How Thomas Jefferson came to invent the swivel chair

How Thomas Jefferson came to invent the swivel chair

Thomas JeffersonIn 1775, Thomas Jefferson was a busy man. As part of the Committee of Five men and at the tender age of 33, he had been charged with drafting the Declaration of Independence that was to be presented to Congress the following Summer. By all accounts, Jefferson was a self-contained and self-sufficient man and, like many great people, a mass of contradictions.

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The constant craving to put numbers on working relationships

The constant craving to put numbers on working relationships

The answer to the great question of life, the universe and everything is not 42, as you may have been led to believe. It’s 1/137 (or near enough). This is the greatest of the two dozen or so universal constants. Without the physical and quantum relationships it describes, the universe as we know it could not exist. 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 →

Firms don’t use artificial intelligence much, so the current hype is tripe

Firms don’t use artificial intelligence much, so the current hype is tripe

a long road ahead for artificial intelligenceMany governments are increasingly approaching artificial intelligence with an almost religious zeal. By 2018 at least 22 countries around the world, and also the EU, had launched grand national strategies for making AI part of their business development, while many more had announced ethical frameworks for how it should be allowed to develop. The EU documents more than 290 AI policy initiatives in individual EU member states between 2016 and 2020. More →

Is it time to ban out-of-hours emails?

Is it time to ban out-of-hours emails?

The global pandemic has blurred the lines between home and work for millions of people around the world. Where once there was a clear distinction between being on and off duty, the demands of remote working and ever-presence of smartphones has created an ‘always on’ culture in many organisations. The trend has led to a number organisations in the UK to now call for a ban on out-of-hours emails in order to alleviate pressures on employees mental health. But is this really necessary, or even logistically possible, for the new world of work? We asked four leading experts for their thoughts. 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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You might be working with a narcissist and not know it

You might be working with a narcissist and not know it

narcissistHave you ever had the feeling that some of your colleagues are working only for themselves, and are not true team players? If your answer is yes, then it is possible that you are working with a narcissist. Narcissists have a heightened sense of what they are entitled to and have a constant need for attention and admiration. They are arrogant and see themselves as superior to others. More →

People working from home might now be subject to a visit from the Pensions Regulator

People working from home might now be subject to a visit from the Pensions Regulator

working from home and the new pensions lawThe Pensions Regulator might now have the power under current UK pensions legislation, to enter the private homes of employees when it is investigating their employer, if those employees are working from home. The current law has been in force since 2005 and it allows the Regulator to enter some premises at any reasonable time. This power is restricted to use only in relation to some limited statutory investigations. However, though currently limited, these regulatory powers will soon be widened and extended by the Pensions Schemes Act 2021 which is due to come into force in Autumn 2021.

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Workplace and property firms must wake up to the new era of networked businesses

Workplace and property firms must wake up to the new era of networked businesses

the networked workplaceWhile millions of words have been dedicated to the expected changes in post-Covid workstyles – how will people work, where will they work, how will they be supported – very little has been said about their employers: companies and corporations. Yet the anticipated changes to work and the workplace raise questions about the role of the company. Is it one just half of a transaction between employer and employee? Or is it something more? Indeed, what is the role of the company in the modern economy? Is the nature of the company likely to change? The answers could have a greater impact on workstyles than the pandemic. More →

Flexible working and wellbeing? We already know how that all works

Flexible working and wellbeing? We already know how that all works

flexible working and wellbeingIf you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Woody Allen’s wise observation could have been made for this year. But it’s not just true for plans that go awry, but also those that go right in unexpected ways.  For example, what better time to publish a book about the links between flexible working and wellbeing than in April 2020 as large swathes of the population were adjusting to completely remote work, many of them for the first time? More →

Why some people are more productive working from home than others

Why some people are more productive working from home than others

working from homeHas working at home during lockdown made people more productive or not? This has been the subject of some lively debate recently. Many companies do not routinely measure productivity. A large number will have traditionally assumed that they get the highest output when staff work longer hours or under close supervision, but remote working is clearly causing some to re-evaluate this. Major firms, for instance professional services group PwC, have been sufficiently impressed to make remote working a permanent option for their staff. More →

Buildings with a digital twin have a lot to tell us

Buildings with a digital twin have a lot to tell us

digital twinThe expression “if these walls could talk” is taking on an entirely new meaning with the emerging opportunity to create digital twins for buildings. Across the entire lifecycle of structures such as office buildings, hospitals, airports and hotels, creating a digital twin can significantly reduce costs, improve efficiencies, speed construction delivery, as well as enhance performance and the user experience. More →

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