May 14, 2019
The idea of a cocktail party might be a bit dated, but it is the perfect metaphor for describing one aspect of the most common complaints about modern office design. An idea called the cocktail party effect has been known to neuroscientists for decades. It describes how we are able to filter out a large amount of noise and focus almost completely on just one source of sound. So, while we clutch our Manhattan, we can listen intently to just one person and ignore the babble of voices that might otherwise drown them out. We can tune in to the source we think is important and tune out everything else.
April 17, 2019
One of the most talked about solutions to the UK’s seemingly intractable productivity deficit is the application of new technology. And as we begin to address the first challenges and opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it grows more apparent each day that this is not merely a macro-economic issue, but something that affects us at an organisation and personal level too. Consequently, one of the most important attributes that must be developed in order for both organisations and individuals to thrive in this new era is digital IQ, sometimes referred to as DQ. And the most important thing to understand about the current digital IQ of many organisations and individuals is that they need to focus on developing it.
February 28, 2019
In his 2018 book The Square and the Tower, the historian Niall Ferguson argues that over a period of hundreds of years the world has been shaped primarily by two distinct organisational forces: networks and hierarchies. These are the square and the tower of the book’s title. Their interplay has been at the heart of major world events and the lessons that arise apply to what we now mistakenly assume to be a uniquely networked era. Although the book addresses the great themes of history, it also offers up a compelling metaphor that can be scaled down to describe a number of other human domains. One of the most important of these is the workplace, which has its own challenges when it comes to both networks and hierarchies.
February 26, 2019
The new issue of Work&Place, the most influential workplace journal in the world, is now available for free download
We have published the latest Work&Place issue for Spring 2019. As always, it offers a diverse compilation of timely and provocative perspectives focused on the intersections between and among work, the workplace, technology, culture, and business strategy. You might start with Rob Harris’s call for shooting the messengers in his (highly responsible) rant on the dearth of meaningful research about the business value of open offices and the all-too-frequent unfounded claims about how wonderful open plan is.
January 25, 2019
My trade is to ask questions about the workplace then make sense of the answers. That has been a particular challenge with the question, ‘what are offices today?’ What seems clear is that the various actors in the workplace ecosystem look at offices through very different eyes. Urban planning and development professionals still view offices as a distinct category of real estate and most real estate professionals view offices in terms of the delivery of floor space. Some things have changed,however. For some time, the hybrid economy of serviced offices has turned the product into a service. But, in many cases this has simply made the leasing of space simpler and more flexible.
September 12, 2018
The new issue of Work&Place has been published and is free to read on the journal’s new website. Its overall readership is now around 100,000, including in the new Spanish language edition, so it’s not just more accessible, it is even more influential. The journal continues to explore the most cutting-edge ideas surrounding the physical, digital and cultural domains in which we work. The convergence of these elements of the workplace define the greatest challenges we face in the workplace of the early 21st Century. Some of these are addressed in the features included in this edition.
August 19, 2018
The culture within which we work determines how effective, successful, fulfilled and well we are in both our professional and personal lives. The organisations for which we work – on whatever basis that might be – the physical surroundings they create, and the other places in which we choose to work are now woven into the fabric of our lives as never before. The technological immersion that allows us to work in new ways also means that each day becomes a series of experiences. Because we are free to work wherever and whenever we choose, we are increasingly able to determine the nature of those experiences. For those who design and manage offices this represents both a great opportunity and an unprecedented series of challenges.
July 20, 2018
In a 1973 essay called Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination, the science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke sets out Three Laws regarding our relationship with technology. Only the third of these is well remembered these days:. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. He was one of the first writers to coin the sort of law that have now become commonplace on the subject of the way our world, including the workplace, can be disrupted by technological developments. They include a corollary to Clarke’s: Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced (Gehm’s Law)
July 5, 2018
In 2017, a content creator called Oobah Butler decided that he wanted to do something with the experience he’d gained writing fake positive restaurant reviews on TripAdvisor. What if, he wondered, he set up an entirely fictitious restaurant based in the shed in his garden and then started to manipulate TripAdvisor ratings? What happened surpassed his wildest expectations. In just six months, The Shed at Dulwich became the top-rated restaurant in London, even though nobody had ever actually eaten there, based solely on fake reviews, fake pictures and the word of mouth created by a complete inability for anybody to book a table.
July 4, 2018
In this podcast I talk to Mark Eltringham about British music, which leads to a discussion about bands from the early days of new wave in Liverpool, including Echo & The Bunnymen. The evolution of music serves as a metaphor which leads to a conversation about the history of the workplace where Mark shares his perspective on some of the founding thought leaders in our modern sector. I ask him about today’s places of work and Mark references a recent report from Chris Hood of AWA, Kate Lister of Global Workplace Analytics and Haworth while also sharing some research provided by Leesman Index. We talk about the blurring of the lines and need for collaboration across departments inside organizations, the relationship between facilities management and workplace as a whole, while also discussing the controversy in the UK about the future of the FM sector.
May 31, 2018
Podcast: a manifesto for change in workplace and facilities management and the question of what is in a name
The latest Workplace Matters podcast features two brand new episodes. Usual host Ian Ellison of 3edges hands over the reins to Simon Iatrou to explore the intentions of the British Institute of Facilities Management to change its name to embrace workplace, and seek chartered status. Simon is joined by members of the BIFM leadership team: Chairman Steve Roots, CEO Linda Hausmanis, and Director of Insight Chris Moriarty. Ian also joins the discussion in his professional capacity as 3edges Director and workplace specialist, to talk about the research work 3edges have been doing over the past year about the future of FM and its relationship to workplace. BIFM’s manifesto for change announcement triggered a lot of industry interest, and inevitable discussion. It seemed clear from the comments that there were topics and issues worth digging deeper into, to give Workplace Matters listeners and BIFM members an opportunity for more context, so 3edges invited the BIFM leadership team to take open questions directly, and come round the table to discuss them.
March 13, 2018
Workplace author, blogger and consultant Neil Usher joins 3edges director Ian Ellison again on the day of his ‘The Elemental Workplace’ book launch; also the day the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) announce their proposal to become the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM). Both of these very different, but exciting developments for the workplace discipline are discussed at length, and Neil offers insightful critique as always. The conversation ends up at one of the new frontiers for the way we work and the places we do it – and global society in general – the ethical challenges we face from emerging digital technologies. Further links from the discussion can be found in the show-notes on the podcast page of www.3edges.co.uk, where you can also find a free download of the Workplace Leadership Manifesto which 3edges co-wrote and published with Neil this January.
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