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New Work: space for a plethora of tasks

How current research is influencing the construction of CSL Behring’s new buildings in Marburg

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M540 Coworking Space
Getting a jump on chance: even if employees are working on different topics, the proximity in the coworking space gives room for chance exchanges. (Image: Co-Working zone in building M540)

Thanks to global networking, knowledge is being shared at an unprecedented rate. You would struggle to find a sector in which this phenomenon is more prevalent than research, where knowledge-sharing on a global scale means that results are being obtained faster. Current research on architecture and its effect on work indicates that businesses can promote these benefits of collaboration. These findings have been integrated into the plans for CSL Behring’s new M600 and M540 research and office buildings in Marburg. After all, companies in which knowledge is acquired and ideas are developed can particularly benefit from a carefully designed working environment – as can the workers themselves.

M540 Coworking Space
Whether at the workplace with state-of-the-art equipment or in the meeting room next door: there is a suitable room concept for every form of work in CSL Behring's new buildings. (Image: Co-working and meeting rooms in building M540)

The emergence of the coworking space ecosystem

Creative industries are playing a pioneering role in the redesign of work and work-related architecture. They anticipated the future of work by adopting the digital transformation early [1, 2]. The data collected within the creative sector and the knowledge gained from them concerning the impact of (interior) architecture on work are also informative for other sectors [3]. For example, it was possible to demonstrate that the architecture of coworking spaces creates a new blend of collaborative and individual working environments. This goes beyond a mere re-arrangement of workspaces – it creates an ecosystem that promotes ideas [4].

What has developed as coworking is the collaborative work of people who are actually independent yet share the same infrastructure, i.e. people who work alongside one another, but not actually with one another. This principle originated from “The Hat Factory” – the very first coworking space – which opened in San Francisco in 2005 and the concept of which has since become a global trend [8].

M600 Library
Co-working at the example of the new R&D building M600: The library rest areas with workstations and sofas directly in front of the huge glass fronts offer splendid views of Marburg's green surroundings... (design: fs-architekten)

Insights gained from occupational psychology

The researchers compiled their findings using a combination of survey methods derived from structured in-depth interviews and online surveys plus coworking space case studies. Their results attest to the opportunities presented by these new working environments and demonstrate which conditions are conducive to productive coworking. These include space for interacting with others, flexible working hours, and the promotion of spontaneous ideas [5, 6, 7].

Accelerator and incubator programs are another notable example of the aspirational planning involved in creating work environments that aim to encourage greater interaction. Within these programs, established businesses work in close proximity with freelancers and startups in order to therefore boost internal productivity and the (casual) sharing of knowledge [8].

M600 Coffice Area
... while the so-called "Coffice Areas", cozy coffee corners, are indispensable for small breaks and informal, creative exchange. (design: fs-architekten)

Architecture designed to aid people

Social factors also play a role in the success achieved by innovative businesses. Environments that increase the well-being and affinity of workers translate into greater motivation and productivity. The results of the Global Coworking Survey, for example, demonstrate the sense of well-being of workers in coworking spaces: They feel more satisfied, creative, focused and even healthier [9]. In this context, coworking is particularly conducive to creative work and project work, cooperation across alternating working environments, and a sense of solidarity. [10]

Overall, the following summary can be drawn from the studies available: Workspaces that provide a blend of collaboration and individuality and which cluster workers who work alongside one another, but not necessarily with one another, are a worthwhile forward-thinking way of working that offers a wealth of advantages.

 

Sources

[1] German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action [BMWi] (ed.): 2020 Cultural and Creative Industries Monitoring Report - Summary, Berlin: BMWi, 2020, link (retrieved on: May 17, 2022).

[2] Lange, B.; Knetsch, F., Riesenberg, D.: Kollaborationen zwischen Kreativwirtschaft und Mittelstand - Erfolgsfaktoren, Methoden und Instrumente, Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler, 2016.

[3] Bauer, W.; Rief, S.; Stiefel, K.-P.: Corporate Coworking – Innovationstreiber für Unternehmen, Stuttgart: Fraunhofer Verlag, 2017.

[4] Pepler, V.; Engstler, M.; Stiefel, K.-P.: Kooperationsarbeit zwischen Akteuren der Kultur - und Kreativwirtschaft in Coworking Spaces und Kreativzentren. (Paper) Stuttgart Media University. link (retrieved on: May 17, 2022)

[5] Engstler, M., Lämmerhirt, J., Nohr, H.: Trendbarometer Kreativwirtschaft Baden-Württemberg 2013 – Ergebnisse einer Befragung von Kreativschaffenden, Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2013.

[6] Engstler, M.; Mörgenthaler, L.; Nohr, H.: Trendbarometer Kreativwirtschaft Baden-Württemberg 2015 – Reale und virtuelle Orte der Kooperation von Kreativschaffenden in Baden-Württemberg, Munich: Grin, 2015.

[7] Bauer, W.; Rief, S.; Stiefel; K.-P.; Weiss, A.: Faszination Coworking: Potenziale für Unternehmen und ihre Mitarbeiter, Stuttgart: Fraunhofer Verlag, 2014.

[8] Ebert, D.: Wissenstransfer im Coworking Space: Lokale Lerneffekte und geographische Nähe, Bremen: University of Bremen, 2016.

[9] Foertsch, C.: Deskmag’s coworking survey, link (retrieved on: May 17, 2022).

[10] Oliver Linssen et al. (ed.): Projektmanagement und Vorgehensmodelle 2019, Lecture Notes in Informatics (LNI), Gesellschaft für Informatik, Bonn 2019.