Commentary: Reimagining offices as borders between work and play blur
Involuntary remote work during the pandemic forced many people to rearrange their homes for work purposes – and those arrangements endure. But part of the problem is that most offices do not yet allow for the same flexibility.
BLURRING THE BORDERS OF OFFICE WORK
There are exceptions. Lego laid plans for its new “campus” at its Denmark headquarters before COVID-19, but it looks ideally suited to a new world where the borders of office work are blurred.
It is supposed to “provide a space for all colleagues to network and play during and after working hours” (my italics). It features a fitness studio, communal kitchens, a cinema and accommodation for visiting employees.
Campus is an apt description for the complex, which opened in April. Business school students will recognise the mix of work, recreation, cultural and culinary stimulation from universities everywhere.
These are not new ideas. Analysing office design schemes in 2006, Jeremy Myerson and Philip Ross, veteran observers of the future of work, identified the emergence of four “realms” for white-collar work: The academy, a corporate realm; the agora, for public engagement, say with customers; the guild, where colleagues connect; and the lodge, where work overlaps with home.
In Unworking, a timely new book about how to reinvent the office, they enlarge on some of the ways in which these realms have become increasingly porous, accelerated by the pandemic.