October 3, 2014
10 Portman Square, an innovatively designed office building based in London’s West End, is nearly fully occupied, following an agreement by Ardagh Glass to lease 10,250 sq ft of office space from British Land. Award-winning architecture and interior design practice Jestico+Whiles led the design of 10 Portman Square, which offers column-free floorplates of 18,500 sq ft, and benefits from natural light on all four sides with views across Portman Square. Ardagh Glass will occupy part of the first floor, to join investment management company Independent Franchise Partners, who agreed terms on the other half of the first floor in July. The building, which provides 113,700 sq ft of Grade A office space over seven floors, is also home to Aspect Capital, Arrowgrass Capital Partners and Aramco Overseas Company. The latest deal brings occupancy across the 2.4 million sq ft West End office portfolio to 96 per cent. more…
September 29, 2014
In the latest edition of the weekly Insight newsletter, now available to view online; Mark Eltringham describes some of the most readily identifiable themes at this year’s 100% design, while Sara Bean hails Richard Branson’s adoption of a flexible working policy for his personal staff. The British Council for Offices (BCO) launches the much awaited new edition of its Specification Guide; a new report from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) claims “overwhelming evidence” that office design significantly impacts the health, wellbeing and productivity of staff; and research by Steelcase discovers nearly a third (31%) of occupants now routinely leave the office to get work done in private. Justin Miller discusses the challenge of balancing sustainable building design with the need to ensure a comfortable workplace; and from the latest issue of Work&Place, the journal we publish in partnership with Occupiers Journal, Dr. Agustin Chevez lists the thirteen ways the physical environment shapes knowledge management .
September 26, 2014
Architectural practice HOK has released a new benchmarking report that examines design and work-style trends at leading financial services firms over the past three years, including the finding that space is underutilised across the sector by nearly a half, meaning that growth can easily be accommodated within the existing facilities of many firms. The HOK Benchmarking Report claims to provide information on recent trends affecting the industry, an analysis of how organisations are using office space and metrics for space standards based on recently completed workplace projects for financial services firms in New York, Toronto and London. The authors claim that because ‘companies are eager to understand the link between their work environments and organisational performance, the space standards and findings in this report can provide a baseline to help corporate real estate and facilities professionals identify and respond to opportunities for improvement.’
September 24, 2014
A new report from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) claims it has “overwhelming evidence” that office design significantly impacts the health, wellbeing and productivity of staff. Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices: The Next Chapter for Green Building reports on a range of factors – from air quality and lighting, to views of nature and interior layout – can affect the health, satisfaction and job performance of office workers. Understanding the link between workers and their workplace helps to drive the business case for higher quality, healthy and greener buildings, valued by investors, developers and tenants alike. With salaries and benefits typically responsible for 90 percent of an organization’s expenditure, any higher construction or occupation costs are far outweighed by even small improvements in staff performance.
September 22, 2014
The Furniture Makers’ Company used last week’s 100% Design show to announce the Design Guild Mark award recipients for this year. The Design Guild Mark, now in its seventh year since launching in 2008, rewards excellence in the design of furniture in volume production. According to the organisers, with the award of this Guild Mark for designs which meet The Furniture Makers’ Company criteria, the designers receive due recognition and the industry is made more aware of the importance of investment in design. The Design Guild Mark aims to acknowledge the work of the finest furniture designers working in volume production and the best of British furniture designers working abroad. This year’s winners include Pearson Lloyd’s RIYA task chair for Bene and a posthumous award for the classic Supporto Chair (above), designed by the late Frederick Scott and now manufactured by Zoeftig.
September 22, 2014
The British Council for Offices (BCO) has launched the much awaited new edition of its Specification Guide. Last updated in 2009, the 2014 issue aims to cement the publication’s position as the ‘definitive guide to office development in the UK’. As well as its traditional subjects of occupier density and building infrastructure and services, the latest edition covers topics such as building information modelling (BIM) rights to light, updates to BREEAM and amended planning law and building regulations as well as topical issues such as the inexorable rise of the ‘coffee shop workplace’ and the provision of cycle parks. Richard Kauntze, chief executive, claims the revised BCO Specification Guide represents a greater focus on the needs of end users.
September 19, 2014
The trick with visits to exhibitions like 100% Design is to stay focussed on the wood as much as the trees. So as well as identifying the good, the bad and the meh, it pays to discern the themes pursued by the exhibitors and organisers. Leaving aside what was happening in the domestic halls, those related to the workplace invariably derive from a mixture of what the exhibitors’ customers are talking to them about and what the media says people are talking about. So at this year’s show (still ongoing till tomorrow at Earl’s Court) some of the most readily identifiable themes included the dissipation of the workplace, privacy, ergonomics and serendipity. With the possible exception of the age old problem of ergonomics, these all relate to our changing relationship with work and workplaces, not least how we can – and indeed must – be able to work from anywhere and what this means both functionally and aesthetically.
September 19, 2014
A major new report from office furniture maker Steelcase claims that the universal provision of open plan offices means that organisations are facing an unprecedented privacy crisis with their employees. The claim is based on international research carried out by market researchers IPSOS and the Workspace Futures Team of Steelcase which found that a remarkable 85 percent of people are dissatisfied with their working environment and cannot concentrate. Nearly a third (31 percent) now routinely leave the office to get work done in private. The authors of the report claim that this does not mean a reversal of the decades long shift away from cellular offices but rather a move to create offices that offer a range of work settings to give people a choice of where and how to work. More than 10,000 workers across 14 countries were questioned about their office environments and working patterns.
September 16, 2014
The modern workplace has to work harder than ever before. It must reflect corporate values, express something of the organisation’s brand, allow people to work to the best of their ability as well as look after their wellbeing, keep touch with the pace of changing technology and meet the demands of an ever changing legislative environment and keep costs down. All of these issues conflate around the challenge of providing a sustainable, comfortable and productive working environment in buildings that are filled with an increasing number of people and computers. It is estimated by the Building Research Establishment that even in a typical office each person and their technology will generate some 1500 W of energy per hour, the equivalent of the sort of fan heater that the EU is now keen to ban outright.
September 16, 2014
Ten or so years ago an office seating manufacturer commissioned me to prepare a report on the games industry. The idea was to target a market the company had decided was primed to hear their message about ergonomics and the deleterious effects of long hours spent sitting and peering at a screen. Not only would this develop a new market for the business, it would also showcase a new product they had launched specifically to target a younger and hipper audience, even one that was overwhelmingly male. All of the elements of a successful campaign appeared to be there – the right product, a sedentary workforce that often worked around the clock to hit deadlines in an industry that epitomised youthful cool and was willing to spend money to prove it.
September 16, 2014
One of the UK’s five main national examination boards is to introduce a range of workplace issues as part of its updated Psychology A Level syllabus from next year. Cambridge based OCR claims that Psychology is the UK’s fourth most popular subject at both A and AS level and is also one of the most popular subjects at degree level too. The issues will be introduced to the syllabus as part of an Environmental Psychology theme and will consider as issues such as the effects of allowing desk clutter on individual wellbeing (although it didn’t do much for Kanji Watanabe in Akira Kurosawa’s film Ikiru, above), gender roles in workstation personalisation and so on. Students will be expected to carry out their own research into the topics as well as draw on established sources of information. OCR also suggests that the subject may help to develop the emotional intelligence of those who take the subject.
September 10, 2014
In the latest edition of the Workplace Insight newsletter available to view online; Colin Watson argues the urban environment is an increasingly important part of the ‘virtual’ workplace; Nigel Sikora describes how we’re learning to strike a better balance between distraction and privacy, between noise and quiet; and Justin Miller bemoans a lack of balance in the way the media wants to expose ‘waste’ in public sector purchasing. In news, why London offers the best returns on office refurbishment of any city in the world; the publication of two reports from the UK’s National Audit Office alleging poor management and a low priority given to the country’s public sector procurement function and we report on a discussion document by the BIM2050 Group on the digital future of the built environment. We also include a link to the new issue of Work&Place, the journal we publish in partnership with Occupiers Journal.