Realising Smartworking – presentation as part of Clerkenwell Design Week 2017

Realising Smartworking, by Nathan Hurley, from the Research and Insight department at Orangebox.


Nathan talked about the changes in our workplace, with a focus on activity-based working, looking at increased effectiveness.

Rules have changed, it’s about creating connections between people, not furniture.

Places should allow us to work collaboratively and privately, 

Spaces need to promote productivity, as we have to solve increasingly complex work settings that are often project critical.

Nathan shared 4 key ideas on Smartworking.

1. Liquid workforce (reference to Accenture paper from 2016)

Agility is the new norm. as office space continues to reduce. Decentralised workplaces, with allocated space shrinking, down to about 12.5 Sqm 

More diverse, multi-faceted, multiple options for new work settings.

Pods, quick conversation, short meeting, long study time on your own

Drive of change, express agility by embedding the assumption of constant change across the enterprise.

Unassigned space, so if you’re working with HR you go and sit next to them.

Training, online portal for staff on various programmes;

Allows them to access critical skills sooner, innovate faster, operate more effectively,

Digitally powered workforce is changing how they work as what they do

GE speeded up new product ‘Fast Works’ more fluid with their structure, the liquid workforce is rapidly becoming the new normal, as traditional methods can’t keep up.

2. Privacy, Permission, Proximity.

Need to be in balance. individuals need to feel confident that they can work or converse without being interrupted or overheard, in an open plan office environment.

Control of acoustics is very very important. *Permission, people will only accept office spaces to work and collaborate in if company culture, reinforced by management, designated it as such.

Such as JP Morgan who are saying there should be no more ties worn by men as informality is the new norm. New large businesses have change managers. *Proximity; space planning design must drive traffic to shared spaces and give people powerful reasons to remain, with spaces for dwell time.


3. Control

We need to control stimulation depending on the type of work undertaken.

a. Controlled attention, when we need to think deeply with no interruptions.

b. Stimulus-driven attention, switch easily between tasks.

c. Rejuvenation and reflection, need a respite from concentrated work, 5 mins after one hour of concentrated work. Need breaks, a big cultural issue in UK like the USA. Unlike in Scandinavia, with their cultural habits of sharing refreshments and taking breaks.

d. Enabling high-performance teams. Collaboration, not down to personality, but the compelling direction, strong structure and mix of ages and gender, skills, number, Supportive context, need skills, technology and resources.


4. Shared Mindset

Common understanding and identity, an agile workforce will only flourish in an organisation that is prepared and equipped to bend and flex.

There is a need for solutions for connecting people, Orangebox focuses on Smart working furniture. 

Accept there are space hungry components, such as meeting rooms and fixed desks.

But by being smart with acoustics, a booth or pod, which is a saving space tool, is effective.

Work table for numerous with hot-desking, or one large seat to accommodate 2 people, migration around the office is critical to the success of smart working. Staff work with laptops and Surface Pros.

Use case studies to educate people than smart working is a positive approach. Such as Do visualisation, AR furniture, from Cardiff.

The Link at University of Birmingham
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