April 26, 2017
The British Council for Offices has announced the six winners of regional property awards for London and the South East of England. The winning entries, announced at a lunch at the Park Lane Hilton were Sky Central (main image), 8 Finsbury Circus, The Estée Lauder Companies, 20 Eastbourne Terrace, 67-71 Beak Street and Sea Containers House. The prestigious BCO awards programme claims to recognise ‘the highest quality developments and sets the standard for excellence in the regional and national office sector.’ The winner of the Best Commercial Workplace was 8 Finsbury Circus while Sky Central took home the prize in the Best Corporate Workplace Category.
April 26, 2017
A major research study into Health and Wellbeing in offices has been launched by the British Council for Offices (BCO). “Wellness Matters: Health and Wellbeing in offices and what to do about it” is a year-long project which aims to provide definitive guidance on how to enable office Health and Wellbeing across a building’s lifecycle. The major research study has been commissioned to critique existing Health and Wellbeing measurement and certification, identify the most recent and relevant medical evidence justifying a proactive approach to Health and Wellbeing in the built environment, and give guidance on the business case for investment in this space beyond simply improving productivity. Most significantly, this research aims to deliver a practical guide to creating a healthy environment across the different stages of a building’s life cycle, from design, construction and leasing to the most important aspect by time and value: occupation and asset management.
April 25, 2017
For decades, humankind has sought to establish the link between office design and productivity. And by humankind I mean a parochial band of researchers, suppliers, workplace specialists, futurologists and designers with a special interest in the whole thing. Most other people only expressed a passing interest in the subject. It did not seem to matter to this band that the whole thing had been proved many times over many years, invariably falling on cloth, if not exactly deaf, ears. We’ve known for some time what makes people happy and productive at work and much of the new research has merely served to proved something we already know. Undaunted, researchers maintained their quest for the evidence that would get the message across to an apparently indifferent world. This quest has mutated over the past few years into something that is at first glance only slightly different but which has some rather interesting implications. The go-to workplace topic of the early 21st Century is no longer productivity per se, but wellbeing, and that is making all the difference.
April 25, 2017
Inaccessible workplaces are too common problem that disabled people face in accessing buildings and public spaces, and the Government must lead a charge in improving access and inclusion in the built environment, according to a report by an influential cross party committee published today. The Women and Equalities Committee’s Disability and the Built Environment inquiry has been examining the extent to which those with accessibility issues are considered and accommodated in our built environment, and whether more could be done to increase the accessibility and inclusivity of both new and existing properties and spaces. The report recommends public procurement, fiscal initiatives and transparently modelling best practice, while bringing the full range of work on improving access and inclusion in the built environment into a coherent and transparent strategy, with the Department for Communities and Local Government held responsible for making this happen. The report found that many workplaces are inaccessible, there is very little choice of where to live and the public spaces through which people need to move can be prohibitively excluding; all of which constitute an unacceptable diminution of quality of life and equality.
April 24, 2017
In a deal of enormous significance for the commercial property and workplace sectors, IBM has agreed a deal with coworking giant WeWork to take on all the space at its 88 University Place office in New York. Although originally targeted at startups and freelancers, especially those working in the creative and technology sectors, a growing number of corporate clients are seeing the appeal of coworking space in a fast changing world and now make up over a fifth of WeWork’s membership worldwide. Meanwhile, in moves that are sure to have major implications for the corporate real estate and facilities management market, WeWork has also announced plans to become a major real estate investor and introduce a wider range of FM services. The firm already operates in 135 locations spread across 44 cities in 14 countries.
April 20, 2017
It is perhaps the most common misconception of evolutionary theory that all animals are somehow evolving towards something perfect. This notion is perhaps best summed up when a sceptic asks: “If we have evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” The lesser of the two problems with this is its solipsistic assumption that humans are the pinnacles of life and that, if evolution were true, all species would eventually evolve into people. The bigger (and related) issue is that the question overlooks the fact that each species is already pretty much perfectly adapted to whatever environmental niche it inhabits at any particular time. It is only when that niche changes that the organism has to adapt to its changing surroundings and conditions, which is why many species continue to thrive almost unchanged over thousands or even millions of years. They have no need to evolve into a human or anything else.
April 19, 2017
It’s not just the nascent fourth industrial revolution that is challenging our traditional views of work, but also the growing realisation that we could be doing things so much better anyway. The author Douglas Coupland and the World Economic Forum are already holding conversations about the fundamental issues with work and how we go about it. At the heart of this is the very design of jobs and what it means for us and our wellbeing. Only 28 percent of people in the UK are highly satisfied with their jobs, and yet, estimates suggest that an adult in work would spend an average of 57 percent of their waking hours working. A new international study from the University of East Anglia and the What Works Centre for Wellbeing based on a review of 4,000 pieces of research claims to show why organisations often fail to improve staff wellbeing. It suggests that employees should be encouraged to design their own jobs, and find ways to help managers better understand their concerns.
April 18, 2017
When it comes to working in an office, hell really can be other people. Many staff can have enormous difficulties coming to terms with the sounds that form the backdrop to their working day, especially if they work in open plan areas. The problem of noise at work is particularly acute right now because most UK employees now work in open plan offices and at workstations that are on average about 20 percent smaller than they were ten years or so ago. Yet, on the face of it, the business case for working in open plan offices is pretty clear cut. Not only is it more conducive to communication and less bound by ideas of that great contemporary no-no that we call ‘status’, open plan workstations not only take up around half the space of cellular offices, the costs of fitting out a cellular office are around 25 per cent higher than an equivalent open plan space. It’s no surprise that the open plan is the default model for most workplaces in many countries.
April 14, 2017
Of all the memes and narratives that corrupt public discourse about workplace design, the most pernicious is the one that suggests there is a linear evolution to some grand end point called the Office of the Future. There is a natural human inclination to buy this sort of idea, fed by an assumption that what we find most interesting, aspirational and hence what we read and talk about forms a goal. Read any style magazine and you’ll see the same process at work in every facet of our lives. This is why so many people are quick to consume and then regurgitate the idea that what we see happening in the world’s great tech palaces and creative offices represents the apogees of design to which the rest of us must one day succumb. It rests on misguided assumptions about what really goes on in such offices and what these assumptions mean for firms in other sectors. It is the great apex fallacy of workplace design and it is one we must constantly challenge.
April 11, 2017
A new report from Office Genie claims to identify the factors that affect the happiness British staff in the workplace. While the average level of workplace happiness for British employees sits at 3.63/5, the study of 2,000 staff claims to have found some serious causes for concern. Junior staff were the least happy in the workforce: they rank at 3.40 on the happiness scale – comparatively, business owners rank at 4.20 – a significant 25 percent higher. Of further concern, according to the report, was the fact employees with mental health issues feel unsupported in the workplace: Over half (51 percent) of such respondents believe their place of work offers inadequate levels of support. Amongst this demographic the most called-for support method is wellness initiatives, with 45 percent of people with mental health issues saying they would be beneficial – well above the overall average.
April 7, 2017
In 1959, cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman identified the personality traits which go hand in hand with disproportionate levels of heart disease. These include an overblown sense of time urgency, a desire to fit as much into each second as possible, excessive competitiveness and aggressiveness and frustration when other people are doing things more slowly than absolutely necessary. In other words – your typical 21st Century human. Friedman and Rosenman coined a term for such people which has now entered common usage. They called them Type-A personalities. In Douglas Coupland’s 1995 novel Microserfs, one of the characters encapsulates what Type-As are all about. ‘Type-A personalities have a whole subset of diseases that they, and only they, share. The transmission vector for these diseases is the door close button on elevators that only gets pushed by impatient, Type-A people.’
April 6, 2017
Working with colleagues across different geographies and time zones has become the norm since an increasing number of organisations now integrate and seek collaboration at a global level. Interestingly, according to Cisco, 62 percent of workers now regularly collaborate with people in other countries. These globally integrated enterprises (GIE) aim to draw in the best talent from across the world, delivering maximum innovation and efficiency. The rise of global and distributed teams has been further encouraged by the popularity of remote working, with 71 percent of office workers now choosing greater flexibility to work from various locations instead of travelling to the office everyday . And the trend only looks set to gain pace, with 56 percent of senior leaders in large global companies expecting global teams to increase in the next one to three years.