Monday, 21 January 2019

Top Tips for Terrific Technical Talks


I love going to conferences, dare I say I am a conference junkie, hence I attend and speak at around 10 conferences each year. The conferences I go to are usually academic or technical in nature where the speakers present their latest research, ideas and innovations. I also help organise the biannual Workplace Trends and annual Learning Environments conferences for which I select the speakers, and also receive feedback from the audience on the speakers. 

After attending 100s of conferences across the globe over the years I have concluded that, in general, there are two types of technical speaker: 1. those with fantastic content but have poor delivery, and 2. those that present well but have poor content. Speakers with good content who can also communicate in an interesting and engaging manner are the unicorns of the conference circuit – that is they are rare and magical beasts. It always seems a shame to me that the years of hard graft conducting original and valuable research is ultimately lost amidst a poorly constructed and delivered presentation. So here are my top tips for a terrific technical talk

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Merry Biophilic Christmas

Last month I sat on a panel discussing the business case for workplace wellbeing, of which one is slowly emerging. That along with Christmas and my Viking* heritage got me pondering on the true origins of biophilic design.  

Biophilia, a term coined by Edward O Wilson, is basically our innate affinity to nature. Biophilic design tends to focus on introducing plants into the workplace but, as explained in a previous blog, it is so much more and taps into our base (evolutionary psychology) needs. Biophilia includes daylight, views, fluctuating temperature, sound-scaping, natural ventilation, natural materials, social spaces, refuge etc – see Bill Browning’s excellent work for a full explanation of biophilic design principles. But bringing nature indoors has been going on for some time, especially around this time of year …

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Happy Season's Meetings

This is my penultimate blog of 2018; throughout the year I have attempted to offer blogs on work as well as workplace, in particular how to improve your performance. With the Christmas holidays looming, and my clients trying to tidy up loose ends, I have noticed a rapid increase in the number of meetings I have been invited to. Meetings can be great, a productive way to move things forward, but we have also all attended those that we thought a complete and utter waste of time. So here are my thoughts on how you can master meetings.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Design Fundamentals for an Attractive City


As part of my day-job is speaking at conferences, I get to visit a lot of wonderful cities around the world. The people and culture are fundamental prerequisites of a good city, but design and planning also play an important role in creating an attractive city. In this blog I list the dozen design features that I have found are indicators of cities that I most prefer – they are also actually my place-making criteria. This blog is also an excuse to share some of my holiday photos.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

The Transdisciplinary Workplace


I was fortunate to present a keynote address at the first Transdisciplinary Workplace Research conference (#TWR18) last week in Tampere. Around fifty researchers, mostly academic with a few practitioners, gathered to discuss their latest workplace research on topics such as wellbeing, productivity, change management, agile working, co-working etc. 

Friday, 31 August 2018

Open plan v private offices déjà vu


Another round of articles was recently published (mostly by Inc.) on why private offices are better than open plan, and consequently suggest we should eschew open plan design.  Despite the open plan office being described as a management fad by one journalist, the adoption of open plan dates back to the 1950s* and the occurrence of such negative articles has been ongoing ever since then. 

However, every five years or so, such articles seem to converge and attract the attention of the mass press. It seems that academics and journalists have a particular dislike for open plan. But open plan is clearly not a “fad” and I suspect it is here to stay, so it is more useful to focus on how to resolve any demonstrated issues with open plan rather than simply say it should be banned. 

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Biophilic design is so much more than plants


Those of you who have seen me present or have read my previous blogs will know I am a big advocate of Biophilic Design. But I am not impressed by the recent run of blogs and product/service websites that have reduced Biophilic Design to providing landscaping and plants in the office, proclaiming they reduce air pollutants and improve productivity. Just search for ‘Biophilic Design’ on Google images as an indicator of the emphasis on planting. Particularly frustrating are those ‘green wash’ type posts that imply a potted plant plonked on the desk is the panacea for enhancing wellbeing. My issue with these articles is two-fold:
  1. There is so much more to biophilic design than plants, and
  2. There are much more efficient ways of reducing air pollutants than adding potted plants.