Friday, 27 January 2012

The Shed-working Life

The lexicon describing the choice of places to work is ever increasing. The now familiar terms home-working and tele-working have been supplemented with hub-working, co-working, central-working and shed-working. Alex Johnson refers to shed-working as “the art of working from home in a shed-like space separate from the house” [1].

My office

Since taking redundancy and setting up my own business six months ago, I have gradually migrated from the kitchen table to the shed. I do not intend to discuss the merits of shed-working in elaborate detail here. Alex has already done that and he has done it well using beautiful images of“shed-like” spaces from all over the world that illustrate his thesis. I can only offer a personal account of why I prefer shed-working.

Monday, 2 January 2012

The Workplace Zoo

I visited Colchester Zoo over the Christmas holidays and was really impressed with the quality of the animal enclosures. Clearly a lot of thought had gone into their design and a great deal of effort made in meeting the animals’ needs and making them comfortable. This was evident in the way the animals behaved and through the success of their breeding programme.

It got me wondering whether any lessons learned in zoo design are relevant to the workplace. However, I am not the first to make this comparison. Judith Heerwagen suggests “For insights, it is useful to look not at buildings, but at zoos. Zoo design has gone through a radical transformation in the past several decades. Cages have been replaced by natural habitats and geographic clustering of animals. And, as in nature, the animals have much greater control over their behaviour. They can be on view if they want, or out of sight. They forage, play, rest, mate, and act like normal animals”[1]. She continues “A key factor was concern over the animals' psychological and social well-being. Zoos could keep animals alive, but they couldn't make them flourish”. Heerwagen proposed that we learn from the new philosophy of enriched zoo enclosures, providing for well-being rather than simple survival, but can we also learn from the basic design principles in zoo enclosures?