Social media, blogging and wikis are all part of co-working and collaborative work trends
For the last morning I had signed up for a WordPress course. Even though I already use this freeware, my aim was to start from the beginning with the basics just to check I was missing anything key in my set-up. I also got to take a second look at Campus London (powered by Google in the new tech city). a hackathon was taking place as part of incubator strategies used to talent or product spot.
Our group was far more sedate but within a short period of time people were sharing and swapping intel about anything from a good accountant to latest plug-in for testing the security of your plug-ins. We were also shown data mining tools that can give you detailed feedback on your site and how users interact with it (or failed to interact with it).
Very quickly the simple path of setting up a wordpress.com exploded into this enormous web. However, as with so many things I have seen in the past two weeks, you can start with a very simple plan. The most significant element has been the power of human interactions. In most instances, the adults were not members of the same organisation but were still making productive contributions to one another’s individual projects. Some of these friendly collaborations and associations had been going on for years. I was also shown how influential LinkedIn had become in creating a new directory of organisations and individuals – it was used substantially in the workplaces I visited.
P.S.Comment: Facebook barely rated a mentioned and a page was usually maintained for the sake of the consumer. Tweets was more common. At the conference, I sat behind one man who spent an hour taking photos of himself “listening” to the presentations and then posting them and other photos of himself networking during morning tea. At one point he had a laptop, a smartphone and an iPad connected up dispatching posts and tweeting about his day at the conference. A little too extreme for regular self-promotion?
Today I visited the View at the Shard – fantastic views from the centre of Southwark (and a wonderfully historic cathedral to visit as well).
Lend Lease (yes, the Australian property development company) has established an impressive European HQ at Regent Place. They occupy three floors in a new corporate precinct and have based their design on the theory of activity-based workplaces. It was both beautiful and very smart in the decisions that have been made. The CEO and all of the leadership team have desks and workspaces in the open place desk area. I will let the images speak for themselves.
… and they do have desk areas (note the proliferation of vegetation -very controversial in the world of office design due to cost of upkeep) and bright surfaces to ensure strong, even light for all desks.
Today I get to see some glitzy workplaces – the Shard and the Lend Lease HQ. But before I go off to be impressed by these places, I thought I would reflect on this week.
I experienced co-working with KindredHQ, talked with two hosts from Islington and Westminster hubs, had a very insightful conversation with a researcher from the Design Council, visited a private enterprise that is a co-working space in Eastbourne and attended a full day conference on workplace trends. In four days I have had the opportunity to sample some of the experiences that are offered in co-working and collaborative spaces, glimpsed the enormous range of options that are emerging as co-working and activity-based spaces and most importantly, talked to many people about working in these new spaces and ways.
I was reminded in my conversation with Ed Gardiner, from the Design Council, that we need to be asking the right questions and identifying the real problem before leaping into designing the solutions. The heart of the problem may not lie where you think it is, so intervention will not bring about the change you desire. Ed commented that in his experience, the educational sector (and in particular, school sector) did not approach the Design Council looking for assistance with designing solutions to problems in this sector, whilst other similar industries like health and justice had. The workplace conference continued with the same theme – ask the right question before seeking the solution. Especially when shaping workplaces and spending millions of dollars (they actually all spoke in terms of pounds and square feet) on real estate, you do not get many opportunities to change direction once committed to a certain path.
The conference had 220 delegates (most were from the UK and Europe) from the property, design, human resources, architectural and research sectors. The only section of the educational sector represented (other than me) was Higher Education, and there main focus was the construction of university campus cities and the new breed of interactive spaces. A day of 45 minute presentations from researcher and architectural firms, exploring the new activity-based-work environments and practices. One delegate ran a blog during the day – so check it out if you are interested: http://www.workessence.com. The blogger was a very witty guy, who gave the plenary address in verse.