Fast Company

Ergo, the Ergosphere

There's an interesting -- and slightly curious -- article in the February edition of the Future of Work Agenda, a monthly newsletter published by the Future of Work, a membership organization for HR, IT, and facilities professions. Contributed by Margaret King, director of the Center for Cultural Studies and Analysis, the brief piece address what King terms the "ergosphere" -- or the space in which we work.

King's major contribution in the piece is limited to the description of the ergosphere -- the domain in which we work -- as encompassing three states: the act of focused energy ("erg," Greek for energy or action), when that act occurs, and where. Even though she suggests that work can be done in the "shower stall and freeway commute," the editor's note contextualizes King's baroque essay slightly differently. Whereas many business people think the future of work means that we'll be more be more mobile, going where the work goes, always on, and always going somewhere, the editor contends that the opposite may be true.

In the future, mobility will be about work being mobile and people tending to stay in one place. People sit still and work moves to them. It really isn't very sensible to move people around. It's bad for them, bad for the environment.

I'm not sure I like that idea. I already feel sedentary enough in the work I do. Is staying put in one place, eyes on a screen, for even longer healthy? I can see the benefits of a more fluid workflow and distributed work teams, but I think we might need to move around even more to foster face-to-face relationships, experience other work environments and living situations, and better learn the world we live in. To sit in one chair and always have work moving to me seems, well, rather dystopian.

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  • Leni Tanenbaum

    Heath,

    Yesterday I was at a meeting intended to support new comers and to learn more about where we each stand in our developement. Of the eight attending, six sat around a table, two participated via conference phone from Illinois.

    By the end of the meeting eight of us had shared some critical information. But six of us developed a sense of trust, punctured the formality with laughter and learned a great deal about eachother. We felt good enough to extend the meetings on a weekly basis.

    I have no idea how the two conferencing in felt, whether they liked who they met, what they thought of the gathering or whether meeting the new comers had any effect at all. I'm sure I'll learn more with a few more conference calls but the point is this.

    Beaming in, what ever the mode or method, will never replace face to face interaction. No technology will ever be more complex, more surprising or rewarding than people mingling and mixing to make something happen.

    That's motivation enough for me to "go to work".