Friday, 17 April 2015

I recently co-authored a report for the City of London on Future Workstyles and Future Workplaces. I worked alongside fellow WCO colleagues Rob Harris of Ramidus Consulting and Despina Katsikakis, which was enjoyable and a breath of fresh air compared to carrying out research in my own bubble. The report was launched at MIPIM in Cannes, which unfortunately I didn’t get to, and London, where I ended up.

Both launches were well received with, what I perceived as, genuine interest and intelligent questions. We also received some good reviews on the usual social media channels. I like that people are saying that our reported workplace trends are relevant to all locations and not just to London. It’s great because we actually looked at global trends and then tailored them so that they were more relevant to the City of London. The City did a great job on the look and feel of the report; the new light and graphical format is a pleasant departure from their usual heavy tomes (so I’ve stolen their graphics).

Monday, 30 March 2015

A Tale of Two Summits

I’m a conference groupie; I enjoy spending time out of the office meeting new people, learning new stuff and drinking new beers. This year I have been fortunate to be invited to either speak at or chair a number of international conferences. My plan is to impart the key points from each conference and so spread the workplace word

I have just returned from chairing the Workplace Trends Spring Summit in central London. The theme was the Healthy Workplace & Active design, which is indeed a trending workplace topic. The conference was clearly over-subscribed and placed considerable strain on the facilities. Acoustics, ventilation, seating arrangements, catering, access and egress all suffered due to the high number of participants. Which, of course, is ironic as the main takeaway of the day was to create workplaces that accommodate basic human needs thus enhancing wellbeing and performance. 

Friday, 20 June 2014

Blogging on Brewing

I have just returned from a couple of IFMA events held this week in Stockholm and Barcelona. I enjoyed the events and thought to myself I ought to blog about them as I haven’t posted a workplace blog for a little while. What I hadn’t realised is that my last blog here was six months ago! I know time flies by when you are enjoying yourself or busy, but six months is a long time by any standards.
But my lack of activity here doesn’t mean I have not been blogging, I have just been doing it under another persona. You see, I recently invested in and built a microbrewery, Haresfoot Brewery, and I have been venting my thoughts on-line as a newbie brewer. What may interest the workplace community is why I ended up brewing commercially.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Social Capital and Psychological Inclusion

I was recently invited to “consultation” on Social Capital In the Workplace at St George’s House (Windsor Castle). The consultation took the form of a retreat, we stayed overnight at the castle and the awe-inspiring environment, fuelled by alcohol, lent itself to serious debate and relationship development. I was asked to present my views on social capital for a psychologist’s perspective, so here I go.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Will demonising “open plan” lead to its demise?

There is a witch hunt on in the world of workplace. “Open plan” has become a dirty word (okay phrase) and the national press are leading the mob in vilifying this so-called scorn on workplace society. The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and Business Week have all recently reported that “we can’t get anything done in an open-plan office” as it affects our concentration, our performance and our health.

These news items are all pretty damning but not as damming as the Wikipedia entry on open plan which states:

“A systematic survey of research upon the effects of open plan offices found frequent negative effects in some traditional workplaces: high levels of noise, stress, conflict, high blood pressure and a high staff turnover… Most people prefer closed offices… there is a dearth of studies confirming positive impacts on productivity from open plan office designs”.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Planning for Productivity

The Holy Grail

For many years leading lights in the property and construction industry, such as Paul Morrell, have referred to the connection between office design and business performance (or productivity) as the Holy Grail. There is a view that the relationship is elusive and intangible, a myth even. That in itself is not a problem, but one consequence of believing that the impact of office design on productivity is not easily demonstrated, is that it is generally ignored. From a business perspective, ignoring the effect of your workplace facilities on your workforce’s performance is not just naïve but also irresponsible.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Future of Corporate Workspace: Property is a People Business

To me, the majority of office floor space looks and feels the same, well it certainly does in the UK (take a look at any interior design magazine if you don’t believe me). There are a few exceptions but most offices are fully open plan with rows of homogenous desks built around a core of so-called collaboration space and other supporting areas.

The more adventurous organisations may have quirkier breakout spaces, themed meetings rooms and a funkier colour palette, but the layout of the space, with the ubiquitous bench-desking, repeatedly follows a familiar pattern. The even more adventurous organisations may be experimenting with new ways of working, reinvented as flexible or agile or activity based working, but nevertheless a concept that has been around for at least 25 years.

The design and use of space is fundamentally driven by cost. The office is considered (by many) a cost burden, an overhead, rather than a means of improving business performance, an investment with potentially lucrative returns. So currently office design is all about space, it is about efficiency, high density, and reducing property costs.

Le Corbusier famously claimed “the home is a machine for living in”, so logically it follows that the “office is a machine for working in”. The primary objective of the office is, and has always been, to facilitate the business of the occupying organisation. And the key asset of any organisation is its people.