About Nigel Sikora


Posts by Nigel Sikora:

The reason offices will always be needed is tied up with human nature

Far awayPeople have a tendency to confuse what is possible with what will happen. This appears to be a particular issue when we consider the effects of new technology. Hence the enduring talk of the death of the office, which technology makes possible but which people make impossible. One of the key areas of research that describes this tension is the work of Tom Allen at MIT. Allen made his name in 1984 with the publication of a book called Managing the Flow of Technology which first popularised the Allen Curve, a graph of his research findings which shows a powerful negative correlation between physical distance and the frequency of communication between colleagues. So precisely can this be defined, that Allen found that 50 metres marks a cut-off point for the regular exchange of certain types of technical information.

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One of the most important things we need at work is shelter from the storm

Shelter from the stormThe challenge of providing the optimum level of acoustic performance in an office is one of those issues that everybody accepts is very important, has at least some understanding of and has a degree of awareness of the solutions. Yet it has proved to be one of those intractable issues that suffers both from some important misperceptions and which also has to be balanced against other challenges when it comes to designing offices, not least the most significant trend of the past twenty or thirty years, namely the shift to open plan working. At the same time we have seen a shrinking of workstation footprints and the greater use of mobile phones and other technology. All of these changes have focussed attention on workplace acoustics – currently one of the most talked about issues in the workplace, and visual privacy – one of the least talked about.

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