The Business of Workplace Design and Management

April 10 2013

When the chairs took over and what it all meant

Of all the things we buy, with the exception of our clothes, furniture is the most intimate, the one item we spend most time in contact with. According to JG Ballard who dedicated himself to understanding our relationship with the world around us, ‘Furniture constitutes an external constellation of our skin areas and body postures’. Whether he would have recognised it as such, Ballard was a pioneer of the principle that we now refer to as psychogeography, defined by one of its founders, Guy Debord, as ‘the study of the precise effects of setting, consciously managed or not, acting directly on the mood and behaviour of the individual’.

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The 7 greatest depictions of the workplace in art. Possibly.

Art supposedly holds up a mirror to life. But when it comes to our working lives it doesn’t. Or at least it doesn't always show a true or full reflection, both in terms of the amount of time we dedicate to work and how important it is to us. Most of us spend at least a quarter of our time each week at (or on our way to) work. Many of us struggle to escape it in our own time too. We worry about it when we shouldn’t. It pays our way. It helps to define who we are. It structures our time. It introduces us to friends and partners. Yet in spite of the crucial role it plays in our lives, there are precious few depictions of work in art. These are some of my favourites. Click a thumbnail for a closer look.

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The only thing worse than employing an idiot is employing an engaged idiot

The current obsession with ‘engagement’ in the world of human resources management is evident every time you read the discipline’s media. This is understandable in many ways but one thing that is often noticeable when a profession 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.

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Employers missing employee health and productivity link

Only a minority of employers understand the productivity benefits of their health and wellbeing initiatives, new research reveals. Towers Watson’s latest Health, Wellbeing and Productivity survey found that 66 per cent of employers thought the link between health and employee performance was a relatively limited part of their health and wellbeing programme, with the main drivers being the desire to be seen as a responsible employer and the need to focus on more preventative health measures to manage rising healthcare and disability costs.

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Public sector property initiatives have proved successful but work still needed

There was a time, not so long ago, when nobody worried too much about the shape of the rooms that led off the corridors of power. But the pressure on UK finances has politicised the design of the UK’s public buildings. The latest example of this was the recent  announcement  in Parliament of a report that, amongst other things, called for a new approach in the way facilities are designed to deliver better services in a more cost effective way. The report Restarting Britain 2: Design and Public Services was the result of an eight-month investigation led by the Design Commission along with politicians, designers and civil servants.

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UK commercial property investors shift focus to the regions

Investors in the commercial office market are increasingly being drawn towards the UK regions, according to a new report by Deloitte Real Estate. The UK Key Cities publication explores the trend that regional offices are emerging as a focus for savvy investors seeking higher returns. At the same time, individual cities are recognising the need to stand apart from competing locations and bridge the gap between themselves and London. These cities are being bolstered by factors such as improved connectivity through large planned infrastructure projects, devolution of power, and investment into the retail and leisure markets.

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Five things the Wall Street Journal inadvertently told us yesterday about office design

If I were to show you a headline from the Wall Street Journal announcing ‘Say Goodbye to the Office Cubicle’, you might date it at any time between the mid 1980s and 1990s. Maybe earlier. But it was actually in yesterday’s issue, dated 2 April 2013. Now, we could be amused by this or act all aghast at the sight of those dinosaurs yet to adopt a norm of open, collaborative and shared spaces never mind the ‘digital workplace’; or we could conclude that this tells us several important things about how those people and organisations who don’t keep a daily eye on workplace trends view the buildings they inhabit.

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Facebook hits like button for low-key Gehry campus building

Normally it would strike you as a bit odd that a company would appoint one of the world’s most high profile architects to design its new headquarters, a man with an immediately recognisable and frequently stunning visual style, only to then ask him to rein it all in and produce something pretty sober and unobtrusive. But that is precisely what Facebook has done with the appointment of Frank Gehry who has been tasked with producing a low key design for its new headquarters building  and campus in California which gained approval at the end of last week.

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Free briefing - workplace legal calendar for 2013

A third of the way through the year but still lots to come. In conjunction with one of the UK's leading law firms Shoosmiths, here is our guide to key workplace legislation for 2013.

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