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.
January 25, 2017
The office of the future should be defined by the age of its inhabitants. But not in the way you think
The office of the future is most commonly seen as the habitat of Millennials. But there are all sorts of flaws in this assumption. Apart from the casual stereotyping of a diverse demographic of people, the most glaring is the fact that the workforce is ageing rather than getting younger, and that most offices must now meet the needs of a wider range of age groups than at any time in their history. A new report from Totaljobs seeks to redress the balance in this regard. It suggests that some of the key features of the office of the future will not be slides and ping pong tables but flexible working areas, quiet spaces, spas and private medical rooms. The study claims that the fixation with Millennials means that a large number of older workers now feel that the design of offices does not meet their needs.
January 25, 2017
In an era in which the digital workplace is just as prevalent as the physical office, organisations that create spaces, technologies and social networks specifically focused on enabling more collaborative work, perform above their direct competitors in their respective industries – in employee connectedness and responsive leadership. This is according to research conducted by Nick van der Meulen of Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) and MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research (CISR). The report assessed on a basis of five indicators, including growth in market share, profit growth and employee satisfaction, and found that trusting employees by giving them autonomy is the key to making a success of the digital workplace. The survey of 313 organisations showed that the high-performing organisations have an integrated and company-wide approach to greater employee connectedness.
January 24, 2017
Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman introduced the concept of Loss Aversion in 1984, highlighting people’s tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. Most studies suggest that losses are twice as powerful, psychologically, as gains. Lose £100 and we will feel a remorse that easily outweighs winning £100. In a similar fashion we find it very hard to see future positives when confronted with short term loses. We understand easily what we have lost but cannot imagine what there is to be gained. Furthermore, as Frederic Bastiat wrote in an 1850 paper, “That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen”, man has a tendency to “pursue a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, rather than a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil”. Put these together and it is no wonder that, by and large, the future of work, corporate real estate and the workplace is so widely misunderstood.
January 23, 2017
At this time of every year, the media is just getting over its predictable annual fixation with with retrospectives and forecasts. The last few of these workplace trends pieces are now dribbling out, many of them indistinguishable and based on some very familiar tropes and assumptions. These days such things tend to be shaped into lists, because that’s how the Internet likes these things. That is all perfectly natural and we are free to make our own mind up which of these features are meaningful and which are the cookie cutter products of the permanently unimaginative. No football pundit was ever fired for stringing together clichés rather than thinking and talking, and no marketing person has ever lost their job for publishing a list of Ten Trends. One thing all of these lists seem to share is an assumption that many of the ideas they reflect are new. That’s understandable. Nobody wants to think that what they consider to be on trend has all been seen before. The young people currently roaming around with wedge haircuts and ripped jeans won’t thank you for telling them they are 80s throwbacks.
January 23, 2017
Not enough musicians draw inspiration from the office or office furniture, and for very good reasons. Nevertheless, it’s worth saying that the office is routinely used as both a setting and a symbol in movies even if workplaces are generally seen as mundane or dehumanising in stark contrast to whatever troubled romance / disaster is befalling the protagonist. Offices are usually depicted as dystopian (Brazil), soul-destroying (Office Space, American Beauty) or a backdrop for whatever else is going on (name your own romcom). Most musicians, on the other hand, shy away from office life in general and office furniture in particular. But not all. So here is a list of some of the greatest songs to deal with the arcane subject of office furniture. It won’t include anything by Dolly Parton or Sheena Easton (too obvious) nor anything from the French composer Erik Satie’s genre of ‘furniture music’ because that wasn’t really anything to do with furniture, except in the sense of something that surrounds us all the time.
January 20, 2017
Toss a sliver of information into the great stream of accepted public narrative and see what happens to it. There it goes, briefly visible on the surface then consumed; part of the stream but no longer to be seen. A perfect example of this is provided by a recent piece of research carried out by the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health into the effects of standing at work on a small sample of call centre workers. While the results of the study are impressive, notably a 46 percent increase in productivity, by the time the story was reported on Inc.com, the 167 call centre workers had suddenly morphed into ‘everybody’. It should go without saying that the headline ‘Your Productivity Will Increase by 46 percent if You Stand at Your Desk’ does not reflect the conclusions of the original research. The statements by the researchers suggesting that the study is significant with regard to call centre staff but merely indicative of a wider issue go ignored.
January 19, 2017
Every physical setting sends distinct signals to meeting participants – signals that set the tone and provide a context for the conversation, even when they are subtle or not in anyone’s conscious awareness. You understand instinctively that the place where a meeting occurs has an impact on the nature of the conversation. Just imagine the difference between a conversation around a large formal conference table with expensive executive chairs and one that takes place in an informal employee lounge, with the participants seated in a circle on soft bean-bag chairs. Or consider the classic image of a boss seated behind a large desk, in front of a large window framing her silhouette as she delivers a performance review to a “lowly” subordinate sitting across the desk in a low, hard-back chair. Now think about that same performance review being conducted on two softer wing chairs of equal height, with a low coffee table between them. Or in a nearby restaurant or coffee shop. Or on a trail in the woods adjacent to the corporate office. Which of those conversations do you think will evolve in a more caring, respectful, and supportive mode?