research, strategy, video production
In the midst of the sweeping disruption of the pandemic of 2020, my thesis team took on the challenge of re-imagining the possibilities of our collective notion of the workplace. We were specifically tasked to examine the immediate and future challenges of the contemporary workplace through a broad and conceptual lens of ‘nearness’.
As with many societal institutions, the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly transformed our places of work, and forced both workers and employers to reassess the benefits, risks and even their basic conceptions of ‘nearness’.
Through extensive research on current and historical trends, a general survey of working professionals, and a series of interviews with experts across a broad field of disciplines, we recognized that not only was the traditional workplace unlikely to return intact, but that there also existed a desire and openness among workers for change.
Aside from the obvious challenges that both employees and employers faced, the Pandemic also exacerbated preexisting negative trends in the modern workplace.
Though an extraordinary number of knowledge workers were able to work remotely, the realities of 2020 only made long standing issues of inequality, isolation, exclusion, and a general sense of alienation more apparent in our places of work—be it at home or elsewhere.
Inorder to solve for the future and move beyond the stop-gaps and mitigating measures of today, we looked to the past and developed a conceptual framework around an easily overlooked component of our workplace infrastructure, public libraries.
Before mobile computing and the internet, before the latest rash of co-working spaces and privatized commons, libraries not only served as critical repositories of information for knowledge based work, they also served as important epicenters of social and civic engagement.
With millions of pandemic weary workers relocating to less urban environs and many remote employees yearning for the opportunity for at least a partial return to in-person work, libraries, with their thousands of distributed locations, could be positioned to make a dramatic return to our daily lives.
To establish the boundless potential of public libraries as a promising workplace, we developed a slate of design solutions to both transition libraries through the Pandemic and improve accessibility and awareness of the professional resources they provide.