Video: The 21st Century Office – how the BBC got it all wrong in 1969

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Two days ago we published a strikingly prescient report from Walter Cronkite dating from 1967 about how the world of work would look in the 21st century. Two years later the BBC was to get things hopelessly wrong, not only with its tired and misguided wannabe existentialism, but also with its vision of a future which was clearly just a slightly mechanised plasticky version of the present. That’s often the problem with futurology. It tells you more about the time in which people are making their predictions than any real vision of what is to come.

Plenty of innovation in Stockholm. Just ignore the price of beer.

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Nendo Stockholm

They say first impressions count so after landing in Stockholm it was a shame that mine veered towards a personal negative rather than a positive when I discovered that my hotel room interior was purer in design than a polar bear’s coat. To a problem solving mind like mine, this didn’t add up. Surely the cold climate would venture towards a more luxurious, cosy and comforting aesthetic. My second impression inevitably arrived courtesy of a local bar. I could have sworn I’d ordered a 40cl beer rather than the bottle of Bolly the bill suggested. So with those problems dismissed from my mind, it was heartening that the rest of the trip to the Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair was roundly positive.

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Video: Why designers need to design for our ears too

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A subject too often ignored but about which we now have a great deal of research is that of acoustic comfort. Insight has covered the subject before, but the fact remains that too often we design for our eyes far more than our ears. What we also know to be true is that we are becoming more acutely aware of the issue as our workplaces change both in terms of the space each of us is allocated and our exposure to others in the name of collaboration. In this TED talk Julian Treasure of The Sound Agency considers how we might design our surrounding in ways to improve our acoustic comfort.

What Ronald McDonald can teach us about office design

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McDonalds1As the UK continues to agonise over the potentially equine provenance of many of its beef products, one firm that has managed to stay above it all is McDonald’s. While rivals Burger King quickly became embroiled in the scandal after traces of horsemeat were found in its Burgers, McDonalds ramped up its claims in the national media that it only uses 100 per cent beef. McDonald’s has had a pretty good couple of years, and not all of it is down to the food. During 2012, the company spent $1.45bn this year on giving 2,400 stores a makeover. It claims that it has now revamped 90 per cent of its UK stores. More →

Video: A new kind of job market, or the commoditisation of work?

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At a TED talk delivered in London at the end of 2012, Wingham Rowan, project director of Slivers-of-Time, a ‘work marketplace’, says that websites such as his are thriving by bringing together what he terms ultra-flexible workers with employers to deliver short periods of work on specific tasks. The question is: whether this is a valuable tool in providing flexible work opportunities for appropriate people or the most advanced example we yet have of how labour is increasingly commoditised, casualised and disposable?

A Field Guide to Workplace Terminology

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DictionaryAs the ecosystem around the workplace industry grows ever more complex, so too does the language we use to describe it. In an attempt to bring order to chaos, guest writer Simon Heath presents here a glossary of terms, acronyms and abbreviations to help you navigate these linguistic waters. (For example Business Intelligence – A commonly used oxymoron.) For more of Simon’s worldly, wise and witty writing on all things work and workplace related, visit his blog at https://workmusing.wordpress.com.

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Plans to convert offices may undermine innovation and growth

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Old Street roundabout regenerationWhatever they might think, Governments don’t have a natural propensity for joined up thinking. Nor do they have a natural affinity with small businesses, especially those that emerge in non-traditional sectors. Governments may like to claim they can display both of these noble values, but experience tells us different. One thing they are prone to, however, is a frequent ability to fall victim to unfortunate juxtapositions of complex events that throw their inherent weaknesses into sharp relief.

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A train that symbolises the clash of old and new ways of work

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Today we’ll all be hearing a lot more about the plans for HS2, the Government’s flagship construction project and all-round Keynesian boot in the pants for the UK economy. Most of what will pass for debate will involve some light class warfare about the route through Tory constituencies, seasoned with a dash of NIMBYism, some chest beating from Labour who started the whole thing but can’t be seen to support it fully and various other bits of pointless to-ing and fro-ing. But what is most remarkable about the scheme as far as Insight is concerned, is how its business case completely and deliberately ignores the way we work. More →

Yes, very nice, but who do you think is going to clean it?

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Abu Dhabi Mosque smallIf you want to, you can see the difference between design and facilities management as the difference between sex and parenthood. One is an act of creation, the other of care. So while an architect or designer might look at the honeycomb structures and shiny surfaces of the interior of the 40,000 capacity Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi with admiration, the person who is actually responsible for looking after it might well be more likely to think ‘well, that’s just great’.

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Cloud computing set to transform business models

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As an issue explored in our own briefing on the technologies that will do most to transform the workplace during 2013, we know the Cloud is set to be adopted (and understood) by more and more organisations and individuals in the coming year. Doubtless it will follow the usual process of technological adoption as people begin to understand its unintended consequences as well as its uses but it pays to know what some of its implications will be for office designers and managers as shown by this programme from Deloitte.

What does 2013 hold for the facilities sector in the UK?

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FMJ MJE_0000Insight publisher Mark Eltringham offers some thoughts about what the coming year holds in the latest issue of Facilities Management Journal including the ongoing existential crisis of facilities management, why the commercial property sector needs to catch up with occupiers and designers as well as a plea for everybody to set ambitious goals and make realistic claims about their environmental impact.

It’s essential to design flexibility into an office

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AEGIS_0065

The design of offices and the furniture that fills them matters because of what it tells us about how we work, how organisations function and even what is happening in the economy. If you want to know what’s going on, take a look at the places we work and the things with which we surround ourselves and how they change over time.

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