Navel gazing may not be the answer to the challenges facing workplace professions

Navel gazing may not be the answer to the challenges facing workplace professions

An adherence to strongly held beliefs can make people think and behave in peculiar ways and get them tangled up in peripheral issues that take on a great deal of significance. Early religious artists, for example, spent centuries wrestling with the seemingly intractable problem of whether to depict Adam and Eve with belly buttons or not. More →

We can learn a lot about performance from elite sports

We can learn a lot about performance from elite sports

There are many misunderstandings about performance, we might even call them myths. While strategists talk about the importance of metrics, so much of what makes an organisation work is how its people are organised and motivated. And here lies the danger. In the absence of clear expectations and outcomes, people frequently divert to effort and presenteeism as a way of showing their value. That’s all understandable, but performance is about achieving results. More →

What do we need offices for anyway? The Greeks had a word for it

What do we need offices for anyway? The Greeks had a word for it

offices - what is going onThe Greek word anagnorisis describes the sense of having just caught up with a truth that was always waiting for you. It’s a common literary and artistic device found in the plots of everything from Oedipus Rex to Macbeth, Star Wars and Fight Club, but it’s also a word that conveys a useful, complex idea that does not have an adequate English version. The mot juste, if you like. And it’s a useful idea when it comes to framing the current conversation we are having about offices and work more generally. More →

The hybrid working office: ushering in a new era for the workspace

The hybrid working office: ushering in a new era for the workspace

The increased adoption of hybrid working has led to a significant change in the way that people view a workplaceLife after COVID has led to a significant change in the way that people view a workplace. Working from home on a regular basis has become typical, not ad hoc or as required. Commuting five days a week to attend an office is no longer the norm and on the whole is no longer demanded – rather, we have seen organisations adopt hybrid working. This has meant the rationale for a physical office workspace has come under considerable scrutiny. Some organisations have gone as far as being completely remote and have released all office real estate. More →

Where are the iconic office furniture products of yesterday?

Where are the iconic office furniture products of yesterday?

A new image of Bauhaus students from 1927 raises interesting questions about the design of office furnitureLate last year, this image went viral on social media. It is of a group of Bauhaus design students from around 1927. They are called Martha Erps, Katt Both and Ruth Hellos. The full image (reproduced below) shows them with legendary office furniture designer Marcel Breuer, who Erps would later marry. The story of the photograph can be found here. On social media, though, the standard response from people of a certain vintage – my vintage admittedly – is to suggest that they were last seen supporting Echo and the Bunnymen at the Barrowland Glasgow in 1984.  More →

Thoughts of hybrid working should now turn to productivity and trust

Thoughts of hybrid working should now turn to productivity and trust

The impact of hybrid working models on productivity and employee wellbeing, especially in light of last year's unprecedented spike in sick days, is an important issueBusinesses now face the huge challenge of managing office returns and addressing the underlying generational divides and mistrust that have surfaced as a result of the pandemic years. With the Office for National Statistics (ONS) having released new data on UK productivity levels that show productivity remains sluggish, the impact of hybrid working models on productivity and employee well-being, especially in light of last year’s unprecedented spike in sick days, is an important issue. More →

Rejection of flexible working request shouldn’t blind employers to their legal duties

Rejection of flexible working request shouldn’t blind employers to their legal duties

Amy Leech of Shoosmiths looks at a recent case following the rejection of a flexible working request and considers its implicationsFlexible working has continued in many workforces since the pandemic. The most common pattern is a hybrid one where employees split their time between the office and home. However some employees are now looking to work remotely on a permanent basis. This is what happened in Wilson v Financial Conduct Authority 2302739/2023. The Claimant submitted a flexible working application requesting to work entirely remotely using her computer and other electronic equipment and to complete all her work without attending a physical office location. The Respondent’s policy was that post-pandemic, the Claimant was expected to work in the office 40 percent of the time and could work the other 60 percent remotely. More →

How Gulliver’s Travels predicted AI and our attempts to make sense of it all

How Gulliver’s Travels predicted AI and our attempts to make sense of it all

Gullivers Travels includes a description of a machine that woks very like modern AI systems, and with the same drawbacksGulliver’s Travels is one of those books we assume we know. But what we tend to recall is some stuff about Lilliput, giants, talking horses and possibly something about scientists trying to extract sunbeams from cucumbers. It’s really about one man’s descent into disillusion with the human race. It is acerbic, occasionally tediously detailed, and offers insight into some aspects of the human condition, which makes it timeless. More →

Why changing with the seasons is key to the all-weather workplace

Why changing with the seasons is key to the all-weather workplace

Building in flexibility within workplace strategy and office design is a way to ensure working environments remain a magnetic destinationLove it or hate it, weather chat is part of Britain’s day to day – yet in the world of work it’s not just casual small talk. In fact, the seasons have a real impact on how we feel and perform. The change in seasonal characteristics influences what employees need from where they work. Looking after employee wellbeing and putting individuals in the best position to be productive at work means different things throughout the year. Building in flexibility within workplace strategy and office design is a way to ensure working environments remain a magnetic destination that support people all year round…but what does this type of flexibility look like? 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 →

Of mice and men

Of mice and men

What humble computer mice can tell us about the way we now work. Or how the law of unintended consequences applies to hybrid workersThe history of the humble computer mouse dates back to the 1960s and engineer Douglas Engelbart’s work on improving the way people and computers interact. He initially called the device he envisaged a ‘bug’ but the first prototype he created with Bill English was so unmistakeably a rodent that there was only one thing they could have called it. If only they had settled the question of whether the plural was mouses or mice. More →

The Kafka trap of return to office arguments

The Kafka trap of return to office arguments

This month I witnessed somebody misapplying the work of Kafka in an attempt to make a middlebrow point about the so-called return to officeRecently, I bemoaned how Orwell is often invoked in support of an argument by people who haven’t read him. They are usually drawing on some laundered misperception of his work, and especially Nineteen Eighty-Four. Well, just a few days ago, I witnessed somebody misapplying the work of Kafka in a similar attempt to make a middlebrow point about the so-called return to office. More →