The Reinvention of the Modern Office
Distributed for Reaktion Books
The Reinvention of the Modern Office
Over the past one hundred years, the office has been integral to the development of modern society. It has shaped the architecture of our cities, the behavior of our organizations, and the everyday movements of millions of people. In 2020, however, the global pandemic brought our attendance in the office to an abrupt halt and triggered a complete reevaluation of the purpose of the workplace. This book offers a panoramic view of the office and explores what happens next. The authors advance a manifesto for “unworking”—unlearning old habits and rituals established for an outdated office and crafting and creating new ones fit for an age of digital technology, design innovation, and diverse workforces.
240 pages | 46 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Economics and Business: Business--Industry and Labor
Sociology: Occupations, Professions, Work
"COVID changed our approach to the office but bold thinking is needed to secure its future. . . . Myerson and Ross [are] veteran observers of the future of work. . . . In Unworking, a timely new book about how to reinvent the office, they enlarge on some of the ways in which these realms have become increasingly porous, accelerated by the pandemic. . . . They are optimistic about the future of the office—but only if organizations can also reimagine the activities that it used to contain."
Andrew Hill | Financial Times
"Myerson and Ross's Unworking looks at the post-pandemic worlds of work. There are chapters on wellbeing, diversity, and the changes in the city itself concluding we need to unlearn familiar notions of the office and develop a new approach that celebrates difference, not homogeneity."
Edwin Heathcote | Financial Times
Elite Business Magazine
"Myerson and Ross argue that efficiency theory was the dominant force behind the evolution of office designs for most of the last century. However, recent economic and public health shocks, especially the COVID-19 pandemic, have disrupted the way work is done and dismantled the old vestiges of office design (though these transformations were already underway before the pandemic). The authors argue that offices should no longer be designed around what people do at work but around how they feel about work. Offices should now seek to create a sense of community. The book uses examples to show how office designs have evolved to emphasize workers over their work. . . . The authors make a compelling case that old work systems should be unraveled and workers given the freedom to create the work experiences they truly want. Recommended."
"This book could not be more timely as the world grapples with what the post-pandemic workplace should look like. Myerson and Ross give us a scholarly yet deeply engaging account of the past, present, and future shape of the office. Essential reading for those planning the new office environment—and anyone who’s going to have to live in it."
Rory Cellan-Jones, former BBC News technology correspondent, author of "Always On: Hope and Fear in the Social Smartphone Era"
"The pandemic has dramatically changed the way we work and how we work. Unworking is a fantastic and highly readable book, providing a pathway for the new world of work and the office environments of the future. This is a ‘must read’ for senior executives and many others in navigating the opportunities for future workplaces—you won’t regret it!"
Sir Cary Cooper CBE, 50th Anniversary Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health, University of Manchester
"Brimming with ideas, insights, examples, and wisdom, this is the go-to book for everyone interested in the future of the office and curious about the future development of work."
Lynda Gratton, London Business School, author of "Redesigning Work"
“Myerson and Ross capture the most significant changes in the world of the office for decades. Their understanding of the social, economic, technology changes and the roles of home and office is unsurpassed.”
Sir Stuart Lipton, Lipton Rogers Developments
"To challenge the status quo so that new thinking can emerge, we have to be able to hold both a strong grasp of how we got here, and a deep understanding of the forces that are driving the need for change. Myerson and Ross have a wealth of experience and insight in both these areas. They are also consummate communicators: their manifesto is unputdownable, at turns scary and exhilarating, a thrilling invitation to create work—and work spaces—that work for all."
David Firth, consultant, coach and author in Organizational Development
"This compelling, well-written book provides a historical perspective on the world of work, as well as a forward-thinking outlook on how to navigate its impact on our lives. Leisure and work are evermore intertwined, and Unworking gave me moments of insight that I can act upon both at work and in private. A joy to read."
Cees de Bont, dean of the School of Design and Creative Arts, Loughborough University
"Unworking takes you on panoramic journey, arriving at a plausible, evidence-based future of how work and the workplace will evolve. Rigorous and readable, it offers a better understanding of how we can reinvent the workplace taxonomy."
Alessandro Ranaldi, Head of Workplace Consultancy, Foster + Partners
"A must-read for understanding the forces that influence how we work. Myerson and Ross expertly examine the facets reshaping the office landscape with a view into 'What’s Next.' Unworking is an invaluable guide for anyone interested in the workplaces needed to help people thrive."
Harald Becker, director of customer engagements & insights, Microsoft
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