May 14, 2013
The first day at a new job used to mean getting the answer to that all important question: “so which is my office?” In today’s mostly open plan environments, the same psychological attachment has been transferred to the desk – ‘my’ desk. However the current trend for flexible approaches to where people work means that even the concept of having one’s own desk is now under attack. So how much does having your own desk matter to the UK office workforce these days? We have been asking employees how they feel about having their own desk. The results seem to be that more than half, on average 56% (of a total of 2,653 employees surveyed at 5 recent client projects), think that it is ‘very important’ and a further 25% think it is ‘quite important’.
May 10, 2013
The design of offices and the furniture that fills them matters because of what they tell us about how we work, how organisations function and even what is happening in the economy. If you want to know what’s going on, take a look at the places we work and the things with which we surround ourselves and how they change over time. Because the way we work changes so quickly, buildings need to have flexibility built into them so that they meet our needs today but anticipate what we will need tomorrow.In his book How Buildings Learn, Stewart Brand outlines the process whereby buildings evolve over time to meet the changing needs of their occupants.
May 6, 2013
Ridley Scott was one of the pioneers of a film aesthetic that mashes the past with the future, the grime and the gleam. It was a pioneering idea at the time but it’s familiar now. We now accept that the future looks a lot like the past and that goes for the office design in this scene. BladeRunner is also a film about dreams. The dreamy setting here is a telling contrast to the dirt and sleaze in the City below and the scene in the office in which Deckard (Harrison Ford) interviews the classic femme fatale Rachel (Sean Young) also supports the unresolved notion that Deckard may be a replicant himself. Clearly the workplace smoking ban had been repealed by this time, but then where would a femme fatale be without a cigarette? Even if she is an android.
May 3, 2013
So what do people really want from their offices? It’s a question that has tasked the minds of researchers for many years. According to a recent survey from Overbury, the ideal office design seemed to be a Starbucks, but a new report from the British Council for Offices suggests that what people want isn’t actually that much. Top of the list of priorities for the 1,200 or so people surveyed were fast Wi-Fi, comfortable surroundings, a convenient location and a decent, if unspectacular, fit-out, although responses varied to a certain degree across age groups and sectors. Is that really too much to ask? And are the pool table and the slide absolutely necessary?
May 1, 2013
In which a businesswoman rejoicing in the name Nilofer Merchant argues that one of the major causes of ill health in the world today is our sedentary lifestyle, and suggests a small idea that just might have a big impact on your life and health: Next time you have a one-on-one meeting, make it into a “walking meeting”. She is arguing the increasingly well established principle that good ergonomics is not about posture but about movement. This point has been argued before on Office Insight, including here, but the point cannot be made often enough. It’s true that the best chair designs encourage movement for those times when we cannot avoid sitting but, as ever, this is as much an issue of management as it is design.
April 30, 2013
Design is no longer just an add-on, but has evolved into a fully joined-up innovation methodology and with countries around the world adopting this thinking the European Union cannot afford to be left behind. This is the message of Design Council and other members of SEE (Sharing Experience Europe) in a report published today, Design for Public Good, which encourages the European Union and its member states to adopt design-led innovation to create the next generation of public services and policy that can meet the pressing demands of the future.
April 29, 2013
Søren Kierkegaard was a Nineteenth Century Danish philosopher and proto-existentialist. Not for him the hazy, romantic ideals of many of his contemporaries. He was one of the thinkers who gave birth to the Twentieth Century with its focus on the individual, reality and life in a sometimes uncaring world, although he was no atheist like many of the true existentialists. If he’s generally well known for anything these days it is for a single quotation that reads like a greeting card aphorism but is no less true for that. He said: ‘Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.’ Looking back can give you a real handle on the present. I moved offices recently and as these things happen, a number of books that I routinely ignore fell open while I was looking for some displacement activity.
April 24, 2013
Detailed plans to open up and transform the BBC’s Television Centre into a mixed use development including office and studio space for the BBC have been released today. Developers Stanhope and the BBC revealed in February that for the first time, Television Centre will be opened up to the public and the famous forecourt remodelled. The BBC will remain at Television Centre operating studios and BBC Worldwide will consolidate their new home at Television Centre, following refurbishment. The remaining offices are aimed at occupiers in the creative sector. The much loved listed buildings at Television Centre will be retained. more…
April 23, 2013
The architectural profession can’t rely on great design alone, but needs to be more business and client focused warns the Royal Institute of British Architects. According to RIBA’s 2012/13 Business Benchmarking Survey, 62 per cent of practices do not have a business plan and, of those that do, only 13 per cent plan beyond one year. Interestingly, the survey also finds that 50 per cent of the profession’s work is won as the result of a direct approach with no competitive process. RIBA President Angela Brady said: “One key element exposed in these latest results is the acute split in business management, profitability and specialisms between large and small practices on how to make the most of their own position in the market place. What is clear is that if growth is on the agenda for a practice, then simply being a great designer, or a good project runner, is unlikely to be enough.” more…
April 19, 2013
This week, with some fanfare and a modest splash on social media, CBRE, the Global real estate services provider launched The Workshop Idea. One of its stated aims is the revitalisation of our high streets and, with the introduction of local venues in a number of differing guises, an increase in the degree of choice and flexibility of places in which to work when not travelling into the office. A whitepaper is due out shortly and we will cover this specific initiative once that has been given the proper consideration and thoughtful analysis it deserves. However, it raises some initial thoughts on expectations, attitudes and behaviours that need to be overcome in the way we view our high streets and places of work and the degree to which those who provide services respond.
April 18, 2013
IT giant Cisco has opened a new regional headquarters in Singapore that features utilisation-based space allocation that for the first time allows all of its staff to work just about anywhere in the building, using whichever kind of mobile device they prefer. The move reflects the findings of Cisco’s recent report which revealed that growing numbers of workers prefer to use an iPad or iPhone rather than a PC. The new offices, located at UE Biz Hub, within the Changi Business Park in Singapore, brings together 1,000 employees from Cisco’s previous four offices around the island and has reduced around 40 per cent of the required workspace.
April 17, 2013
A prescient film when it comes to modern office life, the workplace depicted in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil is that particularly 1980s modish mish-mash of futuristic technology and grubby antique with more than a nod to the offices of the past, present and future. Nevertheless he was able to anticipate both the current obsession with shared desks, the battle for resources and space (above) and the fact that people will sometimes use technology to do anything other than work so long as the boss doesn’t notice (below). Even the exposed pipes that were once so daring can now seem a routine or even hackneyed element in an office design.
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