Seven reasons why this will not be the office of the future

Seven reasons why this will not be the office of the future

At this time of year, it seems like we don’t have to wait more than a few hours before some or other organisation is sharing its prognosis about how we will be working in the future. The thing these reports usually share in common, other than a standardised variant of a title and a common lexicon of agility, engagement and connectivity, is a narrow focus based on their key assumptions about what the office of the future will be like. While these are rarely false per se, and often offer valuable insights, they also frequently exhibit a desire to look at only one part of the great workplace elephant. While the more informed reports make excellent points and identify trends,  across most there are routine flaws in thinking that can lead them to make narrow and sometimes incorrect assumptions and so draw similarly flawed conclusions. Talk of the office of the future tells us rather a lot about how we view offices right now.

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Over half of office workers have nowhere but their desk to eat lunch

Over half of UK workers don’t have anywhere to eat lunch in the officeOne in three UK workers don’t have any form of breakout space to get away from their desk and over half (56 percent) of them don’t even have anywhere to eat lunch in their office, new research claims. The survey of  UK office workers carried out by Furniture123.co.uk suggests that as a result of this 34 percent of employees say they resort to eating lunch at their desk, which they feel is having a detrimental effect on morale and productivity. Nearly three quarters (69 percent) of those surveyed felt they worked less productively as a result of not taking a break away from their desk over lunch, and almost half (47 percent) believe they would work more efficiently in the afternoons if they took a full hour for lunch. More →

Steelcase announces acquisition of Orangebox

Steelcase announces acquisition of Orangebox

Steelcase Inc. has announced the acquisition of Orangebox Group Limited, a UK-based designer and manufacturer of furniture for the changing workplace, the latest in a rapid expansion of products designed for the new ways people work. Established in 2002, in the village of Hengoed, South Wales, Orangebox created a concept they call “Smartworking” – solutions designed to foster collaboration and change cultures, while improving efficiency.  The company’s portfolio includes high performance seating systems, meeting room furniture, architectural pods for visual and acoustical privacy.

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All those workplace trends lists that you see? We’ve been there before

All those workplace trends lists that you see? We’ve been there before 0

Conference and show season looms and with it arrives the annual swarm of workplace trend forecasts. These are often presented as groundbreaking but many of them are indistinguishable from each other and based on some very familiar tropes and assumptions. These days such things tend to be shaped into lists, because that’s how the Internet likes it. That is all perfectly natural and we are free to make our own mind up which of these features are meaningful and which are hack jobs. No football pundit was ever fired for stringing together clichés rather than thinking and talking, and no marketing person has ever lost their  job for publishing a list of Ten Trends.

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How Thomas Jefferson came to invent the swivel chair and laptop

How Thomas Jefferson came to invent the swivel chair and laptop 0

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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How Charles Eames came to have mixed feelings for his most famous chair

How Charles Eames came to have mixed feelings for his most famous chair

Eames-Lounge-Chair-3As any honest smartphone user would attest, the things we own sometimes end up owning us. Equally, the things we create can end up owning us. The most famous item designed by Charles Eames is a moulded plywood, leather upholstered lounge chair and matching ottoman that are timelessly iconic, have spawned thousands of rip-off versions, invariably feature in any anthology of classic Twentieth Century design and are now part of a permanent exhibit at the New York Museum of Modern Art. Yet Eames himself never intended it to go into production in the first place and didn’t even view it as his best product. In an interview in Time magazine he revealed that it was originally designed as a gift for a friend. ‘I made it as a present for Billy Wilder,’ he said. ‘Billy had made a picture in East Germany and found a Marcel Breuer chair and brought it back to me and this was a return present.’

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The top five songs about office life and office furniture

The top five songs about office life and office furniture

Too few musicians draw inspiration from the office or office furniture, and for very good reasons. The main one being that one of the main reason to get into rock and roll is to avoid a desk in the first place. Nevertheless, it’s worth saying that the office is routinely used as both a setting and a symbol in movies even if workplaces are generally seen as mundane or dehumanising in stark contrast to whatever troubled romance / disaster is befalling the protagonist. Offices are usually depicted as dystopian (Brazil), soul-destroying (Office Space, American Beauty) or a backdrop for whatever else is going on (name your own romcom). More →

Bento by Dataflex ready to be the first complete ergonomic toolbox

Bento by Dataflex ready to be the first complete ergonomic toolbox

Dataflex has launched Bento®, the all-new, proven solution to make your work more comfortable in the most stylish manner. A patent pending product with unique practicality and design. The family of ergonomic desktop accessories that is designed for the way people work today. With an elegant design inspired by the Japanese lunchbox, Bento by Dataflex turns any on-the-go work environment into a stylish, well-organised, comfortable workstation.

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The future of the workplace emerges from the mists at Neocon

The future of the workplace emerges from the mists at Neocon

Chicago is one of the world’s great cities. Its dramatic lake and river setting, its magnificent architecture and its raw energy inspire the locals and businesses to achieve great things. People work and play very hard. Competition is fierce both in business as in the way the people relate to each other, and befits a city heavily influenced by waves of immigration down the ages. Apart from somewhat overly aggressive and noisy driving, if there is friction, you don’t sense it and it isn’t obvious. Most locals seem genuinely open and friendly, including to strangers, and happy to get on with their lives without troubling others. Perhaps they’re all being buoyed up by the great street music which is everywhere.

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We should not be quite so quick to demonise the open plan office

We should not be quite so quick to demonise the open plan office

There is a witch hunt on in the workplace. “Open plan” has become a dirty word and the national press are leading the mob in vilifying this so-called scourge. The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and Business Week have all reported that “we can’t get anything done in an open-plan office” as it affects our concentration, our performance and our health. These news items are all damning, but perhaps not as damming as the Wikipedia entry on open plan which states: “A systematic survey of research upon the effects of open plan offices found frequent negative effects in some traditional workplaces: high levels of noise, stress, conflict, high blood pressure and a high staff turnover… Most people prefer closed offices… there is a dearth of studies confirming positive impacts on productivity from open plan office designs”.

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Humanscale launches first ever task chair made from recycled fishing nets

Humanscale has launched its Smart Ocean chair; an adaption of the legendary Diffrient Smart chair that incorporates almost 1kg of recycled fishing net material (NetPlus). Sourced from Bureo, an emerging venture developing solutions to prevent ocean plastic pollution, this is the first product available to purchase from the consortium of companies under the NextWave initiative. The nets used in the production of the new task chair are from Bureo’s Net Positiva recycling program, which facilitates the collection of discarded plastic fishing nets and provides incentives to participating coastal communities. The nets are then transformed  into plastic pellets and used to manufacture products such as skateboards, sunglasses, and now an ergonomic task chair.  Humanscale plans to replicate material solutions across their product line, supporting the expansion of Bureo’s recycling program and lowering dependency on new plastics.

 

The Furniture Makers’ Company announces new Design Guild Mark 2018 holders

The Furniture Makers’ Company announces new Design Guild Mark 2018 holders

Twelve designs representing both the domestic and contract furniture market have been awarded the prestigious Design Guild Mark in 2018. The Design Guild Mark is awarded by The Furniture Makers’ Company, a City of London livery company and the furnishing industry’s charity, in order to drive excellence and raise the profile of British design and innovation. Now in its tenth year, the Mark recognises the highest standards in the design of furnishings in volume production by the finest designers working in Britain, or British designers working abroad. The Design Guild Mark is judged by a panel of leading industry professionals. Each member of the panel is from the furniture, hospitality, commercial, retail, or media industry. Judges must ensure that each piece of furniture meets the criteria of: excellence in design, materials, manufacture, and function. More →