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:

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.

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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.

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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 →

What happens to work when the machine stops?

What happens to work when the machine stops?

Newton at work

In 1909, E M Forster – not exactly known for a body of work including dystopian fiction – published a novella called The Machine Stops. You can read it here but the story describes a future in which people live below ground, in isolation but with all their needs met by an omnipresent Machine (you can see where this is going). More →

The way to create a successful workplace is simple, but never easy

The way to create a successful workplace is simple, but never easy

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. As is now the way of these things, the famous opening words of Anna Karenina have been used to name a principle that is applied across a wide range of fields. It describes how success can only happen in one way, but failure comes in many forms. More →

The shape of things to come for the world and the workplace

The shape of things to come for the world and the workplace

Originally published in March, right at the start of all this. Makes me wonder how far we’ve come in nine months. In Dorian Lynskey’s The Ministry of Truth, a “biography” of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the author describes how Orwell’s  book was the end point of an obsession with utopian (and ultimately dystopian) fiction that characterised the first half of the Twentieth Century, and reflected the competing political, social and economic ideologies of the era. More →

When the chairs took over the world and what it all meant

When the chairs took over the world and what it all meant

rows of chairsOf 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 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’. More →

Listening in on an enormous conversation about the workplace

Listening in on an enormous conversation about the workplace

One of the best tricks Clive James ever pulled was finding acceptance as a public intellectual in the UK. It’s not easy in a country in which it is possible to be too clever by half or even too clever for your own good. Stephen Fry continues to pull it off as does Mary Beard, but it’s a hell of a thing to achieve. In the UK it seems to rely on straddling at least two worlds. More →

Office taxonomy and an increasingly diverse workplace ecosystem

Office taxonomy and an increasingly diverse workplace ecosystem

From the archive. First published in October workplace ecosystem2015. It is perhaps the most common misconception of evolutionary theory that all animals are somehow evolving towards some end point – meaning us. This notion is perhaps best summed up when a sceptic asks: “If we have evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” The lesser of the two problems with this is its solipsistic assumption that humans are the pinnacles of life and that, if evolution were true, all species would eventually evolve into people. More →

The lost art of office furniture peacocking and the growing mental health crisis at work

The lost art of office furniture peacocking and the growing mental health crisis at work

When Donald Trump was pictured recently sitting uncomfortably at a table that looked like it had been retrieved from a skip, it provoked the sort of sneering commentary about furniture choices last seen when Dominic Cummings popped in to the Downing Street garden to deliver some self-serving blather from behind a rickety trestle table. More →

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