or the appeal of it. (D)
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Socio-anthropological term that refers to the physical embodiment of cultural capital (Bourdieu 1986) as well
as ritual practices that were described as ‘body techniques’(Mauss,1979). Both are influential and ambiguous
concepts that can be related primarily to habits, skills and tastes humans develop in form of culture.
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Community as ‘second home’
A common expression used in literature and interviews is the term ‘second home.’ By talking
to the experts, it could be observed that some companies transformed this expression into a core
benefit
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of their CW communities. The idea is to have a community to ‘co-work’ and offer a
shared space to ‘go-live’ with emerging new possibilities.
IDEA never was what I learned or felt about the coworking culture. It was not a space
created just with chairs and tables. We don’t want people to move very often, we want
to create a space that feels like home. (F)
It reveals that the atmosphere plays a significant role to ‘feel home.’ Another interesting point
of view is even though being a growing network that every community has its boundaries
when it comes to maintaining a ‘well-being’ or ‘second home’ atmosphere.
With my CW we developed a ‘human scale’. A minimum amount of people but also a
limit of the amount of “family members”. (…) [Otherwise] it is really difficult to keep
the community in space. (G)
Finding 2: Communities are network-narratives
By asking experts about community structures and their relevance, it was identified that the
idea of being organized in a network is predominant. However, depending on the size and
limitations (e.g., available seats) of their specific communities, it is either concentrated on
external or internal relationships. What could be perceived by the researcher is that smaller
communities, for example, Resvés (B), really seem to strive for an emotional bond with their
customers to keep the facility occupied, vibrant, and financially profitable. Others scale bigger
and create their narratives as self-expressive brands, for example, Outside (I) or Second
Home (D). A few in the CW landscape, for example, Now Beato (G), chase autonomy within
the market and their community. A robust democratic or liberal approach was recognized,
especially when talking about change and personal development. A human community limit
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Marketing term that describes the beginning of an product innovation funnel.
(https://expertprogrammanagement.com/2017/10/five-product-levels/). More than that, Kotler’s research
regarding marketing in network economy has been an interesting finding. Achrol & Kotler (1999) state, that
organizations of the 20th century tend to “disaggregate into a variety of network forms” which supports the
original network thought and assumption of this dissertation. Included can be internal networks, vertical
networks, intermarket networks, and opportunity networks.
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might be an interesting discussion point for the future. Overall, it has been identified that a
personal appeal and atmosphere get priority.
What we really want is the community in a physical way, something that we can touch.
(C)
Where and how these aspects turn into action, according to the experts, will be outlined in the
next theme.
(3) Theme: Community Development
Going more in-depth offers the possibility to understand social processes that appear within a
CW community. Especially when it comes to interactions that foster development, a high
innovation potential could be observed in certain community practices. To examine Lisbon's
motivations and preferences, the CW experts have been asked about their own activities and
reinforcements within their communities.
Category d: Collaboration & networking
As mentioned in the theoretical part, here mentioned under the point c) ‘community relevance,’
is the fact that the organizational structure of a network fosters interaction based on autonomy,
reciprocation, and reproduction. What experts examined during the interviews is its realization
in space when it comes to interpersonal objectives. Given the term, ‘networking’ professionals
are encouraged to extend and exchange their contacts for getting to know more people and
increase business opportunities.
Whiteboards and posters like “I search, I offer,” or community slack channels provide necessary
support and resources
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so that members get in touch. Statements like: examine a reason that
this might be highly necessary for community development
Through social media etc. people are hiding behind their laptops or phones and people
don’t know any more how to network, communicate or meet people. (A)
However:
I love to see here in the space that people even go to the beach together from different
companies. They mix and mingle, participating in happy hours. But not all of them are
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For example, Bots like Donut used in Resvés (B) that match people every Monday inside their community to
meet new people (https://slack.com/apps/A11MJ51SR-donut).
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like that. However, I have the feeling that they are not talking business wise, it is more
that they are creating relationships. They now became friends with other people, and
you see new dynamics here. (A)
This statement points out that networking is not automatically seen as an act of collaboration.
Collaboration happens because we introduce people within the community but also
because people feel that they are part of a network. (D)
According to experts’ findings, collaboration can be seen as a developed form of daily
interaction based on knowledge exchange and creating benefits for the involved parties.
We also have collaborations, partnerships with restaurants that they get a discount
here. (A)
We have partnerships, it is not us as a service, but start-ups want to have an environment
where they can present themselves and share information. (C)
Nevertheless, interaction and collaboration are not limited in real-time or space and emerge
online or in virtual networks. Avila (G), for example, created an internal network application
called: AvilaConnect
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. With the help of communication tools that are offered by the community
management team, this apparent coincidence encourages social relations that fall into place and
give room for more:
We try to collaborate a lot. (…) Slack was helping because it created an interest channel.
Some just want to be part of some things like [this] but the real value is when they talk
personally to each other. (B)
Assisted serendipity
As a consequence of these described processes, the concept of assisted serendipity
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can be
applied. According to expert experiences, its realization can be described in a triangle
relationship, wherever members or ‘Coworkers’ just become ‘Co-workers.’
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( https://avilaspaces.com/en/my-office-virtual-office-app/).
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Refers to Chapter 2.3.5.
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Figure 19: Concept of assisted serendipity, developed by the researcher
(…) putting out my idea in the air and someone grabbing it. (B)
What we always try is to provide a context or a kind of fertile ground for people to meet
so we are not forcing people to meet. (D)
As a result, business collaborations or friendships are created ‘organically’ and self-employees
profit from faster outcomes when it comes to temporary needs (for example, job offers and
professional expertise.)
We do a lot of things especially from the business side. Whenever someone new joins
our community manager gets their Bio e.g. what they are working on etc. It can be really
simple, last week someone told me that they are searching for a head of marketing. So
typically if he wouldn’t be in a CW he would be at home researching but I just said – ok
let me talk with my CM in LA and in London 5 or 6 networks he would never have
accessed. So, I think it just accelerates things sometimes. (D)
Some of the communities even strive to create their virtual networks and applications, for
example, Avila Connect, so that ‘assistance’ is provided 24/7. Although this offers members a
bigger pool of resources, it can be argued that this improves the actual ‘community bond.’
Because more often, experts revealed their strong beliefs about personal interaction:
I tend to go one-one, because I am the connecting link everybody talks to me because
they talk to each other. They are maybe more comfortable to talk to me first because I
am a representative and the first desk (…). I would do my best to do it the same, to make
Coworkers
& Co-Workers
Communication
Tools
Community
Manager
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it personal as much as possible, because I do believe in the personal and one and ones
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( as well as in groups). (B)
We did not want to be a lobbying part of things where you just search someone’s skills.
We prefer to have a coffee together with understanding. (D)
Yes, we try to do it with a personal touch with a human touch, we like to introduce
people in the space. (E)
Category e: Activities & events
Therefore, a big part of building, maintaining, and developing a community is taken by
activities and organized events inside or outside CW communities. Experts revealed that the
type of activity depend on the member-types and their different preferences.
Market-, cultural- and personal interests play a role. (…) We offer Yoga, Meditation
and we have a Happy Hour. But we also value small services like bringing fruits etc.
that encourage a healthy lifestyle. We had days on which we danced Salsa [,] we went
out to Santos or other activities [and] I started organizing a wine club. Right now,
everyone is really into socializing (A)
We see a lot of clients with a coffee or wine in their hand during our events that build
active relationships to grow their business. It is not only important for the business,
also for ourselves. (C)
Heden always organized events like film screening, concerts or talks, weekly lunches or
after work beers. (E)
Next to the idea of socialising and making friends during events, experts gave the hint that
activities reveal core values of a community.
In order to the community to exist we need to set the tone, I would not say policies but
guidelines and I think activities are a good idea to go behind that (B)
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Common expression for face-to-face conversations with an mentoring approach. In Communication theory of
Luhmann (1995), this is translated in the concept of reciprocity with which he describes social relation networks.
This can be social systems or mass media phenomena.
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Finding 3: Communication is the key
When it comes to community development, it could be presented by expert experiences that
processes and practices within the community network go hand in hand, even though some are
perceived of a higher level of interest or value than others. Daily interactions and specific one-
to-one contact seem to evoke 'socializing' within the community network, described as
'networking.' Although it occurs that social relations manifest in friendships, the action of
'collaboration' is perceived mainly as professional community action. The initial business
opportunity emerges through processes that occur in the proposed relational triangle of 'assisted
serendipity.' Not only individuals (such as co-workers and community managers) are
responsible. Also, communication tools (for example, networks and interest channels) provoke
the first contact. Benefits for each party occur, and innovative potential manifests within the
community as a whole. However, the activities and events frequently are guided and pre-
defined by the institutions' goals and member preferences. This might open the discussion
around intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
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(4) Theme: Cowork/-ing Values
In the last question set Q4 of the survey we explored the fact that CW communities gather
certain values that are manifested within their facilities, services and social relations. To
examine where they are manifested and in which form, experts were asked about their offered
memberships and recorded preferences of their community members.
Category f: Membership
The term ‘membership’ is often understood as the contract clients agree on, connected with an
asset of benefits for the community. The most recorded ones were “Standard and Premium” as
well as “Resident and Non-Resident”:
We have the most common ones, depending on the level of flexibility. (A)
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Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation describe the two types of motivations that drive to work performance. While
extrinsic refers to the work its results (positives and negatives) intrinsic refers to the task and its activities that
are enjoyable, satisfying or contain individual deeper meaning.
(https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/creative-leadership/202004/extrinsic-vs-intrinsic-motivation-work).
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We have fix and flex desks. The fix desks are only one week, but the flex desks can be
from half a day up to … (E)
Flexibility seems to go hand in hand, not only with the members' visits but also with the facility's
accessibility. The configuration of the workspace itself seems to be the last asset. What has
been understood by expert statements is that CW communities are getting more popular for
companies that do not want to invest in a fixed facility, which is at the same time, an advantage
for providers.
(…) And then in the other spaces they basically all have fixed spaces, also in the open
space. From 1 month to 2 years. If it is a company, we never signed a contract for less
than 3 weeks. (E)
It can be discussed later if this behaviour is a business advantage, especially from a logistic and
financial perspective. Experts revealed that since Covid-19 companies offer their employees
rented desks to avoid the risks of remote work: for example, boredom, loneliness, and
ineffective work habits at home.
We have the standard and premium monthly and then we created after Covid-19 the
“once per week – plan “ and “twice-a-week” plan for people that continue to work from
home but they want to get away from time to time. (B)
Once they enter the community they are part of, even the ones who don’t pay. We have
a ‘Free Pass’ right now with which you can join all activities for networking (F)
Next to the variety ‘memberships’ first hints were the definition of a ‘community member.’
However, this integrates more than just a specific contract for a specific amount of time:
We have all kinds of people, but we also want people to be what they are. We don’t want
them to shape. (F)
I see even the croissant users as community members. I think everybody has something
to add, even if they come once per month you never know what kind of serendipity they’ll
bring up to the table. (B)
It takes more than a space to create a community. There's a lot of work involved to
make people feel welcome and part of something. (I)
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Therefore, it has been asked how providers make sure to be transparent with their memberships
and values at the same time, and how they integrate new members within their communities:
Facilitated communication
From an organizational perspective, there are different approaches to welcome and maintain a
relationship with their members. That communication and its tone are considered as necessary
can be demonstrated:
I am responsible for all the communication, including giving training to the team how
they should communicate. (A)
Most common communication tools like Newsletter or Social Media groups were used for the
collective. For the rest, the personal conversation was favoured by community leads.
I mean we have all forms of communication. We have e.g. a slack channel,
Instagram,…(B)
Emails, newsletters and a slack channel that is really new. We are posting what is up
today. Before I was sending out so many emails and I had the feeling I was over
communicating like sending out reminders. So, they deserve to be spammed a bit less. I
also post it on IG-stories or created events on Facebook and LinkedIn but I stopped
doing that because I had the feeling that there was nothing happening. (A)
[We are] creating our own tools like our App. We are using our newsletter to ask for
feedback, the simplest questions will make a difference because you ask them about
their preferences. (F)
What could be discussed is the fact that communication and its platforms are mirroring
motivations and preferences of the community members, which depend strongly on their social
and professional values. These build the ‘buyer persona’
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that is addressed frequently. Their
identification is essential for the researcher and the community experts because
CW is an area in which you get people from different sectors and industries as well as
different backgrounds. (H)
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The term “buyer persona” describes a typical representative of one's own target group. With the help of
collected data, a fictional person is created who is supposed to describe the potential buyer in detail.
(https://unternehmer.de/lexikon/online-marketing-lexikon/buyer-persona).
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Category g: Social & professional values
According to the theory outlined in studies a set of shared social values are the foundation of
any interest group. However, it appears that the agglomeration and realization of these, which
results in establishing an own ‘culture’, is not always easy and brings a risk of dissension.
(…) Some of them are not joining anything. We have companies that have a specific
culture, or no culture at all, so they don’t join at all. (A)
Experts were not asked directly for their member’s professional and social values; however, it
has been noticed that when community members are communicating transparently enough,
community users with similar values are attracted and more likely to join their communities.
One expert outlined, for example:
Our own values e.g. instance [should be reinforced] [we are] a company, we are not
a benefit corporation, we are not a wecorp
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but we love to become one or take it even
further. We stand for