Public transport makes commuting easier and boosts the labour market

Public transport makes commuting easier and boosts the labour market

commuters and public transportFollowing losses of £1.5bn in annual fare revenues incurred during the pandemic, Transport for London recently signed a deal with the UK government for emergency funding. The agreement ensures that new train orders, bridge repairs and tube upgrades will continue as planned. It also will lead to public transport fares rising and bus services being cut. While the Elizabeth Line, a £19 billion east-west addition to the London Underground, opened to great fanfare in May 2022, this year has also seen some of the oldest bus routes in the UK axed: including route 144 between Worcester and Birmingham, route 477 between Dartford and Orpington, and route 84 between north London and Hertfordshire. At least 135 bus routes countrywide currently face cutbacks or permanent cancellation. More →

The five ages of the office and the man who shaped the way we talk about them

The five ages of the office and the man who shaped the way we talk about them

Pioneering SAS office complex in StockholmThe office has passed through five ages. The ‘coffee houses’ of the 17th century, yielded to the ‘clerical factories’ of the 19th as machines revolutionised work. After the Second World War, the ‘corporate offices’ of global corporations and William Whyte’s Organization Man dominated the scene. Following the launch of IBM’s PC in the early-1980s, we saw the rise of ‘digital offices’ in the 1990s, complete with internet, email and social media. And for the past few years we have been moving inexorably towards the latest age: ‘network offices’. Each age was shorter than its predecessor: both the digital and network ages began less than a career span ago. More →

A brief history of the future of work

A brief history of the future of work

The past year and a half should have served as a reminder of that tragic, unchangeable feature of the human condition, best expressed by Kierkegaard, that we are doomed to live our lives forwards but only understand them backwards. Retrospect is particularly important when we look back on sudden, large changes that knock us off our normal path. A taxonomy of change has emerged in recent years to describe such events. The best known is the ‘Black Swan’, coined and popularised by Nassim Taleb as things that “seem to us, on the basis of our limited experience, to be impossible” but which happen anyway, have a major impact and are often rationalised later. More →

How routines and boredom can spark creativity

How routines and boredom can spark creativity

Every day, after a leisurely breakfast in bed and the opening of his post, Roald Dahl would wander down his garden to the grubby little hut crammed with personal paraphernalia he had created. There he would sharpen the six yellow pencils that were always by his side while he worked, settle into an armchair, put his feet up on an old suitcase filled with logs, place an American yellow legal pad of paper onto a makeshift board on his lap and work for two hours. More →

Urban design can make people less likely to use public spaces

Urban design can make people less likely to use public spaces

urban designUrban design campaigns are usually sold to local residents as a way to improve their daily lives. Design elements – from lighting systems to signs, benches, bollards, fountains and planters, and sometimes even surveillance equipment – are used to refurbish and embellish public spaces. Designers refer to these elements as “urban furniture”. And the projects they’re used in are usually aimed at increasing social interaction, heightening safety, improving accessibility and generally making life in the city better. More →

Data centre design is entering a new era

Data centre design is entering a new era

data centre designA new exhibition has shone a light on the often overlooked building typology of the data centre. The show, entitled Power House running to 28 February and curated by design journalist Clare Dowdy looks at the architecture of data centres, showcasing proposals and existing designs by architecture practices around the globe, from vast complexes in remote locations, to retrofitted buildings in urban centres. More →

Memories of the Office Age 

Memories of the Office Age 

memories of the office ageNo author uses the built environment like J G Ballard. In his 1975 novel High-Rise, the eponymous structure is both a way of isolating the group of people who live and compete inside it and a metaphor for their personal isolation and inner struggles. Over the course of three months, the building’s services begin to fail. The 2,000 people within, detached from external realities in the 40-storey building, confronted with their true selves and those of their neighbours, descend into selfishness and – ultimately – savagery.  More →

Office design goes to the movies

Office design goes to the movies

What can the movies tell us about office designFollowing our recent attempts to create a rudimentary playlist of songs that tell us something, or perhaps nothing, about office design, office life and office furniture, here’s another look at how the parochial world of the workplace can brush up against popular culture. It does this unnoticed for most people, I suppose, but not for those of us bound up in this world. We’re not the sort of people who can ignore the regular, brief glimpse of an Aeron chair’s ubiquitous mesh without a synapse of recognition sparking up. So, here is a brief rundown of nine movies that use office design to make a plot point or set up a character development.

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Nudge theory doesn’t work after all, but we shouldn’t discard the idea completely

Nudge theory doesn’t work after all, but we shouldn’t discard the idea completely

nudge theoryAt the end of last year (2021), there was lots of excitement about the first comprehensive analysis of past research on techniques designed to change people’s behaviour (known as “nudging”), confidently showing that they work. This was great news for researchers, but also for governments across the world who have invested in “nudge units” that use such methods. Nudge theory aims to influence people to make better decisions. For example, authorities may set a “better” choice, such as donating your organs, as a default. Or they could make a healthy food option more attractive through labelling. More →

Podcast: the weak arguments in favour of offices and the problem with the future of work

Podcast: the weak arguments in favour of offices and the problem with the future of work

future of work and real estateMark Eltringham the publisher of Workplace Insight and IN Magazine recently joined Caleb Parker, the founder of Bold, on his Work Bold podcast for an unscripted chat on: the future of work and how it may shape the future of commercial real estate; the reasons why anybody might ever want to go back to an office to work; the problem with weak arguments both for and against offices; and the importance of culture and flexibility rather than fixed times and places of work in determining people’s day to day experiences of work. The prompt for this conversation was the occasional discussion on social media over the past couple of years and a recent article exploring the value of weak tiesMore →

The fifteen minute city will transform the way we think about workplaces

The fifteen minute city will transform the way we think about workplaces

Paris fifteen minute cityFor most of history, there have been a small number of immovable truisms that formed the nature of what work is, and how communities form around it. While individuals have long held some agency around the structure and pattern of their work, being present in a communal workplace has been a non-negotiable reality. This need to work from an office comes wed with parallel requirements to help facilitate it. Employees have been willing to strike a compromise between where they wish to live and where they want to work through commutes, with the financial and time cost and associated stress that comes along with it. More →

BCO Conference challenges the office sector to up its game

BCO Conference challenges the office sector to up its game

BCO ConferenceRegarded as one of the property sector’s leading events, the BCO Annual Conference saw key players from all parts of the office industry flock to Manchester – the vibrant, modern cosmopolitan powerhouse that is celebrated around the world for being the UK’s most competitive, economically productive, liveable and vibrant region. In her keynote, Joanne Roney, chief executive of Manchester City Council, said that the most demanding, challenging and important priority is climate change, closely followed by making a positive difference to the lives of the people who live and work in the city. More →

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