Friday, 31 May 2013

Going Dutch

I was recently tweeted a link to How Culture Shapes the Office, a paper by Christine Congdon and Catherine Gall published in the Harvard Business Review. I saw Catherine present the paper at last year’s WorkplaceTrends. I was impressed with the content and found it a sensible model with practical applications in workplace design. However, other conference participants unjustly criticised Catherine of cultural stereotyping.

The presentation and paper got me thinking about my own experiences of cultural differences. There are too many to mention in one blog. I touched on my experiences in japan in a previous blog on Vernacular Design,Climate, Culture and Teapots. In this blog I will focus on my views on the Dutch culture.  Rather than just state my findings, with the holiday season coming up, I have phrased them as travel tips for visiting the Netherlands.

So to begin with, did you notice that I wrote Netherlands rather than Holland? Tip #1 is to never say you are going to Holland to a Dutch person. They will think you are ignorant or stupid or both ignorant and stupid. Saying you are going to Holland rather than the Netherlands is like saying you are going to the Norfolk Broads rather than the UK. As a child I thought that the Netherlands was where Peter Pan and Tinkerbell lived, but apparently not.

Utilisation Studies: Science or Sorcery?

I have recenty l guest blogged on the i-FM site. Here is a transcritpion if you do not want to log on to their site. 

We have all sat through a workplace consultant’s presentation in which they report that the benchmark workstation utilisation is around 50%. Most organisations that conduct utilisation, or occupancy, studies and benchmark their data report such a figure. This means that typically only half of the office workstations are in use at any one time during the working week, which is wasteful of resources. But what is interesting about this finding is that no two utilisation studies appear to be conducted, analysed or reported in exactly the same way. Are we falling into the trap of comparing apples with bananas?

The WCO Guide to:Utilisation and Occupancy Studies, the most recent publication of the Workplace Consulting Organisation, intends to demystify utilisation studies. The guide helps companies to understand when and how to use such studies, plus how to interpret the results to determine the number of workstations actually required in the office and thus reduce wasted space.

Friday, 10 May 2013

I'm a workplace consultant ... Get me out of here!

I have been meaning to blog for some time on what we can learn in the workplace arena from reality TV. The post by @NickWAllen on “What crazy chef – Gordon Ramsay – has taught me about online marketing” finally persuaded me to put pen to paper (or more accurately put fingers to keypad).

So we might as well start with the ineffable (or is it f’in-able) Gordon Ramsay. His Kitchen Nightmares programme has been relegated from UK restaurants to those struggling in the USA. Regular viewers will spot the tried and tested formula of these shows. Chef Ramsay visits a dysfunctional restaurant run by a dysfunctional family, he dislikes the food and the d├ęcor regardless, he gets the owners to admit blame, and then he rewards them with a restaurant makeover, new menu and free publicity.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Toastmasters - Red Coat or Red Herring

I was recently invited to guest blog on why I like Toastmasters. So here it is.

When I was first asked if I was interested in joining Toastmasters I instantly imagined formidable and pompous gentlemen in red tuxedos toasting the queen and her realms and territories. But my vision was far from reality, the red coat is a red herring.

My inaugural visit to Berkhamsted Toastmasters was to the “humorous speaking contest” – an evening of pre-prepared, often amusing and often just weird, presentations on a wide variety of subjects. One of the speeches that I still clearly recall detailed what happens after the coffin goes beyond the curtains at a crematorium. The speaker regaled us with how the coffin is re-used and the poor departed repays society as the latest bio-fuel. This is black humour by any standards, and I’m an avid fan of “the league of gentlemen”.