Will Bennis: Office Layout Influence on Productivity

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For this episode, we have Will Bennis of Prague University of Economics and Business. He’s been an owner and manager of a coworking space (Locus Workspace) in Prague, Czech Republic, as well as a university instructor in cultural psychology and decision making.

Will has more than ten years of experience as a research psychologist and cognitive anthropologist, focusing on cultural and environmental influences on decision-making processes through the use of multi-method (qualitative and quantitative) techniques.

Will shares with us about the research that he is currently working on. It is about how office layouts influence work performance and well-being among freelancers, entrepreneurs, and remote workers.

Some points from the podcast:

  • Ā Ā So we did a research study. And we found out that out of 89 studies, only two were done in coworking spaces. Because we were actively pursuing coworking spaces, those two studies were irrelevant. They simply let us investigate. Most studies, except one that specifically looked at whether open-plan offices are worse for outcomes than private offices, were based on coworking facilities. Is that the focus of this study, or does it apply to coworking spaces as well? Are open-plan workplaces and coworking spaces less productive than private offices and coworking? And we’re ready to find out. But we don’t expect this. We expect coworking spaces to look different. ( 4.57Ā )
  • Social contagion is a psychological concept. Everyone yawns when one person yawns. My impression is that if you’re sitting around while others work hard, you’ll work harder. And I think this is one of the things that irritate you. Despite my predisposition, I believe the value of coworking is undervalued. Some mention serendipity and creativity. And that can be useful in coworking spaces. I think it’s the social contagion of proximity to others because it feels like we’re social animals, and it’s wonderful to be around others while working for many others, as well as those who work hard. Because gathering that energy doesn’t require serendipity or innovation. It’s just efficient work in a sociable situation. (16.50)
  • It also differs from our own ideals. You know, if you’re a scientist, you’re taught the value of anonymity to improve research. In addition, we must all sign an ethics board to get our research approved because we’ve all heard horror stories of people’s lives being ruined by science that publishes personal information and harms them. (31.13)

Links:

Survey on Work in Coworking Spaces – English

Survey on Work in Coworking Spaces – Czech

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