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Be Sure to Attend Worktech14 in San Francisco

Date: 9 October

Venue: 221 Main Street, San Francisco, in the heart of SoMa

40% of all Americans between 18 and 36 prefer an urban setting; how will this impact the Future of Work? Find out at WORKTECH14 West Coast.

WORKTECH will be heading to San Francisco once again, with another insightful Future of Work conference. On 9th October 2014, we will gather at SOMA, 221 Main Street to focus on the alignment of business strategy and the workplace, and hear from renowned international and local thought leaders.

Breaking News:

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De Uno, Plures (From One, Many)

As I reflect on the history of work on this Labor Day holiday (in the United States) I am thinking that I don’t need a workplace; I need many workplaces.

Of course, I can only be in one place at a time. But sometimes I need to be in one place, and sometimes in another.

I am a knowledge worker. I use my head to create value. Sure, I use my hands too, but mostly just to hit some little square pieces of plastic in a particular sequence that produces images of text on a computer screen. Sometimes I hold a pen or pencil and spread ribbons of ink (or graphite) on paper as another way to create and capture my ideas. But however I record my musings, it’s what goes on in my head that matters.

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Cornell Professor Frank Becker: “I’m very excited about the Workplace Strategy Summit”

The IFMA Foundation Workplace Strategy Summit will convene in just two weeks at Wokefield Park, just north of London (8-10 June). There are still seats available, and you really don’t want to miss this very special event. Attendance is limited to 160 of the smartest, best-informed workplace experts in the world (including you, if you register now).

Our official host is Alexi Marmot, Director of AMA – Alexi Marmot Associates Ltd., [continue reading...]

Hear Alexi Marmot talking about the Workplace Strategy Summit

The IFMA Foundation Workplace Strategy Summit will convene in just two weeks at Wokefield Park, just north of London (8-10 June). There are still seats available, and you really don’t want to miss this very special event. Attendance is limited to 160 of the smartest, best-informed workplace experts in the world (including you, if you register now).

Our official host is Alexi Marmot, Director of AMA – Alexi Marmot Associates Ltd., [continue reading...]

Smartphones and Workplaces, Oh My!

My most recent “Talking About Tomorrow” hosted conversation was deep into a fascinating discussion about the “consumerization” of the workplace, when one of the participants commented “I think the smartphone has had a bigger impact on the workplace than the laptop ever did.”

Really? Hasn’t the laptop practically replaced the standard desktop computer, reduced space requirements, cut costs, and enabled millions of workers to work almost anywhere? How could a mobile phone even dream of having as dramatic an impact on the way we work?

Stay with me for a moment.

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The Workplace IS Strategic: Take it from a CEO (Part Two)

Last week I described how in 2001 Joe Hagan, the Chief Executive Officer of National Equity Fund (NEF) led a highly strategic workplace redesign and relocation project that had a major impact on the company’s culture and economic survival  (see “The Workplace IS Strategic: Take it from a CEO“).

Now, in 2014, NEF is getting ready to move once again. Why? The office still looks very much like it did in 2001, and the staff still likes working there. The company continues to be an industry leader; it’s not in need of a dramatic turnaround.

But – and this is both obvious and critical – much has changed over the last decade. The last five years have been a very tough time in the financial services sector. The “Great Depression” and the housing debacle have put incredible economic pressure on NEF and its competitors (to say nothing of publicly funded housing).

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The workplace IS strategic: take it from a CEO

Picture this: On the first day that a Chicago-based financial services company moved into a new – and dramatically redesigned – workplace, two employees bumped into each other in the hallway. One said to the other, “Who are you? Why are you walking around our office?” The other replied, “I work here – I’ve worked here for several years.”

They had never seen each other before, even though the company’s headquarters office is home to only about 115 employees.

Today that company – National Equity Fund (NEF), a nonprofit financial services organization that constructs deals to fund affordable housing projects across the United States – is an industry leader that enjoys low staff turnover, high productivity, and a reputation as a high-energy, compelling place to work. It’s characterized by open collaboration and a free-flowing, can-do culture.

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What’s the Common Good?

Several hundred years ago most villages had at their center a “commons” – an area of public land that served not only as a meeting place (the “public square”) but usually also as grazing land for the villagers’ cows, sheep, and other animals. It was a shared space that offered food and protection for individuals who were members of the community. Ownership of the Commons was shared by everyone who lived in the village.

Now it’s April 15: here in the United States it is tax day – the day many of us mail our checks, at the last minute, to the Internal Revenue Service. And while it always hurts to pay taxes, I view them as our investment in society as a whole – our “dues” for having a healthy, safe environment to live and work in, and for having an infrastructure that provides us with those things (schools, roads, national defense, and so on) we cannot build by ourselves.

Our federal and local governments are the means by which we design, build, and manage our modern-day Commons. All of which makes me think about what kinds of corporate infrastructures are needed today, and where the boundaries lie between public and private support capabilities.

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Three Special Events

There are three important professional events coming up over the next couple of months that you should seriously consider attending. Here’s a quick overview of each of them, with links to where you can find more information and register to attend them.

WorkTech14 – New York City (May 15)

This one-day event sponsored by Unwired is one of about 20 similar gatherings that will take place in major cities all over the world in 2014. [continue reading...]

Is the Future of Work Hidden in Germany?

Over that past five years the United States has lived with high unemployment that rivals what this country experienced during the Great Depression. As we all hear in the news almost daily, there are now millions of long-term unemployed, many of whose jobs have disappeared and will most likely never return.

However, the picture in Germany today is very different. As New York Times op-ed contributor Glenn Hutchins observes:

In 2009, Germany suffered a more precipitous drop in gross domestic product than the United States, but it experienced almost no change in unemployment.

(see “Work Like a German,” March 14, 2014)

While unemployment almost doubled in the United States after the Wall Street meltdown, in Germany it hardly budged. Today German unemployment is actually lower than it was before the “Great Recession” and – even more impressively – long-term unemployment is virtually non-existent. How could that be? Read more