The biggest problem with open plan offices is how they are used

The biggest problem with open plan offices is how they are used

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A Cuban panopticon is the idea most people have of open plan officesFor decades the trend among workplaces has seen employees moving out of individual offices and into open plan spaces. This has not always been successful, with the open-plan approach receiving significant criticism. The key issues are distraction and noise, which apparently leads to uncooperative behaviour, distrust and negative personal relationships, and the lack of privacy and sense of being universally observed. Now that the internet connectivity is available almost everywhere and thus allows much more flexible working, the question arises: What might the set-up of an ideal workplace environment look like today? More →

Peace and quiet at work? Here are ten of the best and most far out solutions

Peace and quiet at work? Here are ten of the best and most far out solutions 0

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Publication1Any survey that sets out to establish what people believe cuts their productivity and annoys them most about their workplace almost invariably throws up the same result; the noise and distractions generated by other people. So it will come as no surprise to learn that the same surveys usually find that employees believe that peace and quiet and freedom from distractions is the most important factor when it comes to getting some decent work done. More →

Wellbeing linked to two hours outdoors each week

Wellbeing linked to two hours outdoors each week

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The idea that spending recreational time in natural settings is good for our health and wellbeing is hardly new. Parents have been telling their kids to “go play outside, it’s good for you” for generations. Now, colleagues and I have published a study in the journal Scientific Reports which suggests that a dose of nature of just two hours a week is associated with better health and psychological wellbeing, a figure that applies to every demographic we could think of (at least in England). More →

The greenest building is no building, our false craving for silence and some other stuff

The greenest building is no building, our false craving for silence and some other stuff

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As climate scientists issue increasingly stark warnings about the global environmental catastrophe that is increasingly likely within a very short time frame, Will Jennings issues a timely reminder in the Architects Journal that the greenest type of building is no building at all. And that is doubly so when the building we are talking about is The Tulip, which would clearly be a very bad idea at any time. The author takes particular exception to the glossy environmental pledges made by high profile architects when contrasted with the ugly, vacuous grandstanding typified by The Tulip. More →

In defence of open plan office design

In defence of open plan office design

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The Johnson Wax building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright was an early example of open plan office designNoisy, distracting, toxic and disastrous. These are just a few words that have been used to describe open plan office layouts. Though the open office layout model was originally conceived to promote collaboration, innovation and stronger workplace relationship, if recent press is to be believed, it’s had the opposite effect at many companies. More →

Workplace aliens, always the coffee, bullshit asymmetry and some other stuff

Workplace aliens, always the coffee, bullshit asymmetry and some other stuff

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I’ve sometimes highlighted how our perceptions of the workplace are subject to an apex fallacy. The daily consumption of narratives about wellbeing, agile working, coworking, campuses, tech palaces and ‘cool’ design can obscure the fact that most people don’t experience this stuff in their daily lives. They work in mundane offices or shabby offices or horrible offices. They travel into work at the same time each day and sit with roughly the same people and do roughly the same things. More →

Biophilia in the corporate HQ: an historical perspective

Biophilia in the corporate HQ: an historical perspective

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In recent years, the concept of biophilia and the inclusion of greenery in the working environment has captured the media’s attention, which has depicted it as an important aspect of wellbeing in the workplace, seemingly the crucial indicator of a great office. For this reason, and beyond the superficial or cosmetic use of plants in the office, I would like to analyse the relationship between nature and the corporate world from a historical perspective in an effort to understand the role of greenery within the architecture of the corporate headquarters.

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The golden age of procrastination and the tyranny of time keeping

The golden age of procrastination and the tyranny of time keeping 0

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Many of us start each day with a long to-do list, a new set of goals and a commitment not to repeat the same mistakes we have in the past. It’s likely that we will have promised ourselves to stop putting things off. On our hit list of the foibles we most want to dispose of, procrastination will be somewhere near the top. The problem is that because procrastination is linked to psychological factors such as an innate preference to do something we deem pleasurable to something we don’t, modern life encourages us to do it. More →

Wellbeing, a pile of turtles, office culture and some other stuff

Wellbeing, a pile of turtles, office culture and some other stuff

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acoustics and wellbeingThis week is Clerkenwell Design Week amongst other things, and as part of it I chaired a discussion on Tuesday about acoustics at work in the showroom of Flokk and their effect on wellbeing. We were fortunate to have a panel that involved the likes of Nigel Oseland, Michelle Wilkie of tp bennett, Joachim Schubert of Offecct and Lee Jones of Wellworking as well as an informed audience, if for no other reason than everybody’s ability to talk about the subject as complex and multi-faceted and, to some extent, hardwired. More →

The dark side of wearables and wellbeing

The dark side of wearables and wellbeing

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Apples Smartwatch typical of the new generation of wearablesWhile the use of wearables, Internet of Things (IoT) devices that are worn or inserted as implants, in smart building applications will give people completely new ways of interacting with their surroundings, their potential could be tempered by an increased risk to privacy due to the type and quantity of data being collected. The good news is that, combined with automated building controls, occupants will be able to control and automate their own ‘personal’ environment as well as improve their wellbeing. More →

The impact of technology, cyber-risk and the future of corporate real estate

The impact of technology, cyber-risk and the future of corporate real estate 0

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It’s no surprise to say that technology is having a significant impact on the workplace and the use of corporate real estate. The fast pace of change has seen technology impact all aspects of business, government and culture, as well as personal life, with a constant flow of new innovations and solutions helping us to do things more quickly and efficiently. Equally, technology also provides a challenge to business and, more specifically, corporate operations, with a whole array of disruptive technologies.

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Childhood’s end for work and the need for a grown-up conversation about it all

Childhood’s end for work and the need for a grown-up conversation about it all

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Arguably Arthur C Clarke’s finest novel, Childhood’s End is the story of an Earth that is invaded by a force of alien Overlords. This is not a destructive colonial invasion, which is why there’s no Hollywood blockbuster in the tale, but a seemingly benevolent intervention which ushers in a golden age for humanity. Although humankind initially does not get to meet the Overlords in person (for reasons I won’t give away here), the aliens unite the world’s governments, eradicate crime, conflict and the nation state and do away with the need for creativity and hard work. It is the literal end of history.

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