December 21, 2016
Each day for 25 years, between 1968 and 1993, a man called Stanley Green would rise early, enjoy a spartan breakfast of porridge and an egg, pack up a lunch of apples and vegetables, strap them along with a placard and some pamphlets to a bike and cycle the 12 miles to Oxford Street from his home in Northolt. There he would share his ideas for improving the physical and psychological wellbeing of the country, based primarily on the idea that the consumption of too much protein led to the moral turpitude he had first encountered in the Navy during the War and which had then infected the whole country. On Saturdays he would decamp to Leicester Square to spread the word there, selling his pamphlets and presenting his placard to the cinema going public. He began his crusade at the age of 53, then stuck at this resolutely for fully quarter of a century. His message evolved just once, to incorporate his belief that too much sitting was almost as big a problem as the eight ‘passion proteins’.
December 13, 2016
The culture within which we work determines how effective, successful, fulfilled and well we are in both our professional and personal lives. The organisations for which we work – on whatever basis that might be – the physical surroundings they create, and the other places in which we choose to work are now woven into the fabric of our lives as never before. The technological immersion that allows us to work in new ways also means that each day becomes a series of experiences. Because we are free to work wherever and whenever we choose, we are increasingly able to determine the nature of those experiences. For those who design and manage offices this represents both a great opportunity and an unprecedented series of challenges.
December 9, 2016
Companies could boost their productivity by between 1 and 3.5 per cent, adding as much as £70 billion to the UK economy, by focusing on how the workplace might be used to generate revenue, instead of regarding them simply as a cost to be managed. That is according to the newly published The Workplace Advantage report from The Stoddart Review based on a meta-analysis of 200 studies by workplace expert Dr Nigel Oseland. Taking a new approach to how space is used to help employees to be productive and changing who is responsible for the decisions is the first step. The Review, a collaboration between business leaders and workplace experts, found that only a little over a half (53 percent) of the UK’s office workers can say their workplace enables them to be productive. For the rest, a workplace that’s unproductive is also affecting their pride in the company, its image and culture. It found that too many businesses are prioritising filling up their offices with people rather than asking themselves ‘what will make their staff productive’. As a result, as many as 70 percent say their office is too noisy and they are disappointed by the lack of different types of workspace including communal areas and break-out zones.
December 8, 2016
Some people would have you believe that the office is dying out. But the absolute dead giveaway that it is not is the creation of tech enclaves and palaces around the world that exists solely to bring lots of people to work together in real space and real time. Some of these buildings are presented in a new book called HQ: Nerve Centres of the World’s Leading Brands from Irish publishers Roads (link is to Amazon but please try to order from a local bookshop if possible). The high tech homes of the likes of Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Vodafone are presented alongside similar examples from eight other business sectors: Finance, Retail, Motoring, Media, Drinks, Fashion, Sport and Design & Innovation.
December 7, 2016
Recruitment site Glassdoor has announced the winners of its ninth annual Employees’ Choice Awards to find the best places to work in North America and parts of Europe. The Awards are based on the input of employees who voluntarily provide anonymous feedback, by completing a company review, about their job, work environment and employer over the past year. This year, the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards feature six categories, honouring the Best Places to Work across the UK, US (both large and small companies), Canada, France and Germany. There is one category in the UK: 50 Best Places to Work (honouring employers with 1,000 or more employees). Winners are ranked based on their overall rating achieved during the past year. The top five UK Best Places to Work in 2017 are Expedia, ARM, HomeServeUK, Mott MacDonald and Hays plc
December 6, 2016
The Work Foundation, part of Lancaster University, has launched a new Commission on Good Work. The commission will seek answers to key questions such as ‘why is a focus on good work so important now?’, ‘what does good work mean in a modern economy?’ and ‘how do we achieve good work?’ The initiative was launched by Work Foundation Director Lesley Giles who invited stakeholders from businesses, trade unions, professional bodies, and the public and voluntary sectors to be part of a ‘Good Work Taskforce.’ Supporting the launch were Sir Charlie Mayfield (John Lewis Partnership), Dame Fiona Kendrick (Nestle),Douglas McCormick (Sweett Group), Mark Keese (OECD), Gail Cartmail (Unite), Peter Cheese CIPD, Scott Johnson (a small business owner) and Professor Paul Sparrow (Lancaster University Management School).
December 5, 2016
In this week’s Newsletter; Mark Eltringham dissects the current obsession with engagement and motivation; and from the Winter 2016 issue of Work&Place which is now available to view online; discusses the future of work and place in the 21st century. We discover why creativity in the workplace is a prime engagement tool; that 85 percent of employers believe workplace automation will create more jobs than it will replace; however, in the now, technology issues cause the most lost time for SMEs. One in three lawyers would not feel comfortable even beginning the conversation about flexible working with their employer; a fifth of employees are distressed by political discussions in the workplace and employers urged to develop strategies to help retain older workers. Download our new Briefing, produced in partnership with Boss Design on the link between culture and workplace strategy and design; visit our new events page, follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
December 2, 2016
However much we know about the forces we expect to come into play in our time and however much we understand the various social, commercial, legislative, cultural and economic parameters we expect to direct them, most predictions of the future tend to come out as refractions or extrapolations of the present. This is a fact tacitly acknowledged by George Orwell’s title for 1984, written in 1948, and is always the pinch of salt we can apply to science fiction and most of the predictions we come across. This is the fundamental reason why a typical report or feature looking to explore the future of work and workplaces invariably produces a hyped-up office of the present. This has sufficed to some degree up till now because the major driving force of change – technology – has developed in linear ways. Its major driver since Gordon Moore produced his eponymous law in 1965 has been miniaturisation. If we can expect computing power to double every 18 months, as Moore predicted, we at least have a degree of certainty about technological disruption. Of course, this has already had a profound effect on the way we work and the way we use buildings. So too has the secondary prime technological driver of the early 21st Century, the digitisation of the past and present.
November 30, 2016
The current obsession with engagement and motivation is evident every time you read the business media these days. This is understandable in many ways, not least because it seems true that firms and employees are often working in an atmosphere of mistrust. But one thing that is often noticeable when a profession such as HR gets itself into a debate of this nature is the gap that can exist between practitioners and everybody else proffering a view. So while academics can talk about definitions and suppliers seek to apply their solutions to the issue, it is often down to those who work at the sharp end to dish up the truth, however unpalatable or cynical that can seem to be. One of the best and funniest quotes on the matter was something that once appeared in a small piece in Human Resources magazine, in which Vance Kearney the HR Director EMEA for Oracle said ‘the only thing worse than employing an idiot is employing an engaged and motivated idiot’.
November 29, 2016
Adobe has released the State of Create: 2016, the latest edition of its global survey of some 5,000 people worldwide to assess the state of the creative sector and gauge the impact of creativity on businesses. The headline finding of the latest study is that organisations that invest in creativity are more likely to increase employee productivity (78 percent) and have happier employees (76 percent). The report also claims that respondents believe that those employers who invest in creativity are more likely to foster innovation (83 percent), be competitive (79 percent), provide better customer experience (78 percent), have satisfied customers (80 percent) and be financially successful (73 percent). Around three quarters (74 percent) of respondents also claim that it is important for businesses to focus on good design, with another 70 percent feeling that design drives a strong brand experience. 45 percent claimed that in the past year they had paid more for a product or service that had good design.
November 26, 2016
In this week’s Newsletter; Ian Ellison says there are no silver bullets for workspace design, but it’s worth the effort; Justin Miller explores the workplace implications of seasonal affective disorder (SAD); and Jeff Flanagan explains why workplace design and management teams should look towards consumer-facing industries for inspiration. Asia set to lead the world in the uptake of artificial intelligence in the workplace; Staples announces tomorrow’s workplace design winners; and UK Government to invest properly in the next generation of technological infrastructure. One in seven UK employees now commute over two hours each day; Millennials reject the gig economy; Autumn statement could adversely affect London’s tech firms; and global report finds that flexible working is a necessity for younger workers. Download our new Briefing, produced in partnership with Boss Design on the link between culture and workplace strategy and design; visit our new events page, follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
November 25, 2016
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) collaboration between BIFM and CIPD was in full swing, endorsed by social media savvy Twitterati under The Workplace Conversation banner. Finally, I thought, we seemed to be talking less about space as a commodity and more about people. Melissa Marsh of Plastarc captured it at the Summit as she evidenced co-working principles: less “managing facilities” and more “enabling communities”. It felt like some were finally starting to realise the fundamental qualitative difference between workspace and workplace: the role of culture.