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:

Stanley Green, protein wisdom and the perils of sitting down

Stanley Green, protein wisdom and the perils of sitting down 0

Each day for 25 years, between 1968 and 1993, a man called Stanley Green would rise early, enjoy a spartan breakfast of porridge and an egg, pack up a lunch of apples and vegetables, strap them along with a placard and some pamphlets to a bike and cycle the 12 miles to Oxford Street from his home in Northolt. There he would share his ideas for improving the physical and psychological wellbeing of the country, based primarily on the idea that the consumption of too much protein led to the moral turpitude he had first encountered in the Navy during the War and which had then infected the whole country. More →

From the archive: Escaping the gravity of the fixed times and places of work

From the archive: Escaping the gravity of the fixed times and places of work

In November 2019, just before that thing happened, there was this… The worst workplace related news story of 2019 is also one of the most widely reported. I’m not linking to it because I don’t want to give it any credibility, but it has been discharged into the ether by Fellowes along with a ‘behavioural futurist’ called William Higham. I will say only two things about it. Firstly, we flatly refused to publish a story about the damn thing and it’s a shame that the mainstream media couldn’t spot it for the utter drivel it is. The fact that they have picked up on it says something about the way such issues are covered in the press. That’s why you’re more likely to see a stress-related story about rats driving cars on the BBC than you are something meaningful. More →

Personal space is not merely an issue of hygiene, but a biological imperative

Personal space is not merely an issue of hygiene, but a biological imperative

personal space and office designThe current debate about how much space we will need in the office from now on is not new. As with many of the debate’s facets, the point at which we find ourselves has long been our destination. We’re just here earlier than we might have expected. More →

Serfs up for the self-employed and gig economy workers (and the middle class)

Serfs up for the self-employed and gig economy workers (and the middle class)

One of the most significant consequences of the 2008 economic crash was a remarkable shift in the nature of employmentThe recession led to a surge in the number of people categorised as self-employed. The numbers have been increasing ever since, albeit at a lower rate. By the end of 2019, the number of self-employed people in the UK exceeded five million people for the first time. Fifteen percent of the workforce.  More →

Escaping the gravitational pull of workplace data

Escaping the gravitational pull of workplace data

On the doorstep of the British Library you will find Edouardo Paolozzi’s imposing statue of Sir Isaac Newton. At first glance, this positioning seems to make perfect sense. Where better for a monument to the Enlightenment’s poster boy than raised on a plinth at the entrance to the world’s second largest library? And yet, there’s more going on here than is evident at first glance.

More →

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 →

Translate >>