WDM Newsletter – May/June 2017

May 22, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 18/05/2017. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

UNDERSTANDING TODAY’S WORK ENVIRONMENTS
Communication – Collaboration – Concentration – Contemplation

WDMheader2017-05As mentioned in last month’s newsletter, we have participated recently in The Business Show which targets smaller employers. In doing so, we realised that this market is less familiar with the many terms we use in day-to-day conversation with our large clients. The result of this thinking was our latest jargon-free brochure. It was an exhilarating experience discussing the workplace with people who had never heard of agile working, touchdowns, co-worker spaces or activity based working arrangements although many are using such formats without realising it!

LUX
Compact comfort

luxFor our stand at the Business Show, we needed a product to represent our broader portfolio in a compact space. The Lux seating family provides an ideal mix of striking design and small footprint which met the brief exactly. As an evolution of the traditional tub chair, it is available in a choice of high and low backs and single or two-seater models. Complete with co-ordinating low tables, it is ideal for reception and breakout areas where space is limited.

IS IT TRUE WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT MILLENNIALS?
Exploding some myths about Generation Y

millennialsThis is the title of a new presentation I delivered recently to a group of senior managers in the finance field. In it, I addressed some of the key issues in the context of a multi-generational workforce and explore ways to improve communications across age groups and character types. You can see the PowerPoint deck here. There were several comments from attendees about some of my ideas that they had not considered before and I already have an enquiry to present again to a leadership team. Let me know if this is a topic of interest to you and your colleagues. It can be delivered in person or by webinar.

SEATING BROCHURE
Content update

seatedFollowing the introduction of the new work environments literature mentioned above, our seating brochure needed a facelift. The new version provides an overview of every type of seating from reception to home working and laboratories to industrial settings. We source products from a number of manufacturers in the UK and abroad to provide a comprehensive portfolio of quality products and, since it is in our DNA always to consider ergonomics, we bring a unique perspective to many seating discussions. Contact us for further information.

CLERKENWELL DESIGN WEEK
Last chance – or maybe too late

clerkenwellDepending when you read this, CDW is just coming or you may have just missed it! If there is still time to book, you can do so here. I shall be attending on the Tuesday and Wednesday: let me know if you want to meet up. If you are too late, I shall be providing my own observations and insights in the June/July newsletter. As I write this piece, I am looking forward to the new Eva chair launch at Orangebox (I have had a sneak preview!), Textile Fluidity from Camira, Creative Collaborations with SB Seating and street art at Edge Design, amongst many others.


WDM Newsletter – April/May 2017

April 24, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 20/04/2017. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR!
Conferences and exhibitions abound

WDMheader2017-04With Easter over and summer on the horizon, we continue to participate in a diverse array of events. As it happens, the next three are all in London. I am always looking for new products or fresh ideas and will provide feedback in due course. If you attend any of these events, I shall be pleased to hear whether you agree with my observations and, if you do not participate, I hope you find the information useful. If you are a social media user, you can also get more timely and frequent bulletins from one of the sources available here.

CLERKENWELL DESIGN WEEK
The eighth edition: May 23rd – 25th

CDWWith over 34,000 visitors last year, CDW continues to evolve and grow. I have already seen some exciting new products which are ready for launch and there is a hectic programme of events and presentations. Some of our own key partners have brand new showrooms since last year and others have moved premises. If you are attending timed sessions, expect to exceed your daily step target with ease and make sure you allow enough time to walk between them! This year I shall be attending on the Tuesday and Wednesday so let me know if you want to meet up.

THE BUSINESS SHOW 2017
The event for SME owners and directors

BusinessShowWe have been thinking for some time about how we can bring the knowledge gained from our relationships with enormous organisations to business owners in the SME world. We know that some of our unique and innovative techniques are equally applicable whatever the size of an organisation and we shall demonstrate this on Stand 7124 in The Marketplace Zone at The Business Show. If you plan to attend on May 17th or 18th, come and talk to us! If you do not yet have your free ticket, click here.

TH!NKFM CONFERENCE
FM in a connected world

th!nkFMOnly a few years ago, we were talking about how smartphones and tablets were changing our work lives. Before these issues are even fully embedded, there are already more new technologies to accommodate: Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, the Internet of Things, Robotics and Big Data are just a few of the terms that did not exist a few years ago. On June 8th, Th!nkFM will be exploring the benefits and challenges of these issues and considering ways to address them. I shall report back on what I learn!

ALTERNATIVE FACTS 2
April Fools or Year Round Fools?

alternative_truthsIn Issue 14, I referred to the terms ‘post-truth’ and ‘alternative facts’ and bemoaned our apparent growing willingness to accept information from unverified sources. I am grateful to those of you who provided interesting and valuable feedback. At the time, I was thinking about my next blog and, whilst contemplating the issues, came across a really insightful question in a Tweet on April 1st. That question became the necessary catalyst to shape this article!


April Fools or Year-Round Fools?

April 12, 2017

Following my recent ‘Lies, damned lies and statistics’ comments, I am grateful to Jay Kuo (@nycjayjay) for a Tweet that helped me focus on one of the key issues about modern misinformation:

shoelacesWhy is April 1st the only day of the year that we question the reliability of what we read online? 

Whilst we are all particularly cautious about news stories on April 1st, many  (perhaps even most?) of us are guilty during the rest of the year of seeing something online and taking it at face value without much thought about its origin or legitimacy. Then, having passively accepted its reliability, we share it with friends and colleagues!

If you think this is a sweeping statement, consider a few scenarios. If you are a social media user, can you genuinely say you are not guilty of any of them?

  • Someone you know in your business sector or profession shares an online posting (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). You don’t have time to read it all but the heading looks good, you know they are good at what they do and you respect their opinion so you share/like the posting without reading past the first few lines. After all, they are a reliable source!
  • An item link in your Twitter feed has a good picture, an attention-grabbing headline and is topical. You don’t have time to read it (hopefully, you will get back to it later) but you like and retweet it in the meantime.
  • In the time when it was a regular occurrence, LinkedIn shows you a picture of someone you once met at a conference and invites you to endorse them for a particular skill. You have no idea whether they are any good at it but they seemed charming when you met them and they have lots of LinkedIn connections to whom you want to become visible. So you endorse him/her. After all, they would not say they were good at something unless they actually are – surely?

Potentially, there are many more comparable scenarios and, at the time of taking these actions, you probably think there is no harm done. But what if the person who posted the item you like, share or retweet had just done exactly the same? What if several people had shared the same story with all their contacts on a similar basis and only the originator had ever read it?

With regard to the LinkedIn endorsements, I know for certain that this has happened because I have been endorsed many times by people I know but who have never witnessed me demonstrating the skill they commend. Indeed, I have been endorsed more than once for NLP although I have never had any NLP training or knowingly practiced it!

In such circumstances, the action may be well-intentioned but I believe it reinforces the habit of passing on unvalidated information or unconfirmed ‘facts’.

If we are this glib about issues reasonably close to our own lives, are we losing the ability (or desire) to question what we see and hear as social media and online platforms replace traditional media as our primary source(s) of news and information?

propagandaAccusations of Fake News have caught our attention recently but the concept is not new. We used to call it propaganda! Traditional news agencies have to check their facts before publication and, that in itself is part of the problem. Whilst the BBC (for instance) is trying to find multiple independent sources to verify a news story, there are already tens, hundreds or even thousands of people pumping out online text, photographs and videos that they have created themselves or grabbed from another online source.

We must all be more rigorous in questioning what we see online – or repeat to those around us. We all played the game of Chinese Whispers as children. Are we now doing it in our daily adult lives?


WDM Newsletter – March 2017

March 20, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 16/03/2017. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

DO YOU HAVE HOME WORKERS?
Of course you do!

WDMheader2017-03A few years ago (in a time before Agile Working was a hot topic), a Facilities Manager told me everyone in his company had a dedicated workplace, there was no hot desking and they had no home workers. I had only question: does anyone have a laptop? His affirmative reply meant that the organisation obviously had personnel working at home (although not necessarily authorised). Today, nobody would make such a bold statement in the first place. With laptop sales significantly exceeding desktop models and a proliferation of smartphones and tablets, not to mention Bring Your Own Devices practices (again, not necessarily authorised) and widespread Agile Working programmes, employees are being positively encouraged to work away from the office. The home is just one such workplace but, for the purposes of this newsletter, we are focussing on a few of the specific issues of employees working at their own residence.

HEALTH, WELLBEING, PRODUCTIVITY & DUTY OF CARE
Understanding individual needs and responses

health-wellbeing-productivityFor those based in open plan offices, working at home can be an ideal way to address two of the ‘4Cs’ (contemplation and concentration, rather than collaboration, communication). However, many miss the interaction with colleagues and a key negative factor can be lack of direction and goals from their line manager. Many employers overlook the importance of the culture change and different (pull, rather than push) management style required. To ensure maximum buy-in from those working at home, managers need to be trained to understand the issues and the correct way to modify their behaviour and relationships with colleagues. It is also essential to provide instant access to central support for everything from internet and login issues to mental health and wellbeing.

ASSESSMENT AND EQUIPMENT
Getting it right

assessment-equipmentMany people lack sufficient space for an office at home and the potential issues are compounded by the almost inevitable ‘out of sight is out of mind’ circumstances. Home workers need to be properly assessed and this can be done online or with a site visit. Site visits address issues that are far less common in the office (light levels, overall space, fire extinguishers) and can incorporate other essential services such as PAT testing. Many employers create a brief catalogue (with suitable control mechanisms) for homeworkers to identify and order key equipment such as laptop stands or separate monitors. It is generally accepted that nothing will be handed back if an employee resigns so it is important for employers to get good advice to ensure resources are optimised. Items such as our Capsule Collection chairs are the best possible balance of budget and ergonomics.

MUKAVA
A multifunctional platform well suited to the home office

mukavaAppearance is an important factor when employees choose work products for use at home. What works in a minimalist warehouse loft is unlikely to work in a Tudor cottage! Mukava is at home in a multiple hot-desking environment but its clean lines, modern look and multifunctional nature make it a good candidate as a multi-purpose tool in a space-constrained home office. Combining laptop platform, document holder, white board, tablet and smartphone stand with built-in device charger, USB socket and magnetic grips, this small unit truly ‘does it all’! It can be mounted on any VESA monitor arm. Download the brochure for further details.

HANDHELD DEVICES
Averting problems from extended use

HandheldDevicesSmartphones and tablets are used almost everywhere, not just in the home. Management of the technology, what the products are used for and how they are used presents many challenges to responsible employers and the pace of technology makes it hard for organisations to keep up, let alone get ahead. Personnel  benefit from education to understand the issues and ensure they act responsibly. There are many adaptors and accessories to aid comfort when using handheld devices but the technology is all, fundamentally, badly designed for prolonged use! A key part of our handheld devices strategy is therefore to help users understand the postures to limit (or avoid).


WDM Newsletter – February/March 2017

February 20, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 16/02/2017. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

STOCKHOLM FURNITURE & LIGHT FAIR
Design and innovation for commercial, hospitality and domestic markets

wdmheader2017-02One of the joys of this event is the diversity of products available in one location. Whether you are looking for domestic, workplace or hospitality applications, the variety is enormous and most of it comes with that extra ingredient of ‘Scandi Design’ flair. Starting amongst the numerous lighting exhibitors, I was reminded of the dramatic progress in the development of low energy lamps, LEDs and their associated applications in recent years. The selection of lighting products for both domestic and commercial use was a delight.  I was particularly impressed by the many designs merging traditional materials with the new technology. However, I was there to look at workplace furniture and, although it would be easy to spend my time creating a wish list of products for my own home, there was work to be done! [Read more]

IS THIS THE FUTURE OF WORKPLACE SEATING?
Free London seminar about seating and the sit-stand conundrum

future-of-seatingBack in October, I reported on the launch of the Axia Smart Active chair which links to a smartphone app to educate users about sitting and posture habits. On February 23rd, we are providing a free early-evening seminar in Clerkenwell to demonstrate how this technology can be used and also provide the latest thinking about sitting, standing and movement in the workplace. Stephen Bowden BSc (Hons) C.ErgHF MIEHF EurErg of Morgan Maxwell will provide an impartial overview of the latest research. Click here for the full programme, location and online booking form.

SOFI MESH
Stylish addition to a proven product

sofi_mesh2Launched at Orgatec and showcased at the Stockholm Furniture Fair, the HÅG SoFi Mesh is already establishing itself as the elegant new addition to the SoFi range. Designed in collaboration with the award-winning Frost Produkt and Powerdesign agencies, SoFi Mesh provides ease of movement without having to think about it. In the words of designer Aleksander Borgenhov, [we set out to create] ‘a beautiful object from something that is in fact a highly advanced machine’. As a result, all the features and mechanisms are compact and hidden away whilst the long-established HÅG in Balance® technology provides an energising platform for greater efficiency at work. For further information or to arrange a trial, please call us on 0345 345 0898.

ALTERNATIVE FACTS
Something to think about in a post-truth society

post-truthI have just read that ‘post-truth’ was the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016. Although this and terms like ‘alternative facts’ have been gaining currency comparatively recently, they encapsulate something I have been pondering since long before the Brexit referendum and the Trump presidential campaign. In a society where growing numbers of people get their news from social media, how much can we ensure that the information we have is reliable? How can we be certain our business choices are evidence-based? It is probably fair to say we have always treated sales literature and marketing claims with at least a small ‘pinch of salt’ but, with the blurring of fact, exaggeration and downright lies, how can we be sure our commercial decisions are well founded? I shall be blogging about this soon but would love to hear from you if you have any strong views or particular experience of unreliable information.

 


Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair 2017

February 16, 2017

See all my photographs from this year’s exhibition on our Pinterest page.

lampshade

The 2m lampshade

One of the joys of this event is the diversity of products available in one location. Whether you are looking for domestic, workplace or hospitality applications, the variety is enormous and most of it comes with that extra ingredient of ‘Scandi Design’ flair.

Starting amongst the numerous lighting exhibitors, I was reminded of the dramatic progress in the development of low energy lamps, LEDs and their associated applications in recent years. The selection of lighting products for both domestic and commercial use was a delight. I was particularly impressed by the many designs merging traditional materials with the new technology. However, I was there to look at workplace furniture and, although it would be easy to spend my time creating a wishlist of products for my own home, there was work to be done!

nordic_deskInevitably, sit-stand desks are a mainstay of the workplace part of this event. The conspicuous difference from the UK is that they are no longer a novelty. This concept is over twenty years old in Scandinavia and, in Denmark, it is now mandatory to offer sit-stand desks to employees. In a mature market, every manufacturer’s portfolio includes sit-stand and differentiating themselves from competitors can be difficult. The current focus is therefore on aesthetics and many companies are hiding most of the essential steel components by encasing them in wood. I thought it was significant that I saw no evidence of the gimmicks such as illuminated desktops and hands-free height adjustment that are gaining ground in the USA. There is also no discussion about whether or not people use adjustable desks (a preoccupation in the UK): sit-stand is part of the regional culture.

Amongst the furniture manufacturers were several balance/wobble board variations to encourage exercise and movement whilst standing at the desk. These included everything from the most basic plastic device to an elaborate mini-surfboard. In the age of crowd-funding, even the most bizarre and unviable designs can at least get to pre-production stage if they have a funky health message and a clever video!

sofi_mesh2Scandinavia has been in the vanguard of workplace seating design for many years and the key regional manufacturers were all represented. Task chairs continue to evolve, offering greater comfort, more intuitive adjustment and improved aesthetics. A strong sustainability story is no longer topical since that too is now ‘business as usual’. As Aleksander Borgenhov, one of the designers, summed up the development process, the objective is to create ‘a beautiful object from something that is, in fact, a highly advanced machine’.

Beyond the task chairs, there was, as you would expect, lots of soft seating and other breakout furniture. These days, I believe the ranges available in the UK from our domestic manufacturers are as innovative, elegant and functional as any in the world. Some of the British manufacturers were also exhibiting and they certainly ‘hold their own’ in an international market. The line between workplace and hospitality products is now blurred to the point of extinction and it is easy to imagine products for offices in hotel lobbies or seating for canteens in bars and cafes.

sequesterAcoustics is one discipline where the design of decor and furniture merge. ‘Sound ergonomics’, as I like to think of it, is a fascinating topic. Many high back sofas, huddles and pods for varying work areas incorporate acoustic benefits into the design and its importance is now widely recognised as we grow to understand more about the links between wellbeing and productivity. One of my favourite furniture products addressing these issues is the cocoon-like Sequester (as it is known in the UK) which was being displayed by its Swedish designers.

Many acoustics specialists were also exhibiting. Acoustic panels and components continue to appear in a variety of shapes and sizes and using them as a design feature rather than burying them in partitions and behind images can be highly effective, especially since so many of them are very tactile.

In previous years, I have also spent time exploring the bathroom fittings and accessories, as well as other non-core activities, but there was no time this year and, in any case, such matters are probably of little interest to my audience!

In conclusion, it was an excellent event with lots to see. In terms of new products, I would say the theme was one of evolution rather than revolution. For me, such occasions are also a fabulous opportunity to catch up with old friends from around the world.

rebel_wallsMy favourite product? Actually my second favourite product (see below) but, completely randomly, I spotted the Rebel Walls stand when I stopped for sushi at lunch time. Their 3D trompe l’oeil wallpaper is stunning and the scope for bespoke designs is very clever. I shall be visiting their UK website when we move house later this year!

My one regret? The most exciting product I saw was not on show but in an exhibitor’s hotel room. It is still at the prototype stage and I am unable to tell you about it until later in the year! If you want to be one of the first to hear about it, you can subscribe to my monthly newsletter!

See all my photographs from this year’s exhibition on our Pinterest page


WDM Newsletter – January/February 2017

January 23, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 19/01/2017. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

LINKING WELLBEING AND ENGAGEMENT
(with a side order of Stealth Ergonomics)

wdmheader2017-01We work with many businesses where engagement levels are high and many clients where this is certainly not the case. As a result, our involvement impacts these organisations in different ways. Many factors affect personnel motivation and we find that health, safety and wellbeing can contribute significantly to corporate culture.

One of our current projects is with an employer where engagement levels are high and there is comprehensive strategic risk management but individual postural awareness is poor. Our project is exploring ways to improve productivity further by impacting this low awareness without shouting about ‘health & safety’ or ‘ergonomics’ (which are considered as boring and irrelevant by many on the trading floor!). We therefore plan to introduce a training programme, linked to the organisation’s Vision & Values, which introduces key issues about workplace postures and behaviours. Using a mix of formats, we plan to deliver Stealth Ergonomics (key training and information without making it obvious!), reducing musculoskeletal issues, enhancing performance and raising engagement levels even more. If this sounds interesting, we would be pleased to discuss how we can bring innovative thinking and a real impact into your own organisation.

SEQUESTER
Bluetooth seating pod

sequesterDesigned by Carsten Buhl for Elite, Sequester provides an enclosed environment where individuals can cocoon themselves in comfort with their own choice of enveloping sound. Built-in Bluetooth stereo enables the occupier to stream music from their laptop or handheld device directly to its concealed loudspeakers and the integral touch panel provides instant remote control of the dimmable LED lighting, volume and track selection. Of course, there is also a USB charger socket! The secure acoustics and elegant curves make this the ideal solo-pod for receptions, atriums and breakout zones. This is a statement piece offering functionality with panache. For premises with restricted access, it can even be delivered in modular form for assembly on site.

‘WOW FACTORS’ FOR SOFT SEATING
It may look fabulous but is it comfortable?

wow_factorsFor several years, we have operated a highly effective ‘WoW Factor’ review process to rate the ergonomics of task chairs. But what about other types of seating? In Issue 9, I mentioned that we were working on a comparable technique to rate everything else and this is now operational. We have reviewed almost 100 products from Elite, Nomique, Orangebox and Pledge. It is a subjective system but surprisingly effective. For example, the aesthetics of reception seating are crucial but long term comfort is probably not such a high priority. By contrast, good support is obviously essential for training room chairs. Horses for courses! Click here to find out more.

SEATINGEXPERTS.UK
Now fully functional

seatingexperts2Also in Issue 9, I referred to the work we have been doing on seatingexperts.uk, the web site for all the products referred to above. This is now complete as well. Divided into 14 categories, it showcases over 100 products for today’s agile workplace, including images and downloadable brochures for each one. Whether your next priority is the boardroom, the canteen, the labs or the training rooms, there is an abundance of products and information to explore. Alternatively, save yourself time and energy and invite us to survey your premises: with our WoW Factor insights, we offer a unique approach to your requirements.


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