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The changing places of work

Author: Alan Felstead
Institution: University of Cardiff
Type of case study: Research

About the research

Over recent decades the practice of having one fixed place of work appears to be on the decline, with fewer workers now finding themselves in jobs based in one fixed location such as an office. Given this, researchers from Cardiff University have been examining the changing places of work to learn more.

Using surveys covering both employees and employers, the researchers have been looking at the rate at which the place of work has changed and what effect this has on workers’ lives. They found that while the conventional locations of work have shifted, this change is occurring at a slower rate than previously thought.

While this rate is slower, the evidence shows that it is still having an impact on a large number of workers and the consequence of shifting places of work on them can be substantial. The researchers concluded that these consequences are:

  • insidious because they change the minutiae of daily routines and personal timetables
  • multi-dimensional as the shift is not simply from one site to another, but rather from one fixed location to multiple locations creating complexity and differentiation in the place of work
  • cumulative because the change is not straightforward and not a single transformation but instead builds over time


This research used secondary analysis of data from large surveys along with qualitative data taken from case studies of firms, and then qualitative and quantitative analysis of interviews with individual workers. Survey data from across Europe was also used and an in-depth analysis of the Labour Force and Skills Surveys were also carried out.


Felstead, A. (2012) ‘Rapid change or slow evolution? Changing places of work and their consequences in the UK,’ Journal of Transport Geography, 21, pp. 31-38. doi: 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2011.10.002

Felstead, A., and Jewson, N. (2012) ‘New places of work, new spaces of learning,’ in R. Brooks, A. Fuller and J. Waters (eds) Changing Spaces of Education: New Perspectives on the Nature of Learning, London: Routledge.

Felstead, A., Jewson, N., and Walters, S. (2005) Changing Places of Work, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.