Places and Spaces

Young businesswoman holding a moleculeI spent last week in Orlando, Florida, attending the annual spring Facility Fusion Conference hosted by IFMA.

Today I want to share some core ideas that grew out of one of the best sessions I attended. It was part of the “WE” (Workplace Evolutionaries) track, presented by Kay Sargent. Kay is a trained architect and experienced workplace designer; she is now Director of Workplace Strategies for Lend Lease Development.

Kay’s presentation was titled “Unlocking Your Corporate DNA.” She directly confronted the incredible tendency that so many workplace designers (and senior executives) have to copy the latest and greatest workplace design being touted by Google, or Apple, or Facebook, or some other “hot” tech company or Wall Street darling of the month. [click to continue…]

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cube farm4My colleague and good friend Diane Coles Levine is fond of saying “It’s a lot easier to think outside the box when you’re not in one.” That’s her way of pointing out that cube farms are not the best environment for creativity and collaboration.

I have written previously about my belief  that knowledge workers don’t just need a workspace, they need many places (“De Uno, Plures – From One, Many”). Work today isn’t monolithic or monotonous, and we need workplaces that offer variety and choice that matches what we do day by day or hour by hour.

And as I pointed out last week (“You Make It, You Own It”), when individuals make choices about where and when to get their work done they “own” those choices and are generally more committed to their work, more productive, and more engaged with their employer.

About five years ago I was part of an international research project team that was seeking to define the attributes of an effective workplace. Our Swedish lead researcher asked each of us on the project team to take a photograph of our favorite part of our own office and then to post it on the project website. [click to continue…]

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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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Upcoming Events

February 14, 2015

We are entering the spring conference season; I’ll be attending and presenting at several important conferences during March and April:

The Future of Work 2015 (at the Ballagio in Las Vegas) March 3-4

“Leading Change: Putting Good Ideas into Practice, in Theory and at Zappos” (March 4, 9:45 – 10:30 AM)

My presentation partner for this session is John Bunch, Technical Advisor to the CEO and Lead Link for Holacracy Implementation at Zappos.com

Special Deal: If you register for the Conference using this link, you can get a special $150 discount off the registration fee!

Facility Fusion (IFMA, Vancouver, Canada, at the Sheraton Wall Centre) March 9-11

I will be contributing the Workplace Evolutionaries Master Class on Monday, March 9, and I will be leading a World Café on Wednesday afternoon, March 11. The World Café will be a highly interactive working session called “A Conversation about Conversations at Work.”

Register for Facility Fusion Canada at this link.

Facility Fusion (IFMA, Orlando, Florida, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel) April 20-23

At this conference I will be partnering with Diane Coles Levine of Workplace Management Solutions and Sherry McNutt to present a working session on “The Place Just Right” – the role of the workplace in attracting and retaining talent. We are developing a new workplace/workforce survey that will be distributed to several thousand members of IFMA and IAMC this spring to help us understand and document how workplaces and workplace policies impact recruiting and talent retention in organizations around the world.

Register for Facility Fusion Orlando at this link

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Imagine this: you are the head of workplace services for a large high-tech firm that has just been acquired by Google (that’s the good news).

Here’s the tough part: you are responsible for a major suburban campus facility that houses about 2,000 employees and you’ve just been told that your immediate task is to build out several floors of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago to replace that suburban campus – and to persuade that entire workforce to begin spending about 90 minutes every morning and evening commuting between their homes and downtown.

As Stephen Monaco, Head of Global Real Estate and Workplace Experience for Motorola Mobility, described his experience carrying out that assignment, he began by observing: [click to continue…]

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Date: 9 October

Venue: 221 Main Street, San Francisco, in the heart of SoMa

40% of all Americans between 18 and 36 prefer an urban setting; how will this impact the Future of Work? Find out at WORKTECH14 West Coast.

WORKTECH will be heading to San Francisco once again, with another insightful Future of Work conference. On 9th October 2014, we will gather at SOMA, 221 Main Street to focus on the alignment of business strategy and the workplace, and hear from renowned international and local thought leaders.

Breaking News:

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Every Big Change Starts Small

September 22, 2014

ideas

“I kept complaining ‘Somebody should do something about that,’ and then I realized I am Somebody.” – Anonymous

I don’t know where I first heard that statement about taking personal responsibility for making the future happen, but it was on my mind frequently last week while I was attending World Workplace 2014 in New Orleans.

I enjoyed seeing and working with many long-term friends and colleagues, and experiencing the many wonderful sights and sounds of Bourbon Street and other less-well-known spots in New Orleans.

But while I lapped up the culinary treats, it was the food for thought that made the week worthwhile.

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Bring Out the Blue Chairs

September 8, 2014

Conference RoomPlace matters. Last week I focused on the way most of us knowledge workers are moving around from one workplace to another, finding “the place just right” for getting our work done.

Sometimes we need a quiet place, sometimes we want to engage with colleagues in an informal lounge-like area, while other times we attend meetings with either focused group decision-making or open-ended brainstorming agendas. Each of those activities works best in a different physical setting.

Okay, that makes sense. But how does the design of the workspace affect your mood, your creativity, your ability to concentrate? More importantly, how does place impact conversation? And how does a change of place change a conversation?

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As I reflect on the history of work on this Labor Day holiday (in the United States) I am thinking that I don’t need a workplace; I need many workplaces.

Of course, I can only be in one place at a time. But sometimes I need to be in one place, and sometimes in another.

I am a knowledge worker. I use my head to create value. Sure, I use my hands too, but mostly just to hit some little square pieces of plastic in a particular sequence that produces images of text on a computer screen. Sometimes I hold a pen or pencil and spread ribbons of ink (or graphite) on paper as another way to create and capture my ideas. But however I record my musings, it’s what goes on in my head that matters.

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The IFMA Foundation Workplace Strategy Summit will convene in just two weeks at Wokefield Park, just north of London (8-10 June). There are still seats available, and you really don’t want to miss this very special event. Attendance is limited to 160 of the smartest, best-informed workplace experts in the world (including you, if you register now).

Our official host is Alexi Marmot, Director of AMA – Alexi Marmot Associates Ltd., and Professor of Facility and Environmental Management at University College London.

Professor Frank Becker of Cornell University was our host at the first Workplace Strategy Summit, held in September 2012. Listen to him explain why he thinks the 2014 Summit will be even more enlightening and provocative:

It’s not too late to join me, Frank Becker, Alexi Marmot, Frank Duffy, and 160 other thought leaders and experienced practitioners from all over the world. Click here to read more about the Summit and register to join us for two days of energizing conversation and presentations.

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