Has COVID-19 ushered in the end of the office? Or is it the office's final triumph?
For decades, futurologists have prophesied a boundaryless working world, freed from the cramped confines of the office. During the COVID-19 crisis, employees around the globe got a taste of it. Confined by lockdown to their homes, they met, mingled, collaborated, and created electronically. At length, they returned to something approaching normality. Or had they glimpsed the normal to come?
In The Momentous, Uneventful Day, Gideon Haigh reflects on what COVID-19 revealed about our ambivalent relationship to office work and office life, how we ended up with the offices we have, how they have reflected our best and worst instincts, and how these might be affected by a world in a time of contagion. Like the factory in the nineteenth century, the office was the characteristic building form of the twentieth, reshaping our cities, redirecting our lives. We all have a stake in how it will change in the twenty-first.
Enlivened by copious citations from literature, film, memoir, and corporate history, and interspersed with relevant images, The Momentous, Uneventful Day is the ideal companion for a lively current debate about the post-pandemic office.
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Gideon Haigh has been a journalist since 1984, and The Momentous, Uneventful Day is his fortieth book. His The Office- a hardworking history won the 2013 Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction.