Search Results for: office design

Where are the muggles in Terry Farrell’s architecture policy review?

Where are the muggles in Terry Farrell’s architecture policy review?

One of the standard complaints commonly ascribed to facilities managers and others who work to manage our buildings and the people and stuff inside them is that they are not consulted well enough when it comes to the development, architecture and design of buildings. Well, now they may have a chance to see how that all feels writ large following yesterday’s announcement from Culture and Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey of the launch of an independent review of the UK’s architecture which will be undertaken by the architect Sir Terry Farrell leading a panel of mainly architects.

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The resistance to flexible working is entirely reasonable

Home workingIn recent media coverage of the decision by Yahoo to ban homeworking as well as a recent survey from Microsoft, the resistance to the idea that people work better when they are allowed to work flexibly has typically been put down to cultural inertia. Sometimes those who have resisted the uptake of flexible working have been portrayed as dinosaurs. While there’s no question that culture and management attitudes do create barriers to the uptake of flexible working, there is a growing recognition that certain flexible working practices may not be appropriate for many people and organisations and even specific sectors. The barriers may be there for a good reason.

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Japan’s Toyo Ito wins 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize

Toyo ItoThe 2013 Pritzker Architecture Prize, considered architecture’s highest accolade is to go to Toyo Ito, a 71 year old Japanese architect whose work includes the Sendai Mediatheque library in Sendai City, Japan, which withstood the 2011 earthquake, Tokyo’s Tama Art University Library, and London’s 2002 Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. Ito, whose architectural practice is based in Tokyo, said of the award: “Architecture is bound by various social constraints. I have been designing architecture bearing in mind that it would be possible to realize more comfortable spaces if we are freed from all the restrictions even for a little bit.”

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Where flexible working employees really want to work? Starbucks.

Starbucks CafeLeaving aside the fact that most surveys are designed to further the commercial interests of the firms that commission them, most offer a deal of insight into what drives people and organisations, some of it unwitting. Most telling are often the specific details that lift the veil on the motivations and attitudes of individuals. So it was with a recent survey from Overbury that headlined on the idea that poorly designed offices hamper creativity, but also contained a question that was answered in a way which suggested that the place most staff would like to work would be something akin to their local Starbucks.

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UK Government reports £1 billion sale of unwanted properties

St Dunstans HouseThe Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has claimed that central Government departments in the UK have now raised more than £1 billion by selling unused property since 2010. He also claimed that government departments have saved an additional £168 million with the termination of leases on unwanted buildings. The landmark figure was reached with the sale of St. Dunstan’s House (above), formerly home to the Ministry of Justice to Taylor Wimpey who will be converting the site into – what else? – a residential project of 76 apartments designed by David Walker Architects.

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Landmark buildings can lead to an identity crisis for tenants

A new generation of landmarks

A new generation of landmarks

Companies want to brand themselves in lots of ways and for lots of reasons. There are all the usual reasons to do with marketing but when companies talk about brand and how it is integrated with architecture and the design of their offices they are equally likely to be concerned with attracting staff and making what they think are the right statements about their business. The problem is that while nearly everybody wants to brand their workplace, the design solutions can become overly literal. There’s nothing inherently wrong with logos in the carpet but successful design will be about far more than that. It usually has to be rather less literal and rather more intelligent.

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Flexible working: Falling out of fashion

 Image credit: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/photo_8784138_young-attractive-female-fashion-designer-working-at-office-desk-drawing-while-talking-on-mobile.html'>nyul / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Just as ACAS concludes its consultation on flexible working, the practice has been declared démodé by none other than Alexandra Shulman, the editor of British Vogue. Writing in response to the recent news that Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer ordered the company’s 11,500 staff back to the office, the Vogue editor has argued that working from home is not an adequate alternative to showing your face in the workplace. Ms Mayer goes on to note that in a creative environment, important opportunities are missed when absent colleagues are tottering, undressed around their kitchens. The best stories, she says, arise from chance remarks, gossip and jokes between colleagues working alongside each other. More →

Staff development still tops European employers’ priorities

Image credit: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/photo_10259161_portrait-of-successful-young-businessman-showing-presentation-in-a-meeting-at-office.html'>logos / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

European employers are still maintaining ambitious staff development plans, despite the gloomier macro-economic climate. According to a study by Aon Hewitt, the proportion of companies that expect to add new jobs in 2012 has increased to 47 per cent, overtaking the number of companies foreseeing a reduction of their workforce (31 per cent). Explained Leonardo Sforza, chair of the European Club for human resources Scientific Committee: “The slow and painful road to economic recovery is not discouraging successful multinationals from continuing to invest in their human capital and from demonstrating the belief that their people remain the most powerful engine for sustainable growth and innovation.” More →

Widespread adoption of BIM moves closer

BIM_3D_prototype_-_Modus

The widespread adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in architecture, design and construction has moved closer with the publication by the Construction Industry Council (CIC) yesterday of the BIM Protocol, a legal framework for BIM projects. The use of BIM as a collaborative way of working that utilises digital technologies for more efficient methods of designing, creating and maintaining properties has been described as a game-changing ICT and cultural process for the built environment, with the Government’s intention to require collaborative 3D BIM on all its projects by 2016

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Yahoo case doesn’t tell the whole story of teleworking

Yahoo! Sunnyvale headquarters.  October 28, 2001 (Y! Photo / Brian McGuiness)Yahoo! made headlines across the US and the rest of the world this week by announcing they are terminating the company’s telework program.  Does this signal, broadly, the pending demise of telework?  Here’s my take: this story is actually deeper than just about telework. Yahoo! has been wandering around aimlessly for a number of years, and it would appear that this particular measure is intended as some overdue shock therapy to jump-start a much needed culture shift and focus on what the company needs to survive in a world of rapid innovation and “big bang disruption” (see March 2013 HBR article by Larry Downes and Paul F. Nunes).

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What gets measured in the workplace, gets managed

MeasureAre we finally seeing the first signs of the end of the downturn?  Earlier this week the Government announced that UK unemployment had fallen. While I know there have been quibbles about what this all meant, other data from specific market sectors backs up the idea that we may be seeing some tentative causes for hope.  One of the most heartening was last week’s survey from Randstad which reported growing levels of optimism among financial services firms about their prospects and the fact that the majority would be increasing headcount this year.

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Brussels to challenge the UK in court on Green Deal VAT

Office at nightThe European Commission has confirmed intends to take the UK Government to court to force the Treasury to impose the full rate of VAT on energy-saving goods which are a key element of the flagship Green Deal energy efficiency scheme. The Green Deal is designed not only to improve the UK’s environmental performance but also boost the economy. The commission issued a statement yesterday confirming it would refer the UK to the EU Court of Justice over the practice of imposing reduced VAT rates on green goods which it claims break EU law and won’t deliver the aims of the government’s flagship Green Deal energy efficiency scheme.

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