Sound, settings, serendipity and other lessons from 100% Design 0

Workplace Hub by NBBJ

Workplace Hub by NBBJ

The trick with visits to exhibitions like 100% Design is to stay focussed on the wood as much as the trees. So as well as identifying the good, the bad and the meh, it pays to discern the themes pursued by the exhibitors and organisers. Leaving aside what was happening in the domestic halls, those related to the workplace  invariably derive from a mixture of what the exhibitors’ customers are talking to them about and what the media says people are talking about. So at this year’s show (still ongoing till tomorrow at Earl’s Court) some of the most readily identifiable themes included the dissipation of the workplace, privacy, ergonomics and serendipity. With the possible exception of the age old problem of ergonomics, these all relate to our changing relationship with work and workplaces, not least how we can – and indeed must – be able to work from anywhere and what this means both functionally and aesthetically.

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Universal application of open plan has led to global privacy crisis, claims report 0

open planA major new report from office furniture maker Steelcase claims that the universal provision of open plan offices means that organisations are facing an unprecedented privacy crisis with their employees. The claim is based on international research carried out by market researchers IPSOS and the Workspace Futures Team of Steelcase which found that a remarkable 85 percent of people are dissatisfied with their working environment and cannot concentrate. Nearly a third (31 percent) now routinely leave the office to get work done in private. The authors of the report claim that this does not mean a reversal of the decades long shift away from cellular offices but rather a move to create offices that offer a range of work settings to give people a choice of where and how to work. More than 10,000 workers across 14 countries were questioned about their office environments and working patterns.

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England’s local authorities acting like property developers, claims report 0

property developersEngland’s local authorities are responding to the country’s ongoing austerity measures by behaving more like property developers as they seek to redevelop property and land valued at £13.5 billion by 2019, according to a new report from local government think tank Localis in conjunction with developer Cathedral Group. Rather than simply selling off assets, the research claims that councils are increasingly looking to develop property to provide them with revenue streams as a way of shoring up their shrinking budgets. The report claims that the proportion of projects slated for redevelopment is currently a third of all disposals but will make up the majority in five years time. The report has received cross party support and links to other high profile public sector initiatives, especially the One Public Sector Estate scheme. The Cabinet Office recently reported that the UK public sector estate had shrunk by 2 m. sq. ft. since 2010.

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Global launch of healthy buildings report announced for World Green Building Week 0

Green buildingWorld Green Building Week 2014 takes place next week (22 – 27 September) with the theme for this year of ‘Get up, Green up’. Created in 2009 to promote a more connected, more interactive, and more public conversation around the role buildings play in creating a sustainable future, this year’s WGBW will feature a range of events held around the world; including Australia, US, Hungary and the United Arab Emirates. On Monday 22 September, as part of WGBW, UK-GBC is hosting a webinar looking at the Ökobau.dat, the German National LCA database for construction, and on Wednesday 24 the global launch event of the WorldGBC ‘Health, wellbeing and productivity in offices: the next chapter for green building‘ report, which looks at health, wellbeing and productivity in offices, following an extensive project involving over 50 industry experts from around the world.  …more

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Avanta Serviced Office Group to open Shoreditch business centre at heart of ‘Tech City’ 0

serviced officeAvanta Serviced Office Group has signed a deal to establish a new business centre in the heart of London’s Tech City at The Eagle, a 27 storey art-deco-style development on City Road, EC1, from Mount Anvil – Central London’s specialist residential-led developer. The centre is set to open on the 1st March 2015. The new centre will provide over 26,000 square feet of flexible office space over two floors, with approximately 400 desks. Set within a mixed-use development comprising retail, affordable accommodation, offices and high-end residential, it is located within TFL’s Zone 1, approximately five minutes’ walk from Old Street Rail and Underground Station, just two stops from Kings Cross.bThis is Avanta’s first site within Tech City, also known as Silicon Roundabout, which is the third largest technology start-up cluster in the world and home to over 15,000 growing businesses.

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Availability of office space in central London has fallen a fifth since last year 0

Availability of office space in central London fallen a fifth since last yearIncreased pressure on London rents are being predicted as the latest figures by DTZ show the availability of office space in central London is now 20 per cent lower than the same period in 2013, and 30 per cent below the 10 year average. While London office take up rose by 17 per cent over the same period in 2013, all Central London markets, except the South East fringe, are seeing year-on-year decreases in supply of at least 15 per cent. The North West fringe, the Docklands and the West End have seen the biggest falls in availability over the past 12 months (down 53%, 36% and 30% respectively) with availability in the City falling by 17 per cent over the same time period. A significant development has been the availability of second hand space falling by a third (33%) to 5.6 million sq ft over the past 12 months – 47 per cent below the ten year average. …more

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Indoor air quality and the quest for a breath of fresh air in the workplace 0

indoor air quality

Edward Hopper, Office in a Small City, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

The modern workplace has to work harder than ever before. It must reflect corporate values, express something of the organisation’s brand, allow people to work to the best of their ability as well as look after their wellbeing, keep touch with the pace of changing technology and meet the demands of an ever changing legislative environment and keep costs down. All of these issues conflate around the challenge of providing a sustainable, comfortable and productive working environment in buildings that are filled with an increasing number of people and computers. It is estimated by the Building Research Establishment that even in a typical office each person and their technology will generate some 1500 W of energy per hour, the equivalent of the sort of fan heater that the EU is now keen to ban outright.

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The culture of presenteeism is not all just fun and games 2

PresenteeismTen or so years ago an office seating manufacturer commissioned me to prepare a report on the games industry. The idea was to target a market the company had decided was primed to hear their message about ergonomics and the deleterious effects of long hours spent sitting and peering at a screen. Not only would this develop a new market for the business, it would also showcase a new product they had launched specifically to target a younger and hipper audience, even one that was overwhelmingly male. All of the elements of a successful campaign appeared to be there – the right product, a sedentary workforce that often worked around the clock to hit deadlines in an industry that epitomised youthful cool and was willing to spend money to prove it. Except one thing was missing; the people who worked in the industry weren’t worried about ergonomics and their long term wellbeing and most knew  or suspected they’d be burned out and doing something else pretty soon anyway.

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Younger workers less tolerant of flexible workers than you would think 0

Younger workers less tolerant of flexible workers than you would thinkOne of the key drivers for bringing a flexible working culture into the workplace is to accommodate the needs of the younger generation of ‘millennial’ workers who are perceived to view the idea of the traditional 9 to 5 as archaic. But this open-mindedness appears to waver when applied to other workers. A recent survey by employment specialists Doyle Clayton has found Generation Y employees have the most negative attitudes towards older employees and part-time and flexible workers; seeing their colleagues’ flexibility as coming at their own expense. The Age Before Beauty? Report warns that there shouldn’t be an assumption that initiatives to support flexible working will be welcomed by staff in their twenties and thirties. And while younger workers tended to be most likely to perceive discrimination at their workplace, they were also the most likely to exhibit negative attitudes towards equality, for example seeing older workers as less valuable because of their age. …more

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Exam board introduces workplace issues to psychology A Level syllabus 0

workplace issuesOne of the UK’s five main national examination boards is to introduce a range of workplace issues as part of its updated Psychology A Level syllabus from next year. Cambridge based OCR claims that Psychology is the UK’s fourth  most popular subject at both A and AS level and is also one of the most popular subjects at degree level too. The issues will be introduced to the syllabus as part of an Environmental Psychology theme and will consider as issues such as the effects of allowing desk clutter on individual wellbeing (although it didn’t do much for Kanji Watanabe in Akira Kurosawa’s film Ikiru, above), gender roles in workstation personalisation and so on. Students will be expected to carry out their own research into the topics as well as draw on established sources of information. OCR also suggests that the subject may help to develop the emotional intelligence of those who take the subject.

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