It's a Win Win

Wellbeing Blog.

As we enter September we are a month away from our next Made for Sharing seminar at The NDC. This time we will be focusing on workplace wellbeing. 

As a keen runner, I thought it would be good if we were to get our two offices and guest speakers involved in a 5k starter race, providing an opportunity to set a good example whilst promoting health and wellbeing.
The race was due to take place on 2 September on the historic quayside, unfortunately due to a lack of interest and due to other larger events such as the Great North Run, the 5k race was postponed until next year. We will of course do this race when its re-scheduled. Therefore our seminar in October will sadly lack the pictures from the big team effort of the 5k but still benefit from the bits you don’t see…the training and hard work that goes in ahead of anything like this…

Interestingly, despite the targeted race being postponed the good in many respects had already happened. The race itself was merely the catalyst or target for people to get into action and do something, the excitement from all was really compelling and infectious. It immediately brought together a sense of team and shared drive. Interestingly the big question from many was when will it be rescheduled for? or ok, lets do another. The key thing here is that by trying to lead by some kind of example has changed into something very different. The benefits experienced from the training, togetherness and sense of team far outweigh the perceived end goal anyway. This is one of the reasons we are labelling the whole event in October as a win win for all. 

Okay, we all know that if we eat healthier, take more exercise and get appropriate rest its good for us. In the same way that employers know this and that equally there is more than enough compelling evidence to encourage us all to promote it, are we really getting off our behinds and doing something about it? There needs to be an event, a date or just something that will create a significant enough action that in turn creates the necessary reaction/s from others. I remain convinced that once we get this touch paper alight it can really gather momentum. 

In a similar vane there are many other aspects of the workplace which are becoming difficult to ignore, acoustic comfort for one and a more varied and agile workspace. The question is are we acting quick enough or decisively enough to make this a benefit now? What sort of action is required to create the necessary reactions?

We hope you can join us in October at The Northern Design Centre for the Wellbeing seminar, and/or why not get a team together and join in the next race with us? At the moment it looks like it will be some time in April, once the nights become a bit lighter.

Event Link: Wellbeing Seminar Registration


What's The Number?

We have recently returned from a trip to our capital city to spend time with our friends at Vitra and one of their Clients. The purpose was initially to see the results of a pilot project for agile working, however on meeting the client it became clear that we were in for an different experience to the one we expected…What did we expect? Well with a Vitra led project we naturally expect a stunning environment and something quite cool. It’s not that non of these were true but it was how the client produced data about how their new spaces were working that impressed and inspired us.

For years we've been consistently asked for the number! What does it cos? How many people can we get in?…It's always a number. In this instance and at a tap of an i pad we could see exactly how their space was was being used, now, 10 minutes ago, yesterday…whenever we chose. The client had real time data on the occupancy of their space and were able to use this to provide the intelligence to manage its space effectively and very efficiently which has already enabled them to reduce their space dependancy by an incredible amount and realise some substantial savings. The thing is, in London space costs approximately £100 per sq. foot, here in the North East its roughly a fifth of that. So as compelling as it was how would this translate back home?

Getting the calculator out I established by comparison that agile working in London (assuming best case 7 workstations for every 10 employees) was creating a saving of approximately £2700 per employee, based on average salary of 40K for London, this is roughly 6.75% of their salary. Doing the same comparison for the North savings equate to only £669.00 per employee (average uk salary 27k) therefore 2.4%.

At first i felt quite disappointed until it dawned on me. We are all set on making savings, being more efficient and are we missing a point?! There is a lot of effort in creating these savings and rightly so. (Don’t fall asleep yet, it will make sense) But if by doing so and saving 2 or even 5%, what happens if the new space does not work and productivity for whatever reason drops by the same margin! Your saving has gone immediately, never mind the costs attributed in getting there. But Conversely what would the extra cost be in making sure this is not the case and we can actually get an increase in productivity, energise the people, encourage creativity and create real wellbeing!! For argument sake what happens if we can increase productivity by 5%? That's equivalent to £1350 per employee per year (in an average office of 50 people = £67500) which is generally more than the average employer spends on the furnishings that will last more than 10 years.

So whilst the same pattern is true at both ends of the country the lower cost of space up North means much bigger benefits can be realised when the workspace is designed to fully support the no1 asset, The People.

Interestingly, I have heard clients claiming productivity increases well in excess of 20% when moving to well designed, agile workspaces. Granted, this is incredibly difficult to calculate accurately or prove due to the many variables and influencing factors. I will let you do your own calculations and leave you to imagine what could be possible? Let's think more positively!

For the record Vitra’s client has experienced a very positive side to their exercise, staff are more energised, happier and no doubt more productive. I can’t wait to find out what the number is, something they can hopefully share with us in time.

(Notes added 2106) We now know that more focus on Activity based working rather than just pure agile brings a more human centred and balanced approach to solving user needs in a workplace. Ok from experience we are seeing that this often requires a little more space to implement but the rewards for the occupants and business are much greater. Again 'do the math' as they say.

Finally if you have not looked at the Leesman Index yet which provides key data behind the Stoddart review, I would strongly recommend you take a look or get in touch with us for more information. To quote a section of the review, 'the evidence is simply too compelling to ignore!'

My First Rant, Sorry Blog: 

If it's worth doing, do it right.

We have all been to those meetings/briefings with a perspective client to be told 'we want a wow space, a google office'  and at best will be told there is restricted budget. I know we have touched on this in a few of our seminars or rather the Likes of Mr Catchlove have from Herman Miller, the reality is that no one other than Google should want a Google office its their business and only their office should reflect their business.

Why then do we regularly experience the above, I think a lot is down to how we consume information so I guess the Likes of Google are to blame in more ways than one. It's far to easy to search and research subjects and all to often believe after a few hours work you have the tools to do it yourself. Now ok I have been know to partake in DIY and those  that know me know that I have often bittern off more than i can chew… But by enlarge you would not take on a rewire of your full house this way (I hope) or move your gas suppy. No we tend to leave it to an expert who has the training and experience. In addition and in my case again you will quickly realise that in the long run its often cheaper and the results far better.

So what has all this got to do with the workplace or more significantly workplace design? Businesses are being bombarded with the latest and greatest theories on new ways of working and increasingly seeing some very good images or videos from organisations that have achieved just this. The problem is that for these spaces to really work and support a business there are many months of hard work by a team of professional designers and consultants putting together a complex puzzle that we now see as a series of nice and perhaps inspirational pictures. Aonother problem and to steel the words of the industrial/furniture designer Isao Hosoe, "it is not true that our eyes see everything, they see what we want them to see"


I think we all agree that spaces we inhabit have an effect on what we do or can do. I often wonder though even as individuals if we stop to actually think what we want or need to do, how do we best achieve this and what tools will we need to this the best possible way…(back to DIY) is it because we are so busy and have too much information that we just plough on and don't stop to think,  plan and consequently do we (by comparison) just end up bodging it!?

For me the big question is if the latest furniture ideas will help solve solve any of the above or if we are not careful we are just throwing things that may well look great but are they really being selected to support the business and its people effectively or are we sticking plasters over a wound? again are we in danger of just bodging this bit also?

Vitra Workbays 2012

A great header to a blog from our friends at 404 reads "Evolve or become obsolete" if we are going to evolve then lets make sure we do it the very best way we can…take time to ask the questions and ultimately get the right team to help us deliver it. Oh and actually have face to face contact and hands on experiences to help us make these decisions. If its worth doing do it right!

Rant no 1 over, Is any one still awake? Sorry!



Welcome to the Workpattern blog...


A place for us to share our views on workplace design and workplace issues. Somewhere to discuss whatever is on our minds regarding workplace trends and new ways of working. We hope to spark debate and would love to hear your point of view.