The death of the office desk may have been exaggerated 0

The death of the desk may have been exaggerated Twenty years ago the typical office was a busy place, with printers running, big, bulky computers taking up desk space, post it notes, notepads, scanners and fax machines whirring in the background. In today’s workplace, desks are barren in comparison to the offices of a generation ago, purely because there is little need for so much stuff. With the introduction of modern digital devices it is no surprise that the concept of the ‘work station’ as we once knew has changed. The truth is, almost everything we use in the office nowadays is readily available online, with even websites being created for the specific purpose of serving as online meeting rooms. This means the concept of a physical office, where colleagues go to collaborate, share opinions and exchange meeting notes, is no longer a completely valid concept. With this in mind, are desks really needed to create a solid working environment anymore? …more

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Religious leaders have their say on ongoing work-life balance debate 0

chief rabbi work-life balanceThe UK’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has appealed to people to free themselves from digital slavery for at least one day a week. Speaking in The Times, the Chief Rabbi (pictured above) calls on all people to give up their smartphones, tablets and other devices for at least a day a week as part of a campaign to revive adherence to the Jewish custom of the Shabbat in which people do not work between sunset on Friday and Saturday. He has been joined in his call by the Archbishop of Canterbury and The Pope, both of whom have urged people earlier this year to focus less time gazing into the unblinking eye of their devices and instead focussing on the real world, its issues and the people around them as a way of achieving a better work-life balance. The Chief Rabbi claims in the interview that the ceaseless need to respond to electronic messages distracts people from family life, communal living and spiritual reflection.

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Orgatec preview: the next generation workplace is all about settings 0

Orgatec workplaceThere is a well travelled international circuit for those interested in what office design tells us about the way we work that has, for a number of years, taken in London, Milan, Chicago, Stockholm and Cologne as its main stopping off points. This week sees the launch of Orgatec, the longstanding biennial workplace festival in Cologne. One of the interesting features of Orgatec is that, because it takes place every two years, it offers snapshots of key developments in the market. It throws a spotlight on whatever workplace professionals are talking about and whatever product designers are doing in response to the changing world of work. And it does it on a big scale. This year over 600 companies from 40 countries will be presenting across an exhibition area of 105,000 sq. m. This seems big, and is, but is down markedly on the size of the show from 20 years ago when Orgatec was the launch pad for seminal products such as Herman Miller’s Aeron Chair and the Ad Hoc  furniture system from Vitra.

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Campaign aims to help European employers manage work-related stress 0

Campaign aims to help European employers manage work-related stressWork-related stress is the second most frequently reported health problem in Europe – with mental health disorders estimated to cost European employers around 240 billion euros per year. Psychosocial risks in Europe: Prevalence and strategies for prevention – published jointly by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) and the European Foundation for the Improvement of Working and Living Conditions (Eurofound), reveals that although fewer people report working long hours, job insecurity has increased across Europe, and in some countries work intensity has risen in companies struggling in the economic crisis. Work-related stress is also seen as a ‘sensitive’ or ‘difficult’ area — a perception that may however differ from one country to another. The publication of the report coincides with the theme for the 2014 European Week for Safety and Health at Work, (20 to 24 October) – Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress. All this week, EU-OSHA and its community of partners aims to get Europe talking about stress and how the psychosocial risks in the workplace can be tackled together. …more

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If you want to reduce the cost of your office, move to a creative area 0

If you want to reduce the cost of your office, move to a creative area

Clerkenwell Design Week

“First we shape our buildings, thereafter our buildings shape us.” Winston Churchill, House of Commons opening speech. Buildings do indeed shape us, but what seems to affect us even more is the neighbourhood. It’s the immediate environment as opposed to buildings that is much harder to create. It needs numerous factors to influence it, among them the two most precious components– the right people and enough time. Politicians all over the world dream of creating zones that will draw the most innovative companies. But it seems that most of them grow organically – the Silicon Valley in California, the Silicon Alley in New York and the Silicon Roundabout in London. The combination of low rents, proximity to the centre of a dynamic metropolis and interesting culture made the East London neighbourhood of Shoreditch, Clerkenwell and Aldgate a perfect magnet for some of the world’s most exciting companies. So should you think about relocating there too? Here are some things to consider. …more

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Ballpools, swings and slides don’t make office design cool, they make it childish 0

Ceci n'est pas un bureau“The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.” I don’t believe this famous quote from the poet Robert Frost  is particularly true but it appears to be an assumption that certain people make when it comes to creating those lists of office design that they describe as fun, trendy, cool or quirky or some other inappropriate, tired adjective. Invariably these offices feature such decidedly uncool and untrendy things as slides, swings and treehouses. One of the latest examples of this kind of thing is to be found on the BBC website with a number of pictures submitted by the sorts of adults who are not ashamed to claim that their idea of fun at work is apparently a meeting in a ballpool or on a swing. Of course, they don’t really think that, except in a work context. I’d bet they can easily walk past the ballpool at Ikea without feeling the need to dive in as an alternative to picking out a sofa.

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Nearly three quarters of workers report office temperature affects performance 0

Nearly three quarters of workers report the office temperature affects performanceA workplace’s design may divide occupiers’ opinions, but is not usually a source of conflict. However, when it comes to the temperature of the office, tempers can flare. Legal guidance is sketchy, as health and safety law demands that workplaces must not fall below 16C, but doesn’t set an optimum temperature. This leaves the ‘ambient’ office temperature very much open to interpretation. Earlier this year, researchers from Lancaster University advised that the average office temperature of 22 degrees C was way too high, and that simply turning down the thermostat and asking occupants to don another layer could do much to address global warming. Now over 70 per cent of workers have reported their ability to work is compromised by the temperature in the office. In a survey conducted by Business Environment, two thirds admitted to getting annoyed when a colleague changed the air con to a setting they were not comfortable with and this annoyance can escalate, with 58 per cent admitting that rows have broken out over the office temperature. …more

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Firms downsizing property dramatically as agile working takes hold, claims new report 0

agile workingThe sharp reduction in the amount of office space used by corporate occupiers as they adopt more agile working practices has been confirmed in a new study from facilities management services provider MITIE. The survey, as reported in the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) magazine FM World, found that between the years of 2008 and 2014 firms reduced their floorspace by an average of 45 percent. The results of the report, based on interviews with property directors, mirror those of the Occupier Density Survey published last year by the British Council for Offices (BCO) which also found a marked (if smaller) reduction. The authors of the MITIE report conclude, similarly, that the economic downturn has been the main catalyst for the reduction in property used by occupiers and that the main way firms have accommodated the fall is with the uptake of flexible working practices.

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The solution to complex issues like green building is to become more sophisticated 0

office designOne of the current preoccupations of the World Green Building Council is to demonstrate how green business is good business. The way it is presenting this argument is intriguing because as well as extolling the most anticipated benefits of green building design, such as lower energy bills, it is linking green building design with human factors such as productivity, wellness and  work-life balance. It has produced a number of reports on this subject, most recently in September with a publication titled Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices which found ‘overwhelming evidence’ of the link between office design and productivity.  What such compelling reports also highlight are the complex challenges we face and the sophisticated approach we must take to environmental issues and corporate social responsibility. Fortunately this is already exhibited by many organisations.

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Google and Deloitte set out blueprint for collaborative work in Australia 0

collaborative workDeloitte Digital has launched the final version of its report into the collaborative economy carried out on behalf of Google Australia. An interim report, published in July, estimated that the benefits of collaboration to the Australian economy is already $46 billion and could rise to $56 billion. The report also claims that collaboration could help to address specific structural problems including falling productivity and a comparative lack of innovation. The study claims that the average Australian worker spends just under half of a typical working day interacting with other people but that there remains considerable room for improvement in the way those interactions take place. The final version of the report also includes a toolkit to help individuals and organisations to gauge their level and success of their collaborative work. Tellingly, the test is weighted one-third to workplace design, one-third to technology and one-third to culture and governance.

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