Monday, 11 May 2020

Post Covid-19 Workplace: Recollection not Revolution


Boris made his rather ambiguous announcement yesterday on his Covid-19 exit strategy and there have been plenty of previous posts from the workplace industry anticipating the announcement and how redesigning the office is the solution. But I firmly believe that we already have the answers, and have had them for some time, but have repeatedly chosen to ignore them. I recommend we start by recollecting and (re)introducing tried and tested best practice in the workplace before we push a design revolution. 

Monday, 4 May 2020

Working from Home – A Psychological and Personality Perspective


I always find it interesting when classic psychological theory can help inform current situations. It has become apparent that working from home (WFH), and social isolation, like many things follows the Yerkes-DodsonLaw, with its inverted U-shape relationship. 

The Yerkes-Dodson Law is traditionally used to describe the relationship between levels of mental and physiological arousal and performance, see Figure 1. When we are at our optimum level of arousal, we perform to our maximum (the top of the curve). However, when the level of arousal is low, for example, when we are tired, demotivated, lethargic or bored our performance drops. Furthermore, when our level of arousal is high, for example when excited or stressed, performance also drops. 


Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Virtual Meeting Etiquette


When it comes to virtual meetings at work, I’ve always been in two minds. On the one hand face-to-face is more dynamic, more engaging and more responsive. We pick up on non-verbal communication – facial expressions and other body languages revealing engagement and understanding. We use body language to emphasise messages and refer to previous shared experiences – see my collaboration report for more detail. I often joke that I want to smell others in the room not just hear or see them. 

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Workstyle #2: I prefer to work locally, so what am I?

My previous blog explained the subtilties between the different type of modern workplace strategy. This sibling blog focuses on the modern office worker types or workstyles.

Presumably, those who work according to a specific workplace strategy are deemed a particular style of worker. For example, ‘home-worker’ is a common phrase to refer to those who regularly or occasionally work from home. ‘Remote worker’ is often used describe those who work outside of the office either at home, in other places (cafés, library) or travelling on business. Myself and others who work in garden cabins refer to ourselves as ‘shed workers’, a sub-group of ‘home-worker’. The latest workstyle, ‘co-worker’, refers to a person who has set up their office base at a co-working hub. The phrases ‘agile worker’, ‘smart worker’ or ‘activity-based worker’ are less commonly used – maybe because they are less popular choices. 

Workstyle #1: Am I an agile or flexible worker and does it matter?

I am working with a client at the moment who is moving to a new building and asked me to review their flexible working policies. Their existing policies are a direct response to the law regarding the right to request to work flexibly, first introduced in the Employment Act 2002 for those with dependents, and extended to all employees by the Flexible Working Regulations 2014. The organisation is implementing desk-sharing in their new office and already supports home-working. So, I was a little surprised that their flexible working policies made no reference to 'agile working', 'smart working' or 'activity-based working' – I was even more surprised that they were not familiar with such terms!


Saturday, 23 March 2019

Psychologist fest at Workplace Trends


It was a privilege to chair the morning of yesterday’s Workplace Trends (WT) conference. This WT conference was different to previous ones as the focus was on new research that will ultimately influence workplace design, management and use. The researchers submitted abstracts which were scored, blindly, by myself and Mark Eltringham of Workplace Insight. Some nine papers out of thirty or so were selected for presentation. 

The researchers were joined by an initial keynote address from Rob Briner. Rob is a psychologist that advises organisations on how to use evidence to influence decision making. 


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