Digital lives in coworking spaces: Do mobile lifestyles reduce rural-urban disparities?

The digital turn has made new ways of work possible, including coworking. While coworking promises many benefits, few empirical studies exist that provide a systematic review of existing practices and its ramifications.

Factsheet

  • Lead department Business
  • Institute Institute for New Work
  • Research unit New Forms of Work and Organisation
  • BFH centre BFH Centre for the Digital Society
  • Funding organisation SNSF
  • Duration 01.09.2018 - 31.03.2020
  • Project management Timo Ohnmacht
  • Head of project Timo Ohnmacht
  • Project staff Nada Endrissat
  • Partner Hochschule Luzern - Wirtschaft
  • Keywords New work, transformation of work, digital turn, coworking space, mobility, lifestyle, rural-urban disparity

Situation

Switzerland has witnessed a steady growth of coworking spaces (CWS) over the last 10 years. While they are predominantly located in cities, they start to feature also in rural areas. The goal is to better understand the practices of coworking as well as the differences between urban and rural coworking spaces and how coworking might be linked to mobility and specific lifestyle

Course of action

Our research is based on a mixed-method approach. In a first step, we conduct qualitative interviews with coworking space providers and users across Switzerland (French and German speaking part). In a second step, we conduct a large-scale quantitative survey study among coworking users across Switzerland to explore in greater detail the relationships between coworking, mobility and rural-urban differences.

Result

The qualitative study was able to yield different mobility styles that are linked to coworkign; differences between urban and rural coworking spaces were also identified and can be used to highlight the opportunities and challenges for rural coworking spaces. Overall, coworking coincides with an increase in flexible and diverse work- and lifestyle patterns. The typologies that were derived therefore represent a simplification of highly individualized practices and preferences.

Looking ahead

In order for coworking to be successful in more rural areas, a committed community of users seems decisive. Rural coworking spaces also need to diversify their offer in order to provide value to a broader group of users than in the city.