The meaning of the office space in the wake off the COVID-19 pandemic
In December 2019 organisations all over the world had to abandon business-as-usual and change their ways of working due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. Many were forced to virtualise their work by moving from working at the office to working from home. Ultimately, when it became possible to return to the office many organisations implemented hybrid work arrangements. The office itself is an old concept, and throughout its history it has undergone several phases of restructuring and with hybrid work as the latest phase there has existed a fear that it will bring an almost complete de-contextualisation of work. Previous research on hybrid work has at times suffered due to technological determinism. While technology is important, relying too heavily on technology as a factor above all else often comes at the cost of others, such as routines, practices and the individuals’ experiences. This leads to a simplistic view on the subject as other factors are important when determining how individuals are affected by the increasingly digital environment brought about by hybrid work arrangements. Therefore, this thesis aims to investigate how the meaning of the traditional office has changed due to the pandemic. In order to investigate, the study requires in-depth knowledge from a wide range of firm functions in an organisation affected by the spatial changes caused by the pandemic. This in-depth knowledge was collected through qualitative interviews with employees at two software companies similar to each other, both in terms of structure, and the services and products they offer. The empirical data suggests that the move to working from home was an entirely new experience for most, which forced many to bring the notion of work into their homes for the first time. Throughout the study, different phases for the two companies emerged that showed how changes to both technology and routines affected the employees and how they viewed the office. Our study contributes to previous research by offering the ability to capture spatial changes with a processual approach over time.
MSc in Management