A new age of reason for workplace design and management

A new age of reason for workplace design and management

The enduring struggle to improve the working conditions and performance of people through the design and management of their workplaces has more than a whiff of the Enlightenment of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries about it. The Enlightenment marked a new era in which the old superstitions and dogmas were to be overthrown by pure reason. This […]

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Heisenberg, Jabberwocky and the medicalisation of dissatisfaction

Heisenberg, Jabberwocky and the medicalisation of dissatisfaction

A survey was published a couple of years ago to coincide with ‘National Stress Awareness Day’. Conducted by Robertson Cooper, the consultancy co-founded by media friendly academic Cary Cooper, the report made some fairly modest and believable claims about the impacts of stress. Especially if you compare them to the more startling findings of other […]

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Breaking eggs and a two thousand year quest to make the most of each day

Breaking eggs and a two thousand year quest to make the most of each day

The fracturing of time and place underlies every one of the great workplace issues of our time. Everything that springs from this – the where, when, how, what and why of work – is defined by the shattering of any fixed idea we may once have had of a time and a place to work. […]

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Survival, inquiry, sophistication: what Douglas Adams can teach us about workplace design

Survival, inquiry, sophistication: what Douglas Adams can teach us about workplace design

Each day you can easily find somebody or other sharing their thoughts on ‘the office of the future’ or ‘the death of the office’. My view is that you should steer clear of taking most of this sort of stuff head-on, on the basis that hardcore deskheads have heard most of it before and already concluded that […]

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What Aldous Huxley can teach us about acoustics at work

What Aldous Huxley can teach us about acoustics at work

Over the last few years there has been something of a widespread backlash to the idea that we need to have constant access to information and our colleagues to work effectively. The touchstone for this movement is of course the open plan office but it has become something of a scapegoat given the universality of […]

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The Internet and a pile of turtles that goes all the way down

The Internet and a pile of turtles that goes all the way down

In his 1998 book A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking relates the following anecdote: “A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of […]

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A four hundred year old guide to ergonomics that still rings true today

A four hundred year old guide to ergonomics that still rings true today

Changes to the nature of work, where it takes place and the things we use to complete it are always constrained by one particular eternally fixed element; the human being. The unchanging individual at the centre of it all is the thing that makes us return to old ideas time and again and ensures that whatever we […]

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Is this the missing piece of the facilities management puzzle?

Is this the missing piece of the facilities management puzzle?

The IFMA Foundation Workplace Summit of summer 2014 felt like an optimistic time for facilities management and the workspace industry. Heavyweights from the sector were asking searching questions about our organisational contribution, with thankfully less of the internally focused, debate-free hubris typical of much of the industry narrative. The newly announced (and now evidently historical) […]

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How do we reach consensus about what constitutes good design?

How do we reach consensus about what constitutes good design?

In shows and the media, we are often invited to pass judgement on products and ideas that have been created by other people. The reviews that follow often cement some form of accepted view, even if we often outsource the decision making to people who are better placed to decide, or at least better enabled […]

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Future Shock: a message from the past that defines the present

Future Shock: a message from the past that defines the present

We are all futurologists now. We all have our 2020 visions. But there was a time, not so long ago, when the title was reserved for a few people who would be able to shake and shape the world with a single idea and a book. Yes, a book. Nowadays a book has to go […]

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What Godzilla and A Bugs Life can teach us about building and workplace design

What Godzilla and A Bugs Life can teach us about building and workplace design

There is a typically telling and intelligent Pixar moment in the film A Bug’s Life in which an already well lubricated mosquito goes up to a bar and orders a ‘Bloody Mary, O Positive’. The barman plonks a droplet of blood down on the bar. The mosquito sinks his proboscis into it, sucks it down […]

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Whether you choose order or chaos depends on what you want to achieve

Whether you choose order or chaos depends on what you want to achieve

Chaos gets a bit of a bad rap when it comes to running a business. Yet as Greg Lindsay highlighted in his interview with Insight a while back, chaos is something that many organisations should actively try to harness as a way of fostering the creativity they claim to desire. Certain structures, be they cultural silos, […]

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