Forecasting the future of work on its ability to be automated provides a limited view of work itself. Dictionary definitions of ‘work’ such as “To be engaged in physical or mental activity in order to achieve a result” have allowed us to carry on with our jobs, without actually understanding what work is. Definitions of work fall short in encompassing today’s complex and layered economic, social, political, psychological and physiological aspects of work. By studying the different ‘containers’ of where work takes place, architects have a privileged view of the concept of work. The history of the office illustrates not only how our work has changed, but also how work’s physical spaces respond to cultural, technological and social forces. Not limited to big corporations, the importance of having a place to work is fueling the proliferation of co-working environments – even if only for gig workers to combat isolation. Aiming to convert people into machines is only a competitive advantage when competing with other humans, and not when competing against AI. Of course, the humanization of work and workplaces will take time.
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