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2019


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Video collaboration & privacy boosting popularity of booths in SA offices 

Video collaboration & privacy boosting popularity of booths in SA offices 

  The rapidly growing trend of video collaboration at work – as well as...

Inspiration 5th Dec 2019
Brain performance in the workplace  

Brain performance in the workplace  

  The key to better brain performance in the workplace It’s been well documented...

Inspiration 12th Nov 2019
Office workers can learn from successful soccer teams

Office workers can learn from successful soccer teams

  The business case for increased collaboration in the workplace keeps getting stronger, according...

Inspiration 15th Oct 2019
What is office agriculture, why is it a worldwide trend?

What is office agriculture, why is it a worldwide trend?

    “Office” and “Agriculture” are two words that are hard to imagine together...

Inspiration 11th Sep 2019
Can the workplace actually make you healthier?

Can the workplace actually make you healthier?

    For many, wellbeing in the workplace means physical health: ergonomic furniture, a...

Inspiration 19th Aug 2019
5 ways to make work more meaningful

5 ways to make work more meaningful

<p> </p> <p>Isla Galloway-Gaul, Managing Director of Inspiration Office, an Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy said: ”When people are engaged, they adopt the vision, values, and purpose of the organisation they work for. They become passionate contributors, innovative problem solvers, and are a joy to work with.</p> <p>According to a Gallup poll called the <em>State of the Global Workplace</em> which studied employee engagement in 142 countries, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work.</p> <p>“The answer to winning back disengaged employees, and keeping the engaged employees engaged, isn’t only pay, perks or promotions. It’s meaning – that is, giving work a greater sense of significance, and making work matter.”</p> <p> </p> <h2>Here are 5 ways to make people more engaged at work:</h2> <p> </p> <ol> <li> <h3><strong>Show people their work matters </strong></h3> <p>- “Make time for employees to explore the purpose--or profound why--of what they do.” So, introduce your team to their customers. Explain how their work helps others. Even in small ways, and encourage them to share their own stories. Reframe the work your team is doing so they can understand how and why they fit into that work.</li> <li> <h3><strong>Create a learning environment to encourage personal growth</strong></h3> <p>- Make space for people to create and execute their own learning plans, offering help along the way. Understand their different learning styles and attention spans, and provide experiences for growth expanding on what they already know, with immediate opportunities for putting into practice at work.</li> <li> <h3><strong>Help make people feel valued and valuable</strong></h3> <p>- “You care about your personal family and friends, but what about your ‘work family,’ whom you probably see the most? Do you ever ask how your employees are doing, and care about what they say?,” said Galloway-Gaul. By showing employees their value, they will feel valued as individuals and in turn, are more likely to live up to their value in the workplace.</li> <li> <h3><strong>Involve people in decisions to create a sense of control, and grant autonomy liberally </strong></h3> <p>- Micromanagement can be a meaning-killer. “Including your employees in decisions and giving them space to get the job done helps them feel less like numbers and more like contributors. Whether it’s where to put the new soda fridge, or how to solve a million-dollar problem, don’t manage in a vacuum,” Galloway-Gaul advised.</li> <li> <h3><strong>Allow people to bring their real self to work</strong></h3> <p>- By being your authentic self, you give employees permission not to check their identities at the door, even if they are quirkier than everyone else. Of course, this must be within the bounds of workplace professionalism.</li> </ol> <h3><strong>Help people see where they fit in the mission, and that the mission depends on them to achieve it</strong></h3> <p>- “Employees will never think their work matters if they don’t know that they matter. Achieve this by showing them the long-term vision and how they fit in it and contribute to - beyond the org chart of course,” said Galloway-Gaul.</p> <p>View our:  <a href="https://inspirationoffice.co.za/2019/03/25/6-innovative-ways-companies-are-changing-the-workplace/">6 innovative ways companies are changing the workplace</a> for more.</p>

Inspiration 10th Jul 2019
Turns out there is an ‘I’ in team: why today’s offices need a reboot

Turns out there is an ‘I’ in team: why today’s offices need a reboot

<p> </p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana',sans-serif; color: black;">The notion of teamwork is not new, and for most of the twentieth-century teams functioned like an assembly line, focusing on areas of expertise and the division of tasks. </span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt; min-height: 13px;"><span style="color: black;"> </span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana',sans-serif; color: black;">“But this siloed work style ended up slowing things down, causing errors and overlooked opportunities,” said Isla Galloway-Gaul, Managing Director of <a href="https://inspirationoffice.co.za/">Inspiration Office</a>, Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy. </span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt; min-height: 13px;"><span style="color: black;"> </span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana',sans-serif; color: black;">“To combat this problem, that paradigm gave way in many organisations to open plan offices. According to global office architects and furniture designers Steelcase, 69 percent of all offices now have an open floor plan. But work in these settings is mostly an independent pursuit, interspersed with team meetings and water cooler conversations.</span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt; min-height: 13px;"><span style="color: black;"> </span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana',sans-serif; color: black;">Said Galloway-Gaul: “Without question, the need to reboot the corporate workplace is overdue because while the processes and activities of teams today have dramatically changed, some businesses spaces have not kept up.” </span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt; min-height: 13px;"><span style="color: black;"> </span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana',sans-serif; color: black;">Today work gets done through networks and lateral relationships. Employees who once operated in different universes must come together in interdependent, fluid teams. The spaces that best support this kind of work is designed specifically for teams while embracing the needs of all the constituent individuals. </span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt; min-height: 13px;"><span style="color: black;"> </span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana',sans-serif; color: black;">“Forget the adage that ‘there is no ‘I’ in team,” said Galloway-Gaul. “Teams are made up of individuals. We need to design for multidisciplinary teamwork in a way that also gives the individual what they need to do their best work.”</span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt; min-height: 13px;"><span style="color: black;"> </span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana',sans-serif; color: black;">Therefore there is a growing demand for user control over spaces—people want to be able to adapt spaces at the pace of the project, and to give team members agency in defining how the ‘me’ and the ‘we’ need to work together at a given time.“</span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt; min-height: 13px;"><span style="color: black;"> </span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana',sans-serif; color: black;">But right now, although many organisations have become nimble, there are still businesses in which employees need to file requests with facilities and end up waiting weeks for the changes they’ve asked for.  Galloway-Gaul noted. “Project work moves through different phases and each phase has its own set of activities. It’s important that the space can evolve with the project.” </span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt; min-height: 13px;"><span style="color: black;"> </span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana',sans-serif; color: black;">So what do teams need from their work environments? </span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt; min-height: 13px;"><span style="color: black;"> </span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana',sans-serif; color: black;">Teams need a sense of shared purpose, cohesion and identity to be able to successfully work together and build on each others’ ideas. Galloway-Gaul said companies should consider three things to help their teams excel.</span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt; min-height: 13px;"><span style="color: black;"> </span></p> <h3 style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana',sans-serif; color: black;">Build a home for teams</span></h3> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana',sans-serif; color: black;">The role of team space is bigger than just supporting the work itself. It’s also about the human dimension. The team space should reflect and encourage the type of practices and working style of the team where they can foster a sense of identity, cohesion and trust.</span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt; min-height: 13px;"><span style="color: black;"> </span></p> <h3 style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana',sans-serif; color: black;">Flex space to process </span></h3> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana',sans-serif; color: black;">Teams need a dynamic space that keeps up with their process and keeps them in flow. The space should let teams in rapid cycles reorganise in a natural, spontaneous way.</span></p> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt; min-height: 13px;"><span style="color: black;"> </span></p> <h3 style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana',sans-serif; color: black;">Empower teams</span></h3> <p style="margin: 0cm; margin-bottom: .0001pt;"><span style="font-family: 'Verdana',sans-serif; color: black;">Teams need control over their environments to cope rapidly with individual preferences and project needs. Empower teams and individuals to make quick adjustments to their space on demand to keep projects moving. </span></p> <p></p>

Inspiration 5th Jun 2019
The four megatrends that affect our way of working

The four megatrends that affect our way of working

During the last decade, the workspace has undergone a dramatic change but it pales in comparison to how new organisational structures will impact the way of working as we move towards 2020. Isla Galloway-Gaul, Managing Director of<span style="color: #808080"> <a style="color: #808080" href="https://inspirationoffice.co.za">Inspiration Office</a></span>, an Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy said: “Our ways of working have changed as many societies become wealthier, as consumers demand new types of products and services and as we constantly seek to increase productivity.” She notes that there are four megatrends, which will have a profound impact on how we work: <h4><strong>The rise of mobile knowledge workers</strong></h4> A knowledge worker uses research skills to define a problem, identify possible solutions, communicate this information and then works on one or several of these possible solutions. “The rise of knowledge workers sets new requirements for office design. Knowledge work is flexible, and knowledge workers are far more likely than other types of workers to work from home and be more mobile. “The design of the work environment must be adapted to specific work needs as well as suit personal preferences, “ Galloway-Gaul noted. <h4><strong>A burst of new technology</strong></h4> For more than 30 years, IT and mobile advancements have had a profound influence on how we work and it’s likely this exponential advance will continue. A few emerging technologies are already so advanced that it is possible to gauge their future influence. For example, the Internet of Things, a connected network of physical devices, can connect and exchange data, resulting in efficiency improvements, economic benefits, and reduced human efforts. Real-time speech recognition and translation will support easier communications between different language speakers and big data will allow companies to recognise patterns and make better decisions. <h4><strong>From Generation X to Generation Y</strong></h4> Generation X describes people born from the early 60s to the early 80s, many of whom hold now senior and work-influential positions in society today. Generation Y, often referred to as millennials, represent the generation that followed Generation X. Said Galloway-Gaul: “Looking ahead to understand how our ways of working will change, it is necessary to understand what Generation Y need from their workplace, what their characteristics are like and how differently they see the world.” For example, millennials tend to be more family-centric which means they are willing to trade higher pay for a better work-life balance. They are also the most tech-savvy generation which makes remote work possible, even desirable. They are achievement orientated and seek frequent new challenges. <h4><strong>Globalisation and the pressure to perform</strong></h4> Globalisation affects how we work in at least two ways. “Firstly, there is a now a larger, global talent pool available which means talent is more geographically dispersed and culturally diverse. "As we head towards 2020, people will increasingly work with co-workers they have never met before,” Galloway-Gaul said. Secondly, globalisation increases the pressure to perform. Previously companies could produce goods and have a secure home market with limited competition. “Now many products are sold at similar or more cost-effective prices with the same or better service, and innovation is copied by competitors within weeks. This puts the question of whether work or services should be outsourced to other countries on the strategic agenda of any corporation,” Galloway-Gaul concluded.

Inspiration 17th May 2019
How Artificial Intelligence is growing in the workplace

How Artificial Intelligence is growing in the workplace

<p>So far the effects of Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been slow to reveal themselves in businesses in South Africa but the scale of the oncoming change is starting to become apparent overseas.</p> <p>Isla Galloway-Gaul, Managing Director of Inspiration Office, an Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy said: “AI’s influence is growing in the workplace and will bring substantial change to South African offices in the next few years as machine learning, task automation and robotics are increasingly used in business.”</p> <p>She noted that the ability of computers to learn, rather than be programmed, puts a wide range of complex roles within reach of automation for the first time.</p> <p><strong>Bots and virtual assistants</strong><br /> As machine-learning trained systems gain the ability to understand speech and language, so the prospect of automated chatbots is becoming a reality.</p> <p>One example is UK electronics retailer Dixons Carphone, which used the Microsoft Bot Framework and Microsoft Cognitive Services to create a conversational bot.</p> <p>Google demonstrated the potential of chatbots last year with its demo of its Duplex system. Duplex rang up businesses such as restaurants and hairdressers booking an appointment while sounding and behaving enough like a human.</p> <p>“Household names are also muscling into the area of creating a virtual assistant for the enterprise space like Amazon’s Alexa for Business. With many AI-assisted technologies, the aim of using chatbots and virtual assistants appears to be either making existing employees more effective or replacing manual roles,“ noted Galloway-Gaul.</p> <p><strong>Workplace Sensor technology and analytics</strong><br /> Huge amounts of data can now be collected from inexpensive sensors applied to smart decisions. For example, South African workplace sensing technology company MakeSense allows businesses to accurately assess just how much of their workplaces they actually use, likely saving a lot of money in the process.</p> <p>It works by placing small sensors around the office which analyses peoples’ movement.</p> <p>“Workspace occupancy sensing technology helps businesses understand how desks, meeting rooms and breakout spaces are used in extraordinary detail. For example on average 40% of people don’t turn up to meetings so many meetings room are probably too big and are wasted space and cost.”</p> <p><strong>Machine vision in the workplace</strong><br /> Machine vision is an area of AI that could allow the automation of many manual roles that until recently would have been considered too complex for a computer system to handle.<br /> A case is point is Amazon Go, a grocery store, where shoppers just pick up what they want and walk out of the shop with their goods. The system works by using cameras dotted throughout the store to track what each shopper picks up. The shopper is charged when they leave, via an Amazon app on their smartphone.</p> <p><strong>Robots in the workplace</strong><br /> Robots are nothing new in the workplace, having been a fixture in car manufacturing plants for decades.<br /> “But what's different today is that robots are beginning to be used for less repetitive and predictable tasks. Robots can increasingly cope with a greater deal of uncertainty in their environment, broadening the tasks they can take on and opening the possibility of working more closely alongside humans.” Galloway-Gaul noted. Amazon again is leading the way in using robots to improve efficiency inside its warehouses. Its knee-high warehouse robots carry products to human pickers who select items to be sent out.</p> <p><strong>Robotic Process Automation</strong><br /> Back office tasks like data entry, accounting, human resources and supply-chain management are full of repetitive and semi-predictable tasks.<br /> Increasingly, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software is used to capture the rules that govern how people process transactions, manipulate data and send data to and from computer systems, in an attempt to then use those rules to build an automated platform that can perform those roles.</p> <p>“Change is therefore coming to all workspaces all around the world; the trick will be getting AI to help business grow and work well with humans,” Galloway-Gaul concluded.</p>

Aglet 15th Apr 2019
Why the pod is popping up everywhere in offices in South Africa

Why the pod is popping up everywhere in offices in South Africa

The pod — a small, free-standing box or space that is typically soundproof and designed to fit just one or two people — is taking over offices in South Africa according one of the country’s biggest office space and furniture consultancies. And there is good reason for the rise in its popularity. Isla Galloway-Gaul, Managing Director of Inspiration Office said: “Privacy pods that allow you to meet or talk on the phone without others overhearing, or work in complete silence, have been installed in many offices ranging from start ups to large companies with thousands of employees. “We have experienced rising demand for pods over the past few years and expect them to become increasingly popular in offices in South Africa.” One of the biggest reasons for companies installing pods in their public spaces is people’s need for silence and privacy. “We all need periods of silence, especially at work,” said Galloway-Gaul. “Working and commuting in busy urban environments is putting a lot of noise and busyness pressure on our lifestyles.” People around the world tend to spend increasing numbers of hours at work compared to decades past, and because of the rise of open plan offices we need the option to go somewhere quiet and carry on working. “While many people like open plan offices, others find in makes for a more difficult work environment by creating more stress, reducing productivity and lowering job satisfaction. Most people struggle with concentration anyway, even without interruptions and elevated noise levels,“ she added. Privacy pods are an ideal solution and easily installed. “They do away with the need to build entirely new private rooms, can be added and removed according to need and as they are small, can be slotted in without making much change to the overall offices space or aesthetic. They are also much more cost effective and far less disruptive than making wholesale changes to an office,” said Galloway-Gaul. “Companies can still have uncluttered open offices and accommodate those who need quiet.” Another reason behind the rise of the pod? “An increased focus on wellness,” said Galloway-Gaul. “There are a lot of introverts in the world that need a place to go to think and recharge,” she said. “And even those who aren’t, may want a few moments of peace every so often.” Productivity is another factor. Pods make it more convenient for people to work more, thereby increasing productivity. Productivity in the workplace is vital to support an efficient business and enhance the bottom line, but it is apparent that a lot of employees feel that they are sometimes restricted by the environment around them. Said Galloway-Gaul: “Organisations must create as much choice as possible to enable employees to vary noise levels to meet their needs depending on what they're working on. “There is a growing demand for pods around the world. It’s a growth area and one that could be a disrupter to how companies plan their spaces.”

Aglet 15th Apr 2019
Meet your new team member - the room

Meet your new team member - the room

Digital assistants and smart rooms with environmental systems will soon be so sensitive to our workplace needs that they will feel like conscientious colleagues eager to meet our every command. Isla Galloway-Gaul, Managing Director of Inspiration Office, an Africa-wide office space and furniture consultancy said “It’s time to start thinking of your office space as a team member because of how it will interact with you and your colleagues. “We expect the development of environmental systems that operate like friendly, artificial intelligence platforms that, while not sentient and emotionally developed in a human sense, can detect our moods and impulses with facial-and-speech-recognition software and brain-reading devices.” She said the systems could for example sense when we’re drifting off in a meeting, and could nudge us to get a drink to refresh ourselves. Said Galloway-Gaul: “In the immediate future, we see the growing popularity of digital personal assistants, such as Cortana and Google Assistant, and intelligent furnishings, in the workplace.” For example a conference table equipped with microphones and speech-processing software could understand and summarise conversations happening around it. Through such integrated, intelligent systems linked to the cloud, a room will be able to anticipate the needs of the team within it - bringing up past documents or project logs - or encouraging participation by nudging quiet team members to share their opinions. With this new level of detection and analysis, environments hold the potential to enhance human performance by getting to know us personally. “Rooms will become personalised to our software habits and preferences, knowing which platforms, news feeds and applications we gravitate toward. In the same way a smartwatch tells us how many calories we’ve burned and hours we’ve slept, augmented rooms and surfaces will track our behaviours through data pulled from our devices and bio-informed sensors—adjusting lighting, visual privacy, acoustics and temperature with algorithms sensitive to our personal preferences,” Galloway-Gaul added. Over time, the design of intelligent rooms and user inter-faces will become more humanistic and intuitive, articulated in architecture and furnishings reflecting a range of postures, work modes, light levels and acoustic qualities. The introvert may find she does her best work in a private, solitary room encased in soundproof glass. The extrovert may prefer to prepare to do his year-end report in a busy café, while listening to loud music. “Both will come to see spaces as a partner in the work process,” said Galloway-Gaul. Privacy is a concern however as these systems will get to know us very well. “As rooms begin to listen to us and data becomes easier to harvest, the security and privacy of employee information will become the concern of every organisation.” Galloway-Gaul noted that Europe has recently taken the lead in digital privacy by establishing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which lays out sweeping individual rights over your personal data. “Controlling digital stimulation and the data it gathers will be increasingly important as systems become ever more sophisticated,“ Galloway-Gaul concluded.

Aglet 15th Apr 2019