Future University – Edge Zones
February 5, 2013 – 6:47 pm | No Comment

I’ve been thinking a bit about the future of the university, and it seems to me that a new model may be emerging, one that has something of the traditional sanctuary of a place of learning, but that innovatively engages communities, both local and international. There will, of course, have to be those preserves where students and teachers can contemplate their experience and learn together, but there must also be what, for the moment, one might think of as an edge zone where interactions of many kinds might take place.

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NetWork The Future Workplace: Opening the Door

Submitted by on July 24, 2012 – 11:05 pmOne Comment

doorwayThe next evolution in workplace design and management is overdue. We propose an approach we’re calling NetWork – one that is broader and more inclusive than the traditional concepts of workplace.  NetWork opens the door to new and powerful ways to support work and the people who perform it.

NetWork encompasses both where work is done and how these places and workers are supported. What distinguishes NetWork from past descriptions of the workplace is that it focuses first on the work that is to be done – and on how to enable it to be done most effectively. In turn, that knowledge helps us to provision both the worker and workplaces with furnishings, technologies, equipment and infrastructure that enable workers to make the best of wherever they work, to develop effective work practices, and to continue to adapt. This contrasts with the more traditional focus, which addresses only the places of work, and their efficient delivery and maintenance.

NetWork leverages lean principles. It is dynamic, deploying resources just in time when and where they are needed. It is efficient, absorbing rapid continuous improvements that reduce waste and inefficiency. It is valueoriented, improving work practices and their effectiveness.

NetWork is both the supporting platform and the interconnected infrastructure and settings in which work occurs. Its ultimate purpose is to increase the organization’s ability to carry out its program of work. To achieve this end, we recommend starting with thoughtful analysis of the purpose of the work being done and the behaviors that support that purpose. While investigating or improving business processes is typically outside the scope of designers, workplace strategists and real estate and facilities service providers, NetWork presents the opportunity to truly link business processes (and even their transformation) to the workplace. Starting here moves us beyond oversimplified, latest‐trends‐fits‐all design to creating relevant,effective work settings. Defining the specific connections between work, its purpose and its supporting behaviors and settings should be the first step in designing the NetWork.

The NetWork support platform

In order to make the NetWork function, we need new models for workplace making and managing that encompass a range of home, office, third and fourth places and address the needs and preferences of a mobile as well as stationary workforce. NetWork’s platform of support, then, exists first to understand the needs and activities of project teams and individual workers and translate that understanding into requirements for settings, affordances and infrastructure (both for physical settings and mobile workers). Second, it serves to adapt existing resources and/or create new work settings and their infrastructure – including those tools and protocols needed by workers outside of the places controlled by their employer. Third it manages this system of settings and supports over time and as needs change.

Whatever these settings looks like, they need to derive from our close and informed observation of work practices, our professional understanding of how better to provide for those practices, and the humbling fact that designers and planners aren’t clairvoyant. That is one of the most important capabilities we can provide to workers and teams is the flexibility to adapt their settings to the work practices they themselves develop and to the change that will inevitably come.

Tell us what you think? If you would like to receive our white paper entitled: NetWork The Future Workplace please complete the form on this page. This white paper was commissioned by AllSteel.

 

  • W G Krebs

    This is the most comprehensive easily understood document I have encountered on the current state of the migration of work habits. I highly recommend it.