Workplace should be agile, say researchers


A team of real estate and information technology management experts has produced a report that outlines strategic changes companies need to make as the definition of workplace shifts from emphasizing place to emphasizing and enabling work, regardless of place.

The 150-page report, "The Agile Workplace: Supporting People and Their Work," is based on research codirected by Michael Joroff, a senior lecturer in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and Michael Bell, vice president at Gartner Inc., a Connecticut-based consulting firm.

"The report makes the business case for the co-invention of work improvement and agile workplaces, and discusses the processes and tools that can be used to create them," Joroff said.

The report states that the workplace should be an integral part of the work itself--enabling work, shaping it and being shaped by it in turn. This concept of an "agile" workplace is a radical shift from mainstream practice, the authors state, requiring that infrastructure design and management become the responsibility of interdisciplinary groups. Companies pursuing agility now focus on the workplace "as a bundle of connectivity, occupancy and management services that enable work, whenever and wherever it needs doing, face-to-face or in virtual space," said Bell.

"Agility, or the ability of physical spaces, IT systems and management processes to respond quickly to change and organizational learning, is now a high priority for enterprises," said Joroff.

Joroff's research team at MIT included William L. Porter, the Muriel and Norman B. Leventhal Professor of Architecture and Planning, and research affiliate Charles Kukla.

Joroff and Porter previously published "Excellence by Design: Transforming the Workplace and Work Practice," with D. Schon and T. Horgen.

Project sponsors include AT&T Wireless; Buro Happold; BT Group; Sun Microsystems; Procter & Gamble; Hewlett-Packard; Cisco Systems; US General Services Administration; Cigna; Capital One; Johnson Controls Integrated Facility Management; Peregrine Systems; Jamcracker; Regus Business Centers; Teknion; Urban Media; Interior Architects; Trillium, Cushman & Wakefield; Liberty Property Trust; eRoom Technology; and Takenaka Corporation.

For more information on the report, contact Row Selman at rowsel@mit.edu or x3-7494.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 3, 2002.


Topics: Urban studies and planning

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