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.
January 6, 2017
Knowledge management (including its creation, transference and storage) within an organisation is now widely considered to be one of the primary drivers of a business’s sustainability. Driven by changing demographics, businesses are recognising the ways in which valuable knowledge is lost when employees leave the organisation, including when they retire or are made redundant in response to changing economic conditions. Geyer, an Australian design practice, is just one organisation that has undertaken important research to understand the role of the physical environment in knowledge management.The aim of the research was to explore the kinds of environments and their attributes (if any) that could support the management of knowledge in an organisation. The research also aimed to expand the focus of existing knowledge management literature; from information technology to workplace design.
December 26, 2016
The Winter 2016 issue of Work&Place is now available to view online. In this edition… Neil Usher, Workplace Director at Sky offers a first hand account of the story behind the firm’s remarkable new offices at the Osterley campus in London; Kate Langan explores some of the implications of the growing digitisation of the workplace; Jim Ware looks at how the challenge of creating effective meeting spaces is now a strategic concern; John Blackwell tries to make sense of falling productivity levels when we have all the tools and know how to increase it; David Woolf makes the case for designing better collaborative spaces; Mark Eltringham looks forward to an almost entirely unpredictable future for workplaces in the 21st Century; and Karen Plum and Andrew Mawson set out the factors that drive knowledge worker productivity. The PDF edition is available to view and download here. Or view online here.
December 22, 2016
Insight publisher Mark Eltringham recently took part in a conversation with Ian Ellison of 3edges. The podcast was recorded before the recent publication of The Workplace Advantage from the Stoddart Review but looks at its potential opportunities and challenges. The range of topics also include the growing role of workplace professionals in shaping workplace thinking, the differences between the FM and workplace disciplines, the trouble at the BIFM, the self image of various professions and why it’s unwise to believe that the most interesting examples of workplace design are indicative of how most people work. You can listen to the podcast online on Acast or iTunes. Other editions of the podcast are available here. Image: Sky Central designed by Hassell. Photographer Mark Cocksedge.
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.
October 11, 2016
The best way of getting what you want is invariably to follow the simplest route. Research, experience and common sense tell us that in most cases, simple systems achieve better, faster and less expensive results and that the success of any project will often be in inverse proportion to the number of people involved in the system used to implement it, the number of decisions these people have to make between them, and the number of times they have to communicate with each other. Complexity is the enemy of success. Simplicity is all. And it is this that is the underlying principle behind ‘Design and Build’; often the best, fastest and least expensive method of developing and implementing an office design project, yet also one of the least understood, especially with regard to its ability to deliver exceptional design. This White Paper is aimed both at those who want to find out more about this uniquely effective method of completing a project, but also at those who may have mistaken preconceptions about Design and Build. This is an idea whose time has come and it is all based on the most fundamental of all fundamental principles: by keeping things as uncomplicated as possible, it can often deliver the best value, best design and the best response to a brief in the quickest time and at the lowest cost.
Charles Marks is the Managing Director of office design and fit-out company Fresh Workspace. www.freshworkspace.com
September 29, 2016
I recently took part in a podcast hosted by business transformation consultant Rita Trehan. My fellow guest for the CEO Outlook podcast was Hari Kalymnios, author, trainer and Leadership Speaker at The Thought Gym. The episode featured a lively discussion focused primarily on two topical issues. First asking whether bonuses are really needed to motivate staff and what business might do to take a more sophisticated, informed and nuanced approach to motivation. Then secondly, and against my better judgement, in the light of Jeremy Corbyn’s recent spat with Richard Branson, whether CEOs and business leaders should steer well clear of politics and politicians and how they might make judgements about what is appropriate in terms of the topics with which they should engage and how they might disentangle themselves from the wider issues that often result. You can listen to the podcast here.
July 14, 2016
The idea that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ holds a grip on our imagination and tends to be misunderstood in equal measure because at first glance it seems to suggest that strategy is less important or can be trumped by culture. In fact what Peter Drucker, who is the man commonly held to be responsible for saying it, identifies is that the two must go hand in glove. A strategy that does not heed culture is more likely to fail. A culture without strategy quickly becomes unanchored. The same need for balance is evident in the way we develop workplace strategies. Without understanding culture and knowing how a workplace can both reflect an existing culture and prompt a shift, the strategy runs the risk of becoming undone, or failing to fully meet its objectives. This link between culture and workplace strategy and design has never been more important than it is right now as the old bonds of time and place that once tethered people to an employer have loosened and dissolved. These issues are explored in our new Briefing, produced in partnership with Boss Design.
April 22, 2016
The new issue of Work&Place is available to view online. As ever it presents a truly global perspective on the forces that are redefining our relationship with work and how designers and managers are creating workplaces and working cultures to help firms and people thrive in the new era. This issue includes: Francisco Vazquez Medem looking at the current state of flexible working in Latin America; Ian Ellison finding the unlikely candidate for the missing piece of the workplace puzzle; Andrea Hak assessing what we can all learn from Yahoo’s recent trials and tribulations; Serena Borghero engaging in the ongoing quest for the truly engaged workplace; and Baptiste Broughton gauging France’s unique revolutionary spirit and how it applies to the worrkplace. Each issue of Work&Place, sponsored by Steelcase and Condeco, is read by well over 60,000 workplace professionals worldwide and invites all those associated with the industry to share their own thoughts and experiences during this tumultuous era. Illustration by Simon Heath.
March 4, 2016
One of the great questions that hangs over workers in the new era of boundless work is this: When you can choose to work from anywhere, where will you choose to work? It’s not just a question for the growing army of workers who find themselves unfettered from the traditional times and places of work. They will naturally choose to work in the places they feel make them most productive and happy, which nurture their wellbeing and chime with their values. The challenge for the owners and the occupiers of offices is to create the working environments that will draw people to them. This is particularly important for those organisations with strong cultures who understand the role that physical presence plays in nurturing creativity and the way people exchange information, such as tech and creative firms. The terms of this conundrum and its possible solutions are the themes of our new briefing, produced in partnership with Connection. You can see it here.
February 26, 2016
Ever since people first started working in modern offices just over a century ago, we’ve grown accustomed to the idea of a constantly evolving workplace. Trends in office design have tracked those in management thinking, social attitudes, technology, demographics, architecture, the economy and legislation. Yet for most of that elongated century, there were some underlying principles that remained pretty constant. This was true even in the revolutionary years at the turn of the Millennium as technology became more mobile, Internet access became ubiquitous and flexible working became commonplace. Even then, most people still worked in offices for relatively fixed periods and those that didn’t, including those that worked at home, did so in a time and place that aped the structures of the corporate HQ. Over the past ten years or so those structures have begun to crumble and fall and we are entering a new era.
November 2, 2015
The process of transforming the UK’s public sector estate may have begun under the last Labour administration but it’s fair to say that change really began to kick in as a consequence of the austerity programme initiated by the current administration. Central Government departments and local authorities had already started exploring new ways of owning and occupying their property in the same way as their private sector contemporaries. Now they were incentivised to respond to an administration that was not only prepared to cut their budgets but was introducing frameworks and legislation that encouraged them to innovate and pioneer a new generation of agile workplaces. In our first Insight Briefing, produced in partnership with Connection, we look at how these forces for change have catalysed a new approach and challenged the idea that innovation in workplace design and management is primarily the preserve of the private sector.