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Researching the beloved and hated open-plan office

Published on August 4, 2023 by Lars Carlén

Translation from Swedish by Andreas Lindahl

Miranda Cox is a doctoral student in History of Science and Ideas at Uppsala University. She is doing research on how it was possible to launch the open-plan office in Sweden.

Photo: Lars Carlén

Open-plan offices are still of great importance in workplaces in Sweden. Miranda Cox is doing research on open-plan offices and has visited TAM-Arkiv to find material on the subject.

The open-plan office innovation came to Sweden from West Germany in the 1960s and 1970s. It was the company Quickborner Team that spread this idea around the world.  

”In my research, I look at how the office environments were designed and what features of the room were considered important. I look at problems that were identified, how they tried to solve them and what conflicts arose in the open-plan office,” says Miranda Cox.

For her, it was an easy decision to research the open-plan office. For a long time, Miranda Cox has been interested in how work is organized. With the great impact that open-plan offices have had in Sweden, it is an important topic to investigate. The open-plan office is something that almost everyone who works or has worked in such a place has clear opinions about.

”The open-plan office is an exciting example of how many old truths about productivity and the work environment came to be overturned. In the open-plan office, people were imagined working in new ways ─ ideas that were not always incorporated as planned.”

In touch with TAM-Arkiv

Miranda Cox needed material about how the union and the employees perceived the open-plan office. That’s why she contacted TAM-Arkiv.

”I received help with contact information for those who would approve my applications to access the archives. From the moment I announced which volumes I wanted to look at, it was quick to find a place in the research room,” says Miranda Cox.

However, she notes that since she is looking for material based on the subject of open-plan offices, which is something that many of the archives at TAM-Arkiv have found it, it is more difficult for her to find material, compared to if her research would have focused on material from one or a few of the trade unions whose archives are located at TAM-Arkiv.

Her overall impression is that it has been very easy to visit and have contact with TAM-Arkiv.

Author: Lars Carlén

TAGS: #mirandacox #doctoralstudent #openplanoffices #tamarkiv #tamarkivsverige #innovationsquickborner #officedesignandlandscape #historyofscienceandideas #larscarlen