March 21, 2017
The difference between office design and facilities management is like the difference between sex and parenthood
There is an ongoing feeling within the facilities management discipline that when it comes to office design, facilities managers are not consulted early enough or well enough or consistently enough to ensure that the end result is a workplace that is as functional and as effective as it could be. The reason this feeling persists is that in many cases it is true. Or at least is true to a greater or lesser extent depending on how you view these things. And if that sounds woolly, then you have to remember we are talking about facilities management here, finding a definition for which has always been like nailing jelly to a wall. In many cases the demarcation between workplace design and workplace management is based on the mistaken idea that the two have little correlation when in fact the relationship between them should be more akin to that between sex and parenthood. One is an act of creation and the other of care. Sex may be more interesting and we might spend more time thinking and talking about it, but we spend more time being parents.
March 16, 2017
Almost a third (28 percent) of those working from home have been distracted by a crying child whilst on a work call, reports Morgan Lovell. In solidarity with Robert E. Kelly, a professor of political science whose Skype interview by the BBC was unexpectedly interrupted by his children, workplace design, fit out and refurbishment specialist Morgan Lovell commissioned a OnePulse poll to find out the biggest disruptions when working from home.
In the survey, a third (33 percent) of respondents working from home stated that the biggest distraction was their children. Other interruptions that featured highly were: pestering pets (18 percent), flatmates (18 percent) and noisy neighbours (16 percent). Of those unable to work from home, 9 percent opted not to because of distractions and a further 44 percent were not allowed to by their bosses.
March 16, 2017
The Construction Industry Council has published a new guide to creating an accessible and inclusive environment. The guide sets out six principles as suggested by the Office for Disability Issues to ‘guide, support and motivate’ industry professionals. The guide is an initiative that emerged from the Built Environment Professional Education Project – a government project that has been championed by CIC. The aim is to build on the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by helping to generate a change in the way skills related to inclusive design are taught in the UK. The aim is that all built environment professionals will receive mandatory, quality teaching about inclusive design so that they can help create inclusive building, places and spaces for future generations.
March 15, 2017
There’s a good reason why we find it hard to establish the causal links between our working lives and our personal happiness. It’s because it’s all very complicated. So complicated in fact that you can sidetrack any discussion on the subject by asking elementary questions such as: ‘what do you mean by happy?’ or ‘should it be the role of work to make us happy?’ A lot of commercial interests in the workplace sector would like us to think that there is a correlation between what they do and how happy people are at work, but the research shows that things are never that straightforward. It all depends not just on a stimulus but how we choose to respond to it. One thing that seems evident is that the design of the workplace would be characterised as a ‘hygiene factor’ according to the work of Frederick Herzberg dating from the 1950s, which explained why the things that motivate us are not the mere opposites of those which make us unhappy.
March 15, 2017
At the end of the 18th Century it was becoming apparent that overpopulation was something the human race would need to address for perhaps the first time. Advances in technology and the urbanisation that followed the Industrial Revolution had created a new set of challenges. These were most famously laid out in a 1798 book called An Essay on the Principle of Population, written by an English cleric called Thomas Malthus. The book helped to influence the nascent discipline of economics and informed the thinking of Charles Darwin when he wrote On The Origin of Species some sixty years later. The term Malthusian remains in use to this day when describing the central paradox laid out in the book. This paradox suggests that because population increases geometrically (doubling every 25 years by multiplication), while food production only grows arithmetically (by addition), the end result can only be depressed wages and ultimately starvation.
March 10, 2017
One of the many traps that lies in wait for unwary organisations is to confuse corporate identity with their brand. The visual aspects of an identity may reflect the firm’s personality and values, and a change may go in hand in hand with the development of a new strategic direction or culture, but a mismatch can be jarring if the stakeholder perception of the organisation does not marry up with its branding. The forces at play here are increasingly subtle and complex, not least because modern organisations are not just concerned with the way they portray themselves to their customers, but also their current and prospective employees and other stakeholders. Indeed for those firms deep in the trenches of the war for talent, the primary focus of their branding strategy may be how it helps them to recruit and retain their people and create the right working culture.
March 9, 2017
Google has revealed the latest designs for its new Mountain View office campus, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group and Heatherwick Studio, the partnership that is also collaborating on Google’s new London offices. This is the third iteration of the designs which will now be presented at a public hearing pending approval by Mountain View City Council. The designs of the purpose built office complex and campus maintain the tent like structures from previous ideas as well as a heavily landscaped environment. The public spaces, pavilions, cafes, research labs, event spaces will be at ground level with offices on a mezzanine level. The new design for the roof incorporates curved metal shapes in grey which will discourage birds from flying into the structure.
March 8, 2017
This is the second of two responses to an excellent article by Antony Slumbers, the first being this perspective from my mirrored room, in this instance offering that his views offer a far too presumptive picture of how technology will shape our work future. The paragraph headlines are from Antony’s original article. One person’s optimism is another’s pessimism. A decade ago the dream of liberated commute-free teleworking was, to many, the nightmare of enforced seclusion to the soundtrack of the dishwasher. The deployment of robots for the performance of menial tasks creating time and wealth for leisure is another’s horror at the loss of employment and resultant anomic fragmentation and decay. The fatally pointless optimism of Candide’s Dr Pangloss was agnostic in regard to every such outcome. It was positive only because there could be no alternative, and therefore no better alternative.
March 7, 2017
A survey of more than 423,000 NHS staff has shown their experience of the workplace is improving, despite the huge financial pressures and public demand on healthcare in the UK. Responding anonymously to the annual NHS Staff Survey, staff reported small but measurable improvements in 26 of the 32 key workplace categories, including having confidence to raise concerns about clinical practice, feeling supported by managers and recommending their workplace for employment or receiving care. The report is published by the national NHS Staff Survey Co-ordination Centre on behalf of NHS England and was carried out in October and November 2016.
March 7, 2017
In his book The Greatest Show on Earth, the evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins devotes a section to the biological rationale for pain. Although this is an ethical issue as far as humans are concerned, and most of us might think it’s one thing we could easily do without thank you very much, Nature is not particularly bothered about whether something is good or bad, just whether it serves a useful purpose as a way of perpetuating a particular genome. So the answer to the question of why we don’t just have some sort of a red flag rather than pain to warn us when we are doing something harmful is that we would find it very easy to ignore whatever non-distressing signal we’ve been given, given that we are also capable of ignoring pain. But at least with pain, we are never in any doubt that we should try to stop whatever is happening to us and we have a strong incentive to stop it as soon as possible.
March 7, 2017
London-based architecture practice Jump Studios has designed the first UK office for tech firm Cloudflare in London. The company, headquartered in San Francisco, is one of the fastest-growing start-ups in the world and is classified as a Unicorn1 company. The new office is a refurbishment of a former paper factory in London’s Southwark area. The refurbished 7,000 square foot office includes around 100 desks with large social areas connected to the outside terrace space. The central area of the office is a form of ‘spine’ constructed from OSB (Oriented-strand board). This spine maintains physical and visual connectivity throughout the floor and forms walls, rooms, storage and shelving units for Cloudflare to display tools, gadgets, books and awards. Informal meeting spaces sit within and around the spine for employees to relax and hold meetings in throughout the day.
March 6, 2017
Younger workers are less and less loyal to employers, which is driving firms to place greater emphasis on benefits, empowerment and a better working environment, according to a study from ReportLinker. The small scale online study of 500 people found that Millennials are less likely than older generations to say they’re highly committed to their employer, with just 40 percent saying they somewhat agree with this statement compared to 66 percent of older workers say they’re highly committed to their organisation. The report concludes that this is encouraging employers to introduce new ways of winning the loyalty of employees. For example, 87 percent of employees who are more involved in decision-making are also more likely to say they are committed to their employers although, as always, we should be wary of the distinction between correlation and causation.