There are numerous predictions about 'the office of the future' and 'the new office', and the impacts they will have upon ways of working. There are, however, a number of assumptions built into these:

  • That 'office work' is all of a piece
  • That we actually know what office work is
  • That change will be radical

Are these assumptions justified

The term 'office' hides a multitude of different types of organisations and provokes a range of questions. Is there a difference in the way in which people work in offices in a large organisation where their work is accountable to the larger organisational unit, and the way in which people work in the small office, which might make up entire company? If there are differences do these matter for their technology needs and solutions?

The office environment is a vehicle for many different types of work. For example, managing print production, the law, software development, consultancy, accountancy even research are all done as office work. Could the different types of activities impact their office technology needs?

Most offices will not be constructed from scratch; they will emerge from existing technologies and existing ways of working. Different rates of change may require different technology support.

The 'Emerging Office Environment' is opening up the idea of 'office working' by seeing it from the point of view of those who work in offices. By working with a range of customer organisations we are developing a deeper insight into what office working means and the technology support it requires. We are working with financial institutions, lawyers, doctors, educationalists, small business and home workers in order to understand the range of environments that are glossed by the term 'office'.

By gaining a deeper understanding of the emerging office environment we are contributing novel ideas with respect to:

  • Technologies that bridge paper and digital worlds
  • Document repositories and archives
  • Tailored devices and interfaces to support particular activities
  • New services for multi functional devices
  • The affordances of colour in office documents

Project Team: