How Charles Handy changed the way we speak about the workplace

How Charles Handy changed the way we speak about the workplace

There are writers whose language pervades our discourse so extensively that even those who have never heard of them will echo not only their sentiments but also their means of expression. One of these people is Charles Handy, who has just published his latest book 21 Letters on Life and its Challenges at the age […]

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The scale of the problem for workplace design

The scale of the problem for workplace design

There is a typically telling and intelligent Pixar moment in the film A Bug’s Life in which an already well-lubricated mosquito goes up to a bar and orders a ‘Bloody Mary, O Positive’. The barman plonks a droplet of blood down on the bar. The mosquito sinks his proboscis into it, sucks it down in […]

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A sophisticated eye on workplace design

A sophisticated eye on workplace design

Each day you can generally find somebody or other sharing their thoughts on ‘the office of the future’ or ‘the death of the office’. My view is that you should steer clear of taking most of this sort of stuff head-on, on the basis that hardcore deskheads have heard most of it before and already […]

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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

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 […]

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Adversity and chaos can help to foster creativity

Adversity and chaos can help to foster creativity

We may live in a knowledge economy in a world, where the most highly-prized people as far as employers are concerned are knowledge workers, but the thing that sets us apart from the machines is not knowledge at all, but creativity. Acquiring managing and sharing knowledge is essential, but it’s what we do with it […]

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What lift design tells us about who we are and how we work

What lift design tells us about who we are and how we work

In 1959, cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman identified the personality traits which go hand in hand with disproportionate levels of heart disease. These include an overblown sense of time urgency, a desire to fit as much into each second as possible, excessive competitiveness and aggressiveness and frustration when other people are doing things more slowly […]

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How do we reach consensus about what constitutes good design?

How do we reach consensus about what constitutes good design?

In shows and the media, we are often invited to pass judgement on products and ideas that have been created by other people. The reviews that follow often cement some form of accepted view, even if we often outsource the decision making to people who are better placed to decide, or at least better enabled […]

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A four hundred year old guide to ergonomics that still rings true today

A four hundred year old guide to ergonomics that still rings true today

Changes to the nature of work, where it takes place and the things we use to complete it are always constrained by one particular eternally fixed element; the human being. The unchanging individual at the centre of it all is the thing that makes us return to old ideas time and again and ensures that whatever we […]

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What Richard Dawkins can teach us about ergonomics and the value of pain

What Richard Dawkins can teach us about ergonomics and the value of pain

In his book The Greatest Show on Earth, the evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins devotes a section to the biological rationale for pain. Although this is an ethical issue as far as humans are concerned, and most of us might think it’s one thing we could easily do without thank you very much, Nature is […]

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What Aldous Huxley can teach us about acoustics and distractions at work

What Aldous Huxley can teach us about acoustics and distractions at work

Over the last few years there has been something of a loud and widespread backlash to the idea that we need to have constant access to information and our colleagues to work effectively. The touchstone for this pushback is of course the open plan office which has become something of a scapegoat for the universal […]

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What The Midwich Cuckoos can teach us about Millennials

What The Midwich Cuckoos can teach us about Millennials

John Wyndham’s 1957 novel The Midwich Cuckoos is the story of a fictional English village in which, following an unexplained event that causes everybody within Midwich to fall unconscious, all of the women in the village fall pregnant and 61 children are subsequently born all at the same time. The children bear absolutely no physical […]

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Is work important to us because we need it to be important?

Is work important to us because we need it to be important?

The ethical, practical and philosophical implications of how we live alongside robots is something we will have to address very soon. It is a point well made in this conversation between Kate Darling of MIT and the neuroscientist Sam Harris. But we’ve had parts of this conversation before. For example, while most people will not […]

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