Companies need to work out what they want to emerge from the BYOD pile-up

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Blues Brothers Pile UpAnybody who tells you they understand what is happening with BYOD, doesn’t understand what is happening with BYOD. Even by the standards of workplace technology, trying to get a firm grasp on the current state of play when it comes to the practice of Bring Your Own Device is particularly challenging. Surveys, opinions, research and case study pile up each day, crashing and bouncing off each other like the culmination of the multiple car chases in the Blues Brothers and just as difficult to untangle. The latest batch of news and views highlights exactly how disparate and conflicting the available information is. But underlying it all appears to be a single discernible and consistent point; while organisations may be less focussed on BYOD’s perceived advantages and rather more worried about the consequence of not implementing the practice, they still don’t trust it.

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New survey reveals extent and nature of workplace change programmes

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Apple 11

The newly published Workplace Transformation Survey from property consultancy  Cushman and Wakefield begins with the now routine statement that “there is no doubt the corporate workplace is rapidly transforming”. So tell us something we don’t know – and in the subsequent report they pretty much do. That said, the methodology of the survey does skew the results by focussing on a particular part of the workplace elephant, because the report was compiled in conjunction with CoreNet Global, based on a questionnaire of over 500 occupiers and other participants from around the world taking part in events in Los Angeles, Amsterdam and Shanghai. So inevitably the results are weighted to at least some degree in favour of those with an interest in commercial property and the regions from which it draws its data. More →

Book Review: The Emergent Workplace

Book Review: The Emergent Workplace

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Looking for patterns in the mash. © Columbia Pictures

Looking for patterns in the mash
© Columbia Pictures

It’s rather refreshing to see a book or report in which the word ‘Workplace’ in the title is prefaced by ‘Emergent’ rather than something misleading like ‘Tomorrow’s’ or ‘Future’. And so the authors Clark Sept and Paul Heath define their vision of the workplace presented in this slim but engaging book as a thing which is ‘in the process of becoming prominent’ to use the dictionary definition of the word emergent. By using this particular epithet, they are describing the consequences of the various forces that drive today’s workplace rather than lapsing into the fallacies most commonly associated with works of this kind; principally those of either assuming there is an evolution of all offices towards an ultimate model, or that already commonplace factors such as technology which frees us to work anywhere and at any time can in any way be associated with ‘the future’.

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

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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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The creative talent in the UK’s regions (other than London) is quietly thriving

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We can now be very confident that the UK economy is on an enduring upward path. We can also be sure that the UK that emerges from five years of recession will be very different to the one that entered it. And on that score things look pretty promising too, because we have the skills and talent needed in some of the world’s most in-demand sectors such as digital media, banking, software development, telecoms and publishing. In fact a recent report from Deloitte says that London employs more people in these and similar knowledge-based sectors than any other country in the world. But while London has an inevitable tendency to grab these sorts of headlines, it’s also great to acknowledge that London doesn’t have a monopoly on this pool of talent, and may even be less attractive as a base for some firms.

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Extended rights to flexible working could prove a logistical headache for employers

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Extended rights to flexible working could prove a logistical headache for employers

A recent decision by the government could result in emptier offices on Fridays and Mondays as staff vie with each other to work from home. This is because from April 2014 onwards, employers will have to be prepared to consider flexible working requests from any employee, not just for employees who have children under the age of 17 or responsibilities as carers. One of the more challenging areas for employers is how to manage condensed hours requests and to keep enough staff covering core office hours, without affecting the business. This could result in employers having to juggle competing flexible working requests from employees who they may not be able to accommodate all at the same time. More →

Don’t be caught by surprise by the hidden costs of commercial property

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let-signAccording to Colliers International’s recent Global Investor Sentiment Report, 2014 will see an increase in commercial property investor confidence, with 74 per cent of UK based investors saying they were more likely to risk investing across all property sectors, although offices remain the most popular category to invest in. Yet despite this vote of confidence, it seems strange to report that the real costs involved in property acquisition and maintenance, are frequently overlooked by the purchasers. It appears that businesses often have a patchy knowledge of the range of costs involved in owning or leasing commercial real estate, which is surprising when you consider that a company’s biggest single investment next to its workforce is commercial property.

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Battle lines being drawn as wearable tech raises privacy and security fears

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Google Glass banWe are starting to see the first shots fired in the coming war about wearable technology. The most talked about early salvos related to the very recent and highly publicised case of a diner in a Seattle cafe who was ejected when it was discovered he was wearing and using Google Glass despite being asked not to and reminded of the restaurant owner’s policy regarding wearable tech. The ensuing media storm broke on social media first as it does these days, with the Google Glass owner arguing – perhaps unreasonably – they were his glasses and he should be allowed to do what he wanted with them , while the cafe owner argued –perhaps reasonably – that his other customers don’t want to have a meal out while wondering if they are being filmed or recorded by a complete stranger with the ability to upload it all instantaneously.

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The meaningful aspects of what we do give us the greatest rewards

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It is the meaningful aspects of what we do

Charles Handy recently explained to attendees at Worktech 13 London why money is not the main motivating factor for employees; while at the same event, Claudia Hamm-Barstow of Jones Lang LaSalle added that the dream workplace is “a place where the company adds value to the employee experience, people feel valued and welcomed, the organisation feels meaningful, the work is rewarding and importantly there are no stupid rules”. According to The Human Givens Institute neither of these statements should be at all surprising. But The Human Givens theory adds that we also need to be respected, to feel in control, to have self-esteem, privacy and community.  And, most crucially of all, we need to have purpose and meaning in our lives. More →

The future belongs to those who leave themselves choices of how to deal with it

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unknown-futureEverybody likes to talk and read about the future. It’s one of the reasons we see so many reports about what the ‘office of the future’ will look like. Often these attempts at workplace prognosis are overwhelmingly  rooted in the present which might betray either a degree of timidity or lack of awareness of just how far along their standard list of trends we really are. Even when such reports appear to be bang on the money, they tend to disregard one of the most important factors we need to consider when trying to get a handle on the future, which is the need to leave ourselves choices. This is important because not only will the future be stranger than we think, but stranger than we can imagine, to paraphrase J B S Haldane.

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Control over their work space helps satisfy people’s basic emotional needs

Control over their work space helps satisfy people’s basic emotional needs

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Control over their work space satisfies an individual's basic emotional needsIn the second of two pieces to mark the seventieth anniversary of Abraham Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ Annie Gurton writes: Workers need an element of control in their surroundings. As Maslow said in the 1940s, humans are fundamentally, simple creatures. We need air, water, food and security, but along with those basic physiological needs we have a set of emotional needs. If these are not met we do not die, but we become emotionally distressed. When it comes to designing office space, it is important that our basic emotional needs are met if we are to feel happy. Workers need to have privacy yet feel connected to others. They need to have a sense of community yet feel that they are respected.

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How a 70 year old happiness model is still helping us to define wellness

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People climbing the Great Pyramid 1This year marks the seventieth anniversary of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the model that still introduces most of us to notions of what makes people happy and fulfilled. Maslow first proposed the model in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review, developing his ideas throughout the rest of his life. His work has been parallelled and built upon by other researchers since, but few have had the influence and longevity. Maslow’s hierarchical characterisation of human needs by category is ingrained into the minds of students all over the world. In the first of two pieces to mark this anniversary, Cathie Sellars of Workspace argues that Maslow continues to offers us the ideal definition of wellness.  

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