December 3, 2019
The BBC recently published a piece on its website to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Ridley Scott’s movie Alien and what it could tell us about office design and the workplace (of whatever sort). One of the interesting points raised in the piece was how the depiction of the conditions on board the spaceship Nostromo did away with the gloss and swish of previous visions of the future, replaced by grime, exposed services and strictly utilitarian interiors. The environment was one of the characters, a trick Ridley Scott later repeated in Bladerunner. More →
November 19, 2019
Is there a crisis of leadership in the 21st Century? And if so, what can we do about it? I had the opportunity to address the issues in conversation with Chris Lewis, the co-author along with Dr Pippa Malmgren of the Business Book of the Year The Leadership Lab, diverting briefly to talk about the golden age of football and its lessons for the modern day leader and how the challenges of leadership are not just evident in organisation, but society as a whole. More →
September 20, 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.
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.
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.