Future University – Edge Zones
February 5, 2013 – 6:47 pm | Comments Off on Future University – Edge Zones

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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Home » Workplace-NetWork

Working at Home: The pros and cons of telecommuting

Submitted by on September 16, 2010 – 2:26 pmNo Comment

People have long used the home as a refuge for urgent or reflective work, setting themselves up with a home office, working at the kitchen table or whatever space might be free at the time. A growing body of research on office settings shows consistent concerns with distractions and difficulty in focusing on tasks.  Davenport and Beck argue that organizations, like individuals, suffer from attention deficit disorder that results in diminished time for reflection and increases the likelihood of overlooking important information.

“Understanding and managing attention is now the single most important determinant of business success.”  (Davenport and Beck, 2001)

Not surprisingly, one of the key reasons why people choose to work at home is to reduce distractions – primarily from people talking or interrupting on-going work. Feeling connected to others is one of the main reasons mobile workers opt to go to the office or choose other social settings such as coffee shops or libraries.

Working at home is hardly new.  However, there is little research on what constitutes a successful home office other than the obvious – high speed connection to the internet, a comfortable chair, sufficient work surface, and ability to work without household distractions.  How important are other factors such as location in the house, other office supports (such as filing, storage, book shelves, etc), the ability to control heating/cooling in the office space vs. the house overall, control over outdoor noise, the presence of daylight and a nice view, etc.

Despite the apparent benefits, many mobile workers report that work at home is not ideal; it is often isolating and lacks the social stimulation needed for creative thinking and domestic distractions decrease productivity. Improved telecommunications, social networking, and other technologies have improved and enable more frequent connections to others. These applications of “virtual water coolers” may be increasingly used to relieve social isolation and increase connections among members of a group. Whether or not these are successful substitutes for face to face interaction remains to be seen.

As an increasing number of workers shift their work patterns towards greater mobility, changes to the home environment will likely include; increased support of flextime, increased flexibility of living location and improved communications supports. Working at home is environmentally friendly, reducing commuting costs and carbon emissions. The benefit of reduced travel time also translates into decreased stress and more time for individual or family activities. Changes will also occur in the community environment as people take advantage of working in local social settings and these third places provide improved amenities and supports for work.

This post is excerpted from an Allsteel sponsored research report ‘NetWork: The Future Workplace’ by Daniel P. Anderson, William L. Porter, and Judith H. Heerwagen – July 2010.

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