Distributed Work

worktechWorkTech is one of the best one-day opportunities you can find for learning the latest insights about the future of work. Phillip Ross and his Unwired Ventures team always  assemble a mind-bending and eye-opening program filled with success stories, thought leaders, and provocative insights.

Architect, industrial designer, and visionary thinker Robert Luchetti will be keynoting the annual WORKTECH15 New York City conference on May 13 & 14, Time and Life Building in Midtown Manhattan (The one-day event is May 14, preceded on the 13th by a special Master Class featuring intensive interaction).

Robert Luchetti and Phillip Stone published “Your Office is Where You Are” in the Harvard Business Review in 1985. In this seminal article, they presented their creation of and predicted the concept of “activity based working.” In his keynote presentation at WORKTECH15, Robert Luchetti will revisit their predictions and take a critical look at what they got right and wrong and present a critique of the current state of the workplace.

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You Make It, You Own It

March 16, 2015

English_Bay_Vancouver_BCLast week I participated in IFMA’s Facility Fusion 2015 Canada conference in Vancouver. I enjoyed seeing many old friends and making new ones. But more importantly I enjoyed having my brain cells stimulated by so many interesting stories of new workplace designs and workforce programs.

If there was one underlying idea that linked many of those stories together for me, it was the power of choice. Almost every story we heard about workplace innovation mentioned increased variety within the workplace, and/or between alternative workplaces. And more variety clearly means more choice for the people using those workplaces. [click to continue…]

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conversationsEven though most of us know intuitively what a good conversation feels like and how it unfolds, the vast majority of conversations at work are okay at best, and the rest of them range between boring, inconsequential, depressing, and demeaning.

In spite of what most of us know, most meetings and far too many of the less-formal conversations at work just don’t generate excitement, or learning, or even clarity. And that’s being kind:  I’m not even considering the meetings that waste time and generate anger, frustration, and patently wrong decisions. And worst of all is how few conversations tap into the “hidden talent” that everyone carries around with them every day in the form of experiences, insights, ideas, and intentions.

But the barriers that get in our way are actually very basic, and very understandable. [click to continue…]

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LargeCrowdSome time ago I heard a story about a CEO who had opened up his organization’s strategic planning process to solicit ideas from all of the company’s 5,000 employees. When asked why he did that instead of relying on his executive committee, he said, simply, “I woke up one morning and realized that 5,000 people are a whole lot smarter than five.”

But that kind of openness is highly unusual among senior executives. Most of the executive leaders I have known and worked with see themselves as the “deciders” and the visionaries whose instincts about what is needed are superior to everyone else’s. Most of them are convinced that’s why they are in a leadership position.

But in large complex organizations it’s not that simple.

As I pointed out last week (“Getting Everyone in on the Action”), there is valuable knowledge distributed throughout every large organization – but it’s usually buried deep within the rank and file, and most executive leaders do not seem interested in seeking it out. [click to continue…]

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To Live is to Learn

November 3, 2014

Experience is inevitable. Learning is not.

(Nancy Dixon, Conversations Matter blog)

John Dewey would have loved Thomas Watson.

Thomas J. Watson Sr.There is an old story (I really don’t remember where I first heard it) that in IBM’s very early days a young project manager had the unpleasant task of informing IBM’s founder and CEO Thomas Watson Sr. that a major design initiative had gotten off track and had to be shut down after costing the company about $6 million.

When he finished explaining what had happened, the project manager said to Watson, “I’m know I screwed up. I suppose you’ll be wanting my resignation.” [click to continue…]

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Last week I described how in 2001 Joe Hagan, the Chief Executive Officer of National Equity Fund (NEF) led a highly strategic workplace redesign and relocation project that had a major impact on the company’s culture and economic survival  (see “The Workplace IS Strategic: Take it from a CEO“).

Now, in 2014, NEF is getting ready to move once again. Why? The office still looks very much like it did in 2001, and the staff still likes working there. The company continues to be an industry leader; it’s not in need of a dramatic turnaround.

But – and this is both obvious and critical – much has changed over the last decade. The last five years have been a very tough time in the financial services sector. The “Great Depression” and the housing debacle have put incredible economic pressure on NEF and its competitors (to say nothing of publicly funded housing).

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Several years ago at one of our private client network gatherings Ed Nolan, then a senior real estate executive with Hewlett Packard, commented on how different (and difficult) space planning had become since he started his career many years ago.

His point was simple, but profound: when everyone had an assigned workplace, and was there everyday, space planning was a really simple exercise in arithmetic: the number of people in the building times the square feet per person plus conference rooms and other common space.

Now, it’s almost  a crap shoot (my words, not Ed’s!). You never know from one day (or hour) to the next how many people will be in the building. Clearly, there is a science to estimating utilization and needs, but it’s more about Big Data, statistical analysis, and learning by doing.

Anyway, I recently reconnected via Skype with Ed (he’s now Head of Global Enterprise Development for LiquidSpace) , and I asked him to reflect on the evolution of space planning and its impact on CRE and FM practitioners. Here’s a brief excerpt from his comments:

You can also view this video on YouTube at:  http://youtu.be/vBiQ-youzl4

What’s your experience? Let me know what you think it takes to do effective space planning today.

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The Future of the Workplace

October 24, 2013

IFMA Spain held a Facilities/Workplace Summit in Madrid on the 3rd of October. The principal organizer of the conferece, Francisco Vazquez Medem, asked me to submit some advance commentary on the future of the workplace (I could not attend in person, as I was participating actively in World Workplace 2013 in Philadelphia).

I sent Francisco and the Madrid attendees this brief video comment, now available on YouTube:

I would love to hear your reactions and further comments. What did you find particularly surprising (or mundane) in my perspectives? What do you disagree with, or want to extend even further? Please comment below!

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One Size Misfits All

July 22, 2013

Variety is the spice of life. Indeed, variety and individuality is the essence of human existence. As some long-forgotten pundit once put it, “If God wanted us all to be the same, (S)he would have made us all look alike.”

So let’s get it straight right away: there is no one “best” way to design an office, or even an individual workspace.

I was reminded of this often-ignored truism once again this week when a client sent me a recent article from the Chicago Grid, a business weekly publication based, not surprisingly, in Chicago, Illinois. (and featuring local companies in its stories).

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It’s almost impossible to keep up with the global debate on telecommuting and flexible work these days. As my good friend and colleague Chris Hood of CBRE put it recently, “Marissa Mayer [CEO of Yahoo!] has done all of us who believe in flexible working a big favor.”

More people than ever are talking about it, debating it, and thinking about the pros and cons of requiring people to come to the office (or enabling them to work from other locations, including their homes).

http://mthink.mercer.com/the-facts-on-flexible-work-arrangements/

(I’d insert the whole thing here but it doesn’t fit on my website)

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