Some organizations and institutions in the information community have now begun planning for return to a form of face-to-face operations, requiring even more planning and adaptation on their part in order to safely bring their workforce back to an office setting. How can available spaces be re-allocated in order to accommodate social distancing? Where are plexiglass shields needed? How many workers could or should continue to work remotely and how many will only be in the office part-time? This discussion will focus on how we need to rethink the functional workspaces and shared environments of a variety of 21st century knowledge workers. If space is at a premium, how can we make the most effective use of what is available?
Confirmed participants in this Roundtable include Emily Daly, Head of Assessment & User Experience, Duke University; Tony Sanfilippo, Director, The Ohio State University Press; Maria Stanton, Director of Production, Atla; Alison Masterpasqua, Head of Access and User Services, Swarthmore College and Lorin Jackson, Black Studies/Research & Instruction Resident Librarian and Interim Head of Access and User Services (beginning Jan. 2021), Swarthmore College.
Roundtable Discussion, Moderated by Todd Carpenter
Discussion during this Roundtable touched on the following:
What were the primary issues for your organization with regard to space, prior to the arrival of the pandemic in early 2020?
Was the organization already considering changing its practices in terms of how best to assign or re-allocate space? If there were time constraints on your decision-making as to how you were using the space, what were those constraints?
If you were asking workers to telecommute, what did that mean in terms of how you reallocated spatial use of either private offices or publicly-shared spaces?
What were some of the ways in which institutional usage of space shifted, once the pandemic required you to rethink your available space?
Once changes were introduced, were there surprising results or outcomes? What did you learn about working requirements, workflow efficiencies, that might not otherwise have been made as obvious?
Where you might have expanded spaces for workflow into public or larger/shared group spaces, what plans might you be making to move those workflows back into smaller spaces?
Businesses and libraries/archives have specific needs for on-site access to storage spaces (records storage, records retention, etc.) How have you been thinking about or dealt with those requirements?
What kinds of experiences have you had in terms of staggering work hours or arranging for particular staff “office days” in your specific environment? What if any impact has that had on how the organization thinks about assignment or use of office, meeting or shared study spaces?
What are your worries about losing face-to-face contact in a remote teleworking environment, a virtual environment, or in a co-working environment? Do you have plans for sustaining teams?
How do you build relationships between professional colleagues when people are scattered and not gathering at the well-known water cooler?
Looking into the future, what do you think are the long-term implications for staff and space for your organizations? Is there or will there be much internal competition for available spaces? How do you ensure equity across the workforce in the context of assigning physical spaces?
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