Guidance on designing in accessibility for disabled workers

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Diversity in the workplace

The government launches a campaign today using TV celebrities and disabled groups to help promote positive role models for disabled people. It’s aimed at building on the latest stats that show 81 per cent of people thought the Paralympics had a positive impact on the way disabled people are perceived. Currently they’re not well represented in the workplace, as according to DTI figures half of all disabled people are unable to find work. This is why the Equality Act 2010 plays such a vital role in promoting diversity in the workplace. Put into practice, understanding and adhering to the Equality Act 2010 requires employers to take positive action to remove certain disadvantages to disabled people posed by working practices and the physical features of premises. More →

New report offers latest evidence of link between office design and productivity

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ProductivitySo, does workplace design have any impact on productivity and business performance? Well duh. So why are we still trying to convince managers when there is so much evidence and experience to prove it. The latest study to demonstrate the link builds on decades of research and adds further compelling evidence in a debate that should have been over a long time ago. In this report, workplace strategist Nigel Oseland and the  Atomic Weapons Establishment’s estate masterplanner Adrian Burton describe their research quantifying the effect on worker performance of improvements to the office environment. The question these reports always beg is why the argument still has to be made.

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Artists sing about office furniture. Part 2 – My Chemical Romance

Artists sing about office furniture. Part 2 – My Chemical Romance

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Roger Carr writes: I always like “Furniture music” by Bill Nelson’s Red Noise – but upon listening to it again it could be domestic furniture too. But “Cubicles” by “My Chemical Romance” is surely about the lonely disassociated world of the (unrequited) love sick office cubicle dweller.It’s a tough listen after Harry Nilsson’s desk related joy and his close personal relationship with either a lump of wood or God depending on your point of view, but the MCR track might possibly help to explain the rush to escape the cubicle.

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Worldwide competition launched by RIBA to design a new Scotland Yard

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Courtesy of Simon Heath

Courtesy of Simon Heath

A worldwide competition to design a new Metropolitan Police HQ has been launched by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The force is moving from its landmark New Scotland Yard site in Westminster, central London as part of cost cutting measures. The project on behalf of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) will involve the redevelopment of the existing and currently unoccupied Curtis Green MPS building located on the Victoria Embankment, London, SW1. Roger Harding MPS – Director of Real Estate Development said: “The opportunity to create a modern efficient working environment for the Met’s future headquarters, with world-class architecture that provides value for money and is alive to the history of the building provides a wonderful challenge.” More →

CBRE WorkShop concept is interesting, but is it workable?

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workshop_logo

I’d like to deal in this article with the arrival yesterday of the long-awaited white paper from CBRE’s thought leadership exercise, The CBRE Workshop. However, I should declare an interest for the sake of transparency. Until June 2012 I was employed by CBRE and reported directly to a couple of the people who are heavily involved in The Workshop idea. I would reassure readers that I am not a disgruntled former employee. I have a huge amount of respect and warm regard towards my erstwhile colleagues and nobody will be happier than me to see them do well.

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Colliers uses Bucharest HQ to showcase office design for Generation Y

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 Colliers International uses Bucharest HQ to showcase design for Generation Y

The Bucharest office of property consultancy Colliers International has been revamped to showcase an office design model that the company claims will meet the needs of the next generation of employees. Colliers has worked with architecture studio Prographic and drawn on its own studies of Generation Y  and their needs to create the space. According to the firm, the prototype office will incorporate the newest technology, the latest thinking on workplace design and space planning and set new standards in sustainability. As well as Prographic, Colliers International worked with suppliers including ASUS, Techo, Bene, Bittnet Systems and Saint-Gobain to create its vision.

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Will the Great Trade Association Merger have any impact on office design?

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Ceci n'est pas un bureauAnybody who has been working in and around the facilities management sector for any length of time will know that the FM profession/discipline (delete as appropriate) regularly undergoes protracted periods of existential angst about its role. It strikes me however that this is actually quite an easy question to deal with because the answer is the same as it is for similarly amorphous professions such as marketing. It all seems to depend on who you are and what you are trying to do. That’s the twist. The average facilities manager, like the Urban Spaceman, doesn’t exist. I might think that but it won’t stop the associations and institutes currently working together to establish a new super-body for FM in the UK having to continue the debate.

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How ingrained assumptions about the workplace are eroding

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Ad agency RKCR  © Jefferson Smith

Ad agency RKCR © Jefferson Smith

The first day at a new job used to mean getting the answer to that all important question: “so which is my office?”  In today’s mostly open plan environments, the same psychological attachment has been transferred to the desk – ‘my’ desk. However the current trend for flexible approaches to where people work means that even the concept of having one’s own desk is now under attack. So how much does having your own desk matter to the UK office workforce these days? We have been asking employees how they feel about having their own desk. The results seem to be that more than half, on average 56% (of a total of 2,653 employees surveyed at 5 recent client projects), think that it is ‘very important’ and a further 25% think it is ‘quite important’.

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The biggest challenge is building flexibility into an office design

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Flexible pencilThe design of offices and the furniture that fills them matters because of what they tell 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. Because the way we work changes so quickly, buildings need to have flexibility built into them so that they meet our needs today but anticipate what we will need tomorrow.In his book How Buildings Learn, Stewart Brand outlines the process whereby buildings evolve over time to meet the changing needs of their occupants.

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Office design goes to the movies. Part 9: BladeRunner

Office design goes to the movies. Part 9: BladeRunner

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Ridley Scott was one of the pioneers of a film aesthetic that mashes the past with the future, the grime and the gleam. It was a pioneering idea at the time but it’s familiar now. We now accept that the future looks a lot like the past and that goes for the office design in this scene. BladeRunner is also a film about dreams. The dreamy setting here is a telling  contrast to the dirt and sleaze in the City below and the scene in the office in which Deckard (Harrison Ford) interviews the classic femme fatale Rachel (Sean Young) also supports the unresolved notion that Deckard may be a replicant himself. Clearly the workplace smoking ban had been repealed by this time, but then where would a femme fatale be without a cigarette? Even if she is an android.

What workers really want from their offices? The basics.

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The basicsSo what do people really want from their offices? It’s a question that has tasked the minds of researchers for many years. According to a recent survey from Overbury, the ideal office design seemed to be a Starbucks, but a new report from the British Council for Offices suggests that what people want isn’t actually that much. Top of the list of priorities for the 1,200 or so people surveyed were fast Wi-Fi, comfortable surroundings, a convenient location and a decent, if unspectacular, fit-out, although responses varied to a certain degree across age groups and sectors. Is that really too much to ask? And are the pool table and the slide absolutely necessary?

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Video: “sitting is the smoking of our generation”

Video: “sitting is the smoking of our generation”

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In which a businesswoman rejoicing in the name Nilofer Merchant argues that one of the major causes of ill health in the world today is our sedentary lifestyle, and suggests a small idea that just might have a big impact on your life and health: Next time you have a one-on-one meeting, make it into a “walking meeting”. She is arguing the increasingly well established principle that good ergonomics is not about posture but about movement. This point has been argued before on Office Insight, including here, but the point cannot be made often enough. It’s true that the best chair designs encourage movement for those times when we cannot avoid sitting but, as ever, this is as much an issue of management as it is design.

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