The Future of. . . (June 2012)

Here is a small sample of the stories and developments we are paying attention to these days. It’s our way of helping you stay on top of developments in the worlds of technology, workplace and facilities design, the workforce, and work design—any and all of which are going to affect the future of work, often in ways we can’t even imagine.

“How office design affects employee morale and productivity”

This article (by Stephanie Fanger) in the latest issue of IFMA’s Facilities Management Journal begins with a brief history of office design and then focuses on efforts to link the workplace with workforce performance. I especially liked the two case studies (Glaxo Smith Kline and Procter & Gamble), and the closing table that lists the pros and cons of open and closed office environments. It’s a very useful summary of an important topic that remains elusive for too many facilities professionals (thanks to my colleague Marcus Bowen for catching this one).


“The Power of Networks”

My good friend and colleague Jessica Lipnack (one of the genuine pioneers in the field of remote/distributed teams and organizational networks; she and Jeff Stamps were teaching us how to lead distributed teams over 20 years ago) just found a fascinating video presentation on networks—at a very generic/conceptual level.

The link above is to a post on Jessica’s blog, Endless Knots, which in turn will take you to the presentation by Manuel Lima, the lead “user interface designer at Microsoft Bing.” It’s about 11 minutes long, and worth every minute. Very thought-provoking.


A Rising Tower

It may have been published in “Time for Kids” (Time Magazine), but it’s a story for all of us; the new One World Trade Center building has just passed 100 stories, and is already taller than the Empire State Building. It’s a real tribute to the fortitude of New York City (and the dreams of the building’s developer), and a proud symbol of a stubborn unwillingness to give in to terrorists. Now, the question is, who is going to lease all that space—and put themselves that high above the ground?


Talkin’ About Their Generations: The Workforce of the 50s and Today

Workforce Management magazine is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year with a series of articles tracing some of the history of the workforce and management. The April 26-28 issue contains a fascinating story of the workforce demographics of the 1950’s, with some important comparisons to the 2012 workforce. Issues like jobs, career progression, retirement, and women in the workforce were talked about 60 years ago, but as you might imagine, the comments were a whole lot different then than they are now.


“For Google, the office is key to success”

This article appeared in late April in the Toronto Globe and Mail; it focuses on Canadian-born David Radcliffe, Vice President of Real Estate and Services at Google—but the value of the article is the light it sheds on why Google invests so much in its facilities. As Radcliffe says, “We call it Googliness – how do we create an environment that supports culture, transparency and collaboration? “How do we create facilities that allow people to excel?” And why does Google want people in the office, in contrast to so many organizations that are pushing people out into a mobile world?


“Leap Motion puts computers to work with gestures”

Do you “talk” with your hands? Would you find it useful to tell your computer what to do by waving your arms around, or by pointing a finger at the screen to write on it, or to move some windows around?

You just might be able to do exactly that in the near future. Leap Motion is a high-tech startup that will soon be marketing a little black box that serves as a new kind of human-computer interface. It is based on the same kind of technology that gives Microsoft’s Kinect for the Xbox the power to let us play video games by waving our hands and arms. And the founder of Leap Motion is just 23 years old!


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  1. […] issue also includes our regular series, “The Future of . . .” that highlights provocative research, stories, and ideas that are affecting the future of work, […]

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