About Mark Eltringham

Mark is the publisher of Workplace Insight and IN Magazine. He has worked in the office design and management sector for over twenty five years as a journalist, marketing professional, editor and consultant.

Posts by Mark Eltringham:

UK construction hits new low as service sector shrinks

Graph Down ArrowThe three little words nobody wanted to hear at the start of 2013 are triple dip recession. Yet even as the US managed to avoid its own fiscal cliff at the turn of the year, two reports raised fresh fears that the UK’s recovery would be postponed for a while yet. According to the Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index, UK construction hit a six-month low as the sector dropped from an index of 49.3 in November to 48.7 in December. This is well below the index of 50 which indicates a contraction in activity. Meanwhile another report from Markit/CIPS reported an unexpected fall in the UK’s service sector. More →

Free briefing – key technology trends for 2013

Insight Briefing - 2013 Technologies_0000The latest of our free Insight Briefings, sponsored by Condeco, is now available to view and download. It explores the major workplace technology trends for 2013, including unified communications, BIM, space utilisation, the Cloud and BYOD asking not only what the technologies are in and of themselves, but what their likely implications are for workplace designers and managers. Just click the image above to view or download the report. 

Govt looking to save £600m with shared services

The latest wheeze from the Government as it looks to ‘streamline’ the public sector’s back-office functions including purchasing is to create two Independent Shared Service Centres as part of the Next Generation Shared Service Plan. Pick through the usual gobbledegook and acronyms and what you will find are some significant developments  as The Cabinet Office seeks to save up to £600 million a year in administration costs. More →

Mayor announces green fit-out of 400 buildings

City_HallThirteen building services contractors have been awarded a contract to retrofit around 400 London public sector buildings to make them more energy efficient. The work is being carried out as part of London Mayor Boris Johnson’s RE:FIT initiative. The new programme of work is expected to last four years and will see contractors guarantee a set level of savings based on the energy conservation measures implemented. More →

London companies heading off to the East

Hello to all this

Hello to all this

…East London that is. According to property consultants Cushman & Wakefield we are seeing a net migration of companies away from their West End heartland towards the supposedly more creative and tech-focussed districts of Clerkenwell, Shoreditch and King’s Cross.  The firm reports that the take-up of West End office space fell by around a quarter to 2.5m sq ft in 2012.

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Regional slump responsible for overall UK property fall

Canary-Wharf_1

The New Year starts with news from Chicago based property broker Jones Lang LaSalle that investors spent some £ 30 billion on  income generating property in the U.K. during 2012, about 9 percent less than in 2011. However there was a marked disparity between the London market and the rest of the UK. London deals totaled £18 billion in 2012, the highest figure for four years, while purchases outside the capital reached 12 billion pounds, the lowest amount over the same period. More →

Global office market to stabilise during 2013

JakartaA new report from consultants Cushman and Wakefield has predicted that the global commercial real estate market will stabilise over the next twelve months and, in some areas of the world, may enjoy a degree of growth.  While acknowledging wide regional variations, the report claims that there are some clear global themes that can be identified, not least in the ongoing growth of markets in Asia. Significant growth is not expected in the majority of regions until 2014 and beyond.

Councils told to pool procurement resources

Manchester Town HallBritain’s local authorities have been told by the Government to find more ways to share back office functions and buy goods and services together to gain discounts and reduce costs. In a document, 50 ways to save: examples of sensible savings in local government, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government in December, councils were given a number of ideas about how they could reduce their annual spend. The report can be seen here.
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Report of poor public sector procurement practices

white-hall-place

Many firms that have worked with the public sector will have their own particular stories about the failings of its procurement processes. The Government’s promise to look into this has now led to it publishing a report from the Cabinet Office released just before Christmas (great timing as ever). You can see the report looking at the failings of public procurement as reported by the supply side here. Or -straight from the horse’s mouth – an interview with Sally Collier, Government Deputy Chief Procurement Officer here.

Free Unified Comms Briefing available

UC Cover_0000

The latest technology that will revolutionise the way we work is now upon us. It is called unified communications and it is a principle that strikes at the very heart of this new world of fragmented yet interconnected work. It is a comparatively straightforward idea intended to solve a complex challenge. As organisations have started to adapt to an economy that is always-on, global and without boundaries of time and space, they have looked for ways to integrate technology to deliver a better working experience for employees, reduce costs both for themselves and their clients and improve their competitiveness. The Briefing can be downloaded here.

Commercial property deals on the rise in Yorkshire

Investors have almost doubled the value of commercial property transactions in Yorkshire, according to property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton.However, the level of deals is still slightly below the level at the same time last year. LSH says the total value of Yorkshire investment deals in the third quarter of 2012 rose to £303 million from £172 million in the previous quarter, but was below the £306.5 million total for the third quarter of 2011.

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It’s essential to design flexibility into an office

The design of offices and the furniture that fills them matters because of what it tells us about how we work, how organisations function and even what is happening in the economy. If you want to know what’s going on, take a look at the places we work and the things with which we surround ourselves and how they change over time.

Because the way we work changes so quickly, buildings need to have flexibility built into them so that they meet our needs today but anticipate what we will need tomorrow. In his book How Buildings Learn, Stewart Brand outlines the process whereby buildings evolve over time to meet the changing needs of their occupants. He describes each building as consisting of six layers, each of which functions on a different timescale. These range from the site itself which has a life cycle measured in centuries, through to the building (decades), interior fit out (years), technology (months), to stuff (days). The effectiveness of a workplace design will depend on how well it resolves the tensions that exist between these layers of the building.

In terms of our workplaces, the ability to respond to change is perhaps the most important facet of an effective design. Creating this level of responsiveness is described in the Facilities Design and Management Handbook by its author Eric Teichholz as ‘the basic driver of the facilities management workload.’

While the nature of work has already changed in many ways, the pace of change has increased even more dramatically over recent years. So the challenge for designers and facilities managers is how best to manage change, keep costs down and provide a flexible home for the organisation. Successful management of change is a good thing, an agent of growth and commercial success. Change handled badly can hamstring an organisation.

The standard answer to the challenge is to build flexibility into the building. At the property management level, this may mean a change in contractual terms, notably in the length of leases, and the provision of lease breaks.

Varying levels of flexibility must also be apparent through the rest of the building in terms of its design and management. If we take an idealised view of the modern office as a flexible, social space for a peripatetic, democratised and technologically literate workforce, the solution lies in an increased use of desk sharing, drop in zones, break out space and other forms of multi-functional workspaces. In many offices, individual workspace is already being rapidly replaced by other types of space, quiet rooms and collaborative areas.

Flexibility must be hardwired into the building at a macro-level. Not only must floorplates be capable of accepting a wide range of work styles and planning models, servicing must be appropriate and anticipate change. That doesn’t mean just in terms of technology and telecoms but also basic human needs such as having enough toilets to deal with changing occupational densities. It also means having a HVAC specification that can deal with the changing needs associated with different numbers of people and different types of equipment.

Elements of the interior that were once considered static are also having to offer far larger degrees of flexibility including, furniture, lighting, storage and partitions. This issue of flexibility has become more important within interior design. Interior elements should now define space, portray corporate identity, comply with legislation and act as an aid in wayfinding. They must do all this and be able to adapt as the organisation changes.

We may not always know exactly what the future holds, but we can work today to be ready for it.

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