UBC Graduate Research

Out Of Office : advocating through design for the agency of knowledge workers Kuo, Jerry Yu Lin


Throughout the course of office design history, the open-plan office has been a heavily debated topic for its successes and fallouts. Some successes are for higher levels of management, cost-savings, and building performance. However, little pay attention to the personal scale of the actual knowledge workers who perform for their superiors, and the company as a whole. Poor acoustics, lack of privacy, and plenty of distractions are only some of the reasons why knowledge workers choose to be out of office. No, they are not on vacation, instead, they are out of office to focus. Many hide in cafés, libraries, and vehicles to simply concentrate on their work. They are sick and tired of constantly hiding in headphones within an over-collaborative environment. By conforming to the unilateral open-plan layout, companies and management have failed to recognize that all workers perform differently and have individual preferences. What if, as silly as it may sound, knowledge workers could go to the office to concentrate on work? What if knowledge workers are able to choose the environment suitable for their specific tasks? What if meetings and working can be conducted in a biophilic environment? Out Of Office is a thesis advocating for the knowledge workers’ agency to bring life to work-life balance through the rejection of open-plan office design and scientific management.

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