About Steve Brewer

Posts by Steve Brewer:

Developing a cultured nose for what makes workplace design great

Developing a cultured nose for what makes workplace design great

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Workplace people are at risk of obsessing about productivity. The idea of what is or is not effective and even the notion of wellbeing, has almost been done to death. We overthink stuff. As Neil Usher might say, there are a few bandwagons people are leaping on a little too eagerly. So, let’s keep it simple. Yes, we need a ‘space’ to work in (or just do stuff), but mostly we need a reason for using it in the first place. One thing most people agree on – even the media and flinty-eyed consultants – is that we need a motivation, a reason to do the things asked of us and a belief or intrinsic connection to do those ‘things’ well.

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We need to have an honest conversation about presenteeism

We need to have an honest conversation about presenteeism

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We have talked before about the risks of over thinking problems. It is not just something that consultants, designers and the workplace intelligentsia are guilty of – everyone does it.  It is why we do not switch off when we are ill and still insist on going to work. We over think the consequences of not being in our workplace. Likewise, many traditional line managers simply cannot get their head around their teams working from home. After all, modern management mantras all talk about creating a great atmosphere in which teams all work together – in the same space at the same time? We all tend to over complicate most things and that is one of the main reasons in the UK we struggle with the concept of working from home. A consequence of this is the rise in presenteeism, which is mainly linked to illness, people ignoring how bad they feel and because of a perceived pressure, still turning up for work.

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There is no clash of the digital and analogue worlds

There is no clash of the digital and analogue worlds

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Take no notice of the headline grabbing writers in the media. No battle lines are being drawn up between advocates of the analogue world of the 1960s/70s and those promoting the pioneering ideas for a bold digital 21st century. Despite the rhetoric written about driverless cars, being able to make phone calls by just thinking about who we want to call and the advance of artificial intelligence, we will almost certainly benefit from advances in technology.

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Why doesn’t the HR dept have more of a role in workplace design?

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workplace designTo design a great workplace you need to have an intimate understanding of the culture of the organisation. Culture is a result of the values of the organisation; the way people live those values and the relationships that they hold internally and externally with their marketplace and customers. The look and feel of the organisation needs to reflect the culture, just as a brand of a company reflects the product or service they provide. A good HR department will be able to distil the company culture and FM can bring it to life. We can all name examples of superb HR departments that actively engage with FM on workplace design. However, they are more the exception than the rule. If workplace design is really going to contribute to an increase in business performance then HR and FM need to work together to engage and integrate both the hard (FM) and soft (HR) services of the organisation.

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