Individual Oral Presentation Topics

CAES 1000 Core University English (Semester 2 2020/2021)
Speaking Assessment Topic (Individual Oral Presentation) Topic
To what extent does the rise of co-working spaces
have an impact on the traditional offices?
Submission Deadline: Video should be submitted to the Central Course
Moodle by 23 April 2021 (Friday; 5:00pm)
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longer than 6 mins). Information beyond 6 mins will not be watched;
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5-minute video
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Moodle, under the section ” Speaking Assessments”).
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speaking assessment.
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1. Speaking Test Assessment Criteria
2020 – 2021
To understand what you
are being assessed
Central Course
Moodle under the
section of “Speaking
2. A video walk-through for the
explanation of the speaking
assessment criteria
Tto understand what you are being assessed
3. A video walk-through for analysis of
the assessment exemplars
To understand assessors’ expectations to
4. A document about identifying
suitable sources
To understand how to evaluate the quality of
sources that you use in your assessment
5. “Video submission guidelines for
students” and “How to create a 5-
minute video Zoom”
To understand the submission guidelines
International Journal of
Environmental Research
and Public Health
Coworking Spaces: The Better Home Oce? A
Psychosocial and Health-Related Perspective on an
Emerging Work Environment
Swantje Robelski 1,*,y, Helena Keller 2,y, Volker Harth 1 and Stefanie Mache 1
1 Institute for Occupational Medicine and Maritime Medicine (ZfAM), University Medical Center
Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), Seewartenstraße 10, Haus 1, 20459 Hamburg, Germany
2 Department of Health, City of Kiel, Fleethörn 18-24, 24103 Kiel, Germany
* Correspondence: [email protected]; Tel.: +49 40 428 4352
y Helena Keller and Swantje Robelski have equal contribution.
Received: 23 May 2019; Accepted: 2 July 2019; Published: 4 July 2019

Abstract: With the ongoing flexibilization of work, new trends concerning work outside the company’s
premises such as coworking spaces are on the rise. Coworking spaces are designed to oer collaboration
and community in furnished and equipped workspaces on a rental base. There is a growing body
of scientific literature on coworking spaces with empirical results of qualitative and quantitative
research. The present study adds to the latter by examining psychosocial demands experienced
by coworkers in Germany based on a quantitative survey (n = 112). Among coworkers the home
oce was or still is another frequently used workplace. However, can the coworking space be
seen as a better alternative to the home oce in terms of work- and performance-related, social,
environmental and health-related aspects? Results showed moderate to low psychosocial demands
regarding quantitative workloads. Compared to the home oce, the coworking space proved to
be the preferred work arrangement. Results are discussed with regard to current literature and
workplace design. In conclusion, coworking spaces can be seen as an alternative to the home oce
that was highly valued in the present sample. It is recommended to further emphasize aspects of
work environment and ergonomics in order to create health-promoting and satisfying workplaces.
Keywords: coworking space; home oce; new ways of work; strain; stress
1. Introduction
Technological developments enable an increasing digitalization as well as a growing globalizing
endeavor. This has always been accompanied by the reorganization of work. Nowadays,
these developments lead to significant changes in flexibility, so that work outside the organization’s
oce becomes even more present in terms of temporal and spatial flexibility. Proposed benefits include
an improved work–life balance or an increased sense of autonomy. At the same time, potential risks
such as increasing demands, time pressure and work intensity must be taken into account [1].
Telework has been used as hypernym for dierent kinds of work arrangements outside the
conventional oce and can thus be seen as an “early form of virtual work” [2], (p. 384). As has been
pointed out by Messenger and Gschwind [3], the concept of “telework has evolved constantly over
four decades from the crude initial desire to reduce commuting costs to the mobilization of oce work
and finally to the virtualization of a whole new mode of work.” (p. 200). The virtualization of work has
also been described by Morganson et al. [4] as telework arrangements. Although first developments
regarding telework arrangements have been noticed already in the 1970s and 1980s, it has gained even
more importance in the last decades [5,6].
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379; doi:10.3390/ijerph16132379
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379 2 of 22
Early forms of telework have been characterized by stationary information and communication
technology (ICT) equipment that has been often used from home. An example of which is the home
oce where ICT is provided by the employer so that employees are able to work from home with
varying frequency and duration. Recent developments in telework exploit all means of modern
ICT, thus enabling even more flexible work arrangements—working anytime anywhere. With the
increasing workforce of virtual workers, new concepts for oce spaces and cooperation emerge:
Coworking spaces.
While there is an immense body of literature on health-related aspects of teleworking in a home
oce, little is known about possible health-related outcomes of working in coworking spaces.
As Keller et al. [7] point out, coworking spaces oer some promising characteristics that might be
advantageous in comparison to working in a home oce, e.g., concerning social isolation. At the same
time, potential risk factors include noise and privacy conflicts.
The Global Coworking Survey (GCS)—currently the biggest survey among operators and members
of coworking spaces conducted by Deskmag—suggests that about 45% of the coworking space-users
have been working in home oces previously. Additionally, about 82% of coworkers work at least
partly outside the coworking space and predominantly at home (67%) [8]. The aim of this study was
therefore to examine the demands experienced by coworkers in German coworking spaces from a
psychosocial and health-related point of view. Furthermore, coworking spaces were compared to the
home oce in order to answer the question whether coworking spaces are a better alternative to the
home oce.
2. Theoretical Background
One possible approach of classifying the increasing flexibilization in the world of work has been
proposed by Hofmann and Nøstdal [9]. According to the authors, flexibilization can be defined on
three dierent levels: (1) The relocation of the organization’s risks, for example, by outsourcing or
temporary work, which allows flexible cost reduction by increasing and decreasing the workforce at
short notice; (2) the second level of flexibilization is represented by the amount and time of work in
the context of task organization or working time models. This option oers dierent working models
regarding the distribution of working hours (e.g., part-time or flex-time arrangements); (3) The third
level described by the authors is the virtualization of work in terms of workplace location. The home
oce, mobile work, virtual work, virtual organizations, and the recently developed coworking spaces
are located as virtualized working arrangements.
According to this model, the present study focuses on two dierent workplace locations, namely
home oce and coworking space. While the first is a rather “traditional” approach to virtualized work,
the latter can be seen as a new way of working where it becomes particularly evident how borders of
traditional company oces dissipate.
As the following explanations will show, working in a home oce or coworking space is described
by distinct features, except for both work arrangements being located beyond company oces.
2.1. Telework at the Home Oce
According to the European social partners [10], telework is defined as ”a form of organizing and/or
performing work, using information technology, in the context of an employment contract/relationship,
where work, which could also be performed at the employers premises, is carried out away from those
premises on a regular basis” (p. 2).
Most of the national regulations on telework (e.g., the German Workplace Ordinance) include the
main characteristics of this definition:
Work is performed outside the company oce on a regular basis;
The use of information technology;
The presence of an employer contract and, therefore;
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379 3 of 22
Exclusion of self-employed persons from being teleworkers, as they are not under an
employment contract.
As stated by Brenke [11] 12% of German employees are working from home. Compared with
other European countries Germany is in the mid-table, while for example more than 30% of the
Swedish employees have the possibility for home-based telework [12]. Since not all kinds of work
are suited for home-based execution (e.g., healthcare providers, production of goods), companies in
the service branch are the main employers with a home oce option. Regarding sociodemographic
determinants in the prevalence of home-based telecommuting, there are no dierences between men
and women, little dierences between households with children (14%) and without (11%) as well as
moderate dierences in work time (14% of full-time vs. 10% of part-time employees) [11]. Arnold &
Steens [13] consider 10% of all German employees as telecommuters who work from home during
their working time. The dissemination of the possibility for home oce is higher in bigger companies
(>50 employees). The authors further describe that working in the home oce is more common among
jobs with higher qualification and responsibility. Moreover, white-collar workers (31%) work from
home considerably more often on a regular basis than blue-collar workers (2%), probably resulting
from the organization of the workplace which does not allow telework by nature.
2.2. Characteristics of Coworking Spaces
While the home oce as a telework arrangement is mainly used by employed workers, coworking
spaces are becoming an increasingly established work arrangement among self-employed and
freelancers working in the creative line of business. In coworking spaces, an operator provides
a workstation according to a certain fee schedule so that dierent people may share a common working
environment. Coworking spaces usually consist of a wide open plan oce that is accompanied by
conference rooms, private oces, or cafés. The operator provides facilities such as access to the internet
and in most cases oce furniture such as desks and chairs [14–16]. Also, the operator may be responsible
for community management which includes the organization of events or supporting programs.
Coworking spaces vary significantly regarding equipment, philosophy, design, and rules depending
on the preferences of coworking space operators as well as users. In this regard, several typologies of
coworking spaces have been proposed. Spinuzzi [16] dierentiates community workspaces, unoces,
and federated workspaces according to the underlying understanding of coworking, while Kojo
& Nenonen [17] categorize coworking spaces based on the business model (profit/non-profit) and
the level of access for users (public/semi-public/private). In the context of collaborative spaces of
collaborative learning, coworking spaces are also considered to be economic-driven with a mix of userand
institution-led projects [18]. Generally, coworking can be seen as a third way between work in
a conventional oce and self-employed work at home or in public places [19]. Main characteristics
of coworking spaces are collaboration, community, sustainability, openness, and accessibility [15].
These core values also reflect that coworking space can generally be seen as more than just sharing a
physical space. Rather various forms of social participation and collaboration are encouraged and can
be seen as defining elements [19], which may also facilitate innovative dynamics on several levels [20].
In this regard, positive developments concerning community building as well as urban development
have been reported [21]. However, an increasing emergence of mixed forms between serviced oces
and coworking spaces can be observed [22], which is also reflected in the increasing amount of private
oces oered by coworking space providers [23].
According to the GSC, it is estimated that there are currently more than 19,000 coworking spaces
operating worldwide providing working space for about 1.7 million people [24]. In Germany,
approximately 300 spaces—mostly located in major cities—with 11,000 users can be assumed.
A “typical” German coworking space has 68 members which is less than the worldwide average of 80
members. On average, there are 67 desks (70 desks is the worldwide average) [23,25].
With regard to the motives for working in a coworking space, creativity, networking, social
interaction, and knowledge enrichment due to the collaboration with coworkers from dierent
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379 4 of 22
professional backgrounds are often named [26–29]. Participants of the GCS 2017 stated that the
social and enjoyable atmosphere was the main reason for working in a coworking space, followed
by interaction with others (56%) and community (55%). Seo et al. [30] also found relationship
facilitation to be the most highly ranked attribute among coworking space users. Similarly, [16]
Spinuzzi distinguishes good-neighbor and good-partner configurations of coworking spaces based on
a more representative approach of loosely tied coworkers or a more inward facing core with ongoing
networking and temporary collaboration. The coworking space as an alternative to the home oce
was the second most named reason for working in a coworking space indicated by coworkers in a
qualitative study conducted by Servaty et al. [31]. Additionally, the flexibility oered by coworking
spaces was appreciated by many self-employed because they do not need to bind themselves to rented
oce spaces via fixed contracts. In fact, coworking spaces rather allow flexible oce use as well as
access to important facilities, such as oce equipment and internet access. In this regard, coworking
spaces are an interesting solution for people who can independently create their own working hours
and work environment [27,32].
Both, the home oce and the coworking space are characterized by certain features concerning
the psychosocial work environment which will be described within the next section in the light of the
stress–strain concept.
2.3. The Concept of Stress and Strain
The concept of stress and strain originates in the research of Rohmert [33]; its center can be seen in
a conceptual separation of working conditions and the work environment on the one hand, and an
individual reaction to these factors on the other hand. Stressors are used as hypernym for all exogenous
eects of the working system on employees. According to that, stress can be caused by characteristics
of the work such as the task, equipment, and tools as well as physical or social factors. As a result and
dependent on individual factors (constitution, abilities, and health status), (mental) strain develops.
Thus, (mental) strain can be seen as the individual reaction to objective stressors. Experiencing strain
for longer periods of time or with a certain intensity is assumed to be related to dysfunctions, diseases,
or performance-related consequences. Stressors per se cannot and should not be avoided. Rather,
there are promoting combinations of stressors that can lead to an optimal level of strain which is
supposed to be associated with positive eects on health and performance [34,35].
The concept of stress and strain has found its way into international regulations in the form of
DIN EN ISO 10075. Within this conceptualization, both stress and strain are understood in a neutral
and value-free way. The interpretation of stress/stressors as stimuli that influence individuals must be
separated linguistically and conceptually from psychophysiological stress reactions (strain).
According to the stress–strain concept, the workplace, such as the home oce or a coworking
space, is associated with a certain combination of stressors which result in an individual strain reaction
as the following examples show.
There was a positive eect between telework and autonomy as well as reconciliation of work
and private life [36,37]. Mann and Holdsworth [38] determined that the feeling of being stressed was
less among home-based teleworkers compared to traditional oce workers. According to Allen et
al. [39], the amount of home-based telework was negatively associated with work-related exhaustion.
Additionally, having the option to work from home made employees feel less stressed, because of
reduced commuting time and increased flexibility regarding child care [37].
With regard to work- and life-satisfaction, Morganson et al. as well as Brenke [4,11] found the
highest rating among employees who worked from home on a regular basis, in contrast to other work
arrangements. Similarly, a comparative study investigating employees in three dierent oce settings
(home oce, virtual oce, and traditional oce) showed that the home oce was the preferred model
with regard to work-related aspects such as job performance as well as work–life balance [40].
Aside from positive eects of working in the home oce where several factors such as autonomy
and reconciliation seem to function as resources, there are also studies pointing out several diculties
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379 5 of 22
related to the combination of stressors associated with working from home. That said, (social) isolation
is a stressor often reported to be accompanying home-based work [38,39,41,42]. There is a significant
increase in psychological stress and a reduction of work satisfaction with increasing isolation (hours
of telework) as Bentley et al. [43] reported for a sample of home-based teleworkers in New Zealand.
Additionally, professional isolation was also found to be related to lower performance; an eect that
was also moderated by the time spent teleworking [41]. Besides, a considerable number of studies
approved that social interaction at work can have a positive eect on strain and well-being [44–46].
Furthermore, work–life balance of teleworkers is described by a high amount of ambiguity [11].
Alongside the aforementioned positive eects, compatibility of work and private life may also be
impaired for employees working from home, because of an aggravated separation of both domains
and a blurring of boundaries (ibid). On the one hand, this includes the presence of family members
and being accessible for them which may result in conflicts. Hence, the recreation phases as well as the
family situation can be negatively aected by home-based telework [5,42]. On the other hand, “work”
is constantly present at home which may increase working hours [11,12] and workload. Similarly,
albeit reporting high satisfaction among teleworkers, Kelliher and Anderson [47] also found work
intensification as a result of an exchange process in which employees raise their eorts for the flexibility
granted by the employer. As a report of the European Union states, the amount of employees who feel
usually or always stressed at work is higher among teleworkers than among those in the oce at the
organization [12]. All in all, these results highlight that flexible work arrangements, such as the home
oce, require high discipline and self-organization skills [48].
It becomes obvious that home-based work can be associated to positive strain reactions and can
have positive eects on one’s health. Concurrently, the same factors which are advantageous in the
first place can utter negative eects and bring up new challenges in this work environment. Therefore,
it seems that quantity and frequency of telework using ICT should be following a defined set of rules
in order to enhance positive outcomes [12].
No such results are currently available on the stressors experienced in coworking spaces and their
health-related eects on its members [49]. Existing literature mostly has been taking on a descriptive
focus. Nevertheless, these results have been pointing out to important topics that should be considered:
The GCS 2017 illustrated that a quarter of all coworkers indicate noise as a problem in coworking
spaces. Lack of privacy (19%), diculties to concentrate (15%), and no social interaction (20%) were
further issues named by the coworkers worldwide [8].
Furthermore, existing findings on positive and negative eects of working in the home oce
might be applicable to coworking spaces. Higher work–life balance and autonomy could also be
beneficial in coworking spaces. Social isolation—named as a negative condition experienced when
working from home—should not be as relevant for working in a coworking space or might even be
considered beneficial in terms of social interaction. Self-organization could be easier in a coworking
space due to structures provided compared to the home oce. Although the setting created by the
coworking space might also facilitate self-endangerment, because coworkers disregard their health
and recreation phases [48].
It can be assumed that these aspects of the work environment “coworking space” are also aecting
coworkers’ health and satisfaction. In order to prove these assumptions, empirical research is needed.
2.4. Objectives
The first part of the study investigated psychosocial working conditions and focused on stressors
perceived by coworkers. Furthermore, overall satisfaction with the coworking space and subjective
health status of coworkers were examined. Possible associations between perceived stressors and
subjective satisfaction and health ratings were analyzed.
Based on the assumptions made in the previous sections, the following hypotheses were proposed:
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379 6 of 22
H1: In the coworking space, job stressors are negatively associated with (a) subjective health
status of coworkers, (b) psychosomatic complaints, and (c) their satisfaction with working in a
coworking space.
The second part of the analysis took into account the experiences of coworkers who previously
worked (or partly work) in a home oce setting and tried to answer the question whether coworkers
evaluate coworking spaces better than the home oce with regard to psychosocial and environmental
working conditions, as well as health behavior and overall job satisfaction. Therefore, the following
hypotheses were suggested:
H2: In comparison to the home oce, the concept of coworking space attains higher levels of
consent in respect to (a) perceived individual workability and performance (concentration, productivity,
self-organization,), (b) psychosocial working conditions (social interaction, separation of work and
private life, reconciliation of work and private life), (c) ergonomics and (d) health behavior (physical
activity and eating behavior, breaks), and (e) job satisfaction.
H3: Compared to the home oce, the coworking space model receives lower levels of consent
with regard to (a) organizational working conditions (interruptions) and (b) environmental working
conditions (privacy and noise).
3. Materials and Methods
3.1. Study Design and Procedure
A quantitative study design with a cross-sectional approach via questionnaire was used for the
present study. Data collection was based on a web-based survey that was conducted between June and
October 2017. The survey software allowed for secure and anonymous data collection.
The recruitment of coworkers was eected by means of coworking space providers. Therefore,
an online search was carried out leading to the identification of 262 coworking space providers all
across Germany. Among the coworking spaces contacted, there were “single” spaces but also multisite
coworking spaces with several branches. In the following, providers were contacted via e-mail in
which the purpose of the study was illustrated. Providers were asked to forward the study information
as well as the weblink to the online-survey to all their members. Initially response rates were quite low
so that telephone and e-mail reminders were implemented. Additionally, the study was promoted on
social media platforms and the weblink to the study was posted on several internet portals.
3.2. Variables and Instruments
The instrument included items that were based on a) valid instruments and b) newly developed,
exploratory questions. The topics covered by the questionnaire included sociodemographics, characteristics
of the coworking space, oce environment, work organization, stressors, work engagement, comparison
of coworking space and home oce, general health status, psychosomatic complaints, and satisfaction with
the coworking space. The focus of the present paper encompasses topics in italics. After a pretest,
the questionnaire consisted of sevenmain parts with 54 items in total. The language of the questionnaire
was German.
3.2.1. Sociodemographics and Characteristics of the Coworking Spaces
In the first part, sociodemographic questions (gender, age, relationship, children) as well as
questions on occupational qualification, employment type, and job sector referring to the first GCS
(2010) were included [50]. Also, questions concerning the location of the coworking space were posed.
The second part covered characteristics of the currently used coworking space, e.g., number of desks
(How many working places does the coworking space oer?), desk type (Are you using a “fixed-desk“ or a “flex
desk”?), coworking space layout (In which room of the coworking space are you working most of the day
(approx. 80%)?), cooperation (How often do you cooperate with other coworkers?), duration (How long have
you been working in a coworking space?), experience (Have you been working in dierent coworking spaces
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379 7 of 22
previously?), previously used work environments (In which work environment have you been working prior
to the coworking space?).
3.2.2. Job Stressors
Job stressors as perceived by study participants were measured using several dimensions of the
short questionnaire for work analysis (Kurzfragebogen zur Arbeitsanalyse, KFZA), namely qualitative
workload (QLW), quantitative workload (QNW), work interruptions (WI), and work environment
(WE) [51]. Each dimension was covered by two items that are summarized in scales by calculating a
mean index. A 5-point Likert scale ranging from (1) does not apply at all, (2) applies very little, (3) applies
moderately, (4) mainly applies, to (5) totally applies was used.
Table 1 includes the corresponding items as well as coecients for internal consistency measured
by Spearman’s correlation in line with the original instrument. In comparison with the original
instrument, coecients obtained in the present study showed similar results.
Table 1. Items and measures of internal consistency for the demands.
Dimension Items Internal Consistency (r)
by Prümper et al. (1995)
Internal Consistency (r)
Current Study
Qualitative workload
There are things in my work,
which are too complicated (e.g.,
because of no or unclear job
specification or insucient
0.40 0.45 **
There are too high demands on
my ability to concentrate.
Quantitative workload I am often pressed for time.
I have too much work. 0.70 0.71 **
Work interruptions
I am often lacking required
information, materials, and work
equipment. 0.44 0.36 **
I consistently get interrupted
during my work by other persons.
Work environment
There are adverse environmental
factors at my work place like
noise, climate, and dust. 0.60 0.58 **
Rooms and room facilities are
insucient at my work place.
** the correlation is significant p = 0.01 (2-tailed).
Another question concerned possible negative consequences coworkers might experience due to
demands. Therefore, five negative impacts were named allowing for multiple answers of participants
(reduced productivity, reduced motivation, diculties to concentrate, reduced working quality,
other). There was also the possibility to indicate that no negative consequences resulted from the
experienced demands.
3.2.3. Health Status and Satisfaction with the Coworking Space Concept
The perceived health status was measured using a single item from the German version of the
Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (COPSOQ,) rating from (0) very bad to (10) very good [52].
Furthermore, a scale on psychosomatic complaints for the nonclinical context [53] was used. A list
of 20 psychosomatic complaints had to be rated with regard to their incidence ranging from (1) never to
(5) almost daily. Statements on psychosomatic complaints were, for example, “Do you have a headache?”
or “Are you feeling tired and exhausted during the day?” Internal consistency measured by Cronbach’s
Alpha was found to be 0.70–0.93 in several studies, thus proving to be satisfactory to very good. In the
current study with a very good = 0.92 was attained.
Similar to the perceived health status, one item on satisfaction with working in the coworking
space was applied ((0) very unsatisfied to (10) very satisfied).
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379 8 of 22
3.2.4. Comparison of Coworking Spaces and Home Oce
The comparison of the coworking space and the home oce was based on aspects that were found
to be potentially advantageous for either the coworking space (e.g., social support, separation of work
and private life) or the home oce (e.g., noise level, interruptions) according to the literature. Fourteen
statements were phrased as can be seen in Table 2. Participants were asked to answer the statements
using a 5-point Likert scale ranging from (1) disagree to (5) agree. Due to technical constraints within
the survey software, a direct comparison of both work arrangements was not possible. Therefore,
the coworking space—as the current workplace—was used as an anchor.
Table 2. Items used for comparing the coworking space and the home oce.
At the Coworking Space, : : :
: : : I can concentrate better. (+)
: : : I have an easier time in self-organization. (+)
: : : I get more often interrupted on the job. (-)
: : : I feel more restricted in my privacy. (-)
: : : I am more productive. (+)
: : : I have more social interaction at work. (+)
: : : I can separate my personal life from work-life better (+)
: : : I can unite my personal life with my work-life worse. (-)
: : : the noise level is too high. (-)
: : : the workplace is more ergonomic (e.g., oce furniture, lighting). (+)
: : : I make a lunch break of at least 30 minutes more regularly. (+)
: : : I eat healthier. (+)
: : : I am physically more active. (+)
: : : my overall job satisfaction is higher. (+)
3.3. Data Analysis
All computations for quantitative data analysis were performed using IBM Statistics SPSS 25.
The first part of data analysis consisted of descriptive measures concerning sample characteristics
and features of the currently used coworking space. Frequency distributions and measures of central
tendency on perceived job stressors as well as health status, psychosomatic complaints, and satisfaction
with the coworking space were analyzed. If possible, items were summarized into scales. Negative
items were reversed for better interpretability. The question on negative consequences experienced
because of job demands was transformed into a new metric variable based on the sum of negative
consequences indicated (min. 0, max. 5).
Both, sociodemographic variables (gender, employment status) as well as features of the coworking
space (desk type, oce type) were assumed to be dierentiating factors. Thus, either Mann-Whitney
U-Test or independent t-test were applied where indicated. Missing values were excluded from the
analysis, so that the respective number of cases is noted for all analyses performed.
In the second part of data analysis, associations between job stressors and health status,
psychosomatic complaints, and satisfaction with the coworking space were investigated, thus testing
the proposed hypotheses. After testing for standard distribution (Kolmolgorov-Smirnov-Test), either
Pearson’s correlation or Spearman’s rank correlation was used in order to determine correlation
coecients. A significance level of p = 0.05 (2-tailed) was assumed for the analysis.
The comparison between home oce and coworking space relied on frequency distributions
to determine which aspects are seen as favorable in the home oce or coworking space. For better
interpretation, the 5-point-Likert scale was transformed into a 3-point scale by combining the positive
(rather agree and agree) and negative ratings (rather disagree and disagree). A statement was seen as in
favor of either the coworking space or home oce if at least 50% of the respondents agreed on a positive
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379 9 of 22
item. Similarly, agreement rates of 50% on negative items were considered as disadvantageous, yet,
they were not valued advantageous if not.
4. Results
In the following section, first, sample characteristics and results of the descriptive analysis will be
presented. Secondly, results concerning the proposed hypotheses will be shown.
4.1. Sample Characteristics
There were 112 coworkers participating in the present study. Over half, 61.6%, of the participants
were male. Mean age within the sample was M = 38.09 years (SD = 9.55 years). The majority of the
coworkers lived in a relationship (69.6%) and 38.7% of them had children. With regard to employment
status, most of the coworkers were self-employed (69.6%). The prevalent qualification was a university
degree (59.8%). The main branches indicated by the participants were information technology and
consulting (both 17.9%).
Concerning the duration of working in a coworking space (n = 97), most of the coworkers within
the present sample used the coworking space for more than three months to one year (33%). Almost as
many coworkers had been working in a coworking space between one and two years (27.8%), as there
were coworkers with more than two years of coworking-experience (28.9%). Concerning the time
spent in the coworking space (n = 86), the majority of the coworkers worked five days per week at
the coworking space (32.6%). The average daily working time (n = 87) was for most coworkers about
five to eight hours (52.9%). With regard to the previous place of work (n = 96), almost half of the
participants (55.2%) had been working from home prior to working in a coworking space. Further
information on the sample can be seen in Table 3.
Results on the location of the coworking space were available for 98 participants. With regard to
the federal state, most of the coworkers were working in Berlin (18.4%), Hamburg (15.3%), or Bavaria
(13.3). Federal states such as Mecklenburg-Hither Pomerania (1%) or Lower Saxony (1%) were less
represented. As depicted in Figure 1, most coworkers said that the location of their coworking space
had a population of >1 Million inhabitants. Only a small number of coworkers (8.3%) indicated to be
working in cities with <100,000 inhabitants.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, x FOR PEER REVIEW 10 of 23
Main branches (n = 112) IT 20 17.9
Consulting 20 17.9
Artwork (graphic- or webdesign,
photography) 10 8.9
Media/journalism 10 8.9
Public relations/marketing 9 8.0
other 37 33.1
Characteristics of working in a coworking
n %
Duration of working in a coworking space
(n = 97)
<3 months 10 10.3
3 months–<1 year 32 33.0
1–2 years 27 27.8
>2 years 28 28.9
Number of days per week working in the
coworking space (n = 86)
1 9 10.5
2 7 8.1
3 17 19.8
4 20 23.3
5 28 32.6
6 4 4.7
7 1 1.2
Hours per day working in the coworking
space (n = 87)
<5 hours 2 2.3
5–8 hours 46 52.9
9–10 hours 31 35.6
>10 hours 8 9.2
Results on the location of the coworking space were available for 98 participants. With regard to
the federal state, most of the coworkers were working in Berlin (18.4%), Hamburg (15.3%), or Bavaria
(13.3). Federal states such as Mecklenburg-Hither Pomerania (1%) or Lower Saxony (1%) were less
represented. As depicted in Figure 1, most coworkers said that the location of their coworking space
had a population of >1 Million inhabitants. Only a small number of coworkers (8.3%) indicated to be
working in cities with <100,000 inhabitants.
Population of the coworking space location (n = 96)
< 100,000 100,000 to < 500,000 500,000 to 1 Million > 1 Million
Figure 1. Population of the coworking space location.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379 10 of 22
Table 3. Sample characteristics.
Sociodemographics n %
Gender (n = 112) male 69 61.6
female 43 38.4
Age (n = 111) 29 23 20.7
30–39 56 41.5
40–49 24 25.2
50 14 12.6
Relationship status (n = 112) In a relationship 78 69.6
Not in a relationship 34 30.4
Children (n = 112) Yes 43 38.7
No 68 61.3
Employment status (n = 112) Self-employed 78 69.6
Employed 34 30.4
Qualification (n = 112) None 4 3.6
Apprenticeship (dual system) 6 5.4
Professional school, technical school, or
vocational academy
15 13.4
University of applied sciences degree 13 11.6
University degree 67 59.8
Doctorate 3 2.7
other 4 3.6
Main branches (n = 112) IT 20 17.9
Consulting 20 17.9
Artwork (graphic- or webdesign, photography) 10 8.9
Media/journalism 10 8.9
Public relations/marketing 9 8.0
other 37 33.1
Characteristics of working in a
coworking space n %
Duration of working in a coworking
space (n = 97) <3 months 10 10.3
3 months–<1 year 32 33.0
1–2 years 27 27.8
>2 years 28 28.9
Number of days per week working
in the coworking space (n = 86) 1 9 10.5
2 7 8.1
3 17 19.8
4 20 23.3
5 28 32.6
6 4 4.7
7 1 1.2
Hours per day working in the
coworking space (n = 87) <5 h 2 2.3
5–8 h 46 52.9
9–10 h 31 35.6
>10 h 8 9.2
4.2. Descriptive Analysis
4.2.1. Characteristics of the Coworking Space
In the present study a wide range of coworking spaces was presented as can be seen in Table 4.
Data on the size of the coworking space was obtained by 96 participants: The most common coworking
space size indicated was more than 40 desks (26.0%) as well as 10 to 20 workspaces (26.0%). Further
information concerning the room type (n = 97) showed that the majority of the coworkers had been
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379 11 of 22
working in the open space (78.4%). Within the present sample, the fixed-desk model had been used
more frequently (57.7%) than the flex-desk model (42.3%) which requires coworkers to look for a free
desk before starting to work rather than to work at the same desk every day.
Table 4. Characteristics of the coworking space.
Coworking Space Characteristics n %
Size of the coworking space in number of desks (n = 96) <10 11 11.5
10–20 25 26.0
21–30 21 21.9
31–40 14 14.6
>40 25 26.0
Oce type in the coworking space (n = 97) Open space 76 78.4
Team oce (min. 2 persons) 19 19.6
Single oce 1 1.0
Conference room 1 1.0
Desk type in the coworking space (n = 97) Flex desk 41 42.3
Fix desk 56 57.7
4.2.2. Working Conditions—Job Stressors
Table 5 shows mean values and standard deviations for stressors experienced by coworkers. It can
be seen that results were generally in a low range, except for quantitative workload which was located
in a medium range.
Table 5. Means and standard deviations of demands.
Demand Mean/Standard Deviation
Qualitative workload M = 1.98, SD = 0.80 (n = 73)
Quantitative workload M = 2.86, SD = 0.96 (n = 73)
Work interruptions M = 2.13, SD = 0.77 (n = 73)
Work environment M = 1.77, SD = 0.83 (n = 72)
Stressors were not found to be normally distributed, so that Mann-Whitney-U-Tests were used for
comparison of means. According to the test, there were no statistical dierences between desk-type
(flex and fixed), oce type (open and enclosed), and employment (self-employed and employed).
Merely gender showed significant dierences on the work environment scale (p = 0.048) with female
coworkers perceiving more work interruptions (M = 2.00, SD = 0.88) than male coworkers (M = 1.64,
SD = 0.79). Analysis of eect size resulted in a medium sized eect 2= 0.051 according to [54].
A total of 68 respondents answered the question concerning possible negative consequences
resulting from experienced stressors. Analysis showed that 45.6% did not experience negative
consequences resulting from experienced demands. Among the 54.4% of coworkers who indicated
that there were negative consequences, diculties to concentrate were named most often. Answering
mode allowed multiple answers (max 5 negative consequences) but most participants only checked
one (M = 1.38, SD = 0.59).
4.2.3. General Health, Psychosomatic Complaints, and Satisfaction with the Coworking Space
With regard to their general health status, about half of the coworkers (50.7%) indicated a good
health status (scores 7 to 8). A very good health status (scores 9 to 10) was reported by 29.5% of
the coworkers in the present sample. Of the 71 respondents on this question, the mean value was
M = 7.54 (SD = 1.2). There were no statistical dierences between gender, employment type, oce
type, and desk-type.
Considering the psychosomatic complaints reported by coworkers, a low score was attained
(M = 1.92, SD = 0.66) which showed that complaints are experienced on a very irregular basis (every
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379 12 of 22
few months as the verbal equivalent of a score of two). The question on fatigue (Are you tiring quickly?)
obtained the highest rating with M = 3.01 (SD = 1.19). There were no statistical dierences between
gender, employment type, oce type, and desk type.
When asked about their satisfaction with the coworking space, 61.1% of coworkers were very
satisfied (scores 9 and 10) and another 34.3% were mostly satisfied (scores 7 and 8). This was also
represented by M = 8.54 (SD = 1.35). There were no statistical dierences between gender, oce type
and desk-type, and employment type.
4.3. Associations between Working Conditions (Job Stressors), Subjective Health, Psychosomatic Complaints,
and Satisfaction with the Coworking Space
The relationship between job stressors and subjective health status, psychosomatic complaints,
as well as perceived satisfaction with the coworking space, was tested using Spearman’s rank correlation
as a nonparametric test.
Hypothesis 1a assumed negative correlations between stressors and subjective health status.
The analysis confirmed this relationship indicating that a higher workload (qualitative and quantitative)
was associated with lower ratings of subjective health (rQWL = ?0.302, p < 0.05; rQNW = ?0.250, p < 0.05).
Work interruptions and work environment were not significantly (p > 0.05) associated with the health
status of the coworkers in this study. Hypothesis 1a was partly retained, because some of the stressors
showed significant negative correlations with the subjective health status of coworkers as Table 6 shows.
Table 6. Correlations between demands and subjective health status, psychosomatic complaints, and
satisfaction with the coworking space.
Demand Subjective Health Status Psychosomatic Complaints Satisfaction with the
Coworking Space
QualitativeWorkload r = ?0.302 *, p = 0.011 (n = 70) r = 0.428 **, p = 0.000 (n = 70) r = ?0.232, p = 0.053 (n = 70)
Quantitative workload r = ?0.250 *, p = 0.036 (n = 70) r = 0.327 **, p = 0.006 (n = 70) r = ?0.208, p = 0.085 (n = 70)
Work interruptions r = ?0.167, p = 0.166 (n = 70) r = 0.173, p = 0.152(n = 70) r = ?0.233, p = 0.052 (n = 70)
Work environment r = ?0.145, p = 0.232 (n = 70) r = 0.050, p = 0.684 (n = 70) r = ?0.310 **, p = 0.009 (n = 70)
* p < 0.05, 2-tailed; ** p < 0.01, 2-tailed.
Furthermore, significant associations between job stressors and psychosomatic complaints were
found. Especially qualitative workload and quantitative workload were positively correlated with
psychosomatic complaints (rQLW = 0.428, p = 0.000; rQNW = 0.327, p < 0.01). Thus, the higher the
workload (qualitative and quantitative) the more psychosomatic complaints were found. Hypothesis
1b was partly retained.
With regard to the association of job stressors and subjective satisfaction with the coworking
space, a significant negative correlation was found. The more coworkers experienced an unfavorable
working environment, the less satisfied they were with the coworking space (r = ?0.310, p < 0.01).
Therefore, hypothesis 1c was partially accepted.
4.4. Comparison of Coworking Space and Home Oce
Hypothesis 2a, which assumed that perceived individual workability and performance in terms
of concentration, productivity, and self-organization were more pronounced in the coworking space
than in the home oce, was accepted according to the 50% margin that was described in Section 3.3.
As Figure 2 shows, 71.9% of the present sample rather agreed or totally agreed on the statement that
they can better concentrate at the coworking space.
Int. IJn. tE.nJv. iErnonv.i rRones.. RPeusb. lPicu HbleiaclHthe 2al0t1h92, 01169, ,x1 F6,O2R3 7P9EER REVIEW 14 of 23 13 of 22
2 Figure 2. Comparison of working conditions at the coworking space and in the home office.
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
… I can concentrate better. (+)
… I am more productive. (+)
… I have an easier time in self-organisation. (+)
… I get interrupted more often on the job. (-)
… I feel more restricted in my privacy. (-)
… I have more social interaction at work. (+)
… I can separate my personal life from work-life better. (+)
… I can unite my personal life with my work-life worse. (-)
… the noise level is too high. (-)
… the workplace is more ergonomic (e.g. office furniture, lighting etc.). (+)
…I make a lunch break of at least 30 minutes more regularly. (+)
… I eat healthier. (+)
… I am physically more active. (+)
… my overall job satisfaction is higher. (+)
At the coworking space…
totally disagree/rather disagree neutral totally agree/rather agree
Figure 2. Comparison of working conditions at the coworking space and in the home oce.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379 14 of 22
In line with hypothesis 2b, participants of the present study agreed to find more advantageous
psychosocial working conditions in the coworking space. That is, social interaction (92.2%) and
separation of work and private life (85.9%) were rated in favor of the coworking space. Concerning
reconciliation of work and private life, which was negatively formulated, 66.7% of participants disagreed
or rather disagreed to the statement indicating that the coworking space was the preferred workplace.
Figure 2 furthermore depicts that hypothesis 2c must be rejected, as the 50% margin of participants
agreeing on the statement that the coworking space was more ergonomic in comparison to the home
oce was not reached (41.3%).
Hypothesis 2d which assumed a higher rating of health behavior in the coworking space must be
rejected. Agreement ratings of eating behavior (31.3%), physical activity (48.4%), as well as breaks
(39.7%) did not reach the 50% margin.
The majority of the study participants (81.3%) agreed to experience higher overall job satisfaction
at the coworking space as compared to the home oce. Thus, hypothesis 2e was accepted.
Hypothesis 3a focused on interruptions and assumed that participants agreed to being interrupted
more often in the coworking space. Contrary to the hypothesis, only 26.6% of the sample described to
be interrupted more often, so that hypothesis 3a had to be rejected.
Hypothesis 3b proposed that coworkers found the home oce more favorable with regard to
environmental working conditions, such as perceived privacy and noise. However, results showed
that participants neither agreed to feel restricted in their privacy (17.2%) nor experienced too much
noise (19.4%). Thus, hypothesis 3b must be rejected.
5. Discussion
The present exploratory study was able to show some interesting results. While generally
encountering low to moderate perceived demands and being of good health, coworkers did feel
less satisfied with working in the coworking space if the working environment was described as
adverse. Furthermore, especially task-related stressors, such as qualitative and quantitative workload,
were associated with subjective health as well as complaints. With regard to the comparison of home
oce and coworking space, the latter was found to be preferred in almost all inquired working
conditions. In the following, some results are highlighted and discussed in-depth.
5.1. Working Conditions—Job Stressors
The present study did not find significant dierences in the psychosocial demands experienced by
employed and self-employed in the coworking space. With regard to their experiences concerning
working from home, it can be assumed that self-employed homebased teleworkers suered from
blurring boundaries on the one hand and social isolation on the other hand, much as their employed
counterparts [55], although the current definition of telework focuses on employees with an
employment contract.
Among the job stressors investigated within the study, quantitative workload was found to be
most prominent, although still ranging in a moderate scope. This result is supported by other studies
indicating that work and time pressures are quite common among the German workforce [56].
Qualitative workload obtained low scores. A possible explanation for these results might stem
from the large part of self-employed and a generally high educational level. Both factors might
contribute to the fact that the working tasks fit properly with abilities and competencies of job holders.
Furthermore, work interruption was found to be in the lower range. This is inconsistent with
results from a representative study that reports work interruptions to be a major demand experienced
by 44% of the respondents [56]. However, since the majority of the sample is self-employed, at least
interruptions by colleagues should be occurring less often. Interruptions by other coworkers might be
viewed as social exchange that is desired.
Coworkers stated that aspects of the work environment are experienced as minor demands.
The respective questions comprised environmental conditions (noise, climate, dust) on the one hand
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379 15 of 22
and space equipment on the other hand. Rather positive evaluations of these conditions may be
explained by the fact that coworkers generally decide voluntarily for the coworking space they want to
use. Thus, they choose coworking spaces that appeal to them in terms of environmental conditions.
In sum, the demands imposed on coworkers are moderate to low. Thus, the coworking space
generally oers good working conditions. However, as coworking spaces come in all shapes and sizes,
it may be assumed that working conditions within the respective coworking spaces dier substantially.
Furthermore, as the response rate within the present study was low, generalizability of results may be
considered as restricted.
5.2. General Health, Psychosomatic Complaints, and Satisfaction with the Coworking Space
The present sample indicated, to be of good to very good health and psychosomatic complaints
were found to be scarce. On the one hand this can be associated to the age of the participants which
is comparatively young. In this regard, [56] showed that among persons in dependent employment
only 14% describe their subjective health status as not so good or bad. Furthermore, this proportion
increases with age. Similarly, a study investigating health-related quality of life within the German
population found the ratings of general health to be decreasing with age [57].
On the other hand, employment status can be assumed as an influencing factor. In this regard, [58]
found that healthier people are more likely to be engaged when self-employment. Within the course of
self-employment, [59] found poor subjective health in a sample of freelance media workers which was
associated to perceived eort–reward imbalance.
Since scientific studies within the context of coworking spaces are rare, there are no comparable
results on the health status of coworkers. However, the present study relied on self-disclosure so that
further research using more objective measures is encouraged.
Satisfaction in the coworking space was found to be very high. These results are comparable to
the results obtained by Servaty et al. [31]. In contrast, working in an open oce space was found to be
strongly related to a reduced job satisfaction [60], but coworking spaces seemed to be an exception.
An aspect that might be attributed to the voluntariness and autonomy underlying most of the decisions
to work in a coworking space as opposed to being assigned to a given workplace.
5.3. Associations between Job Stressors, General Health, Psychosomatic Complaints, and Satisfaction with the
Coworking Space
In line with the stress–strain concept, several associations among perceived demands, such as
qualitative workload and quantitative workload, and health, as well as psychosomatic complaints
were found. Of 72 respondents who answered a question on the assumed influence of working in a
coworking space on their health, 55.6% thought there was a positive influence.
Among the job stressors, work environment was found to be the only dimension associated with
satisfaction with the coworking space. While the scales on QNW and QLW are very task-related
and thus capture only marginal aspects of the coworking space itself, demands imposed by WE are
more attributable to the coworking space within the present context. Thus, it is noteworthy that
WE were significantly associated with the satisfaction with the coworking space. The more adverse
environmental factors are present, the lower the satisfaction with the coworking space. In terms of
member turnover, this can be seen as an important aspect for coworking space operators. As the study
by Seo et al. [30] showed, operators of coworking spaces attribute a high meaning to space and interior
which was ranked second after relationship facilitation.
To sum up, based on the assumptions of the stress–strain concept, several associations between
job stressors and health variables and satisfaction could be found.
The results are in line with studies by Herbig et al. [61] and Kim and Dear [62] who found an
eect of work stressors on the workers’ well-being due to the oce layout (e.g., number of workers
per enclosed room) but no positive eect or mediation of social interaction on workers’ well-being in
association with oce layout. However, at least when comparing the coworking space with the home
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379 16 of 22
oce, the present sample did describe pronounced advantages with regard to social interaction as the
following results show.
5.4. Comparison of Coworking Space and Home Oce
The comparison of the coworking space with the home oce environment indicates that many
aspects are advantageous at the coworking space. Therefore, working at a coworking space could be a
better alternative to the home oce, but it is certainly not a worse one. The evaluation of the working
situation at the coworking space by current coworkers in comparison with their experiences as (former
or partly) home oce users confirmed the positive characteristics of coworking spaces in many parts.
Advantages of the coworking space were found to be very pronounced with regard to productivity,
the ability to concentrate, and self-organization. This might seem contradictory in the light of possible
distractions by other coworkers in the coworking space. But as the present study showed, when working
in the home oce, family members were often or always present during working hours in almost one
third of the cases and only half of the participants reported to have a separated oce/room to work at
home so that the home oce might also be an distracting working environment. Thus, it seems that
the working conditions oered by the coworking space promote perceived performance as compared
to the home oce. This is in line with research from de Peuter et al. [63] where the productivity in a
coworking space was highly appreciated, especially in comparison to working from home. However,
it must be taken into account that the present data relied on self-report. In this regard and based on
metrics of a performance management system, it has also been shown that transforming oces into
open spaces was associated with reduced productivity [64].
All aspects referring to the social situation as well as compatibility of family and work were
rated in favor of the coworking space which was expected. Social interaction remains one of the most
important reasons for choosing to work in a coworking space. Although home oce or telework are
promising working models with regard to reconciliation of private and working life, studies found
that working from home often is associated with a dissolution of boundaries and worse separation
of work and private life [12]. However, some research also suggested that working in an open space
oce results in decreased face-to-face interaction and increased electronic interaction [64]. However,
while projects for creating open space oces are often beyond employees’ decisions, the decision to
work on a coworking space is based on voluntariness. The community oered by the coworking space
and the associated social support can be considered as important resources, especially in comparison
with the home oce.
It is noticeable that within the present sample, 50% disagreed or rather disagreed with the
statement “in the coworking space the noise level is too high”. If face-to-face communication decreases in
open space oces [64], presumably the noise level decreases, too. This is in line with another result of
the questionnaire according to which 53.9% of coworkers did not feel disturbed by undesirable speech
sound. Similarly, although not meeting the 50% margin, 46.9% of the respondents answered that they
were not interrupted more often in the coworking space than at home. This might be attributable to a
decreasing face-to-face communication in open space oces, too. Additionally, the presence of family
members during work at home might account for this result.
Interestingly, the majority of coworkers did not feel more restricted in their privacy as compared
to the home oce. This is a noticeable result since most of the coworkers said they worked in an
open space within the coworking space which can be expected to be quite dierent from working at
home. Futhermore, de Croon et al. [60] were able to show strong evidence for reduced psychological
privacy in open workplaces. However, with regard to the motives for choosing to work in a coworking
space, the social environment was named to be one of the main reasons. Thus, it might be argued
that coworkers expect to work in an environment that is characterized by limited privacy and more
prominent ambient noise. Nevertheless, as described by the GCS 2018, there is an increasing trend for
coworking space providers to oer private oces [25] which means that coworkers may be looking for
more enclosed and private working spaces. It can be assumed that privacy is preferred for working
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379 17 of 22
activities, which—at the same time—does not exclude the desire for the social environment oered by
the coworking space. Furthermore, as was stated beforehand, working in a coworking space is based
on a conscious choice and reduced privacy is to be expected.
Participants of the present study described a better overall job satisfaction as compared to working
in a home oce. With regard to the results of Brenke [11] and Morganson et al. [4], indicating that
people who regularly work from home show the highest work-and life-satisfaction scores among
employees, this can be seen as noticeable.
All in all, the comparison of coworking space and home office showed that coworkers prefer
the working environment in coworking spaces especially regarding concentration, productivity,
self-organization, social interaction, and separation of private andwork life, aswell as overall satisfaction.
5.5. Strengths and Limitations
There are several limitations related to the chosen study design. First, using a cross-sectional
design does not allow for causal relations. In this regard, a longitudinal approach might have oered
deeper insights into the impact of working conditions on health and satisfaction of coworkers.
In the questionnaire, some scales and items showed only low reliability; partly, these ratings were
found to be similar to the original studies. Nevertheless, general validity might be aected.
The comparison of conditions experienced in the coworking space and the home oce was
only possible in relative terms because of technical constraints related to the survey software. As a
consequence, statistical analysis was limited. Furthermore, ratings might be aected by recall bias
since not all coworkers of the sample were using the coworking space and the home oce parallel but
had to rely on memory.
The present sample might succumb a selection bias via coworking space operators because they
were responsible for the distribution of the survey within their coworking spaces. Coworking space
provider could have influenced the composition of the sample twofold: Firstly, by not forwarding the
study information at all and, secondly, by sending the study information only to the most engaged
coworkers. Additionally, only coworkers who stayed within the coworking setting could be reached
so that a survivor eect might be present. (Former) coworkers who decided against this type of
work arrangement are not represented in the current sample. The remaining coworkers might have
underlain self-serving bias in the completion of the questionnaire, because they voluntarily chose to
work in the respective coworking space and had costs to pay which may influence their perceptions of
the coworking space in general and comparisons with the home oce experience in particular.
Furthermore, the discussion of study results has to rely on a limited base of literature, because
up to now there is only a small amount of scientific studies on coworking spaces. As the discussion
showed, results on open space oces can be adduced for reference, although it must be taken into
consideration that there are several preconditions that dier from working in a coworking space.
However, the present study was able to provide insights into a broad range of perceived working
conditions of coworkers as well as their subjective health status. The latter has rarely been a subject of
research up to date and thus provides meaningful insights into a relatively new mobile workforce.
Results show that both perceived working conditions as well as subjective health status seem to be
rather favorable. With regard to the increasing number of coworkers, this can be seen as an important
result. However, since results are based on subjective assessments and perceptions, completion of the
data by objective means (e.g., noise measurement, medical health checks) might further contribute
to understanding this emerging working environment. The stress–strain concept which relies on a
value-free understanding of stressors could be used for the description of working conditions. In terms
of dependent variables, subjective health, complaints, and satisfaction with the coworking space
proved to be beneficial variables, even if measured in a rather abridged form. Furthermore, the study
was able to show that many coworkers used to work in the home oce or are still doing so. Thus,
comparing both working environments is a matter of practical and scientific relevance and the present
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379 18 of 22
results can be used as guidance for (future) coworkers and current teleworkers. As such, the study can
be seen as a starting point for further research.
6. Conclusion
The present study examined coworking spaces from a psychosocial and health-related perspective
and thus raises awareness for psychosocial working conditions in an emerging work environment.
All in all, coworking spaces were found to be social and highly valued workplaces. In comparison to
the home oce, coworking spaces are perceived as the better workplace with regard to the majority of
prompted items, but especially in terms of social aspects, self-organization and perceived productivity
as well as overall satisfaction. Even noise and privacy issues were not found to be explicitly worse than
in the home oce. Only for work interruptions and aspects related to health behavior there were not
any clear preferences. In this regard, an informed decision to work in a coworking space must take into
account that factors such as noise, interruptions, and reduced privacy can be present. For operators of
coworking spaces, these aspects, as well as ergonomics, oer potential for improvement in their eort
for providing healthy workplaces. The trend of an increasing amount of private oces observed by
the GCS may account for coworkers’ wishes for less noise and more privacy [25]. In addition to such a
spatial approach, further possibilities to account for noise and privacy include rules or schedules for
quieter/more silent working hours or spatial separation of common and work spaces.
Research on open space oces can be used to oer some explanations of the present results.
In this regard, reduced face-to-face communication and an increase in electronic communication that
were observed with the dissolution of physical barriers in an oce [64] might be a reason why noise
did not prove to be a prominent stressor for the sample of coworkers. Concurrently, research on open
space oces does not cope entirely with working conditions in a coworking space as the results on
satisfaction show. Although voluntariness was not investigated in the study, it can be assumed to be
a moderating factor between demands imposed by the working environment and perceived health
and satisfaction. Thus, while some characteristics of open space oces and coworking spaces seem to
be comparable, the resulting working conditions and strain reactions diverge. Predictions based on
research on open space oces must be treated with caution.
Further studies might take a more comprehensive view on working conditions focussing on
further stressors as well as resources that are experienced by coworkers and their resulting health
and satisfaction. A more detailed analysis of dierent user types is encouraged. In this regard,
the psychosocial working conditions and strain reactions of employees of small and medium sized
businesses should be examined. Does it make a dierence to be working in a coworking space as a
set team or complete business? In this regard [65], see the potential for changing group dynamics
when introducing aliated coworkers in a coworking space. However, coworking spaces seem to gain
increasing attractiveness for employed persons, making some coworking spaces comparable to the
early mentioned neighborhood work centers in which several companies share oce spaces within a
building. While this might reduce some negative eects of employed telework such as social isolation,
other aspects such as a firm-specific learning environment and organizational culture might still be
lacking [66]. Thus, for companies it is important to take into consideration the respective challenges
and benefits. Additionally, legal issues with regard to workplace risk assessments must be taken
into consideration.
This study gives first insights into the psychosocial environment of coworking spaces and their
users’ health and satisfaction with the coworking space. Nevertheless, many questions remain
unanswered so that justified recommendations for coworking space providers and political decision
makers need further comprehensive research.
More research and health-promotion strategies especially tailored for this rather flexible work
environment need to be implemented, so that coworking spaces can permanently establish themselves
as a healthy, alternative work arrangement.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 2379 19 of 22
Practical Implications
Coworking spaces as new emerging workplaces were found to be highly valued in the present
sample, especially in comparison to the home oce. Nevertheless, the present study showed several
practical implications for coworkers and operators of coworking spaces that can enhance coworkers’
experience while oering a health-promoting working environment: Coworking space operators can
oer workshops or trainings for skill development of which self-employed (within the same branch)
could benefit.
Furthermore, space and adequate oce furniture were not found to be a standard feature in
the (former) home oce of coworkers. Thus, coworking space operators should emphasize these
aspects to attract users and oer an ergonomic, health promoting working environment. In this regard,
some coworkers of the present study indicated that a professional workplace was one of the reasons
for choosing to work in a coworking space. In this line, work environment was significantly associated
with satisfaction and can thus be seen as an important topic for coworking space operators. They should
engage in designing appealing rooms and facilities as well as keeping an eye on environmental factors
such as noise in order to reduce turnover and improve their members’ satisfaction.
Author Contributions: Conceptualization, H.K., S.R., S.M., and V.H. Methodology, H.K. and S.R. Formal analysis:
H.K. and S.R. Writing—original draft preparation, H.K. and S.R. Writing—review and editing, S.R., S.M., and V.H.
Visualization, S.R. Supervision, S.M. and V.H.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
Acknowledgments: We give our thanks to the coworking experts who promoted the study on social media.
The authors would like to thank all coworking space operators for distributing our study as well as all coworkers
for their participation. Many thanks to Joshua de Jong for the support and Amy Hieb for language editing.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Note: The paper is based on the results of HKs unpublished Master Thesis carried out at the Hamburg University
of Applied Sciences.
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