The social infrastructure of Co-spaces: Home, work, and sociable places for digital nomads

Ahreum Lee, Austin L. Toombs, Ingrid Erickson, David Nemer, Yu Shen Ho, Eunkyung Jo, Zhuang Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The rise of co-working and co-living spaces, as well as related shared spaces such as makerspaces and hackerspaces—a group we refer to as various types of “co-spaces”—has helped facilitate a parallel expansion of the “digital nomad (DN)” lifestyle. Digital nomads, colloquially, are those individuals that leverage digital infrastructures and sociotechnical systems to live location-independent lives. In this paper, we use Oldenburg’s framework of a first (home), second (work), and third (social) place as an analytical lens to investigate how digital nomads understand the affordance of these different types of spaces. We present an analysis of posts and comments on the ‘/r/digitalnomad’ subreddit, a vibrant online community where DNs ask questions and share advice about the different types of places and amenities that are necessary to pursue their digital nomad lifestyle. We found that places are often assessed positively or negatively relative to one primary characteristic: either they provide a means for nomads to maintain a clear separation between the social and professional aspects of their lives, or they provide a means to merge these aspects together. Digital nomads that favor the first type of place tend to focus on searching for factors that they feel will promote their own work productivity, whereas DNs that favor the second type of place tend to focus on factors that they feel will allow them to balance their work and social lives. We also build on linkages between the notion of a third place and the more recent theoretical construct of social infrastructure. Ultimately, we demonstrate how DNs’ interests in co-spaces provide a kind of edge-case for CSCW and HCI scholars to explore how sociotechnical systems, such as variants of co-spaces, inform one another as well as signify important details regarding new ways of living and engaging with technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number142
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Co-living
  • Co-spaces
  • Co-working spaces
  • Digital nomads
  • Physical communities
  • Social infrastructures
  • Work and life balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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