Workplace Design in the Digital Age

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Anthropology


This research establishes a collaboration between UCL anthropology and the design and engineering firm AECOM around the shared question of how digital technologies are changing work and the implications of these changes for design. The research considers how digital technologies are making activities that we have conventionally labelled 'work', blur with other spheres of life (family, leisure, community), opening up new locations for and definitions of what counts as work.
Digital technologies also promise greater levels of creativity and new kinds of collaborative relationships that also have implications for what work is understood to be and where it is expected to take place. For workplace designers these changes pose a particular challenge: for if work is no longer a place, what is it? And if workplaces are no longer the objects of design, then what does this do to the methods and expertise of designers? These challenges also provide a broader opportunity for anthropological questions to be posed as to what digital technologies are doing to design as a social
practice. What is design in the digital age? How are the aims, the values, the methods and the objects of design being unsettled by the advent of digital communication? And what can this tell us about what is meant by design by those who are trying to engineer and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of social life?


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