Flexible Environments for Hybrid Collaboration: Redesigning Virtual Work Through the Four Orders of Design
Abstract The COVID-19 pandemic made visceral for many the fact that virtual forms of collaboration— simultaneously liberating and frustrating—are here to stay. Workers’ frustrations demonstrate that challenges remain for work and its design in increasingly “hybrid” collaboration— work in which some people, interacting face-to-face, are co-located while others with whom they work are remote. Using Buchanan's four orders of design, in conjunction with management and information systems scholarship, we present a framework for improving these virtual forms of collaboration. In this article, we review the latest knowledge from these disciplines on virtual collaboration through the lens of the four orders of design. In doing so, we demonstrate that conceiving of work in terms of flexible collaborative environments could increase the unity of purpose between work and workers by leveraging the capabilities of varying degrees of virtuality to engender experiences that benefit all those who interact with work systems.