Changing Places of Work by Alan Felstead

By Alan Felstead

Normal exercises and disciplines of the private place of work are being outdated in a multiplicity of recent destinations, similar to "hot desks", "touchdown areas", "home offices", dual carriageway carrier stations, airport lounges, autos, trains and planes. Drawing on unique study, this publication analyzes the effect of those advancements at the event of time and house, privateness and surveillance, freedom and constraint in daily operating lifestyles.

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Higher-grade workers were awarded visible symbolic markers of prestige in the form of minor non-utilitarian items of décor, such as carpets and curtains. In some organizations, such as the British civil service, the calculation of these signs could become both elaborate and strictly policed (Bedford and Tong 1997: 67). In the 1960s and 1970s cellular versions of personal offices, surrounded by walls, were increasingly challenged by ‘open plan’ designs (Duffy 1992; Laing 1997). Open plan offices frequently rendered the personal cubes of space occupied by workers more readily observable but, typically, did not entail the elimination of personal space.

An ethic of togetherness surrounds the collective office as it becomes a second home. In this respect, collective offices both reflect and facilitate a shift away from bureaucratic modes of managerial regulation, based on rules and regulations, towards control via the colonization of the subjectivities of workers and the mobilization of informal workgroup cultures. Working at home removes staff from the social buzz of the office. It makes unlikely ‘bumping into’, ‘hanging out’ and other informal connections with co-workers.

They may perform the same task in different places and different tasks in the same place. They vary the sequence on different days. It becomes possible for individuals to match their work location to changes in their mood, the weather, friendship patterns, or many other criteria. This opens up choices but also brings a new realm of decision-making. Whereas the architecture of personal offices dictates time/space sequences, collective offices require self-discipline in the planning and execution of sequences of activities.

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