I hope you enjoyed a great Summer, I did. On my trip I read the Stoddart Review, yes really. It is a fantastic look at the Workplace and takes (in some instances) a slightly crooked view on what is really happening out there and particularly in the near-to-mid term. It makes for a fascinating and challenging reading.

Take-aways from the review …

  • Understand why workplaces are seen as a cost rather than an asset
  • Smarter use of workplaces improves productivity
  • Unlock value in your workforce through the better use of your space

I listened to a Podcast over the weekend it segued neatly into the Stoddart Review and in a way that further developed those key messages and challenged them. The Pod argued that people too quickly get seduced by cost savings and this blinds them to what their organisation really needs. It described the current vogue for ‘Collision Design’ where you can get your staff to congregate and converse. However, it sets out how much staff hate Open Plan office design, and it is really firms that like it because of… you guessed it… cost.

What is the problem with open plan offices?

So what’s the problem with open plan offices?

It’s a distraction hearing about your colleagues in-grown toenail travails when you need to do something. Conversely, people really want privacy and interaction when they want it. being forced to listen to other peoples conversations be it personal chit chat or business chat and calls is never an ideal solution for the majority of employees.

So is Home Working the solution? Home working is seen as a challenging place to work because of loneliness or isolation? No…. because of the Big 3, bed, TV and the fridge. Ha !

Office movin’ and a groovin’

One of our managers Rachel is spending a lot of her time looking at identifying new offices for Formation both in Sussex and London. As you’ll all know this is both a great waste of time but equally pretty essential. A new office and/or location is highly emotive. There are so many considerations (to consider !) AND everyone has an opinion. So inevitably people tend to put it off until the last moment and then it becomes ‘crazy hour’.

I have moved and been moved several times during my career and I recall the first time when I was working for a European firm the rumours were rife about where we were going. We had a fantastic office outside London with great communication links to both Gatwick and the City, it worked brilliantly.

However, we had outgrown it and when I joked that our latest recruit might have to work in the lift, there was possibly some truth to it as I wasn’t sure where we could put her desk. I learned early that no or poor communications can undo the best intentions, the senior team let it be known (i.e. no official communication) that we were on the hunt for a new office. This created pandemonium and as I recall the following rumours;

  • We are being acquired and will move the team into their office in Covent Garden
  • We will shut the office and move into a portable cabin
  • Everyone will work from our London office for a year
  • The new office will have a gym, cafe and hair salon (yes really) so it sounds really nice
  • and many, many more

Of course in the round-up none of the above happened then or since but too many people spent too much time discussing it. So lesson 1, don’t over communicate, get your comms clear and tell the right audience, the right thing at the right time. If you involve a lot of people, you will get a lot of opinions, if you want it, great but I bet you don’t !

What do you think?

What is the next gen of office design, how should firms approach office moves and how do you get the balance right between office, remote and home working?