Design Thinking Research: Space & Future of Work

In the Hasso Plattner Design Thinking Research Program (HPDTRP), theoretical and practical aspects of Design Thinking are examined, developed and partially redesigned. One of our research projects is focusing on teams and leadership.

Innovation Work Places of the Future–Fostering Collaboration Through Leveraging an Under-Used Organizational Resource in the Context of Transformation

PI: Dr. Claudia Nicolai, Professor Ulrich Weinberg


The overall objective of this research project is to explore future of workplaces for knowledge workers. We aim to understand, conceptualize and assess the role, nature and impact of workplace in the light of organizational transformation towards becoming a “team of teams”. A particular focus will be the effects and opportunities resulting from digitalization. The proposed project broadens the perspective on innovation spaces from specific innovation laboratories established as tools to unleash innovation capacity towards the innovation workplace of “teams of teams”. As such it builds on our previous findings, extending case study-based findings, and deepening the quantitative findings by adding longitudinal and experimental research with a strong focus on collaboration in teams across intra organizational boundaries. We take twofold approach combining a constructivist and positivist view on the future of innovation workplaces. Building on various rigorous research methods (case studies, surveys, experiments), our research is longitudinal and multidisciplinary. The overall research question for this project reads as follows: What is the future of knowledge workers’ work places in the context of organizational transformation? The research question will be tackled by means of the following sub questions:

(1) How does the innovation workplace reflect and leverage transformation as cultural change in organizations?

(2) How can ‘Places’ and ‘People’ be linked in order to increase innovativeness and foster collaboration as central competences in a digitalized world?

(3) How can findings be transferred from physical to mental spaces and even digital spaces?