Unworking: new book on the reinvention of the modern office

Over the past 100 years, the office has dominated working life. Now it must be reinvented as part of a flexible future of work. A new book by the co-founders of WORKTECH explains how and why

In the aftermath of the global pandemic as organisations around the world seek to re-evaluate the purpose of the workplace and establish more flexible ways of working, the big question everyone is asking is: what happens next to the office within the changing picture of the future of work?

A major new book by Philip Ross and Jeremy Myerson, co-founders of the WORKTECH conference series and WORKTECH Academy, seeks to shed new light on a subject of universal interest.

Based on 20 years of research by the authors with the WORKTECH community, Unworking: The Reinvention of The Modern Office is published on 31 August 2022 by Reaktion Books, and distributed in the US by the University of Chicago Press.

‘Creating new rituals fit for an age of digital technology, design innovation and diverse workforces…’

It offers a panoramic view of the development of the modern office over the past 100 years and presents a manifesto for ‘unworking’ – unlearning old habits and rituals established for an outdated office and creating new ones fit for an age of digital technology, design innovation and diverse workforces.

The book opens with the Easter Day parade on Fifth Avenue in New York in 1925, with the modern industrial office in full swing, and it ends in a fast-changing working world of software, biophilic design, data analytics, digital twins, elastic space and compact cities.

En route, the reader is taken on a journey through the ten forces at play that are reshaping the working landscape: experience, organisation, urbanism, space, technology, designing, diversity, wellbeing, hybridity and demography.

As the authors explain: ‘Unworking explores how, over the past hundred years, the modern office has been integral to the development of modern society. It has shaped the architecture of our cities, the behaviour of our organisations and the everyday movements of millions of people. Now, as hybrid working gathers pace, new working patterns and ideas are emerging. This book aims to bring these new concepts and ways of thinking to life.’

Praise for Unworking

‘Philip Ross and Jeremy Myerson capture the most significant changes in the world of the office for decades. Their understanding of the social, economic, technology changes and the roles of home and office is unsurpassed.’

Sir Stuart Lipton, Lipton Rogers Developments

‘This book could not be more timely as the world grapples with what the post-pandemic workplace should look like. Jeremy Myerson and Philip Ross give us a scholarly yet deeply engaging account of the past, present and future shape of the office. Essential reading for those planning the new office environment – and anyone who’s going to have to live in it.’

Rory Cellan-Jones, former BBC News technology correspondent and author of Always On: Hope and Fear in the Social Smartphone Era

‘Brimming with ideas, insights, examples and wisdom, this is the go-to book for everyone interested in the future of the office and curious about the future developments of work.’ Professor Lynda Gratton, London Business School and author of Redesigning Work

‘A must-read for understanding the forces that influence how we work. Myerson and Ross expertly examine the facets reshaping the office landscape with a view into “What’s Next”. Unworking is an invaluable guide for anyone interested in the workplaces needed to help people thrive.’

Harald Becker, Director of Customer Engagements & Insights, Microsoft

Visit the UnWork website here.

Order a copy of Unworking: The Reinvention of The Modern Office here
Find exclusive content in the


Premium content for Global Partners, Corporate and Community Members.
The latest analysis and commentary on the future of work and workplace in five distinct themes: Research & Insights, Case Studies, Expert Interviews, Trend Publications, and Technology Guides.