Would you rather have a private office or a hot desk that you have to share with others? In a recent article, the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) voiced concerns about the loss of private office space in the upcoming move of the University of Canterbury’s College of Education from the Dovedale Campus to the Ilam Campus. However, the arguments against hot-desking seem fairly weak. The two main ones are that shared offices will harm students who want to drop in to ask questions of lecturers, and that they will force staff to spend more time working from home.
But there are certainly already lecturers who usually have closed doors and only make themselves available during limited office hours or by appointment. The article makes it sound like eager students are always asking for help in person and will find themselves disappointed, as if the shift to email-only communication had not already happened.
No one challenged Vice-Chancellor Rod Carr’s point about “corridors full of ‘closed doors’ “, a valid statement. Some departments on campus seem like virtual ghost-towns — hardly a welcoming atmosphere for an inquisitive student needing assistance. Carr wants to end the cupboard mentality, where academics hole up in their offices with a default mode of unavailability. Hot-desking may not be not a good solution, but it is an attempt to address a culture that often goes unremarked upon until space runs out.
Might hot desks or shared offices encourage a type of positive collegial, collaborative environment? What positive effects might there be in the end of the one desk-one person silo model?
Murphy, Emily. 2016 April 11. “Academics at University of Canterbury forced to share office spaces.” http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/78746127/academics-at-university-of-canterbury-forced-to-share-office-spaces
Wolff, Jonathan. 2015 November 24. “A room of one’s own in academia? No, more like a desk in a call centre.” The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/nov/24/open-plan-academia-university-staff-office