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The world of work.

WORKING WITHOUT WALLS: AN INSIGHT INTO THE TRANSFORMING GOVERNMENT WORKPLACE

By Tim Allen, Adryan Bell, Richard Graham, Bridget Hardy, Felicity Swaffer. London: OGC/DEGW. 2004. Free

THE DISTRIBUTED WORKPLACE

Edited by Andrew Harrison, Paul Wheeler and Carolyn Whitehead. London: Spon Press. 2003. [pounds sterling]45

Both books examine the changing form of the workplace and suggest that this change is a successful rethinking of the way to house and pattern the knowledge-based professions.

Working Without Walls is a joint collaboration of DEGW and the Office of Government Collaboration. Along with a short discussion of the changing workplace, a number of themes--the paperless office, new work styles, managing cultural change--are briefly examined and accompanied by an outline of important lessons. Each chapter is illustrated with images and descriptions of appropriate changes from different government facilities.

The Distributed Workplace is based on a two-year multi-disciplinary research project that examined the impact of the new knowledge economy on spatial and management and creation of location independent workplaces. It provides an extensive discussion of the issues related to this goal--workplace efficiency, space needs and models of design, costing and implementation--discussed in a concise and informative manner. The editors provide a quite complete overview of the different ways to frame the organisation and design for distributed styles of work.

Those who seek a more complete discussion of what these new workplaces imply for workers at all levels and what they think of these new forms (neither book presents significant research about this question with only managers and administrators for the most part interviewed in this regard), how these changing workplaces might ultimately effect work, and what their drawbacks might be, will find themselves disappointed by both books. Also disappointing is that both books treat the issues of sustainability and human environments as if only the organisation of the firm and the physical sites in which they are housed are relevant. How the changing workplace might affect urban form and lifestyles, what their overall effect on social and cultural life might be are rarely even alluded to. In essence, both books have been written by boosters. Working Without Walls reads like a brochure outlining the government's many successes, while The Distributed Workplace is more complete and analytic but primarily an uncritical discussion of the methods to achieve the benefits of this new workplace.

For those who want to know more about what the new workplace is and how to develop it these books can be of help, particularly The Distributed Workplace with its detailed discussion and copious illustration of its various themes.

Book reviews from The Architectural Review can now be seen on our website at www.arplus.com and the books can be ordered online, many at special discount.
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Author:Robbins, Edward
Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2005
Words:454
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