Research DIRCOM Along the AlpSatellites’ Journey

The AlpSatellites project, aimed at verifying the potential of remote working in alpine and remotes areas, is moving forward. It is scheduled for completion in February 2024 and, at the present time, the collection of quantitative survey data has almost been completed.

One of the AlpSatellites’ project goals is, in fact, understanding the evolving landscape of remote working. The project’s partners research stated in September 2022. The questionnaire was managed in the three partner countries to garner a comprehensive and diverse spectrum of experiences, opinions, and expectations concerning remote working and coworking spaces. At the end of July 2023, the data collection was completed in Italy (with 405 respondents) and almost completed in France (with 290 respondents) and data collection is currently underway in Austria.

The University of Valle d’Aosta began the research with an online questionnaire addressed to specific target groups such as local authorities, entrepreneurs, local workers (public and private) and students.
The questionnaire consisted of 16 sections and it was divided into two main themes: Remote Work and Coworking Spaces.
The Coworking Spaces section focuses on performance expectations regarding them. The questions measured participants’ perception of the usefulness of coworking areas for their daily activities, the possibility of achieving personal goals, the speed of achieving those goals and the increase in productivity.
In a subsequent section, participants’ evaluations of the services offered within the Coworking Spaces were examined, through a list of 16 services to be evaluated based on perceived importance (scale from "not important at all" to "extremely important"). This information can help the researchers to understand which services would be most relevant to participants and would influence the choice of a coworking space. In addition, four questions evaluated the location and environment of coworking spaces, helping to understand the importance of these factors in the choice by participants.

The study conducted by the Aix-Marseille University revealed that teleworkers from the examined areas have different features and needs of those living in cities.
They are mostly young, single, childless, self-employed with a high level of education and they are used to traveling/moving. They choose to to settle down in mountain areas because they need to get closer to the nature and/or to stay away from the urban context. Their familiarity with such terrain is rooted in their prior personal encounters (e.g. holidays, internships, etc.).
To settle in a new area, however, remote workers need good connections, accommodation and a sense of integration. In this respect, the area studied on the french side seems to offer some advantages, such as quick and privileged access to the nature but there are still some points that need to be improved (public transport, housing prices and availability, year-round services, training opportunities)

The analysis conducted by the University of Applied Science Voralberg also focused on technical aspects as well as on infrastructure.
The researchers could identify relevant factors and conditions that need to be taken into consideration when developing a remote work environment or wanting to set up a coworking space. Many factors such as necessary technical devices or fast internet access didn’t come as a surprise however also training and communication play an important role. In order to be efficent, remote workers need to know how to properly use their devices and how to solve technical problems. A strong communication between colleagues is also a crucial success factor since it ensures a continuous information flow.

Regarding the research on infrastructure two main findings can be named. The condition of infrastructure has a huge impact on individuals as well as on companies because the better the infrastructure is the bigger the comparative advantages are. Technical aspects as well as infrastructure are fundamental factors for the development of remote working and coworking spaces and have significant impacts on highly diverse areas.

These results have already been included in an interim deliverable while the final report, with the complete analysis of the collected data and development proposals, will be distributed at the end of the project.