The ladder of life, the death of work, the cane toad of property and some other stuff

The ladder of life, the death of work, the cane toad of property and some other stuff

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A large and colourful team of people work together to create a human towerWe start with a question. Why hasn’t the gig economy killed traditional work?, asks Greg Rosalsky and goes on to explain what many people have now realised. The answer, as Greg points out, is that the gig economy doesn’t replace traditional work, never has, and the rise of casual work of this kind has primarily been a way for people to deal with a volatile labour market and shrinking real incomes. Offer them the choice of a decent monthly income, benefits and a contract and most of them will take you up on it.

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Against metrics: how measuring performance by numbers backfires

Against metrics: how measuring performance by numbers backfires

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A still from Jacques Tati's film playtime as the protagonist looks out over cubicles in an officeMore and more companies, government agencies, educational institutions and philanthropic organisations are today in the grip of a new phenomenon. I’ve termed it ‘metric fixation’. The key components of metric fixation are the belief that it is possible – and desirable – to replace professional judgment (acquired through personal experience and talent) with numerical indicators of comparative performance based upon standardised data (metrics); and that the best way to motivate people within these organisations is by attaching rewards and penalties to their measured performance. More →

How the 21st Century office was born in post war Europe

How the 21st Century office was born in post war Europe

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Central Beheer Building There was a curious addition to a 2016 report on the Top 10 Technologies Driving the Digital Workplace from tech researchers Gartner. It wasn’t a technology at all but rather a slightly obscure office design concept that originated in Hamburg in the late 1950s, but which tells us a lot about how we work in the 21st Century office, according to Gartner. Its history lies with the German consulting firm Quickborner. Led by the brothers Eberhard and Wolfgang Schnelle, the firm applied the egalitarian principles of the post war world and rejection of the scientific management theories that had created the familiar factory-like rows of desks that had come to dominate open plan offices to create something more in tune with the new age.

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The pursuit of happiness, lumpy tech, space science and some other stuff

The pursuit of happiness, lumpy tech, space science and some other stuff

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A community of people on a headlandUnderlying most of the stuff you read about the workplace is the quest for happiness. Indeed happiness has become something of a preoccupation for those pondering the issue at the apex of social and economic thinking, as epitomised by Gallup with its latest World Happiness report. As always, the Gallup report stumbles over definitions of happiness, often using the word interchangeably with wellbeing and stuffs it with other ideas without explaining how or even whether they contribute to happiness.

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What a 90 year old study teaches us about flexible working and productivity

What a 90 year old study teaches us about flexible working and productivity 0

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uncertainty Flexible working has developed a reputation as something of a silver bullet for a range of workplace challenges. It is the perceived solution to almost any of the major workplace problems you care to mention, including the gender pay gap, work life balance, churn, property costs, staff engagement, personal autonomy, stress, physical wellbeing, productivity and – of course – as a way of meeting the needs of those alien beings we refer to as Millennials. There is some truth in all of this, as we have known for some time, but things are far more complicated than often presented.

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Pressing self-destruct, a final solution to workplace noise, a broken psychological contract and some other stuff

Pressing self-destruct, a final solution to workplace noise, a broken psychological contract and some other stuff

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I’ve never really wanted to go to MIPIM. I’m suspicious of it all for a number of reasons I won’t go into although you might reasonably guess what they are. So, I enjoyed this piece from Polly Plunket-Checkemian about her own misgivings. I understand that the testosterone level has been dialled down recently, but like Polly I’d like to see a re-examination of its format and intent, especially given that the real estate sector is having to rethink where it fits into the new era of work and meets the challenge of coworking.

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How artificial intelligence changes occupant experience

How artificial intelligence changes occupant experience

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If a robot received a signal that you had entered the building, it might bring you a fresh cup of coffee just as you reach your desk. If the front door recognised your face, it might unlock itself for you without requiring you to use a fob to gain access. If your desk knew you had left for the day, it might offer itself to a colleague who is looking for a quiet workspace. Throughout history, the interaction of humans with technology has been pretty much one-sided. We turn our technologies on and off, operate and guide them in their tasks, and use our senses to monitor their functioning and detect anomalies.

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The role of workplace design in employee engagement

The role of workplace design in employee engagement 0

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A great deal of current research and anecdotal evidence suggests that engaged employees are much less likely to leave their current organisation, are more productive and take less sick days that their disengaged colleagues. But according to a recent survey by Deloitte while 87 percent of organisations cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges, almost two-thirds of executives do not feel they are effectively driving this desired culture within their business. More →

Riffing on the issue of workplace design and creativity

Riffing on the issue of workplace design and creativity 0

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We are often told that one of the main objectives of workplace design these days is to help people become more creative. Now, there are all sorts of complications bound up in this, not least the assumption that you can help or even will people to become more creative, especially in an environment that still wants, in some way at least, to supervise what they do and when and where they do it. A working environment designed for creativity only works in the context of a culture that facilitates it. And here’s where the problem lies. More →

Revisiting Maslow and the quest for self-actualisation

Revisiting Maslow and the quest for self-actualisation

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Abraham Maslow was the 20th-century American psychologist best-known for explaining motivation through his hierarchy of needs, which he represented in a pyramid. At the base, our physiological needs include food, water, warmth and rest. Moving up the ladder, Maslow mentions safety, love, and self-esteem and accomplishment. But after all those have been satisfied, the motivating factor at the top of the pyramid involves striving to achieve our full potential and satisfy creative goals. As one of the founders of humanistic psychology, Maslow proposed that the path to self-transcendence and, ultimately, greater compassion for all of humanity requires the ‘self-actualisation’ at the top of his pyramid – fulfilling your true potential, and becoming your authentic self. More →

Filtering out the noise, the pathology of work, busy doin muffin and some other stuff

Filtering out the noise, the pathology of work, busy doin muffin and some other stuff

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We might think that an inability to absorb the vast amount of information generated by our fellow humans and their machines is something of a modern phenomenon, but we’ve always known we can have too much of this particular good thing. Distringit librorum multitude, wrote Seneca in the First Century. An abundance of books is a distraction.

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A four day week, people-watching at work, the art of AI and some other stuff

A four day week, people-watching at work, the art of AI and some other stuff

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While the recent Finnish pilot of universal basic income had mixed results, a trial of the other most talked about solution to our problem with work – the four day week – has been reported as far more promising. A New Zealand financial services firm called Perpetual Guardian switched its 240 staff from a five-day to a four-day week last November and maintained their pay. The results (registration) included a 20 percent rise in productivity and improved staff wellbeing and engagement.

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