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Field Institute

Today's Office, English Edition

Today's Office, English Edition

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What is it like to relentlessly travel around the globe on journeys that run from dense-urban metropolis’s to remote mountain villages, with up to half of each year spent in the skies, on the road and out on the trail?

Today's Office documents a year and a bit of fieldwork that is commissioned by commercial clients wanting to understand their current and future customers, on projects can last weeks or months. At times the travel is solo, on rare occasions with family, but mostly when there is research to be done it requires a dedicated crew, setup a conducive live/work space, and run research sessions ranging from formal interviews to informal home visits, trying things out first hand, observations, or simply hanging out. 

It’s challenging and rewarding in ways you would not expect. 

There is a constant tension between making sense of notes that have been collected and seeking out the new, an art to understanding where the team is in that process and knowing how to move things along. It might require weeks in a single city, back to back studies in different countries over the course of a month, or crisscrossing three continents in seven days. The pace can be relentless, countries and even whole continents can meld, time blurs.

In amongst it all are moments of absolute calm: out on a São Paulo deck with the laptop, fresh coffee, a blanket and the cityscape dawn; a couple of hours in a Mumbai chai house waiting for the driver to finish his battle with monsoon traffic; or like tonight, taking long walks in the Atlas mountains before writing up field notes, toes warmed by the fireplace, my 2 year old daughter pressed up against the window looking up at the moon. It’s from this that pages spill forth, mental notes to self on today’s office, a chance to reflect upon and appreciate what has been, before diving into the next. 

It’s easy to glorify travel work especially in retrospect. It was pretty tough year with some pretty dark moments in places. The upside is that the research shaped mass-market products that are now used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. It forged a very particular and very effective style of working that has since been widely adopted. And on a personal level it shaped the way I wanted to live and work, the kind of people I wanted to work with.

Korean print edition on Kyobo books.


  • PDF

  • Designed for iPad

  • English

  • 41 Pages

  • 72 Photos

  • 10 Diagrams & Tables

  • 1 Checklist

  • 20MB

  • DRM free

  • Includes Corporate Site License

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