Volume 3, 2011
Lori K. Schneider
The Experience of Phenomenological Place
The Architecture of Local Workers in Global Work Place
This hermeneutic phenomenological study of how remote workers in global corporations experience and interpret local place is based on Heidegger’s
thinking about space, place, and dwelling, Giddens’ conception of globalization as “time-space distanciation,” and recent research and theory related to remote work and architecture. Study participants are knowledge workers in the United States and Europe who work full time from home as employees of large global corporations. The analysis reveals several insights about remote workers’ lived experience of place, including the importance of managing the threshold between work and home and the need to create spaces for interaction at work. Some remote workers learn to shape, choose, or create places that better suit them, while others prefer to remain in place. Some become more involved in their local communities, helping these communities become more globally-connected while retaining their unique local qualities. The analysis reveals five themes that suggest that place is both spatial and temporal. A place is a specific location within physical space that acquires personal meaning, arising from a person’s past history and evolving with ongoing or repeated experience. Individuals make meaning of place as Center (groundedness or rootedness), Setting (activity, convenience or purpose), and Source (generativity, inspiration or transcendence). We shape and respond to places; places shape us as our lives take place within them.