February 27, 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.
February 24, 2017
The traditional structures of work and education were forged in the fires of the Industrial Revolution. They shared many characteristics. They were rigid, hierarchical and based on a patriarchal approach to achieving their aims. In education, this manifested itself in the traditional didactic form that was, until recently, seen as the ideal model, based on teachers, tutors and lecturers imparting knowledge and learning to their pupils and students as part of an agreed curriculum and to an approved timetable. How well this process turned out was checked with periodic testing. For some time now, people have been questioning this structure and, with it, the design of learning environments. Over the past few decades, we have not only developed the technologies to allow us to learn in new ways, we have also developed a far better understanding of the processes involved.
February 22, 2017
As any smartphone user could attest, the things we own sometimes end up owning us. Equally, the things we create can end up owning us. The most famous item designed by Charles Eames is a moulded plywood, leather upholstered lounge chair and matching ottoman that are timelessly iconic, have spawned thousands of rip-off versions, invariably feature in any anthology of classic Twentieth Century design and are now part of a permanent exhibit at the New York Museum of Modern Art. Yet Eames himself never intended it to go into production in the first place and didn’t even view it as his best product. In an interview in Time magazine he reveals that it was originally designed as a gift for a friend. ‘I made it as a present for Billy Wilder,’ he said. ‘Billy had made a picture in East Germany and found a Marcel Breuer chair and brought it back to me and this was a return present.’
February 21, 2017
Older workers are at risk of being marginalised in the workplace according to a new survey of office workers from workplace consultants Peldon Rose, which claims that there are significant differences in the wellbeing, attitudes and motivations of the workplace’s oldest and youngest employees. The over 50s now account for more than 30 percent of the UK’s working population (9.4million people), but according to the study older workers are the least content of all employees with less than a quarter (23 percent) of the 55+ age group feeling appreciated by their company and 80 percent suffering from or having suffered from workplace stress. In contrast, the workplace’s newest recruits, the under 25 year olds, are the office’s most positive employees with over half (55 percent) feeling appreciated by their company and 60 percent – the lowest of all age groups – suffering or having suffered from workplace stress.
February 16, 2017
The majority (79 percent) of workers say reliable and modern technology is more important to them than office aesthetics, while accessories such as ping pong tables, slides, hammocks and wacky office designs may look good in pictures, but they don’t necessarily make employees any happier or productive. The is according to a survey, conducted by storage firm Kiwi Movers, which found that 86 percent of UK adults who work in an office said fun features were of no specific value to their working life, 11 percent said they were nice-to-have and of some value and 3 percent said they were very valuable. The most popular office perks are those offer an immediate tangible benefit to the employee, but even so, as many as 23 percent don’t take advantage every day; while 71 percent overall said they’d like more space in their office and of those, 58 percent believe that could be achieved by removing non-essential items. The research also found that younger workers were more likely on average to take advantage of ‘environmental’ perks like chill out areas and recreational equipment.
February 15, 2017
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 to express an opinion. Such judgements would not function at all in this regard unless there was some underlying consensus about what constitutes good and bad design at the same time that we all believed we know what good taste is and we all know a good piece of design when we see it. In so far as the consensus is universally accepted, we are all right. But how much do we really understand about the things that surround us and their design? And how meaningful is the consensus? In JG Ballard’s novel High Rise, recently made into a film, he writes of the disdain Anthony Royal, the architect of the eponymous tower has for the tastes of its residents.
February 14, 2017
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 in one go and promptly falls over. The main point is that the mosquito doesn’t need a glass because that is for animals that have a problem with gravity. For insects the major force in their lives isn’t gravity at all, but surface tension. The cleverness of the illustrators lies in them seeing this from the perspective of an insect when most of us ignore this kind of thing because our day to day lives are completely dominated by the invisible forces that define not only how we function but the form of our bodies and how we look and behave. As the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould put it, “we are prisoners of the perceptions of our size”.
February 10, 2017
This is the first of two responses to an excellent article by Antony Slumbers, in this instance offering that his views offer too conservative a view of how technology will shape the future of work. Dr Pangloss, the teacher of metaphysics in Candide, Voltaire’s hilariously sarcastic attack on Leibnizian optimism, offered a timeless and universal explanation of the most cruel and tragic events as “the best of all possible worlds”. I would argue however that far from creating a landscape of optimism, it facilitates a dismissal of all significant change as an irrelevance given that effectively we have no option other than to happily accept it. For example, whether property transitions to a service or remains locked in its existing institutional quagmire, it doesn’t matter. Either way its fine as it’s the best we can hope for. Accept it, happily. A Panglossian future only looks appealing if you’re –well, Dr Pangloss.
February 9, 2017
Teams make better decisions if they are interrupted with advice during their task, rather than advised before it, new research from UCL School of Management claims. In a study published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Professor Colin Fisher of UCL looked at the timing and impact of formal interventions in decision-making groups. He found that giving teams advice ahead of time to prevent problems from emerging doesn’t work as well as interrupting them with in-process interventions.Decision-making groups value interruptive advice more, which leads them to share more critical information and make better decisions, compared to groups getting the same advice before they begin their task – even when the difference between receiving the information was only a few minutes.
“The findings go against the conventional wisdom that prevention is always better than cure. Teams that were interrupted had more productive discussions on a variety of measures, improving the quality of the decisions they made. Surprisingly, it didn’t matter specifically how long we waited to intervene, so long as the group had already begun its discussion,” said Professor Fisher.
To investigate, he conducted experiments with 124 three-person groups who made two decisions about opening a fictitious new gourmet restaurant. To reveal the best choices, members had to pool their individual information.
Groups received advice either before their discussion, or at varying points during their discussions. Videos of discussions were used to measure the discussion length, level of advocacy, and amount of information shared, all of which predicted the likelihood of choosing the correct answer.
“Future research should examine in-process interventions outside of the laboratory and investigate on-going teams working on a variety of tasks, from brainstorming to problem solving,” concluded Fisher.
February 2, 2017
It’s no surprise to say that technology is having a significant impact on the workplace and the use of corporate real estate. The fast pace of change has seen technology impact all aspects of business, government and culture, as well as personal life, with a constant flow of new innovations and solutions helping us to do things more quickly and efficiently. Equally, technology also provides a challenge to business and, more specifically, corporate operations, with a whole array of disruptive technologies. Disruption is indeed now running a swathe through a whole spectrum of industries. CoreNet Global’s recent report, The Bigger Picture: The Future of Corporate Real Estate, attempts to capture the impact of technological change, and a variety of other factors, that will influence, disrupt and transform the corporate real estate (CRE) profession. As business strategy and operations are reshaped and consumer preferences change, we will find that the ‘how’ and ‘where’ people want to work will transform.
January 30, 2017
The UK Government’s groundbreaking One Public Sector Estate (OPE) project now includes around three quarters of the country’s local authorities following the announcement that a further 79 councils will join the programme. One Public Estate is a national programme jointly run by the Cabinet Office Government Property Unit and the Local Government Association (LGA). It supports joint working across central and local government to release land and property and boost economic growth, regeneration and integrated public services. It encourages public sector partners to share buildings, transform services, reduce running costs, and release surplus and under-used land for development. Partnerships joining the programme will receive funding and practical and technical support to unblock barriers and deliver ambitious ‘transformational projects’.
January 30, 2017
This month, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) opened its doors to its latest office in what’s been described as the new heart of New York; namely, the up-and-coming Hudson Yards development. Thought leaders from the world of workplace design including a representative from including Workplace Insight were invited to the launch of the new workspace to find out how the world’s leading advisor on business strategy has pushed the art and science of workplace design. BCG, which is consistently ranked near the top of Fortune’s annual Best Companies to Work For survey, worked with an array of experts for input into the design and use of innovative technologies, including Gensler, Humanyze and Unwork. Leesman was brought in to offer a neutral voice when the project was already in motion to validate the design proposal.