Has COVID-19 ushered in the end of the office? Or is it the office’s final triumph?
For decades, futurologists have prophesied a boundaryless working world, freed from the cramped confines of the office. During the COVID-19 crisis, employees around the globe got a taste of it. Confined by lockdown to their homes, they met, mingled, collaborated, and created electronically. At length, they returned to something approaching normality. Or had they glimpsed the normal to come?
In The Momentous, Uneventful Day, Gideon Haigh reflects on our ambivalent relationship to office work and office life, how we ended up with the offices we have, how they have reflected our best and worst instincts, and how these might be affected by a world in a time of contagion. Like the factory in the nineteenth century, the office was the characteristic building form of the twentieth, reshaping our cities, redirecting our lives. We all have a stake in how it will change in the twenty-first.
Enlivened by copious citations from literature, film, memoir, and corporate history, and interspersed with relevant images, The Momentous, Uneventful Day is the ideal companion for a lively current debate about the role offices will play in the future.
‘Haigh recounts the evolution of the office with imagination and fairness, and he can turn a fine phrase when he wants to. The Momentous, Uneventful Day reads like a good story – and it is, for better or worse, the story of our lives.’
Derek Parker, Spectator Australia
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‘Enlivened by copious citations from literature, film, memoir, and corporate history, and interspersed with relevant images, The Momentous, Uneventful Day is the ideal companion for a lively current debate about the role offices will play in the future.’
‘Iridescent … No one is a better guide to the paradoxes of the working at home / being at work pivot … He writes of these matters as they should be written about, with a full sense of their history and the panache of the literature and art they have inspired.’
Peter Craven, Sydney Morning Herald
Praise for The Office: a hardworking history:
‘Tracing its history as far back as ancient Egypt (but concentrating on the 20th century), author Gideon Haigh presents a thorough and interesting account of the office over time. His approach is not merely a collection of facts but rather an attempt to understand the office's impact on our culture and society, and vice versa … Haigh is an adept writer — clear, informative … His information is drawn from an astonishingly wide range of sources, including pop culture.’
Ian Halett, Books+Publishing
Praise for The Racket: how abortion became legal in Australia:
‘Gideon Haigh is quite simply one of the best – and most intriguing – writers working in Australia today. He is amazingly prolific on a variety of subjects, but entirely consistent in delivering elegant prose that engages thoughtfully with his subject and wears its (often considerable) research lightly.’
Jo Case, Readings Monthly
Praise for Asbestos House: the secret history of James Hardie Industries:
‘[A] serious, sombre and, at times, heart-rending account befitting a tragic and awful story … At all times Haigh’s research is impeccable. This is the book’s great strength — it could become the reference book on all matters relating to asbestos.’
Matthew Charles, Herald Sun
‘Haigh has produced a very timely book, given the current debate around the role that offices will play in the future.’