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:

Progress depends on heterodox thought and difficult questions

Progress depends on heterodox thought and difficult questions

Between the 9th and 13th Centuries, the world’s intellectual centre and the source of much of its progress, discovery and achievement was Baghdad. This was the Muslim Golden Age and at its core was the House of Wisdom, established by the Caliph Harun al-Rashid. At one point, this library housed the largest collection of books on Earth and drew the greatest minds in the world to share ideas, innovate and explore ancient sources of science and wisdom from Greek and Persian texts. Muslim, Jewish, Christian and atheist scholars worked together to advance human understanding until a slow decline culminated with a later Caliph declaring that its diversity of thought should bow to a literal interpretation of the Quran and Hadith.

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The underlying problems with the way we think about work

The underlying problems with the way we think about work

people and workAn idea that has never really gone away, but which seems to be enjoying a new lease of life is the tabula rasa. The conception of people as a blank slate is something a that has crept back into mainstream political and social thought for a variety of reasons. Arguably, it is also behind many of the most misleading notions about work and workplace design, perhaps most importantly that a change to some single element or characteristic of a working environment will lead to a specific outcome in the behaviour of people. More →

The truth about the workplace comes out of the well

The truth about the workplace comes out of the well

The debate about the workplace and the future of work gets more interesting by the week. In the last few days alone, I’ve listened in on three great speakers talking about the opportunities, challenges, nuances and complexities of it all in a way that has been all but impossible in the past 18 months. In addition, Nigel Oseland has published his new book on people-centred work. Jo Owen’s new book on hybrid working is similarly a breath of fresh air on that particular subject. More →

You gotta get IN to get out

You gotta get IN to get out

It was only towards the end of the development of IN Magazine that we became aware of something called COVID 19. By the time of the official launch in March of 2020, it had become clear that the world was facing a challenge that would lead to a reassessment of many aspects of our lives. We’re not out of the woods yet and there remain more questions than answers about what lies ahead. Yet organisations are looking forwards and I’ve been privileged in recent weeks to listen in on several conversations from occupiers about both their plans for the future and the necessity of flexibility in applying them, as they tread uncertainly in a new era and learn more about it as they go. More →

The Great Workplace Conversation gets quieter and more interesting

The Great Workplace Conversation gets quieter and more interesting

I recently stumbled upon the phrase epistemic trespass, which describes the phenomenon of people making judgements in fields in which they have no expertise. I came across it as it was used to explain the sudden explosion of opinions about Afghanistan from a hitherto unknown horde of experts. Which may or may not be the same horde that has been so very certain about immunology and public health during the pandemic. It’s an old idea and one that needs to be treated with care, for reasons set out by Noah Smith here. But it is useful in some ways because we all recognise the phenomenon and how social media amplifies it. More →

How Thomas Jefferson came to invent the swivel chair

How Thomas Jefferson came to invent the swivel chair

Thomas JeffersonIn 1775, Thomas Jefferson was a busy man. As part of the Committee of Five men and at the tender age of 33, he had been charged with drafting the Declaration of Independence that was to be presented to Congress the following Summer. By all accounts, Jefferson was a self-contained and self-sufficient man and, like many great people, a mass of contradictions.

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Who watches the workplace watchmen?

Who watches the workplace watchmen?

an eye on the workplaceOne of the world’s best known and most enduring foundational psychological experiments does not appear to be as clear cut as we commonly think. It was back in 1961 that a team led by the American psychologist Stanley Milgram asked a number of ordinary people to administer what they believed to be increasingly high levels of electric shocks to a person in another room while listening to their responses. More →

Digital twin and other tech to benefit from landmark $3.5trillion infrastructure package

Digital twin and other tech to benefit from landmark $3.5trillion infrastructure package

Siemens digital twinGrowth in key tech sectors is set to rocket after a landmark $1 trillion infrastructure package bill passed in the US Senate, part of a comprehensive $3.5 trillion plan within President Biden’s post-COVID Build Back Better initiative and paralleling the UN’s Race To Zero campaign. There had been an upward trend in share prices for companies in several tech sectors already, but Pitchbook research identified nanotechnology and digital twin technology as most likely to gain from the new bill – the largest public investment in America’s infrastructure for decades. More →

The constant craving to put numbers on working relationships

The constant craving to put numbers on working relationships

The answer to the great question of life, the universe and everything is not 42, as you may have been led to believe. It’s 1/137 (or near enough). This is the greatest of the two dozen or so universal constants. Without the physical and quantum relationships it describes, the universe as we know it could not exist. More →

A brief history of the future of work

A brief history of the future of work

The past year and a half should have served as a reminder of that tragic, unchangeable feature of the human condition, best expressed by Kierkegaard, that we are doomed to live our lives forwards but only understand them backwards. Retrospect is particularly important when we look back on sudden, large changes that knock us off our normal path. A taxonomy of change has emerged in recent years to describe such events. The best known is the ‘Black Swan’, coined and popularised by Nassim Taleb as things that “seem to us, on the basis of our limited experience, to be impossible” but which happen anyway, have a major impact and are often rationalised later. More →

The reason we can’t stomach so many opinions on the future of work

The reason we can’t stomach so many opinions on the future of work

There’s a scene in the 1986 horror movie The Fly in which Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) persuades the reporter Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis) to try two steaks, one of which Brundle has just sent between two teleportation pods in an effort to work out why they can’t process organic matter, including the organic matter belonging to a very unfortunate baboon. More →

The unshocking truth about work and workplaces

The unshocking truth about work and workplaces

I recently read an interesting little book called Office by Sheila Liming. It’s a small book, easy to read in a sitting and linked to a series of essays in The Atlantic. The author is a Professor of English so it’s no surprise to find that it’s beautifully written and draws on a range of sources to illustrate its points. It’s pretty sound on its own terms but also illustrates perfectly what is wrong with so many current narratives about work. The writing may not be clichéd but the thinking often is. More →

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