Changing Academics’ Ways of Working: Towards a Distributed University Campus

Alessandra Migliore (1), Chiara Tagliaro (2), Andrea Ciaramella (3)
(1) Department of Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering & Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering. Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy,
(2) Department of Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy,
(3) Department of Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy


Academics are a peculiar category of knowledge workers whose work, by nature, is characterized by undefined time and space and includes individual and collaborative activities. Over the past decades, academics have progressively evolved their typically university-centric way of working towards a hybrid, spatially distributed model that includes home and other spaces. The spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the redrawing of the geography of workspaces for academics and has opened up opportunities to enable creative, innovative and socially sustainable ways of working. Indeed, working from other spaces than the official workplace can not only have positive impacts on productivity, creativity, and collaboration of academics and staff, but also increase the attractiveness and inclusivity of university campuses by proposing a campus model that is spread across the territory according to the individual needs of its users.  While there are already some cases where university campuses accommodate coworking spaces, libraries and innovation hubs within them, evidence of academics using other spaces off-campus is scarce. This research investigates whether, and to what extent, the use of off-campus spaces by Italian academics is a likely and desirable prospect for the future, based on how much their way of doing research has evolved during the Covid-19 pandemic towards a multi-local way of working. A questionnaire was distributed among Italian tenured academics. This chapter presents a quantitative and qualitative interpretative analysis of the data collected from 1,199 answers to this questionnaire. Results describe different profiles of multi-local Italian academics, in relation to the types of location they work from, the experience they had during the Covid-working period and the future they wish for at university campuses. The evidence on multi-local work presented in this chapter shows implications both for academic staff and for university management. The former could approach work in a more distributed way such as it would extend university campuses to an urban and extra-urban dimension. The latter are called upon to meet the needs of their staff using socially sustainable ways of managing their facilities within and beyond campus boundaries.

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Alessandra Migliore
[email protected] (Primary Contact)
Chiara Tagliaro
Andrea Ciaramella
Migliore, A., Tagliaro, C., & Ciaramella, A. (2022). Changing Academics’ Ways of Working: Towards a Distributed University Campus. ARCHive-SR, 6(1), 59–73.

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