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The office gobbledegook we hope to never hear again in 2017

The office gobbledegook we hope to never hear again in 2017

<strong>Richard Andrews</strong> Director at Inspiration Office (Pty) Ltd   Anyone who has ever worked in an office will be familiar with the nonsensical 'corpspeak' -that meaningless business jargon that is so favoured by those in meetings and widely used when people are trying to impress colleagues.Richard Andrews, Managing Director of Inspiration Office, an Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy, said for his Christmas Wish List there are certain phrases he hopes to never hear again in an office in 2017. <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> "It's an odd phenomenon that when otherwise plain speaking people pass through the portals of the office, their language changes. It's almost like they're visiting another country where people speak a different language."Andrews has compiled his Top Ten Office phrases he never wants to hear again: <strong>1. Touch base offline </strong>- this means let's meet later sometime. In yet another meeting <strong>2. Blue sky thinking</strong> - aka limitless thinking or thinking as if all were possible <strong>3. Stick a pin it </strong>- to deal with something later <strong>4. Throw it against a wall and see if it sticks</strong> - try something to see if it actually works because we have no idea if it will <strong>5. Deep dive</strong> - Really getting to the bottom of something <strong>6. Ecosystem</strong> -borrowed from biology and very prevalent in tech talk meaning how different systems work together <strong>7. Amplify</strong> - no,not a music phrase, it simply means to improve or increase <strong>8. Thinking outside the box</strong> - thinking creatively or differently to how we've always done it. <strong>9. Drinking the Kool-aid</strong> - going along with a bad idea just because all your peers are <strong>10. Singing from the same hymn sheet</strong> - a self explanatory Xmas themed one. <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> Christmas Bonus Annoying Phrase:Connect-meet, chat, get in touch with.... You know, connect"This kind of jargon is pointless, irritating and so often confusing, I'm sure it would be a paradigm shifter (get it?) if people just spoke simply and said what they mean. Here's hoping."

Aglet 7th Dec 2016
Collaborative workspaces a global trend to watch in SA offices in 2017

Collaborative workspaces a global trend to watch in SA offices in 2017

<strong>Richard Andrews</strong> Director at Inspiration Office (Pty) Ltd   Despite the well worn mantra of group work being central to success, businesses often struggle to offer effective collaborative spaces according to Inspiration Office, an Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy.Said Richard Andrews, Managing Director of Inspiration Office: "Historically, most collaboration in South Africa has occurred through formal, scheduled meetings having many participants. <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> "As a result, organisations have had years of experience building conference rooms and other formal meeting spaces. These spaces were designed to facilitate large group work processes, efficient client exchanges of information and decision making."Andrews noted however that the need for innovation, improved productivity and particularly speedy decision making are the principal drivers behind the change towards collaborative, less structured work spaces."This is especially true when you consider 70% of great, innovative ideas at work come from people collaborating," Andrews noted. "The search for competitive advantage through innovation and effective decision-making has led many organisations to highly value group-oriented work and work spaces.   Today's collaborative spaces fall short of expectations, driven by a lack of spaces to support the most valued types of collaboration, and a lack of adaptability of both furnishings and technology within the spaces."While the most highly prized collaborations are informal in nature, they need to be supported with the right design characteristics such as convenient location, support for social and small group work interactions, and casual look and feel," Andrews added. <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> Most organisations consider the social component of work separate from "work" spaces. To foster social interaction, some copy the obvious characteristicsof successful public spaces (the cafe, bar, market, lounge) mistakenly hoping that the variety of social interactions occurring in the public versions of these spaces will translate to a business setting.However, organisations have few insights into supporting innovation other than to encourage as much interaction as possible and "wait for the magic to happen." Organisations know their group spaces are under performing, but do not know how to respond.Andrews said that while the trend to establish comfortable, informal collaborative spaces within offices has taken hold in Europe and particularly in the US over the past few years, and to some degree in South Africa, he expects the trend to accelerate here in 2017.   The economy is sluggish and adding a collaborative space in an unused office area means you can enhance office facilities without taking on extra spaces and bumping up the rent or spending a lot on expensive office reconfiguration."Another advantage is because these spaces typically consist of things like screened off areas, perch tables with high stools, booths with comfortable ottomans and chairs, they are easy to move to a new office. <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> Andrews said that the types of collaborative spaces offered continue to evolve -the most rapidly growing categories support brainstorming, small unplanned meetings, videoconferencing and project team work.   In the future, most collaborative spaces will offer features that facilitate connection to technology, sharing of visual information, adaptability to changing work process and amenities such as food, beverages and daylight," Andrews concluded

Aglet 22nd Nov 2016
SA's office workers now spend an hour a day on mobile devices, preference for smartphones

SA's office workers now spend an hour a day on mobile devices, preference for smartphones

<strong>Richard Andrews</strong> Director at Inspiration Office (Pty) Ltd   South Africa's office workers spend nearly an hour a day working on their mobile devices despite having access to more powerful computers.And they see smartphones as preferable to tablets when it comes to doing work on a mobile device. <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> This is according to a recent survey of 12'000 office workers nationwide by Inspiration Office, an Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy.The survey quizzed South African office workers on their technology preferences in the workplace.Richard Andrews, Managing Director of Inspiration Office, said: "The results show how mobile devices are making greater inroads to just about everyone's working life.Even if people have access to desktops and laptops, they spend an hour a day working on their smartphone.We expect this number to climb."When asked which mobile device was most needed for work, 52% said a smartphone while 38% said a tablet.Interestingly people in both categories said they would prefer to bring their own devices to work (the bring your own device (BOYD) phenomenon as it iscalled), a global trend in which workers associate greater enjoyment in using their own devices.The survey also asked about workers' preferred operating system.When it came to desktop computers, 80% said they preferred windows while only 11% preferred macOS, Apple's desktop operating system.When asked the same question about laptops, 79% said they prefer windows while 15% preferred Apple's operating system.On smartphones however, 41% prefer Apple's IOS operating system to Google's Android at 50%.Fortablets, Apple comes top at 49% compared to Android's 37%. <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> Interestingly the survey also showed that when people work on smartphones or tablets, 77% prefer to do it away from their desks, even if they are still in the office.""It's a habit -people think of smartphones and tablets as mobile tools so they often use them elsewhere.""Many of our clients are now setting up more casual areas of chairs, couches and mini desks where people can nip away from the desk and work elsewhere for a while.""This is especially true for millennial workers who tend to be less inclined to sit at their desks all day and love using mobile devices," Andrews noted, further saying that given the rise of mobile devices offices would have to change to accommodate the demand for working away from the traditional desk.When asked which were the 'most important IT features', 73% said remote access, 50% said high performance machines, 44% said an ability to access applications offline while 32% said some sort of protection for their devices against weather and / or dirt.   Finally, people were asked about something every office worker has strong views on: IT Support.   "The survey asked people where they turn to for IT support: 35% said the IT help desk, 21% simply Googled the problem while 13% asked colleagues," Andrews concluded.

Aglet 19th Oct 2016
Innovation Hubs grow in popularity in SA with the likes of Google, GE and Standard Bank

Innovation Hubs grow in popularity in SA with the likes of Google, GE and Standard Bank

<strong>Richard Andrews</strong> Director at Inspiration Office (Pty) Ltd   <ul> <li>Working ways are changing globally</li> <li>Hubs seen as drivers of business innovation</li> <li>70% of ideas come from collaboration</li> </ul>   Innovation Hubs, separate and relaxed spaces designed for creativity and collaboration, are quickly growing in popularity <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> in South Africa as a way to drive innovation in a relaxed ‘feel at home’ atmosphere.   “Workplaces are changing,” said Richard Andrews, Managing Director of Inspiration Office, an Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town.   “Every leading organisation knows that it needs to innovate to stay ahead. According to a McKinsey survey, 33% of global business leaders rank ‘innovation of new products and services’ as their company’s top focus.”“But innovation is hard. How do you make ideas grow especially when companies become more globally integrated as business becomes national or global?“One of the best ways it to make is easy for people to get together in a casual environment. Research shows that 70% of ideas come from when people collaborate.”He noted that Innovation Hubs create a culture of innovation by supporting creative collaboration, project teams and individuals.Inspiration Office has recently helped create Innovations Hubs in South Africa for Google, E&Y, General Electric, Accenture and Standard Bank to name just a few. General Electric’s R500m Innovation Hub in Johannesburg is the first of its kind in Africa and is similar to its other hubs around the world. <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> Magnus Taljaard, Head of Digital Customer Solutions at Standard Bank Group, said about the creation of its hub: “We wanted to create a highly collaborative and engaging environment where our digital product teams can thrive and create solutions our customers love.”Andrews noted that businesses need spaces that support both collaboration at a distance and face-to-face and that also promote privacy as individuals need to do their best thinking. Hubs when not in use by groups, also provide private places to work.He noted that during the last few years, work has become dramatically more intense. Business tasks today are more varied and more challenging, and in some countries workers are increasingly mobile.“Employees in every organisation are working longer and harder, and they need a physical environment that not only supports them, but also re-energizesand inspires them.   “Some organisations embrace the idea of employees working in a coffee shop or other third place for a variety of reasons. Employees may need places where they can relax or work undisturbed. Already 31 percent of full-time employees in the United States do most of their work away from their employers’ locations. South Africa is following the same trends.” <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> Andrews said millennial workers are particularly keen on mobile working but need to have a place where they meet colleagues to catch upand think together.He also pointed out that the idea of having an opportunity to move during the day is important.“People hate the idea of being stuck at their desks all day.”Businesses increasingly see the need to offer employees a place where they can take a break from their usual workspace, choose from spaces ranging from individual to large group settings, and maintain close connections with colleagues and the organization.“It resets your mind and gets you reengaged. Having spaces that are appropriately designed for the activity that’s going on makes that activity much more productive. What we’ve installed for clients tend to cater for a ‘palette of postures’ so people can sit or lounge in a way that’s most comfy for them. We also tend to use bright, colours and funky furniture not typically found in the more formal offices spaces.”Innovation Hubs also help to manage commercial property costs by having fewer people in the office if companies allow remote working.   <h3>Characteristics of Innovation Hubs Technology Integration</h3> <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> More than anything, highly effective hubs that accommodate real work must provide great technology. Users come for refreshment and with the expectation that the place will provide what they need for effective performance, so technology needs to be immediately available and convenient.   <h3>Design Attributes</h3>   Design elements create the ambience of a corporate hub and influence worker reaction. Finishes, lighting, music, scent, inspiring artifacts, artwork—these all work together to attract users by creating a sense of welcome. They also tell users how to behave in a space.   <h3>Hosting Characteristics</h3>   Hosting is ultimately about making employees feel connected to the organisation and to each other. The way employees are welcomed and supported lets them know they are valued and demonstrates that the organisation recognises the challenges of work and life integration.   <h3>Where should companies locate an Innovation Hub?</h3>   The corporate cafeteria is an obvious place where a company can create a corporate third place and better leverage under-utilized space. It isn’t the only answer, though. A company might need more locations to hold meetings, for example.Andrews noted that some project groups often go off-site to hotels.

Aglet 16th Aug 2016
Workplace ergonomics - a bottom line issue

Workplace ergonomics - a bottom line issue

<strong>Richard Andrews</strong> Director at Inspiration Office (Pty) Ltd   <strong><em>*Office workers increasingly prone to work injuries</em> </strong> <em><strong>*Only 40% of SA workers feel their work place supports well being</strong> </em> <em><strong>*Well designed office space increase efficiency up to 36%</strong> </em> Think desk workers spending their days in front of a computer aren't likely to get injured on the job?   Think again. <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> More than half of all workplace injuries are related to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) -injuries that are common among those who engage in repetitive motion activities such as typing on a computer keyboard.   Richard Andrews, Managing Director of Inspiration Office, an Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town, said that even the seemingly 'safest' jobs lead to employee injuries and a large cost to the bottom line of business.   "In fact, nearly 60 percent of employees doing office computer work say they have wrist pain.   Long days hunched over keyboards can lead to cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) and lower back ailments.   "Here are some other common complaints: <ul> <li>Muscle fatigue or pain.Working for long periods in the same position or in awkward positions can put stress on hands and wrists and lead to injury.</li> <li>Eye strain. Sitting too close - or prolonged staring at - a monitor can reduce eye blinking and may lead to dry or aching eyes.</li> <li>Lower back pain. Using laptops or non-adjustable office furniture can cause employees to work at awkward angles and lead to back stress.</li> </ul>   Andrews noted that several trends make CTDs a special concern for today's typical office workers. <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> "So many employees use computers all day and then also sit down at the computer at home to surf the Internet or even catch up on work."   "Secondly, specialized jobs are on the increase the world over.This means more people are doing the same thing all day.And finally, people are living longer and also working longer which means many more years of wear and tear on the body.   "According to South African workplace research company Know More, only 40% of 10'000 South African workers surveyed feel that their workplace environment supports their well being.And this doesn't just exact a physical toll on employees, it can have a significant impact on businesses' bottom line.   "For example, in 2003 in the US, the average medical claim associated with a CTD was over $43'000.Now it's over $50'000.And that doesn't even include the hidden costs for employers of lost productivity when an employee is injured or the cost of hiring and training a replacement worker."So what's a business to do?   "Don't think that a desk and chair is all that employees need," Andrews advised.Ergonomics, or the process of safely and comfortably relating workers to their work spaces, can help by reducing the likelihood <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> of work related injuries through greater emphasis on a well designed workspace."Studies have shown that a well-designed office space can increase efficiency by up to 36%."Andrews added that Inspiration Office has increasingly installed several 'collaborative spaces' with furniture like couches and coffee tables.   "These are designed not only for teamwork, but also encourage people to move around and change their workstations to reduce repetitive actions during the day."Moving is particularly important: according to the same Know More survey, only 21% of South African office workers feel that their workplaces offer sufficient areas to allow physical activity.It needn't be costly either."When one considers that in most organizations 80% of the budget is allocated to people in the form of salaries, while only 7% isallocated to space, by leveraging the smallest cost line item better -businesses can obtain a return in efficiency in the biggest cost line item," said Andrews.For instance, the United State's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests measures such as leaving enough room for range of motion, adjusting desk chairs to individuals, positioning monitors so eye level is at the top of the screen and <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> finding a pointing device, such as a mouse, stylus or tablet, suited to the individual.There are manyother simple things employers can consider to help protect their workers and their pocketbooks. For example:•Stress the importance of good posture at the computer•Use smart lifting techniques and tools that can make the job easier•Appoint someone on your staff to take responsibility for safety issues.Have this person understand ergonomics best practices, review resources provided by your workers' compensation insurance company, train employees, and make changes to workspaces as needed•Take breaks throughout the work day to walk aboutMajor risk factors that add to cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs):•Static posture•Awkward posture•Repetition•Force and/or vibration•Extreme temperatureSafe behaviors that limit CTDs:•Good posture•Correct workstation setup <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> •Occasional rest breaks•Task variation•Proper lifting techniques"Common sense measures can go a long way to preventing these types of injuries," Andrews added."Adjust workstations, take advantage of training, see what other equipment is available.You may not prevent every CTD, but you can take actions that will help prevent problems."For more information, please contact Richard Andrews, Managing Director - Inspiration Office T. <a href="tel:+27 (0) 11 268 0636">+27 (0) 11 268 0636</a> E. <a href="mailto:Richard@inspirationoffice.co.za">Richard@inspirationoffice.co.za</a>

Aglet 11th Jul 2016
SA businesses hop onto global furniture leasing trend as office spaces get smaller & cash becomes tighter

SA businesses hop onto global furniture leasing trend as office spaces get smaller & cash becomes tighter

<strong>Richard Andrews</strong> Director at Inspiration Office (Pty) Ltd   <strong><em>* Leasing growing faster than sales in many G7 countries </em></strong> <strong><em>* In US value of furniture leased tops $1.5bn </em></strong> <strong><em>* Consistent with global trends of owning less</em></strong> <em><strong>*Trend growing in SA as cash flow response to sluggish economy</strong></em>   South African companies are following the global trend of leasing office furniture rather than buying it in an effort to be more capital efficient, improve cash flows in a move consistent with the ‘rent don’t buy' economy.   Richard Andrews, Managing Director of Inspiration Office, an Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy with head offices in Johannesburg, said that since Inspiration Office pioneered furniture leasing in South Africa in 2013 through its financing arm, the company has seen a 30% spike in South African business leasing rather than owning office furniture.   “We expect this trend to continue as the economy remains sluggish. It’s very efficient to pay a small monthly amount for a few years rather than have a large cash outflow for furniture that is often quickly out of date. "“Furniture leasing is an operating expense rather than a capital expense thereby improving cash flow. For example a chair worth R4 000 can be leased for around R3 a day for a 5 year period.”Andrews notes that in the US, often a leading indicator of international offices trends, office furniture leasing has now superseded sales over the past three years and is growing at a rate of nearly 20% a year. And the total value of the furniture leased in the US in the past 20 years has now topped $1.5bn.   “We’ve noticed a similar trend in Europe as well as small but growing demand for leasing in other African countries too.” <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> Andrews also said that office spaces are getting smaller and more efficient as business embrace the mobile working trend and workers share space by ‘hot desking.’“Because employees are now working remotely -or on gadgets like the iPads and very small laptops, offices need smaller furniture. And leasing it enables business to be nimble about down scaling large, bulky furniture,freeing up office space and saving money.“Ironically desks in many companies haven't changed in size for the past 30 years since the days of deep monitor computer screens and paper file storage. We have smart cars, smart devices but offices in the main have remained ‘stupid’.”Andrews added that the shift towards leasing furniture over buying, is consistent with societal trends of renting rather than owing.“People lease their cars, or in some instances have gotten rid of their cars altogether to only use Uber. Some people rent their homes, companies ‘rent’ people by using freelancers or hire people for short term projects. The trend towards renting over owning is one that can be seen everywhere.   ”Furniture lease periods in South Africa are typically for 3, 4 or 5 years. At the end of the term, businesses can buy the furniture, lease new furniture, or opt to have it recycled ensuring green disposal of unwanted desks, chairs and storage units -the most popular items leased.Andrews concluded that many of South African’s top companies have taken to leasing and he expects the trend to continue.

Aglet 14th Jun 2016
Winter is coming -and so are hundreds of millions of germs to the workplace

Winter is coming -and so are hundreds of millions of germs to the workplace

<strong>Richard Andrews</strong> Director at Inspiration Office (Pty) Ltd   * Shared office space trend giving rise to greater infection rate * 72% of people go to work sick * Study showed more than 10 million germs on average desk * Antimicrobial materials growing in popularity <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> As winterapproaches South African businesses will face an onslaught of germs -and not just from people but from desk ‘germtraps’ too.   Richard Andrews, Managing Director of Inspiration Office, an Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy with head offices in Johannesburg, said that South African companies face losing millions of productive hours because of sickness this winter.   “Germs are everywhere, it’s a fact of life. Also known as microbes, bacteria, bugs and now even super bugs, various types of germs live within us, on us and all around us.   “Many of them keep us healthy and alive, but others pose threats to our well being if our bodies cannot manage them.   ”Andrews notes that according to a Lancaster University study, 72% of people report going to work when they are sick.   “What most people don’t realise is that it’s not just germs from people that spread to colleagues -office surfaces and materials used in the office space can be potent germ transmitters too.   “Germs are loiterers. They can live and thrive on all kinds of surfaces, including—and especially—desks in the workplace. Many office materials harbour germs making them as infectious as a sneezing colleague when you consider 80% of infections can be transmitted by touch, according to the WebMD website.” <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> Andrews added that the problem is likely to exacerbated by the fact that nearly 40% of the workforce is expected to be mobile by 2017.   “Workplaces today need to provide a variety of places for people to work, giving people choice and control over where and how they work. But as employees use shared workstations throughout the day, there is also increased need to minimise sharing harmful bacteria.   “One study by the University of Arizona’s Dr Charles Gerba found more than 10 million germs on the average desk. Crumbs for example that accumulate on desks, are a perfect environment for bacteria and fungi to thrive.   ”Andrews added the transition from assigned “I spaces” to shared “we spaces” globally has created rising demand by companies the world over for the use of antimicrobials in the workspace as a way of fighting back agains the proliferation of germs.   “Antimicrobial agents and coatings are technologies that either kill or slow the growth of microbes.   “We’ve seen an increased demand from our clients in South Africa and across Africa for antimicrobials since we pioneered them in 2011 in South Africa and have had them as standard since then.   “They’re gaining relevance in the workplace as an option to dramatically reduce germs on frequently touched surfaces such as the work surface edge and desk pad, height-adjustment controls, and power and data access points.”   Andrews said that the increased use of antimicrobials is expected to significantly reduce the cost of absent works and the related health care costs as they become a standard feature of office ware over the next decade.   “Antimicrobials show promise as another way to proactively create health-conscious work environments in support of improved worker well being.   “Although antimicrobial materials should not replace or decrease regular cleaning routines or good hygiene practices such as hand washing, coughing into elbows and staying home when sick, they can add another level of potential benefit by sharply reducing germs in the workplace,” Andrews concluded.

Aglet 30th May 2016
Poll reveals South Africans' workplace likes, loathes and wants

Poll reveals South Africans' workplace likes, loathes and wants

<strong>Richard Andrews</strong> Director at Inspiration Office (Pty) Ltd   <ul> <li>Caffeine more important than safety</li> <li>Loud colleagues top list of annoyances</li> <li>Social aspect of work tops list of likes</li> </ul>   A recent survey of 12000 office workers nationwide has revealed the most important things we demand from our workplaces. <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> The survey also uncovered the things we like best and hate most about the place where we spend a third of our lives.Richard Andrews, Managing Director of Inspiration Office, an Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town, said that the poll threw up some surprising findings."We asked people what was the most important thing for them in the workplace and 95% said access to good tea and coffee.""This topped the list ahead of security (91%) and a healthy environment (87%) of what South Africans see as most important in the workplace."Rounding out the most important things was natural light (85%), greenery (71%), canteens (65%) and comfortable chairs (52%)."Essentially it's all the smaller things that people really need to be happy in the workplace," said Andrews.The poll also quizzed people on their biggest annoyances at the workplace.Top of the list was loud colleagues, followed by colleagues who "smelled up the place" by eating lunch at their desk.Third was 'unbearable bosses.'"It seems as many offices move to open plan design, the trend of squeezing more people into less space has brought workers in <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> closer proximity to each other.There is nowhere to hide from other peoples' habits."People talking loudly on the phone, endless talking to colleagues andmaking a general ruckus (88%) topped the list of the biggest peeve."   "This was followed closely by people who eat lunch at their desks thereby smelling up the workspace (76%)."Andrews added that bad bosses (66%) was in third place particularly those that were hyper-critical and micro managers.Lack of privacy also featured with just over 50% citing that as an office downside.   Other strong office dislikes were dreary spaces, long meetings, dress codes and working hours.When asked about the best things about the workplace, the social aspect of meeting new people and becoming friends with certain colleagues was the best thing about the workplaces according to 80% of respondents.Also favourable was the 'learning and personal development' that workplaces offered (61%) and this was followed by 'a place to make money' at 49%.Filling out the remaining office positives was 'stimulation', 'sense of worth', and 'contribution to society.' <div class="canvasWrapper"></div> Andrews said that more businesses in South Africa were moving to address concerns such as those highlighted by the survey."Quiet spaces, places to make private calls and a trend towards more comfortable and relaxed spaces will improve the day to day office experience."

Aglet 25th Mar 2016