Video: how we need to break with the past to optimise what we do now

Video: how we need to break with the past to optimise what we do now

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Dave Coplin, the ‘Chief Envisioning Officer’ at Microsoft, explores with the RSA how we might apply technology in new ways to transform the way we work. He starts with a look at how we are constrained by the past, with the example of the QWERTY keyboard which was originally developed to slow typists down to stop keys jamming but is still the de facto input method for typists over a century later. Obviously there are very good commercial reasons why technology companies need to ‘envision’ this new world of flexible working but it’s an engaging presentation and honest enough when he argues against our obsession with specific aspects of work such as email at the expense of others.

Mobile devices set to outnumber humans as PC sales plummet

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IpadsOne of the sure fire ways to judge what is about to happen to the world’s workplaces is to watch what people are doing with their gadgets. So as two surveys are published that show the dramatic decline in the numbers of PCs being sold around the world, a report from Cisco has forecast that by the end of this year, the number of mobile devices in operation globally will exceed the human population for the first time. Of course, that could only be possible if everybody was carrying around a number of mobile gadgets and, sure enough, a related survey from Juniper Networks shows that the average person surveyed now uses five devices at home and at work with at least three connected to the Internet.

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Flexible working arrangements could help law firms attract talent

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Legal journalsA new report from recruitment consultants Douglas Scott claims that a greater use of flexible working in the UK’s law firms would help them attract and retain the best employees. The survey of staff from firms across the UK  found that while only 19 per cent of employees currently enjoy flexible working, nearly half (43%) of respondents claimed flex-time is at the top of their wish list of employment benefits. The survey note a deal of variation across law firms with 73 per cent of public sector employees already on some form of flexible arrangement, compared to just 16 per cent across the board and only 13.6 per cent in the top 100 firms. Flexible working is enjoyed by more senior people with 20 per cent  of qualified candidates enjoying flexible working compared to 7 per cent of support staff.

Video: people feel good at work when they know it has meaning

Video: people feel good at work when they know it has meaning

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More evidence stacks up about what motivates people, including in the workplace. One thing that all the research shows about how to help people feel good at work is that motivation is a complex issue. It is not about money or joy or fun or an easy life. The things that are important include the challenge of overcoming difficult problems, a sense of achievement and an understanding that the work they do is acknowledged and makes a genuine contribution. The one thing to avoid is futility and the thing to aim for is meaning even in small ways. All of this research challenges the assumption that people are essentially economic creatures and that we can make them feel better by making isolated changes to their working environment.

Productivity challenges of modern office workers’ email deluge

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Image credit: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/photo_16117895_heap-of-letters-in-envelopes-falling-from-screen-of-modern-metal-office-laptop-or-silver-business-no.html'>scanrail / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Possibly the most perplexing picture of the modern office is whether technology has made it more, or less productive. New research by Warwick Business School has found that on average UK office workers deal with 40 emails a day and one in 12 with 100 messages a day, which can’t be good for productivity. Meanwhile another piece of research by psychologists at the University of Chester reveals the somewhat unsurprising fact that an over reliance on social media reduces the ability to maintain ‘meaningful’ relationships due to a lack of visual emotional cues – which could further cast doubts over the efficacy of remote working. More →

The latest edition of the Insight newsletter is now online

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2.Insight_twitter_logo smThe April 10 edition of the Insight newsletter is now available to view online covering a range of themes from commercial property to ergonomics, human resources to workplace technology, office design to legislation, all done with the usual verve and willingness to tackle issues in a genuinely engaging and unique way. Office Insight is already the most widely read publication in the UK dedicated to workplace design and management with up to 1,000 unique readers daily. The online newsletter is available to read here and it’s quick and easy to subscribe through the main website if you don’t receive a copy already.

Office design goes to the movies. Part 7 – The Apartment

Office design goes to the movies. Part 7 – The Apartment

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In which Jack Lemmon exchanges the crushing uniformity of the open plan for a corner office as a reward for allowing senior managers to use his apartment as a venue for their infidelity. This is from 1960, the pre-cubicle, pre-VDU world of large ranks of serried workers in an open plan office with only the privileged few allowed any degree of privacy or the wherewithal to display status. many ways, the layout has much in common with the way many offices are designed now. Office design may have moved on in the past half century but some things are always with us.

One St Paul’s offices attracts “new type” of City tenant

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One St Paul's

A marketing campaign aimed at attracting non-traditional City occupiers appears to have paid off, with the entire 60,000 sqft office element of One St Paul’s in the City of London being let to a single tenant. Genesis Oil and Gas Consultants Ltd has agreed a 15-year lease for all six storeys of bespoke office space, and will  take possession upon handover of the building works during the summer of 2013, with the aim of moving its headquarters in the autumn. The deal marks the culmination of AXA Real Estate’s reworking of the property as a major mixed-use redevelopment scheme.

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Winners announced for 2013 real estate thought leadership

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CoreNet Global 2013 Awards for Industry Excellence, Economic Development and Sustainable Leadership:

An organisation that helps businesses set up or expand their offices in the San Francisco Bay Area and Google’s campaign to source more sustainable building materials are amongst the initiatives which have been recognized in CoreNet’s awards for Industry Excellence, Economic Development and Sustainable Leadership. Fidelity, Panasonic, Google, the Brick City Development Corporation and the San Francisco Center for Economic Development are all named as winners for three annual best practices awards by the corporate real estate (CRE) and workplace association. The awards are presented each year to industry leaders who demonstrate best-in-class practices in advancing corporate real estate thought leadership. More →

Public sector property initiatives have proved successful but work still needed

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Gorilla-in-a-hat1There was a time, not so long ago, when nobody worried too much about the shape of the rooms that led off the corridors of power. But the pressure on UK finances has politicised the design of the UK’s public buildings. The latest example of this was the recent  announcement  in Parliament of a report that, amongst other things, called for a new approach in the way facilities are designed to deliver better services in a more cost effective way. The report Restarting Britain 2: Design and Public Services was the result of an eight-month investigation led by the Design Commission along with politicians, designers and civil servants.

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Office design goes to the movies. Part 6 – Playtime

Office design goes to the movies. Part 6 – Playtime

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One of the few films to address office design as something worth commenting on per se. A film in which M. Hulot stumbles around a modernist dream of Paris, all glass, steel and cold straight lines. People inhabit box like apartments and box like office cubicles which separate them from each other and, by implication, life. The film was produced in 1967, shortly before the cubicle was popularised in real offices. In the sequence in which M. Hulot visits an office building, he gets lost, gatecrashing meetings and ending up in a gadget trade show which is furnished in a virtually identical way to the office.

Five things the Wall Street Journal inadvertently told us yesterday about office design

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Some inadvertent truths

Some inadvertent truths

If I were to show you a headline from the Wall Street Journal announcing ‘Say Goodbye to the Office Cubicle’, you might date it at any time between the mid 1980s and 1990s. Maybe earlier. But it was actually in yesterday’s issue, dated 2 April 2013. Now, we could be amused by this or act all aghast at the sight of those dinosaurs yet to adopt a norm of open, collaborative and shared spaces never mind the ‘digital workplace’; or we could conclude that this tells us several important things about how those people and organisations who don’t keep a daily eye on workplace trends view the buildings they inhabit.

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