The death of the work factory

The death of the work factory is here.

OK, we call them offices but they are really just work factories, designed for 

– synchronous work (re: time and space)
– task completion
– linear processes
– homogeneity & conformity of behaviour
– efficiency
– repeatable & consistent output
– manageability of finite resource e.g. man-hours

This 100+ year old design persists today, even beneath the bean bags and fusball tables.

What’s more, we have confused office workers with knowledge workers. Whilst knowledge workers often work in offices, not everyone who works in an office is a knowledge worker.

Knowledge work is not office work, it has different requirements and is 

– often asynchronous
– not about task completion 
– non-linear
– individual & idiosyncratic
– messy
– unpredictable & variable in output
– done by self-managing individuals with unlimited potential for creativity 

Knowledge work is the future and COVID has shown we can do it anywhere. As task work gets automated away, we won’t need the work factories anymore.

But we will need spaces for synchronous types of knowledge work in the areas of connection building, collaboration and learning.

And we might call those spaces offices.

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