June 6, 2019
Noisy, 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…
May 30, 2019
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…
May 29, 2019
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.
May 24, 2019
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…
May 23, 2019
This 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…
May 8, 2019
While 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…
May 1, 2019
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.
April 30, 2019
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.
April 25, 2019
There are lots of reasons to worry about where the World might be taking us, or perhaps where we are taking it. You can take your pick but for me one of the most worrying aspects of contemporary discourse is the obvious dearth of empathy. We might like to think of this as an innate characteristic of human beings, but it really isn’t. It’s something that we also need to learn. This idea is explored in this piece by Hanna Rosin who centres her argument around an analysis by Sara Konrath, an associate professor and researcher at Indiana University who has discovered that our willingness to empathise with people is eroding rapidly, especially for those who we see as ‘other’ or irrelevant. If you want an example of lack of empathy, you can see it in this footage of a banker being taken to task for it in a US committee hearing.
April 18, 2019
What makes a good leader? This question confronts us at every election and with every domestic and international policy decision. As a professor of classical languages and literature for more than 30 years, I marvel at our insistence on addressing this question as if it were brand new. Centuries ago, myths helped the Greeks learn to reject tyrannical authority and identify the qualities of good leadership. As I write in my book Enraged, the same myths that long predate the world’s very first democracy have lessons for us today – just as they did for the ancient Greeks centuries ago. more…
April 12, 2019
Shining a light on remote work at Google, willing slaves to tech, why design matters and some other stuff
Away from you know what, one of the most talked about issues this week was the news that the smart devices we’re voluntarily incorporating into our homes are not just obeying us but acting as microphones on our lives. This is happening in the context of growing mistrust of the world’s tech giants, uncertainty about our relationship with technology and taps into a primal fear about control and surveillance. All of this is complicated by the fact that these systems of surveillance are not the telescreens of 1984 but the products of private sector firms who currently often exhibit ‘power without responsibility’, as Kipling once said about the media. more…
April 10, 2019
The question of what makes a city great is an old one but has never been asked more than it is right now. It is usually couched in terms of the urbanisation of large parts of the world but it is important for other reasons too, not least because the urban environment is an increasingly important part of the virtual workplace many of us now inhabit and offices themselves increasingly resemble the agglomeration of spaces we have typically associated with our towns and cities. Recently, McKinsey published a report into urbanisation, based largely on the usual premise of the proportion of the world’s people involved, but it is an issue that touches all of our lives and in unexpected ways.