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:

Well, at least nobody is whinging about open plan offices anymore

Well, at least nobody is whinging about open plan offices anymore

Years of pathologising offices should have prepared us for the patholigisation of virtual spaces. It seems like months since anybody has come out with that tired old rant about open plan. Certain vociferous and obsessive authors on the subject have had to find some other outlet for whatever their real problem is. Still, it’s not hard right now to find similar stuff about the toxicity of virtual meetings and especially those hosted by poor old Zoom, who get the blame for everything.

More →

The future of work isn’t what it used to be

The future of work isn’t what it used to be

future of workAt the 1983 International Design Conference in Aspen, Steve Jobs delivered a speech addressing the theme of the conference; The Future Isn’t What It Used to Be. In it he set out his thoughts on new technology, intuitive design, personal computing as well as the need for a constantly evolving idea of what the future will look like, including the future of work. More →

We need to talk about Red Industries

We need to talk about Red Industries

red industriesWe need to talk about Red Industries. More specifically we need to talk about the firm’s Walley’s Quarry landfill site in the town of Newcastle-under-Lyme.

First up, a disclaimer. I am a native of the town. Fairly recently, I returned to live there after many years away. Most importantly in the context of what I am about to write, my mum was laid to rest in the town. Her grave lies in the main cemetery of the village of Silverdale.

Silverdale has a population of a little under 5,000 people. The Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme is largely formed from a number of similar villages and has a total population of about 130,000.

Yet this small village in this small town is the source of more complaints to the UK’s Environment Agency than any other location in the country. Last weekend alone the council received around 2,000. Many hundreds more were made to the EA (exact numbers are vague although the EA admits it was a record number). Those complaints include one of my own. All referred to the polluting stench of sulphurous rot emanating from the landfill site in the village, owned by Red Industries.

Call the EA reporting hotline and the first question you are asked before saying anything else is whether the complaint is about Walley’s Quarry. That tells its own story.

 

The wider problem

Among the complainants were local schools, Keele University and the local hospital. To put this into context, the hospital is 2.5 miles away from the landfill and the stench was reported inside the building. My own home is around 2 miles away and my complaint about Red Industries and its hell hole was made from there.

My mother’s grave lies 100 yards from the entrance to the site. I now cannot visit her without heaving.

God alone knows how awful it must be for mourners at funerals. And how much worse for those who live nearby. Although you can get some idea from the activist Facebook Group set up to tell their stories. Those stories have amped up since the site was granted a new licence last year. That doesn’t seem a coincidence.

I could say the Environment Agency is pussy footing around the issue, but they are not even doing that. Last weekend’s deluge of complaints to the agency coincided with the introduction of new monitoring equipment at the site. On Monday it became apparent that this equipment wasn’t even turned on.

And so, the suggestion from MP Aaron Bell that the weekend should be considered an incident in its own right can be dismissed by the very people supposedly responsible for protecting the environment. I don’t know what they make of his raising the issue in Parliament.

And the response of Red Industries to what is happening? It is to hide behind regulations and the skirt tails of the useless EA, refuse to acknowledge the problem and write intimidating letters to the MP.

A new motion put forward to the council suggests that the site needs to close while a better plan is formulated. The leader of the council has called on the local head of the EA to resign and for the site to be closed permanently. His organisation is now actively at loggerheads with the EA. This is getting very real, very quickly.

Something needs to change and soon. The site as managed by Red Industries is – at the very least – worsening the daily lives and wellbeing of tens of thousands of people. It may well be affecting their physical health. These people are being let down by the Environment Agency which needs to be far more proactive and possibly aggressive in its dealings with Red Industries. Already there have been minor protests, including one man chaining himself to the gates of the site. But if local people cannot rely on the agencies that should be protecting them, we might expect those protests to ramp up.

This is a personal post, but it’s very important to me. It will stay online but not appear on the homepage.   

Issue 5 of IN Magazine opens up new dimensions for the workplace

Issue 5 of IN Magazine opens up new dimensions for the workplace

The digital edition of IN5 is now available, exploring the very latest thinking on people, places and technology with print copies on their way soon. In the new issue: the different responses of nations to the pandemic; how some furniture makers are using new materials to do something real about the environment;  interviews with Marie Puybaraud and Neil Usher; masks and helmets at work; the new opportunities for the workplace professions; how a new office in Athens combines ancient wisdom and modern thinking; the potential for us to drift into a new form of feudalism; and all the latest, news and commentary you need; plus some other stuff you didn’t know you needed.  More →

Breaking eggs and a two thousand year quest to make the most of each day

Breaking eggs and a two thousand year quest to make the most of each day

make the most of each dayThe fracturing of time and place underlies every one of the great workplace issues of our time. Everything that springs from this – the where, when, how, what and why of work – is defined by the shattering of any fixed idea we may once have had of a time and a place to work. Because the challenge to these traditional ideas is now so inextricably linked in our minds with new technology, we might often  forget that people have been asking questions about how we can get the most out of each day for thousands of years. Tempus fugit after all, and as a consequence we’ve always known that how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. More →

Getting the measure of better working cultures

Getting the measure of better working cultures

For now, just forget the cyborg monkeys and spinach sending emails, the real short term tech action is all about how to gauge what workers are thinking or doing, and what to do about it – especially if whatever they are thinking and doing is not what the org wants for them or, more importantly, itself. Things are getting crazy. More →

The scale of the problem for the workplace

The scale of the problem for the workplace

There is a typically telling and intelligent Pixar moment in the film A Bug’s Life in which an already well-lubricated mosquito goes up to a bar and orders a ‘Bloody Mary, O Positive’. The barman plonks a droplet of blood down on the bar. The mosquito sinks his proboscis into it, sucks it down in one go and promptly falls over. The mosquito doesn’t need a glass because that is for animals who have a problem with gravity. For insects, the major force in their lives isn’t gravity, but surface tension. More →

What we all get wrong about motivation and the hierarchy of needs

What we all get wrong about motivation and the hierarchy of needs

hierarchy of needsWhen it comes to understanding motivation, the stepping off point for most people is Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The theory is now nearly 80 years old and its endurance is some kind of testimony to its insight. Yet a recent paper published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, authored by William Compton of Middle Tennessee State University argues that some of the ideas we most commonly associate with the theory seem to be myths. These include its most fundamental concept, the Pyramid of Needs.

More →

From the archive: Childhood’s end for work and the need for a grown-up conversation

From the archive: Childhood’s end for work and the need for a grown-up conversation

Arthur C Clarke’s finest novel Childhood’s End is the story of an Earth that is invaded by a force of alien Overlords. This is not a destructive colonial invasion, which is why there’s no Hollywood blockbuster in the tale, but a seemingly benevolent intervention which ushers in a golden age for humanity. Although humankind initially does not get to meet the Overlords in person (for reasons I won’t give away here), the aliens unite the world’s governments, eradicate crime, conflict and the nation state and do away with the need for creativity and hard work. It is the literal end of history.

More →

Forget all the talk of Blue Monday; work is still (largely) good for us

Forget all the talk of Blue Monday; work is still (largely) good for us

blue mondaySo here it is. Blue Monday. Today. Officially the most depressing day of the year. We say ‘officially’, but like the idea of ‘Body Odour’ its common usage hides the fact that it was originally created as part of a PR campaign, in this case one for Sky’s travel channel in 2005. The whole idea of Blue Monday is couched in a pseudo-mathematical equation which includes factors like the weather, levels of debt, time since Christmas, low levels of motivation and, apparently, an unspecified variable known simply as ‘D’. More →

Whenever I hear the future of work, I reach for my pistol

Whenever I hear the future of work, I reach for my pistol

the future of workFor years it has been evident that there is no ‘future of work’. There is only a journey with no destination and no single way of not getting to it. That hasn’t stopped people talking about it all endlessly. And each time they have, I’ve reached for my pistol. More →

We shouldn’t become village idiots in our new ways of life

We shouldn’t become village idiots in our new ways of life

The idea of a Global Village comes loaded with a number of idyllic connotations. Most of them derive from the use of the word village itself, which triggers the idea of a community in our minds. Yet even the man who coined and popularised the term in the 1950s and 60s to describe a world contracted by new media understood that there are always complications whenever technology rubs up against human beings. More →

Translate >>