April 9, 2013
In which Jack Lemmon exchanges the crushing uniformity of the open plan for a corner office as a reward for allowing senior managers to use his apartment as a venue for their infidelity. This is from 1960, the pre-cubicle, pre-VDU world of large ranks of serried workers in an open plan office with only the privileged few allowed any degree of privacy or the wherewithal to display status. many ways, the layout has much in common with the way many offices are designed now. Office design may have moved on in the past half century but some things are always with us.
April 8, 2013
A marketing campaign aimed at attracting non-traditional City occupiers appears to have paid off, with the entire 60,000 sqft office element of One St Paul’s in the City of London being let to a single tenant. Genesis Oil and Gas Consultants Ltd has agreed a 15-year lease for all six storeys of bespoke office space, and will take possession upon handover of the building works during the summer of 2013, with the aim of moving its headquarters in the autumn. The deal marks the culmination of AXA Real Estate’s reworking of the property as a major mixed-use redevelopment scheme.
April 8, 2013
An organisation that helps businesses set up or expand their offices in the San Francisco Bay Area and Google’s campaign to source more sustainable building materials are amongst the initiatives which have been recognized in CoreNet’s awards for Industry Excellence, Economic Development and Sustainable Leadership. Fidelity, Panasonic, Google, the Brick City Development Corporation and the San Francisco Center for Economic Development are all named as winners for three annual best practices awards by the corporate real estate (CRE) and workplace association. The awards are presented each year to industry leaders who demonstrate best-in-class practices in advancing corporate real estate thought leadership. more…
April 8, 2013
There was a time, not so long ago, when nobody worried too much about the shape of the rooms that led off the corridors of power. But the pressure on UK finances has politicised the design of the UK’s public buildings. The latest example of this was the recent announcement in Parliament of a report that, amongst other things, called for a new approach in the way facilities are designed to deliver better services in a more cost effective way. The report Restarting Britain 2: Design and Public Services was the result of an eight-month investigation led by the Design Commission along with politicians, designers and civil servants.
April 4, 2013
One of the few films to address office design as something worth commenting on per se. A film in which M. Hulot stumbles around a modernist dream of Paris, all glass, steel and cold straight lines. People inhabit box like apartments and box like office cubicles which separate them from each other and, by implication, life. The film was produced in 1967, shortly before the cubicle was popularised in real offices. In the sequence in which M. Hulot visits an office building, he gets lost, gatecrashing meetings and ending up in a gadget trade show which is furnished in a virtually identical way to the office.
April 3, 2013
If I were to show you a headline from the Wall Street Journal announcing ‘Say Goodbye to the Office Cubicle’, you might date it at any time between the mid 1980s and 1990s. Maybe earlier. But it was actually in yesterday’s issue, dated 2 April 2013. Now, we could be amused by this or act all aghast at the sight of those dinosaurs yet to adopt a norm of open, collaborative and shared spaces never mind the ‘digital workplace’; or we could conclude that this tells us several important things about how those people and organisations who don’t keep a daily eye on workplace trends view the buildings they inhabit.
April 3, 2013
Twenty years ago the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 came into force, introduced in response to a growing number of complaints of repetitive strain injury (RSI), or to use the broader term musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) amongst office workers. Although it took time for the disorder to be identified, the message gradually got through that sitting all day in the same position banging away at a keyboard was not conductive to sound ergonomics or good health. In the early 90s I was an early adopter of a laptop (or luggable PC) and had to take four months off work after developing pain and numbness in my arms and wrists.
April 2, 2013
A new report from researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Guanghua Management School at Beijing University looking into the experience of working from home at one large Chinese firm has found that the practice led to a 13 per cent increase in productivity. The research also found that workers reported increased levels of job satisfaction and half elected to continue working from home when the choice was given to them at the end of the study period even though it was evident that their chances of promotion on the basis of performance had reduced as a result of the experiment.
April 2, 2013
You may recall that a few years ago there was a voguish interest in the idea of employer branding. This is the kind of thing that has always gone on but can always be defined and popularised, in this case following the publication of a book on the subject in 2005. By 2008 Jackie Orme, the head of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, was calling it ‘an integral part of business strategy’. Still, it appears to have dropped off the radar a bit over the last few years, a fact we might put down to the effect of the recession. Firms certainly seem to have their mind on other things. Research published last year by PriceWaterhouseCoopers showed that in 2009, 54 per cent of businesses said they placed a special focus on retaining talent. By 2012 that had dropped to 36 per cent.
April 1, 2013
The quest for the answer to what makes us productive at work is an endless one, of course. Partly this is due to misleading research claims from suppliers that the provision of a specific product will increase productivity by x per cent. But mostly it’s because the answers shift from case to case and over time because while we can identify the factors that make people more productive, it’s harder to pin down the effects of their interrelationships. Plant walls and better seating won’t by themselves improve the performance of somebody who hates their job. Nevertheless, it’s important to design all the productivity factors into a building, including at a bacterial level according to Jessica Green who here explores the impact of microbes in different areas of an office building.
March 31, 2013
Normally it would strike you as a bit odd that a company would appoint one of the world’s most high profile architects to design its new headquarters, a man with an immediately recognisable and frequently stunning visual style, only to then ask him to rein it all in and produce something pretty sober and unobtrusive. But that is precisely what Facebook has done with the appointment of Frank Gehry who has been tasked with producing a low key design for its new headquarters building and campus in California which gained approval at the end of last week.
March 29, 2013
Akira Kurosawa’s film typifies the way that office life is usually portrayed in movies. The crushing bureaucracy that the protagonist Kanji Watanabe is part of – and ultimately rebels against – is symbolised by the towering piles of paper that surround him and his colleagues. Even when he’s walking around, he seems to be carrying them with him, stooped and distant. Many offices may have freed themselves of the sheer bulk of paper these days, but we can still find ourselves weighed down by hierarchy, rules, customs and information. Ultimately we also have freedom to decide for ourselves what is truly important.
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