Expertise / Education and Science / Research

The future academic workspace

Open plan or cellular offices for the academic workplace? The debate has moved beyond the either/or argument to the more nuanced and realistic approach of offering staff a variety of spaces that support different styles of working. The conventional wisdom of balance applies, but the relevance of this approach to the academic workplace depends on the nature of the institution and its work styles and culture.

The academic workplace is undergoing a slow but distinct transformation. With an increased focus on the commercialisation of research and the globalisation of the tertiary education workforce, there is growing pressure to adopt commercial workplace practices, including open plan and activity based work environments.

This report summarises research exploring the challenges of designing workplaces that support both solitary and team work. It proposes that a design that provides a range of spaces for individual focus, informal communication, and collaboration is more likely to provide an effective and satisfying workplace than one that adheres doggedly to an office-based or open plan layout. The combination of spaces should reflect the desired outcomes of the various stakeholders – client, project manager, and end user.

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