Sustainability and Spatiality in Co-Workers' Mobility Practices
French National Research Agency (ANR)
Funder: French National Research Agency (ANR)Project code: ANR-17-CE22-0004
Funder Contribution: 188,946 EUR

The purpose of COWORKWORLDS is to understand how digital technologies may encourage or discourage more sustainable mobility within urban systems. It aims to do this by focusing on a research topic in the field of urban studies and mobility studies that has so far received little attention from researchers, namely the development of co-working. Co-working may be defined as a new way of organising work based on the sharing of workspace and a network of workers stimulating collaboration. Encouraged by the development of portable digital technologies and the dematerialisation of information, these new intermediate workplaces between the traditional office and the home appeared in San Francisco in 2005 and since then have spread throughout the world. In France, the movement has really gained strength in the last five years, with co-working spaces being set up in large cities as well as in medium-sized ones and peri-urban or rural areas. The creation of co-working spaces by companies is accompanied by a very voluntarist discourse on the part of the authorities who encourage and even financially support their development. This support is justified by the supposedly beneficial (though unproven) effects of co-working, in terms of sustainable mobility. By offering working people the possibility of working close to home, co-working spaces are thought to result in less congestion and pollution, an improvement in the transport situation and more balanced land development. The objective of the COWORKWORLDS project is to question the evidence for the urban sustainability of co-working in different spatial contexts. To what extent does the development of co-working constitute a new direction that is likely to promote more sustainable ways of moving around? The project’s main premise is that the urban sustainability of co-workers’ mobility practices depends on the social (professional, family) and spatial (territorial, residential) arrangements to which they are committed. The whole challenge of the project is to identify the diversity of these socio-spatial configurations and determine whether they are more or less favourable to urban sustainability. This will be achieved by studying both the physical and virtual mobility of co-workers (means of transport, their use of digital tools), understanding the choices which lead them to adopt these practices and gaining a perspective on the spatiality that emerges from them. In order to analyse the physical and virtual mobility practices of co-workers and to distinguish the networks of locations formed by these practices, the project aims to combine a qualitative investigation and a quantitative investigation. As the purpose of this is to vary the profile of both the co-workers and the areas under investigation, the surveys will be carried out in the urban areas of Lyon and Grenoble (city centre and peri-urban areas), as well as in Annecy and the departments of the Drôme and the Ardèche. The COWORKWORLDS project is organized in three survey phases. The first phase aims at characterising coworkers’ socio-spatial configurations. The second phase is devoted to identify the diversity of these socio-spatial configurations. The aim of the third phase is to gain a perspective on the spatiality that emerges from them and determine whether they are more or less favourable to urban sustainability. The project could have impacts in the scientific domain as well as in the economic and social domain (public and privates in the sector of transport and mobility, companies, employees).

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