Higher education: Academic spaces for working and learning post COVID-19

Submission deadline date: 29 February 2024


The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates that academic spaces for working and learning have scope to extend beyond the physical campus to cross digital borders. While this work has been developed from within a pedagogical stance, the use of facilities management to support academic workers and students in their overall experience at university is still in development in terms of the value of space within the new ways students and academic which to experience academic space (Wheele et al., 2023a). Working environments are nowadays understood as learning environments, particularly after COVID-19, reason for coming into the office is to learn from colleagues. At the same time, academic working has always included the flexibility to work from home (or anywhere/anytime), but this flexibility was not always applied to the campus in terms of workspaces (“don’t touch my room”) (Indegård et al., 2023, Nenonen et al, 2020; Weber,). The recent international conference of CIB W070 conference in Trondheim 2023, demonstrates the role of Facilities Management in contributing to better services by examining the space from diverse service orientations (Wheele et al., 2023b) which are both digital and physical. In addressing these spaces more rigorously, it is also possible to understand the impact of more digitally orientated higher education on the overall learning and academic work experience (Lahti et al. 2022). In addition, a Finnish project about Learning environments strengthens the perception about the significance of campus as a place for significant meetings and collaboration Nenonen & Sankari, 2022. The diversity of user needs based on the possibility to use home as a place for working or studying need to be considered more thoroughly including sustainability issues.

The aim is to present how FM addresses new challenges and opportunities since COVID-19 with new ways of working, new ways of interacting and new ways of studying in academic spaces. In this way, academic work is the forerunner in terms of flexible working but with a conservative culture. In addition, students have become more demanding in having options to be taught within physical, digital or a mix of both (hybrid) environments. This implies new definitions of what is academic work, adapting to new pedagogical demands and new challenges for FM to manage.

This special issue will go beyond existing pedagogic focuses of academic spaces to focus on what is the core of FM according to the ISO 41000, "organizational function which integrates people, place, and process within the built environment with the purpose of improving the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business." The aspiration of the definition is clear, but its meaning within the context of new academic environments since COVID-19 requires greater acknowledgment of space being more orientated around individual needs rather than organizational requirements. This needs unpacking from different perspectives of FM, which include architecture, sociology, psychology, and geography to more effectively address the relations between people, place, and technology.

List of topic areas

This call for special issues welcomes submissions in the following areas:

  • The hybrid university learning environment: From bedroom to classroom
  • Academic workspaces: Who is the office for in academic spaces? Different ways of sharing the place resource in university?
  • Student experiences with social connectedness in the hybrid university learning environment
  • Cultural needs for change for collaboration and sharing: How can space be used to spark cultural change towards collaboration, community spaces and sharing culture?
  • New meanings of individual knowledge working spaces from home to the office and everything in-between.
  • COVID- legacy for Facility Management - Space economics/ Activity Based Work

Further, we envision contributions towards the following additional themes:

  • Broader approaches of Campus development that incorporate hybrid or digital forms of learning
  • Broader approaches treating Campus as shared resource for all users
  • Focused approaches towards redeveloping learning spaces for the experience of students
  • Focused approaches towards working (and learning) environments for the experience of university staff, including staff, visitors, and service providers
  • Responsible use of learning and working environments post Covid-19 with regards to space utilization

Guest editors

  • Carmel Lindkvist, Institute of Architecture and Planning, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Clara Weber, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland
  • Suvi Nenonen, Facilities and Properties, University of Helsinki, Finland

Submissions information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available here.

Author guidelines must be strictly followed.

Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to "Please select the issue you are submitting to".

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else while under review for this journal.

Click here to submit!

Key deadlines

Closing date for manuscript submission: 29th February, 2024

The Special Issue is due to be published 30th October, 2024


Indergård, Kaja and Geir Karsten Hansen (2023) "Academic Work-Something Else?." Journal of Corporate Real Estate DOI: 10.1108/JCRE-04-2023-0014

Nenonen, S., Ninnemann, K., Liedtke, B., den Heijer, A., Gothe, K. Loidl-Reisch, C., Nestler, J., Tieva, Å. and Wallenborg, C. (2020) Hybrid environments for universities. A shared commitment to campus innovation and sustainability. Münster ; New York: Waxmann 2020. DOI: 10.25656/01:20223

Nenonen, S. and Sankari, I. (2022) Hybrid profiles for knowledge workers - flexible workplace and time. : The 21st EuroFM Research Symposium. 15.-16.6.2021 pp. 67-78 https://doi.org/10.4233/uuid:49cd8030-329d-43f5-9040-b98ae5d5868c

Lahti M., Nenonen S. & Sutinen E. (2022). Radical innovation theory: towards radical design of digital workplaces (2022) A Handbook of Management Theories and Models for Office Environments and Services. pp. 163-172 In Danivska and Appel-Meulenbroek ed.: Transdisciplinary workplace research and management Routledge. https://doi.org/10.1201/9781003128786

a.Wheele, T, Weber, C. Windlinger, L., Haugen, T. and Lindkvist, C. (2023) “A Narrative Literature Review Using Placemaking Theories to Unravel Student Social Connectedness in Hybrid University Learning Environments” Buildings, 13(2), 339; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings13020339

b.Wheele, T., Lindkvist, C., Weber, C. Windlinger, L. and Haugen, T. (2023) “Studying the influence of technology on the social connectedness of students: A hybrid university learning environment (HULE)” IOP Conf. Ser.: Earth Environ. Sci. 1176 012009