On my commute this morning, I noticed the most curious of offices. Naturally, I photographed and tweeted my haphazard discovery:
The result of my single, innocent tweet has been a backlash of comments about the cultural and sociological implications of such a shift.
Spaces create meaning for the people in and around them. The nature of a space communicates issues of power, relationship, and values. I love the space of my office with its cherry (veneer) bookcases, contemporary professorial fixtures like globes and paper clip sculptures, and the signs and seals of educational attainment dripping from the walls. It is comfortable, inviting, pleasant, and professional. Yet, increasingly, the spaces that matter to us are changing.
In a recent interview, I was asked if I spend as much time in my office as a professor would have a generation ago. I responded that I do – with the caveat that my office is mobile. Like the News Channel 36 Mobile Newsroom, my office moves with me. I routinely hold office hours with my iPhone in the coffeehouse. My computer and I can create a student advising meeting in any classroom, office, or parking lot that has WiFi access.
Thus, the questions people have been asking me all day, I now pose to you. What are the repercussions of conducting business in mobile offices? How do they impact the workplace? Could you give up your square footage and go totally wireless?
I’m all for the mobile office idea until that office becomes the grocery store line, dentist office waiting room, public restroom, etc. Then I would rather the person return to a four wall office with a land line. I don’t care to hear those details!
A response from @Brettnb via Twitter: