University College London/ETHNO-ISS (NASA)
Since March 2020, many employees around the world have been forced to work from home due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have experience in working in isolation and confinement. This paper focuses on a comparison of astronauts on the ISS and Earth-bound architects and interior designers restricted to working from home (i.e. their sofas) due to the pandemic. Isolation at work emerges as a complex phenomenon characterized by the measured and perceived distances between physical, social, and temporal spaces. By examining the scale-making activities of NASA and HKS, analogs provide a possible means for studying and predicting the complex dimensions of isolation. The work ecosystem is a useful tool in conceptualizing and operationalizing the employee experience to design the future of work and workspaces.
Article citation: 2020 EPIC Proceedings pp 338–355, ISSN 1559-8918, https://www.epicpeople.org/epic
As organizations become increasingly complex and technology-dependent, likewise their challenges become increasingly complex and technology-driven. In the practice of organizational and design ethnography, the elements of organization and technology design overlap. However, a need remains for an explicit framework to deal with the complex challenges of innovation and change faced by contemporary organizations. This need is evident in a case study of NASA’s workforce transition as a result of the space shuttle’s retirement. NASA’s challenge is both organizational and technological – the end of the Space Shuttle Program left the agency without a clear replacement vehicle and the risk of losing an experienced, expert workforce. An integrated organizational and design approach could foster an environment of renewal by involving stakeholders at all levels of the agency and adopting a future-oriented approach to anticipating change....