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.
April 17, 2013
A new report from Jones Lang LaSalle into the property market in Abu Dhabi claims that although the Emirate is committed to investing in the development of new commercial property, there is already a serious oversupply of offices in the region. Vacancy rates already stand at over a third (37 per cent) with increases expected as new developments become available. Around 1 million sq. m. of new office space is set to be developed in Abu Dhabi between now and 2015, increasing the total commercial building stock by a quarter. The JLL report claims that this oversupply is suppressing rents. Grade A properties now yield about 40 per cent of what they did at their peak in the final quarter of 20008 while Grade B space also continues to see falls in its yield.
April 16, 2013
The Construction Industry Council’s (CIC) Zero Carbon Building (ZCB) in Hong Kong has been awarded Champion of the Innovation Award for the Engineering Industry 2012/2013 by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE). The ZCB, which is the first of its kind in Hong Kong engineered by Arup won the construction category for its integrated innovations, tailored for the city’s sub-tropical climate. It is the first building in Hong Kong to actively feed electricity back to the grid and has BEAM Plus Platinum status – the highest rating for excellent building environmental performance.
April 12, 2013
More evidence stacks up about what motivates people, including in the workplace. One thing that all the research shows about how to help people feel good at work is that motivation is a complex issue. It is not about money or joy or fun or an easy life. The things that are important include the challenge of overcoming difficult problems, a sense of achievement and an understanding that the work they do is acknowledged and makes a genuine contribution. The one thing to avoid is futility and the thing to aim for is meaning even in small ways. All of this research challenges the assumption that people are essentially economic creatures and that we can make them feel better by making isolated changes to their working environment.
April 10, 2013
The April 10 edition of the Insight newsletter is now available to view online covering a range of themes from commercial property to ergonomics, human resources to workplace technology, office design to legislation, all done with the usual verve and willingness to tackle issues in a genuinely engaging and unique way. Office Insight is already the most widely read publication in the UK dedicated to workplace design and management with up to 1,000 unique readers daily. The online newsletter is available to read here and it’s quick and easy to subscribe through the main website if you don’t receive a copy already.