Tag Archives: office

2011 IFMA Workplace Conference – Madrid

by Juan Luis de la Peña of 3G Office, Madrid (http://www.3g-office.com/inicio.html)

2011 IFMA Workplace Conference was held on 26-27th October kindly hosted by ENDESA in Madrid. All attendants (near 100 people) agree that it’s been an excellent conference with outstanding speakers and presentations as well as keynotes, moderators and round tables (plus a great catering!) where we all learned and shared real experiences, figures and trends regarding today’s ways of working and workplace solutions from several countries and business sectors.

Moderators:

Francisco Vázquez. President of 3G Office Group and Director of International Relations of IFMA Spain.

Leopoldo Alandete. Managing Director, LA & Asociados.

Xavier Llobera. General Manager, Microsoft Innovation Centre for Productivity Center.

All of them, Partners of the Workplace Innovation Group, played a great role in the conference, not only introducing the speakers but also questioning them and sharing their experiences and points of view regarding key matters in an open and frank way.

Conferences:

Introduction to Social Dynamics (by Francisco Vázquez)

Francisco made a clear introduction to how social dynamics are changing – dynamics that are mainly driven by technology, and new generations of people which are demanding new ways of working that suit their needs, and how companies are consequently adapting their workplaces to be flexible.

Agile Working in the UK (by Andrew Mawson, Managing Director, Advanced Workplace Associates Ltd)

Andrew introduced us to UK workplace trends, where there is some of the most expensive Real Estate in the world, and where most organizations are under pressure to reduce costs, but increase productivity. “Agile Working”, which is a dynamic way of working that frees people to work where and when it is appropriate for them and their organizations, pops up as solution. What is needed to support agile working are new layouts of office schemes with no owned spaces and overlapped areas with central or anchor points where groups gather around. He showed the today’s workplace situation by sector, from traditional (Legal, Retail) to mature (Telecoms, ITs). He pointed out that the change to agile working needs not only change management but “change maintenance” thereafter and that leadership from the directors of the business is the essential element.

Measuring the Value of Virtual Working (by Philippe Jimenez, Managing Director, Regus)

Philippe talked about a Regus research study based in big companies regarding measurement the benefits of the agility@work, a mix of real estate, commute, sustainability, technology, people and culture. The survey was done from three points of view: Virtual, AdVantages and Value, and showed results such as 63 % people still go to the office at least 4 days a week, 59% people takes more than 41 minutes to reach the office and the same to return home but only 12% want to work from home, and that 55% of the workplaces are not used. He also introduced the BYOC (Buy your own computer) model and the trend towards BYOW (Buy your own workplace).

Microsoft Milan (by Fernando Carneros, Real Estate & Facility Manager Microsoft Spain)

Fernando presented how Microsoft has evolved from “Bill’s Office” to a mobile workplace, by means of continuous research and, of course, technology. Before, team and individual settings were segregated and undifferentiated (highly hierarchical), today, a variety of team and individual settings mixed in clusters, with technology driving a multidimensional approach. He also introduced us to Microsoft Milan Innovation Campus (see YouTube) where new ways of work are continuously implemented.

Best Practices in the Financial Sector in London (by William Poole-Wilson, Director Pringle Brandon LLP)

William introduced his company and experience in the financial sector. He pointed out several general questions: Is London going to survive? What will be the landscape now? What does this mean for refurbishing? Numbers don’t stack up? Where is the money? Where is the space? And others more specifics: How can current available space be utilized for trading floors now and in the future? He went through several great examples of financial offices to answer the questions (case studies: Barclays, Macquarie) and showed the results of a survey conducted in trading floors users (for example they need faster communications and prefer clusters configuration of the space).

Importance of Measuring Workplace Spaces (by Carmen Ramos, Managing Director, Fama Systems)

Carmen, fromSpain, focused on the importance that new technology has in managing workplace spaces and the value of Computer Aided Facility Management (CAFM) software as a tool of measuring spaces and knowing exactly what there is in a building and so making easier to book and change spaces as well as move people when needed.

Measuring the activities in the workplace (by Germain Verbeemen, CEO, Wicely)

Germain, fromBelgium, started showing the evolution from “old” offices, passing by shared offices, to Activity Based Offices. He questioned how to conceive and manage Activity Based Offices. The answer is to measure occupancy and activities in an detailed manner with the right methodology and technology get trustworthy results that can be translated in “Activity Blocks” spaces that fulfill the needs of the people which are tuning in a “Generic Office Concept”. He concluded that an office must support effectiveness, flexibility, efficiency and attractiveness.

Measuring Productivity and Performance (by Tim Oldman, Founder and Managing Director, Leesman)

Tim gave a detailed presentation of what they name the Leesman Index by which they measure workplace effectiveness, the capability of workplace to support the productive activities of those it accommodates. He showed very interesting results from a study based on 5274 respondents, 22 surveys, 19 clients, 51 properties, c. 85,000 sq m and with a 70% response rate. He finally recommended that every company should ask themselves the following questions: what makes a workplace productive? What makes it unproductive? Where is it failing the occupiers? What interventions are required? How can it be bettered?

The office Code Project (by Catherine Gall, Director WorkSpace Futures Research, Steelcase)

Catherine presented a Steelcase Workspace Futures Study to know what the relationship between national culture and workplace design is. The study was based in 5 dimensions of culture: Power distance, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty avoidance and Long-term orientation. She showed how the result of the study gives different “Office Codes” for each country.

Understanding Cultural Issues (by Marie Puybaraud, Director of Global Workplace Innovation, Johnson Controls)

From the point of view of the “Multi-generations @ Work” Marie introduced which are the workplace characteristics by generation (Veterans, Baby boomers, Generation X, Generation Y) and showed the very interesting, and sometimes surprising, results of a survey to answer the question of how important the workplace is in attracting, recruiting and retaining multi generations of workers with 8,800 respondents in total. The conclusion was that people and space should work in synergy and that the space design must be for flexibility, collaboration, performance and social interaction.

Social Dynamics Affecting the Workplace (by Kate North, Vice President, e-work)

Kate based her presentation in what she calls the “Big Bold Shift”: a move towards mobility with unassigned work space plus activity-based work environments, focusing in how important is to overcome the resistance to change and, particularly, how to help to the change and preparing the workforce for the new workplaces, processes, behaviors and tools. She talked about the trends in learning and change management and the role of e-learning has on them as well as the differences between generations.

Vodafone Holland (by Tjeu Verheijen, Project manager “the changing workplace”, Vodafone Netherlands)

Tjeu showed the pilot project done by Vodafone in the Netherlands that led to the optimization of the workplace used together to the fulfillment of the ways of work the employees (i.e. people) demand today: flexibility, mobility, freedom of choice and work and private life balance.

Nokia Berlin (by José Luis Sanchez, Workplace solutions manager EMEA & India, Nokia, and Niklaus Arn, Managing Director, RBS)

A very interesting case and best practice was presented by both, José Luis and Niklaus. They showed us how business growth made the company also grow in locations and, very important, change its workplace strategy. In that new way of working “the team is becoming the critical unit” where “new work cultures are merging life and work, requiring Nokia to provide locations and spaces that support those blurred boundaries”. They show us the lay-outs of the Berlin office, the reason behind them as well the improvements achieved, both for people and business.

Coming next

During next year we’ll work to find new best practices and speakers to have the 5th IFMA Workplace Conference even better than this one (a difficult goal!). Some organizations have already changed the way of working, many others are already thinking of doing so and all of them are interested in, so 3g office will be, by different means, continuously promoting the benefits of the flexible working and helping them to implemented it since 3g office is a consultancy firm specialized in this matter.

Juan Luis de la Peña, Head of Facility Management Consulting at 3G Office

jldelapena@3g-office.com 

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WorkTech’11 – West Coast (report by Dr. Jim Ware)

WorkTech11 West Coast was the first event hosted by Unwired Ventures Ltd in Silicon Valley. And it was a good day, time and money well spent. Great lineup of speakers, intriguing stories, and excellent opportunities for networking. I don’t know the numbers, but I’d guess there were about 150 people in attendance, from all over the U.S. and some further afield.

Randy Knox

The Conference Chair was Randy Knox, Senior Director of Workplace Solutions at Adobe. He introduced an impressive roster of speakers and panels, and wove the conversations together throughout the day.

Nokia Silicon Valley

The Conference venue was the new Nokia Silicon Valley headquarters (see NYT article), and the first speakers took us on a virtual tour of the building, including the story of how it came about. The innovative workplace design, primarily for software engineers, was led by Colin Burry of Gensler; he and Lisa Hsiao told us about how the design emerged from a focus on agile development and small teams. The facility is 100% open space, split between individual “I” workspaces (53%) and collaborative “We” spaces (47%), but it also includes substantial informal gathering areas for relaxation and recreation.

Hamid Shirvani, President California State University, Stanislaus

Dr. Shirvani then took us on a historical tour of urban design, drawing many intriguing parallels between cities and workplaces – the need for “neighborhoods, the variety of “single-family” dwellings, the clustering of factories, and the need for multi-use spaces over the course of a day or a year. He showed us many pictures of suburbs (including the infamous Levittown), suburban shopping centers and office parks. Where too next? Hard to say, but one theme that is emerging in “new urban design” is small, local villages where people can walk or bicycle to their workplaces.

Urban Design: Panel Debate

We were then treated to an open conversation that included Dr. Shirvani, Jim Arce of Cushman & Wakefield, Luigi Sciarabarassi of Symantec, and Tom Sullivan of Wilson Meany Sullivan. The major insight:  the blurring of cities and suburbs; work is coming out to the ‘burbs, but many people are also moving back into center cities. But the most important variable in location decisions (by both individuals and organizations) is the availability of mass transit. And both cities and companies must learn to build in flexibility and anticipate future change. One thing is certain, and that is that nothing is stable. Younger generations care more about technology access (ie, broadband and wireless access) than they do about the local space itself.

Kevin Kelly, author, “What Technology Wants”

Kevin Kellywas the keynote speaker for the day. His new book, “What Technology Wants” is a sweeping overview of the history of technology, with a focus on how technology has changed us as human beings—including but not limited to our health, weight, and other physical characteristics. We are who we are because of technology. And technology is an ecology; modern inventions are dependent on 100’s if not 1000’s of prior technologies, and could not exist on their own. Kelly described the complex ecosystem of technology as a “Technium” that has its own “needs” and “wants” as it continues to evolve over time. All things are interdependent, and there is a natural tendency towards more complexity and more diversity. Intriguingly, some technologies become obsolete, but not extinct; there are today more blacksmiths in the world than at any time in the past. Something to think about.

Nathan Waterhouse, Ideo

Nathan Waterhouse talked about OpenIDEO, a “crowdsourcing” approach to solving large, complex social problems. OpenIDEO is a global virtual community that has been enlisted to tackle very difficult challenges. The community is supported by collaborative technologies through a process of innovative problem-solving that includes four phases: brainstorming, evaluation, solution-finding, and implementation (my words, not Nathan’s). We were treated to a rich story of how this process produced an inexpensive and very sustainable solution to sanitation in one of the poorest of African cities.

Marie Puybaraud, Johnson Controls, and Sudhakar Lahade, Steelcase

Two separate presentations on GenY—really about workforce demographics, with an emphasis on the GenY “digital natives.” Marie Puybaraud shared an overview of her recent research for the “OxyGen” project sponsored by Johnson Controls, including an “up close and personal” look at a day in the life of “Niki,” a young woman who views technology not as an accessory but as an “extremity” or extension of herself. Niki and her peers are fully cloud-dependent and Internet-addicted; they are completely comfortable with multitasking and have been seen using three separate monitor screens at the same time.

Sudhakar Lahade then reported on his research on GenY-ers in the U.S., China, and Russia. He stressed the way that GenY-ers all over the world think of life before work, and view job-changing as career-building, not disloyalty. They network with peers all the time, they collaborate spontaneously, and they think of the workplace as wherever they are. Most striking statistic:  there are 72 million GenY’s in the United States, 426 million in India, and over 800 million in China.

Vwork: Michael Leone, Regus, and Philip Ross, CEO Unwired and the Cordless Group

“Vwork” (see YouTube from WorkTech’11 New York) captures three “V’s” about work in 2011:  Virtual, Value, and advantage. This dual presentation reported on recent research that Unwired and Regus have conducted. While people today view “work” as a verb and not a noun, almost 2/3’s of people still commute to an office most of the time. What’s important however is that people want a 10 minute commute, rather than working at home all the time. This desire to be with others, and to have professional office facilities, is leading to an explosion in local work centers—what many now call “co-working” operations, and others (like me) have called “Third Places.” Think of a corporate headquarters now as the hub of a network, not as a singular destination.

As Leone and Ross pointed out, however, the new challenge is “getting the right people at the right place at the same time.” Thus, scheduling and having good places for collaboration is at the heart of the future of work. How can we make office costs more variable? Citrix gave its employees a budget and let them buy their own PC’s. Why not do the same for offices? Clearly, people want to commute less; the challenge is to create those local work centers, and then help people use them productively.

Rational Mobility:  Kevin Kelly, GSA (The “Other” Kevin Kelly)

We were then treated to our second Kevin Kelly of the day—this one a senior Architect with the Public Buildings Service of the General Services Administration (the “landlord” of the U.S. federal government). This Kevin Kelly reported on life “back at the ranch”—all those buildings that are being used so very differently today than they were designed for. As Kevin put it, the GSA challenge is to provide a “superior workplace at superior value.” Too often workplace strategists do not do an adequate job of analyzing the activity patterns of the workforce. The GSA looks at two dimensions of work:  interactivity and mobility. That produces four distinctive work patterns, with very different needs for “I” and “We” space. Kevin also stressed that noise remains a problem in open offices; he likened the typical open office to Houston, a very large U.S. city with essentially no zoning. He sees “zoning” as the major solution to acoustical issues; set aside spaces where quiet—like a library—is expected and required.

Going Mobile: Dawn Birkett, Salesforce.com and Bryant Rice, DEGW

This brief presentation (the schedule was running late) by Dawn and Bryant focused on the transition that Salesforce.com made to enable employees to work out of the office on a regular basis. The key was that the program was developed centrally for the company, but then implemented on an “opt-in” basis for individual employees who had to obtain manager approval. Thus, the program was available to everyone but applied only to those who chose to do it. The program policies were shaped carefully by a core cross-functional team that included not only HR, IT, and facilities, but also representatives from the legal department to deal with compliance, risk, and equity issues.

Mobility and Virtual Work:  Panel Debate

This panel, comprised of the previous four speakers, responded to questions from  the audience regarding the Unwired/Regus research and the GSA and Salesforce.com stories. The major themes of the debate focused on “opt-in” versus mandatory mobility programs. But in all cases the clear message was that mobility is now a way of life and organizations must find ways to leverage it, reduce real estate costs, and attract/retain talent—because the talent today expects mobility almost as a basic working condition.

Real Time Working:  James Calder, Woods Bagot and Ray Mays, Macquarie Group Americas

This final case study of the day, by James and Ray, focused on the Sydney offices of Macquarie Bank, where no one has an assigned workplace. The presentation included several stunning pictures of the newly redesigned facility, which is very open and filled with light. And the entire facility is open to Macquarie’s customers; none of it is off-limits. Most impressively, 93% of the staff would not go back to “owned” or assigned workdesks. And employee engagement scores are up 30% and sick days are down 42%. How did they do it? As Ray Mays put it, change management was key; the CEO was actively involved, and took many opportunities to express his support. Now he is even more enthusiastic, because he can walk around the building and see staff working “in real time.” And he other bank executives spend much of their time meeting with staff in the small café’s that are sprinkled around the building.

Future of the Workplace Panel Debate

This closing panel of the day was moderated by yours truly, so my notes are sketchy at best as I was “on stage” throughout the session. Other panelist included Mindy Glover of Rio Tinto (U.S.), Jeremy Neuner of NextSpace (a co-working operation with facilities in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and Los Angeles), and Chris Henderson, Cisco Systems.

We did our best as a group to pull together all the threads from the day. Workforce mobility is clearly a way of life in 2011; the corporate office is now “competing” in a free market, in contrast the “regulated monopoly” back in the days when no one had a choice about where to work; and “third places” like NextSpace offer low-cost alternatives to expensive, underutilized corporate facilities.

From there we all retired to the Nokia lobby where Unwired generously provided wine and nibbles, and a good time was had by all.

It was a powerful day, with almost too much information and too many ideas to sort through; but there is no doubt that the future of work is already here.

Dr Jim Ware, Research Director, Occupiers Journal & Exec Director, The Future of Work…unlimited

jim.ware@occupiersjournal.com

http://www.linkedin.com/in/thefutureofwork

With some vision, you can see where robots WILL be useful in global office networks….

First, watch this brief clip (only 2mins 38s): You Tube: telepresence robot in action. This is just the start, and I’m sure that the boffins who create these things have already started to iron out some of its faults (and its look…not engaging, and too short!). It looks wacky, but so did mobile phones when they first came out, remember? Now everyone, or at least every schoolkid, mum, and business person, has a mobile phone, or some form of handheld device.

When we are out of the office, but need to be there for a discussion/meeting, the robot in this clip is better than a ‘sqwauk-box’ spider-phone, or even telepresence screen on the wall (which only a few people at a time can use). How long before we each have our own “robot double”? It comes out of the office to go to a meeting, when you aren’t there, then goes back to your desk and waits to be called….like an obedient dog!

Or, perhaps, we have a Department Robot, that has some unique features so everyone knows “Hey its the RE&Workplace Dept….coming to join our meeting. Who’s in there today?”…..”It’s Jim Double, I’m in China this week, but know I had to get to this meeting…” etc.

The bit of our human bodies that “work” is largely interested in is the brain – and the face I guess. A smile goes a long way….This ‘robot’ almost delivers both! If it looked more like a person, and was at the right height, it could engage in conversation better.

Its not a replacement for face-to-face contact. But, there are many reasons why that is not possible, but where a company needs your brain+face to input somewhere where the rest of your body cannot be…..

This also opens a whole new world of opportunities for people with disabilities, or who live in remote locations, etc, etc….their ‘real brain’ can be wherever it needs to be, whilst engaging in discussions with people around the world.

A bit more customisation (eg., some personal identity, so people know its you) could make this work well. Don’t you think??

CoreNet Global’s Chicago Summit 2011: part 1 – “The way we’ll live next”

I was very fortunate to attend CoreNet Global‘s Chicago summit last week, on two of the sunniest days the ‘windy city’ could offer its guests. I’m told that I was one of around 2,000 delegates, and there was certainly a full complement of leading end users and service providers in attendance.

This blog (‘part 1’) is based around the General Session 1, which opened the summit, in the spendour of the Ballroom at the Navy Pier. Greg Lindsay, an author and futurist, presented “The Way We’ll Live Next: New Frontiers of Globalization”.

New Frontiers of Globalization

Greg Lindsay looked at how urban living will be shaped by new frontiers of globalization, and took much of his fascinating material from his soon-to-be-published book, Aerotropolis. This is described as “a combination of giant airport, planned city, shipping facility, and business hub”. Essentially, cities built around airports at the centre – not on the fringes (or a long distance outside) as they most often have been designed in the 20th Century. And Mr. Lindsay gave several examples of mega-cities, current and planned…mostly in Asia of course!

Some interesting facts also emerged, that I certainly was not aware of. For example, Emirates Airlines is now the largest long-haul airline in the world – and it didn’t even exist 25 yrs ago! If Aerotropolis is to be believed, then this must surely make Dubai one of the most important cities now, and into the future? Not so much the economic ‘basket case’ that it has recently been perceived as being? But it appears to be in large part Chinese money that is driving this – at the 1.2km (yes, inside!) Dragon Mart (Dubai) Chinese buyers are trading in what Dubai World (its owners) call the “gateway for the supply of Chinese products in the Middle Eastern and North African Markets, offering Chinese traders and manufacturers a unique platform from which to cater to the needs of this sizeable market”.

In fact, Mr Lindsay talked of the “New Silk Route” – like the old silk route from Asia to Europe and the west – but now selling goods into the rich MENA region. This is immense – US$60bn china exports to the Arab world in 2010 alone.

But surely, I hear you ask, places like Dubai cannot possibly be leading cities of the future? You would be forgiven for finding limited ‘cultural satisfaction’ on a visit to Dubai over the last few years. But, like everything else, it is being imported….take Saadiyat Island, 500 metres off the coast of AbuDhabi, close neighbour to Dubai. The Cultural District is “set to become an internationally renowned arts hub, featuring the Zayed National Museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the Performing Arts Centre”. OK, it is not going to replace the sophistication of Paris, the history of London, or the buzz of cities like Hong Kong and New York. But as a business and travel hub, UAE is ‘user friendly’.

Cities are hubs for knowledge and innovation

Cities are also built around intellect and knowledge though, right? Developers of a new ‘Aerotropolis’ cannot replicate this knowledge culture, can they? The intellectuals of Boston, Oxford & Cambridge, or the Sorbonne will surely not want to drink their fine wines in a desert? Well, once again, we may be wrong – NYU Abu Dhabi opened last year. And Mr Lindsay told us that NYU will open in Shanghai in 2013! Harvard Medical School is also in Dubai.

In turn though, and as another example of reliance of airports, the UAE is a major ‘exporter’ of medical treatment to Bangkok and Singapore. For example, Mr Lindsay described the Bumrungrad international hospital in Bangkok, where operations cost 70-80% less than in the USA. Its a global hospital, which “just happens to be in Bangkok”. Singapore is also on leading edge of healthcare, and  “wants to be able to be a hub for this sector”. And in India, the Apollo Hospitals and Fortis Healthcare organisations are providing similar services.

“The brain drain is working in reverse” said Mr Lindsay, as Chinese and Indian doctors and medical staff see better opportunities for themselves in Asia.

How sustainable are these new cities?

Several examples were given, including the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City, around 150km from Beijing, where “man living in harmony with his fellow man, with the economy and with the environment”. Another fascinating one is Mentougou City, again near Beijing, which is described as “a gorgeous new “Ecological Silicon Valley.” Located close to the urban metropolis of Beijing, the new city will combine research institutes for modern science and innovation with environmentally friendly and eco-efficient urban living
“. Back in the UAE, there is the Masdar City in Abu Dhabi – the zero carbon city, and “one of the most sustainable communities on the planet”. It is a pioneer of new clean and green technologies. And Living PlanIT valley in Portugal, one of a new generation of “intelligent cities”.

What about all the air travel? How can an Aerotropolis essentially be ‘green’, when flying is central to the model?

This is the real question that I was left with, and talked about with a few friends after Mr Lindsay’s session. Before entering the room that morning, I would have argued the absolute opposite of many of Lindsay’s points! I guess I’m now compelled to read the book thoroughly, and make sure I understand his arguments properly.

I would have argued that we only moved from an agrarian society a couple of hundred years ago, through the industrial revolution in the western world. And I probably saw ubiquitous technology and fast communications as a way for people to ‘spread out’ again across the global landscape. And key to this – to travel less, and to communicate using new technologies, which become increasingly like ‘real meetings’. But, I am swayed at least in part by the idea that people need to be together – socially, and in business. And cities are the solution to that need for ‘togetherness’ that is lost in remote communications.

The answer, I guess, is that as human beings we are all different – some will desire the quieter life and clean air of rural life. They will push the boundaries of technology to facilitate living and working in this way. Whilst others desire the hustle and ‘buzz’ of city life. But they too will want their cities to be eco-friendly as far as possible.

Cities, travel, and the real cost (and price) of carbon

The unknown factor, and for me the ‘elephant in the Ballroom’ last Monday morning, was the real cost (and price) of carbon. Maybe I missed this point in Mr Lindsay’s lecture? But I dont think so.

In the UK, the government is leading the way, unilaterally (to the frustration of many businesses, it has to be said) to be the “greenest government” anywhere. Schemes such as the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) have set a price for carbon trading, not just for the large energy-intensive industries, but “to cover all organisations using more than 6,000MWh per year of electricity”.

Currently, this is based solely on metered electricity use. But in the future one can see this being applied to air travel. If businesses had to pay for the real cost of carbon reduction required to mitigate their business air travel, flying would become very much more expensive…..this would kill the concept of the Aerotropolis as proposed by Mr Lindsay.

Maybe there is some middle ground..there usually is.

Third Places‘ now give themselves up for ‘Fourth Places’ – perhaps?

Lindsay went on to discuss the “disolving of physical plant”, where people come together when they need to, but we don’t need as much physical corporate-leased space. It was at a CoreNet summit in the US two or three years ago now that I first came across the term “Third Places“, a phrase and description first coined by Dr Ray Oldenburg. Third Places are “…nothing more than informal public gathering places. The phrase ‘third places’ derives from considering our homes to be the ‘first’ places in our lives, and our work places the ‘second'”

In Chicago, I heard the term “Fourth Place” for the first time – i.e., somewhere not at home, or the office, but actually designed for work (not like coffee shops, which are designed for coffee!). I have worked in one myself, regularly, for over two years – but I hadn’t heard the term before. Richard Florida may have come up with the term, in his article, where he said “Entrepreneurs and real-estate providers are increasingly recognizing the need for what I call Fourth Places—places where we can informally connect and engage and dialogue, but also where we can work. Places that freelancers or startups can use on an as-needed basis, or where travelers can set up shop temporarily”

What I heard from Greg Lindsay was a step on from this – where companies encourage workers to use these Fourth Places, and where “the entire point is to go outside”. He mentioned Eli Lilly & Company where they actually want to get people out into the outside world, to increase productivity. The company wants employees to meet people, not co-workers.

An example of a purpose-built Fourth Place is “The Squaire” at Frankfurt Airport, Germany. And its “New Work City”, aimed at providing a business facility for people with a common interest in great architecture & place.

An interesting idea, that fits more with my ‘ideal model’ than some of the larger eco-cities, is Mesa del Sol, a “place where work and home and school and fun are within walking distance of each other”

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, it is designed for around 100,000 people, and designed as a hub for creatives. Its essentially a city where you work from home! But it fits the Aerotropolis model of Lindsay’s, as it is also “only around 6mins to the airport – people fly to LA to the office occasionally”. The city has electric cars, and people typically work at home 3 days/week, often with some time up in LA. It is a 40/50 year project….interesting to follow!

What does all this mean for business, and specifically to corporate real estate and workplace professionals?

Like the ‘paperless office’ and other such myths, we can safely assume that the “officeless portfolio” is not going to happen anytime soon – and probably never. All large organisations will have a core of offices, and the chances are that in 10 years time many of them will look much as they do today…and will not be in one of these new eco-cities or an ‘aerotropolis’.

However, what is clear is that the corporate real estate portfolio, and the workplace/IT manager’s remit, is changing in a big way around the edges of the traditional ‘core’. Unless my predictions of high carbon prices (via some form of taxation) take hold around the world – and we see little sign of that so far – business flights seem destined to continue. But at the same time, people want to work closer to home, travel less, and hence ‘third and fourth spaces’ look likely to become permanent parts of the work landscape. So there will continue to be some core HQ space, and a need to provide employees with an agile working support to make best use of working in a variety of settings – from office, to home, to ‘third places’ and a growing number of specialist ‘fourth places’.

Mr Lindsay quoted the late CK Prahalad, who said that there was ‘no such thing as emerging markets or multi nationals’. He talked about organisations either centralising OR decentralising, whereas Prahalad proposed that organisations do both. He proposed:

20 hubs, no head office; not ‘run’ from anywhere

– networking of offices

– shared central economies of scale, such as R+D perhaps; other elements, disperse as needed

Where will these hubs actually be?

One would expect that some of the examples of ‘aerotropolis’ given to us by Greg Lindsay will become leading ‘hubs’ of the future. Much, I suspect, will depend on the relative growth of global-regional economies. I certainly got the strong feeling once again that all the growth is in the east – in Asia Pacific. Will that actually be at the detriment of US and European leading cities of today?

A McKinsey report, “Urban world: Mapping the economic power of cities ” was quoted by Mr Lindsay. The report says, “Today only 600 urban centers generate about 60 percent of global GDP. While 600 cities will continue to account for the same share of global GDP in 2025, this group of 600 will have a very different membership. Over the next 15 years, the center of gravity of the urban world will move south and, even more decisively, east”.

Will more of our regional ‘hubs’ be in these cities in the South and East? Will some of our organisations in fact be taken over by Chinese or Indian multi-nationals? Will our US and European offices reduce in size, with a smaller workforce, whilst rapidly growing in China and Latin America?

None of us has the answer to these questions, of course. I only hope that more of the leading cities of the future spin off more places like Mesa del Sol as described above. Living a sustainable life (in all senses – ecologically, physically, and in social/family terms) must be our goal? Three days a week ‘at home’ or a local third place, half a day travelling, and a day in an ‘aerotropolis’ sounds like a better future ‘week’. Far better than the taxing schedule of daily commuting, 8-6 desk-bound working, and pollution that many of our corporate employees endure today.

Paul Carder  (paul.carder@occupiersjournal.com)

http://www.linkedin.com/in/paulcarder

Social media facilities management for internal corporate collaboration – if IT lets you!

Workplace / Facilities Managers have a key role to play in bringing collaborative environments to life with collaborative social media tools

Is it just me, or do many people in large corporate and government organisations have more tools to communicate and collaborate OUTSIDE of their organisation that they do WITHIN it? Seems to me that some IT departments may be holding back ‘information’ rather than providing the tools to increase its ease of use…?

There are so many ways to communicate now, its a real problem when people have them all on their i-POD, but only email or phone at their desk! As an example, I only get a few messages a week via Facebook, rather than several hundred via my 3 email accounts – so my IFA used Facebook this weekend, as the one route he knew was most likely to reach me on a Saturday morning. Good thinking. I also get many useful web-links every week from people that I follow on Twitter. But LinkedIn is by far the most useful collaboration tool for me. Can 80m+ people be wrong? Its easy to find people, in organisations that you want to talk to, about subjects of mutual business interest.

So, why don’t organisations let their people use LinkedIn? and Twitter? and other useful social media tools? Security risk?

Now, here’s an idea – why not initiate your own INTERNAL version of LinkedIn or Facebook? It would help to encourage more communication across the organisation, between people who otherwise may pass like ‘ships in the night’ through the corridors and past the watercoolers of corporate environments….without knowing that they have something useful to talk about.

Just look at all the ‘Groups’ on LinkedIn – something for every area of interest in the business world, and much more besides I’m sure. How powerful would it be to have this facility INSIDE the organisation..? Groups for every idea and project under the corporate umbrella; with the ability for people to contribute who may have great ideas but would otherwise not be heard.

Who should deliver it? well, why not corporate workplace/facilities? We work hard to create spaces and facilities to support and encourage communication and collaboration. We create spaces for people to mingle, and hopefully talk – restaurants, queues, break-out areas, etc. But what is missing is always the human connection – you might create opportunities for people to ‘bump into’ each other, but mostly they will not know each other, so they will not necessarily speak.

A corporate version of LinkedIn adds the human connection of course – a photo, so that you recognise someone, and a bit of information about their career history, achievements, current role…even faily and outside interests.

Now, how many more “watercooler moments” would be created – and who knows how many useful business opportunities initiated as a result – if companies had their own corporate ‘in-house’ version of LinkedIn? And what better way for corporate workplace/facilities management and ICT departments to work together to respectively create collaborative environments, both in the physical and the information worlds….?

Who will be first? If you already do this, please let me know…love to hear about it (occupiers@ntlworld.com); regards, Paul Carder http://uk.linkedin.com/in/paulcarder

The SECI model of organisational learning and its usefulness to workplace designers

An often quoted/used model in the world of organisational learning is the “SECI” model. It proposes 4 discrete learning processes.

The four processes are:
Socialisation: where tacit knowledge (that which is not written down) gets transferred from person to person
Externalisation: where tacit knowledge gets spoken out loud / written down / made explicit.
Combination: where explicit knowledge is combined with other explicit knowledge to make more explicit knowledge
Internalisation: where a person reads explicit knowledge and learns it, lets it seep into their world-view.

See: Nonaka_SECI_Model

Now, some debate the correctness of the model. If people want we could do that here. Tim [Tim Springer – LinkedIn] and I have been corresponding on it privately but perhaps it would be better to hold that discussion in the round.

My own view is that Nonaka’s SECI model is potentially useful to those of us trying to work out what a productive office is. If there are 4 basic processes at play in a firm that are making new knowledge, then we should all be trying to figure out how to encourage all 4 them. The processes are very different and so Nonaka’s model seems to imply that knowledge workers need more than one working environment. I describe 2 below.

Internalisation: this process involves the individual making sense of their work and the explicit instructions they have been given. To my mind this would be best done in an environment that promotes concentration and lack of interruption (visual or auditory). So an office would be good, as would a library.

Socialisation: this process is one individual “catching” an idea off another. To me this best happens in a social, buzzy place, where people talk, overhear each other, make friends. A place where culture is transferred. This would not be an office. It would be something like a skunk works or team rooms. I use dense kitchen table layouts to do this.

This post, and discussion, can also be found on LinkedIn at Occupiers Journal (group)

by Roland Openshaw, Global lead for innovative workplace strategies at Pfizer Inc.

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/roland-openshaw/2/a20/9a8