Tipping point reached in battle between tablets and PCs

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Surface proThe signs of the final showdown between the personal computer and the tablet are now all around us. It is evident in the launch of new products such as Microsoft’s Surface and the new generation of more powerful iPads which can (nearly) match the performance of Apple’s own laptops. It is also evident in the restructuring of firms like Dell, once the world’s most successful PC maker. The end result will not only be a new shape for the products on which we work but also a new shape for the places in which we work. Our postures will change and so too will the things we need to support us.  More →

Whatever the office of the future is, it should be there to serve people

Whatever the office of the future is, it should be there to serve people

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Larkin BuildingFuturology is notoriously a mug’s game. Especially when it comes to making predictions about technology. Just ask Ken Olson, the founder of DEC who in 1977 pronounced that ‘there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home’. Or Bill Gates himself who once claimed that Microsoft ‘will never make a 32 bit operating system’. But that shouldn’t make us blind to those predictions that we know will largely come true, not least those based on what we know is happening in the present. This is typified by research carried out by Cass Business School and Henley Business School and presented in a book called Future Work: How Businesses Can Adapt and Thrive in the New World of Work. It found that two-thirds of the 360 managers it surveyed believe that there would be a revolution in working practices over the coming decade. Ninety per cent said that staff were more productive when empowered to decide when and where and how to work.

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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.

British Land named Carbon Champion at CIBSE awards

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British Land

British Land has been named Carbon Champion of Year in the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) Building Performance Awards 2013. The awards recognise building performance excellence in 12 categories, with other winners including Max Fordham, Norland, Atkins and London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The CIBSE awards recognise and celebrate the best performance, innovation and practice in design, commissioning, construction, installation and operation of sustainable buildings and the manufacturers whose technologies enable energy efficiency. More →

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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New York state of mind to increase building energy efficiency by 20percent

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Build NY

In one of the most ambitious green initiatives in the United States, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued an Executive Order directing state agencies to increase energy efficiency in state buildings by 20 percent in seven years. He also announced Build Smart NY, a plan to  strategically implement the Executive Order by accelerating priority improvements in energy performance. The largest and most inefficient buildings will be addressed first and undergo comprehensive whole-building improvements, including new lighting fixtures and controls, heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems and automated energy management systems. More →

£4 billion UK Government spend to be managed by Research Councils

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cheque_bookAround £4 billion of the UK Government’s spending on construction and facilities management projects is to be handled by The Research Council’s UK Shared Services Centre (RCUK SSC). The move has been agreed with the Government Procurement Service (GPS) as part of the coalition’s attempts to achieve cost savings in every part of the public sector. GPS projects that the move will save around 10 per cent of the budgeted spend by consolidating procurement procedures, although shared procurement services have sometimes failed to deliver anticipated saving in the past. More →

Sodexo Workplace Trends report covers familiar ground

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sodexo workplace trends editThe latest annual Workplace Trends Report from workplace services provider Sodexo claims to reveal the crucial role the built environment has in organisational performance. The report emphasises the growing strategic role of facilities management and the importance of sustainability as an element of corporate culture as well as a trend toward designing offices to attract and retain top talent by emphasising productivity and quality of life. The report also identifies the importance of social media in attracting prospective employees instead of traditional e-mail campaigns and other media.

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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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Designing for productivity means creating space for us to be alone

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WilkhahnOn the face of it, the case for working in open plan offices is clear cut. Not only are they  more conducive to collaborative work and less bound by ideas of that great no-no that we used to call ‘status’, the economic case is seemingly open and shut. Open plan workstations not only take up around half the space of cellular offices, the fit-out costs are typically 25 per cent lower. And yet there are clear signs of a backlash, at least to the idea of them fostering collaborative work.

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