Learning and living in the ‘New office’
Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands
‘Knowledge sharing’ and ‘learning’ are terms often connected with the ‘New office’, the “modern” open office space. Work in these settings becomes more and more distributed, mobile and characterised by temporary constellations of collaborators. The workers are mobile and work wherever they are. Based on nine case studies, this paper describes how the ‘New office,’ intended to support learning and peripheral participation often gets directly counterproductive to this purpose. It lacks places to dwell and return to, places to meet coincidentally, shared artefacts and possibilities of leaving traces of current and past activities. These problems are due to a combination of problematic architecture and insufficient technology, and not least to insufficient design processes, where the actual needs of the people in the organisation are rarely considered, and where people are rarely involved in the design and introduction processes. Through exploratory design we have pursued ways of improving legitimate peripheral participation, through architecture, physical artefacts and materials in the rooms as well as through virtual extensions of these artefacts, in order to explore alternatives and raise further research questions regarding ‘the new office’.