The Consulting Artist

Doug ShawWorkplace Trends has always encouraged different ways of exploring the challenges our industry faces, and this year is no exception.

We’re delighted that The Consulting Artist, Doug Shaw, will be joining us for the day at our London conference, Workplace Trends: The Changing Nature of Work, on 18 October. Doug will apply his skills as a visual artist, to interpret themes and ideas as they emerge during the conference.

Doug uses art as a way to help people think, feel, and act differently at work. Here’s a transcript from a recent talk he gave about using art to build resilience, and the photo above shows recent examples of work produced live at a conference for Saint-Gobain Ecophon in Berlin.

We’re looking forward to his interpretation of the day!

Culture-Right Design: Sally Augustin joins speaker line-up for Workplace Trends Conference

IMG_2212We’re absolutely delighted that Sally Augustin, psychologist and principal from US-based Design with Science, will be speaking on Culture-Right Design, at the Workplace Trends Conference on 18 October.

Sally writes: “Cognitive science research makes it clear: people from different cultures work and live best in different sorts of spaces. This session will detail research-based insights designers can use to align design with specific national cultures to develop spaces where people are happy, healthy, wealthy (at least in spirit), and wise.”

Sally Augustin, PhD, is a practicing environmental/design psychologist and a principal at Design With Science. She has extensive experience integrating science-based insights to develop recommendations for the design of places, objects, and services that support desired cognitive, emotional, and physical experiences.

Her clients include manufacturers, service providers, and design firms in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Sally’s work has been discussed in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Forbes, and Psychology Today. Sally is an invited contributor to the online version of the Harvard Business Review. As the editor of Research Design Connections, Sally has written widely on science-based design for a broad audience of people interested in the designed world. Dr. Augustin, who is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, holds leadership positions in professional organizations such as the American Psychological Association and the Environmental Design Research Association. She is the author of Place Advantage: Applied Psychology for Interior Architecture (Wiley, 2009) and, with Cindy Coleman, The Designer’s Guide to Doing Research: Applying Knowledge to Inform Design (Wiley, 2012).

See the full Workplace Trends: The Changing Nature of Work programme and speakers here.


Never been to Workplace Trends? Here’s a bit about it.

As we approach our October Workplace Trends conference, The Changing Nature of Work, around two thirds of the available tickets have been sold (see the delegate list here), which is wonderful news to me as the conference organiser. It’s real vote of confidence from our regular delegates and the newbies who have signed up.

So what’s the conference all about?

We were arguably the first workplace conference on the scene in the early norties, challenging the onset of the recession of that time. Now, in a conference season brimming with events about work and the workplace, we’re honoured to remain firmly in the calendar, and going from strength to strength. In recent years we’ve introduced our Spring Summit – so we currently have two major events a year – and right now we’re hatching plans to bring Workplace Trends overseas. More news on that very soon.

What makes us different? 

We discuss trends that are real, looking forward to the workplace of the next 10-20 years. Over our 15 years we’ve examined many subjects that are now becoming mainstream: wellness, productivity, happiness, psychology in the workplace, biophilic design, agile working, cellular vs open plan, to name but a few. Nigel Oseland, speaking about the conference in 2013 accurately predicted a continuing increase in workers’ movement and flexibility, with the office being used as a place to bring a team together to share knowledge, for mentoring and becoming a showcase for our clients. He also talked about the psychology of the workplace – at the time (and still) occupiers and designers were gradually realising we are all different, and so the space we need to make us more effective also differs. We’ve visited aspects of this regularly at Workplace Trends, and will do so again in October, when we are joined by Sally Augustin from the US, who will be talking about Culture-Right Design.

We’re not overly commercial. Speakers never pay us to step up on the platform – they’re either invited or come to us independently with a good idea. Speakers must be proven good communicators; presentations are research or case study driven, and no sales pitches are allowed. Exhibition stands are minimal and intended for our regular sponsors or past attendees of the conference.

Our delegates all want to be there: Conference organisers often stress about the ratio of occupiers to commercial delegates. We don’t. Our delegates want to be at the event 100% and have paid to be there. And yes, we have a good number of occupiers attending, but they’re not used as delegate bait – they’re with us for the same reasons as everyone else – they have an interest, want to learn and connect with others. We know a conference without occupiers would be just as valuable – how many contracts these days are won by collaborative pitches?

We’re in it for the long game: We’ve built a community. A loyal core of our attendees return year after year, most often as delegates and sometimes as speakers. We have a lively 8,000 strong LinkedIn Group, and have just launched a Facebook Group. Visit our website at any point in the year and you’ll find something of interest.

It’s an enjoyable day: Our events have quality 30 minute presentations, with time scheduled for questions. Speakers usually stay the whole day too, so there’s an opportunity to catch up with them individually. Within the usual breaks, we allow plenty of time for networking with colleagues, fellow architects, designers, occupiers and other real estate professionals. Then at the end of the day there’s our traditional drinks reception where the conversation continues in the same relaxed mode. You’ll come away inspired and energised.

So that’s what Workplace Trends is about! Our next conference has the theme ‘The Changing Nature of Work, and takes place on Wednesday 18 October at The British Library. I hope you’ll join us. For full details click here or follow the Workplace Trends tabs above.


Learning Environments Conference Round-Up

Last month (June 2017) saw the return of our now annual Design and Management of Learning Environments Conference. Some 100 professionals from the Higher Education sector (estates directors, architects, designers) gathered at our canal-side venue, Kings Place in London.

Kings Place is a unique venue – a mixed use building in the heart of the Kings Cross development. As well as meeting rooms, the building is a highly regarded performance venue, with space for the visual arts, a cafe, bar and restaurant. Looking up to the seven levels above ground floor there are also commercial office spaces (one occupier being The Guardian newspaper). Each floor is designed so that companies can bring together as many people as they can on one level, with the aim of promoting staff interaction and providing a more creative environment.

The conference had a great mix of speakers: Chaired by the current AUDE President, Mike Clarke, we enjoyed presentations from the coal-face of the estates directors and in-house change managers through to consultant designers and architects.

Having organised both the Workplace Trends and Learning Environments events for more than a decade, the overriding takeaway from the day for me was how much the design and management of the two sectors are now converging, and how much they can each learn from the other’s experience.

For example, the education estates physically have very blurred boundaries. On many campuses today it’s unclear where the line is between an academic institution and its surrounding community. The same may be said for some coworking spaces today, and perhaps more so in the future for corporates.

As part of this seamless wifi coverage is expected by all students (who on average bring seven devices with them to university!) and of course BYOD workers.

Both the workplace and education sector struggle with the need for space that is flexible. Workplace designers will have probably seen Google’s Garage, where all the furniture has wheels and are familiar with the concept of funky work booths which have multiple uses. Nicholas Burwell’s opening presentation showed several designs of lecture theatre that could also be configured for wider use, and his and later presentations demonstrated how HE space is increasingly being designed for flexibility.

Olivia Fox and Morris Pamplin from City University talked about their programme for Blended Learning, described as “the thoughtful integration of classroom face-to-face learning experiences with online learning experiences”. Many of the lessons learnt here could be applied to remote working, and vice versa. You can see a pdf of their presentation here.

The Change Management programme at King’s College’s Bush House proved something of an eye-opener for many delegates. Change Management programmes are commonplace in the workplace sector, but the concept is relatively new for education. But it’s a perfect fit – with so many academics struggling with the concept of a move to open plan – why wouldn’t an estates department embark on a full change management programme?

There were many more sessions containing golden nuggets of thought-provoking information during the day, but I will leave you with the one which surprised me most. Closing the day Martin Anderson from Connection, whose presentation was titled ‘Talent Retention and Wellbeing in Higher Education’, touched on Biophilic Design. Biophilia is defined as the inherent human inclination to affiliate with nature. So biophilic design incorporates natural materials, natural light, vegetation, nature views and other experiences of the natural world into the built environment. We have covered this to large extent in the Workplace Trends events, in particular with our invited speakers Bill Browning and more recently Oliver Heath. But standing to the side of the room, it might have appeared unchartered territory for some in education. Perhaps in designing for students, the calm and focus that nature can facilitate may not be seen as a high priority.

But it could be a game-changer. In some small way, this was illustrated by my own two teenage sons. This year at home we finally managed to finish adding a large quantity of potted plants to the decked patio area in the garden. (Biophilia is more than just plants but bare with me). The youngsters had hitherto not been great fans of spending time there, but suddenly more often than not, one of more of them and their friends are to be found there. They still clutch one of their seven devices of course, but they definitely enjoy the surroundings.

The Design & Management of Learning Environments conference will return in 2018. In the meantime check our next Workplace Trends Conference: The Changing Nature of Work, 18 October at the British Library.

Maggie Procopi
London, 18 July 2017