With the rise of remote work has come the rise of coworking spaces – “dedicated, membership-based spaces where people can work autonomously in the presence of others,” such as WeWork. One of the benefits of office work that may be missing in remote work is the ability to offer and receive help from others. Coworking spaces overcome this by creating a collaborative environment, even if the members work in different organizations. Researchers (David et al., 2023) examined the phenomenon of helping within coworking spaces and what the potential short-term and long-term benefits are when a member receives help.
THE RESEARCH STUDY
Using a daily diary approach, the researchers collected 571 observations from 176 participants. Each day for a week, participants were asked to fill out surveys about self-esteem (at the start of their day), the amount of help they received (afternoon), and the amount of vigor they felt (end of the day). One month after the initial data collection, participants also filled out surveys about their creativity and intentions to leave the coworking space.
The researchers found that when members received help during the day, they reported higher levels of vigor, both at the end of the day, and over the week. Over the long-term, people who received help and reported higher levels of vigor also reported higher levels of creativity and lower intentions of leaving the coworking space. All of these relationships were stronger for those who had higher levels of self-esteem, compared to those with low levels of self-esteem (although the relationships still existed for members with low levels of self-esteem as well).
Coworking spaces provide great alternatives to remote workers or workers who do not have traditional office jobs. They allow for member collaboration, social development, and helping environments that may not be available in other remote working environments, such as the home, coffee shops, or libraries. Some key takeaways from this research include the following:
- Organizations with remote workers should encourage and facilitate the use of coworking spaces.
- Members of coworking spaces should actively look for and engage in opportunities to help other members.
- Managers of coworking spaces should offer incentives to encourage helping behavior among their members.
- Employees, organizations, and coworking-space managers should work together to introduce self-esteem building initiatives to fully reap the benefits of these unique environments.
David, E. M., Johnson, L. U., & Perry, S. J. (2023). Lean on me: A daily-diary study of the effects of receiving help in coworking spaces. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 141, 103841.
Image credit: istockphoto/Rudzhan Nagiev