Agile Work News

  • The WE:Brief is brought to you by our generous sponsors.

    If you would like to become a sponsor of WE, please contact Kate North (

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  • Upcoming WE events…Find one near you

    From its inception, WE has desired to be a truly global community to expand our collective workplace intelligence and build a network of workplace strategist throughout the world. More than a dozen WE HUBs already exist in Sweden, Australia, and in cities across North America. 


    WE’d love to see you at one of these upcoming WE events:


    • April 16 & 17, Pollinator & WE PDX, Portland OR
    • April 19 WEbinar: Mobility in the Workplace 
    • May 15-17, WE at WorldWorkplace Europe, Barcelona
    • June 18-22, NYC WE:HUB, Workplace Week, New York NY
    • June 19-20, WE at Facility Fusion, Québec City
    • June 20, WE:HUB Smartworking Summit, London


    Stay tuned to for updates!


    Don’t see an event near you? Maybe you should start a HUB in your city! Message Kati Barklund (Europe) or Eric Johnson for details.

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  • Study quantifies the impact of diversity in leadership on innovation revenue and margins

    Want to generate inventive new ideas that can win in the market? Build management teams comprising people with the widest possible range of backgrounds and perspectives.


    A new study from Boston Consulting Group quantifies the benefit of diversity on innovation and financial performance.

    The report points to the fact that people with different backgrounds and experiences often see the problem in new ways. Specific findings included:

    • Companies with above average diversity scores averaged 45% income from products and services launched in the past three years. Those with below-average scores averaged just 26% innovation income.
    • Margins for the above-average group were 9 percentage points higher than the low diversity group.
    • The biggest payoff came from diversity in national origin, industry backgrounds, gender and career path. Age and educational focus showed impact too, but to a lesser extent.

    There’s lot’s more to read here, so if innovation is important to you (and it should be), take the time to read the whole thing.

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  • 1 in 5 young UK millennials have said “no thanks” to poor office design.

    Over a fifth of millennials have turned their back on a job because of the poor design of an office: 16%t of 18-24 year olds said that they have left a job because of how poorly designed the office was, while 31% of UK workers said their working environment makes is uninspired.


    Amenities Checklist:

    • Kitchen – check
    • Meeting rooms – check
    • Free coffee – check
    • Ability to attract young talent – uncheck

    What do they really care about?

    • Natural light
    • Air conditioning
    • Interior lighting
    • Doggie daycare
    • Breakout areas that offer privacy

    Admittedly, Mindspace has skin in the game, but this isn’t the first study that shows what employers think their people want and what they really want is pretty darn different.

    The bottom line:  Ask them (the people you’re trying to attract) what matters to them.

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  • What Neuroscience is Telling Us about Designing for Creativity and Innovation

    “It seems two very different behaviors optimize creative thinking for innovation processes…If we never rest, can’t focus, or don’t work with each other, we miss out on finding new ideas and fail to execute them.”


    This new paper from Haworth gets at the brain science behind creativity and innovation. Though the terms are often used in close proximity or even interchangeably, they are completely different. Importantly, the kind of physical environment that supports one, is all wrong for the other.

    Key takeaways:

    • There’s a sweet spot that’s ‘just right’ for creativity to flourish. It’s where distractions, stress, and emotions are not high enough to sabotage our ability to focus, but not so low that we’re bored.
    • Innovation occurs when people create together. It requires both group focus and periods of socializing.
    • Serendipitous interactions—particularly among people with diverse backgrounds—fuel innovation, but ‘protected areas’ where teams can feel safe amongst themselves are important too.

    • A supportive work culture is equally, if not more important than the physical environment. People need to be psychologically empowered to move between spaces as they choose. They need to feel valued, appreciated, and supported by their colleagues and by leadership. They need to feel psychologically safe to stare out the window, take a walk, share what they know, offer a different point of view, or fail.

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  • Circulation space…you need more than you may think. Let’s do the math.

    An common miscalculation in circulation space can underestimate usable area requirements by between 9% and 20%; a very significant difference that has both practical and legal ramifications.



    This article explains how a simple error in the application of a circulation multiplier in a space program can have serious consequences, putting your firm at risk for advising the client to purchase, build, or lease a space that is too small for their needs. It is a simple error, one the authors have seen made by well-known firms.

    The bottom line is, if you want 30% circulation space in a 10,000 square foot area, you need multiply the program elements (e.g., offices, workstations, meeting rooms, support areas) by 42.86%, not 30%.

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  • The high cost of poor health: The latest from Willis Towers Watson

    “The Willis Towers Watson Global Benefits Attitudes Survey (GBAS) survey takes an in-depth look at the role of benefits in defining and differentiating today’s employee value proposition.


    The high cost of poor health is just one of the many startling findings in Willis Towers Watson’s biennial survey of over 31,000 global employees. In particular, when compared to employees in good health, those in poor health:

    • Take twice the number sick days
    • Are twice as likely to be disengaged
    • Three times more likely to report above-average or high stress

    Employees with financial worries fare even worse than those with poor physical health. That’s critical because financial well-being has taken a nose-dive in most developed countries.

    • In the U.S, short-term financial security dropped 13 percentage points between 2015 and 2017 (from 48% to 38% reporting they feel secure).
    • More than half of global employees live from paycheck to paycheck and report they’d be unable to come up with $2k if they suddenly needed it. 

    In spite of all the attention employers are paying to health and well-being programs, less than a third of U.S., Canada, and EMEA employees feel the initiatives have helped them live healthier lives. 

    The report suggests employers focus on:

    • Financial counseling, tools, and training
    • Flexibility and choice among well-being programs
    • Increasing employee engagement with programs


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  • The New Financial Workplace Report from HOK offers valuable insights for players in any sector.

    “An investigation of the forces reshaping the financial industry and how workplace design can position companies for success.”


    This report covers the threats and challenges this and many others sectors are facing such as new entrants, rapidly changing technologies, talent wars, and a loss of public trust. From benchmark space metrics to cryptocurrencies, this 36 page report is a must-read.


    • For every $4 Scotiabank spends on space, they spend $1 on technology
    • “The huge issue is AI and we are all trying to figure out if we will need the growth we are planning for.”
    • Space and technology go hand in hand. If you don’t build the technology to support the great spaces there is no point.
    • Many Ivy League graduates once drawn to the compensation and prestige of a Wall Street job are instead opting for the tech sector, where they see fewer regulations inhibiting innovation and more opportunities for explosive growth.

    If any of this interests you, you really need to read the full report. 

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  • People analytics: Coming to a workplace near you

    “Advice on how to make the best use of HR data analytics from the Work Rebooted conference in San Francisco.


    Computers can crunch far more data than we could ever hope to but don’t forget humans are still better at understanding what it all means. Remember the DIKW pyramid : Data + analytics = information, Information + context = knowledge, Knowledge + experience = wisdom. Machines are great at analytics, good at context, and getting better at experience (machine learning), but human interpretation is still key to making wise decisions. 

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  • Collaboration: The Great Creativity Killer

    The best organisational cultures are tolerant of the loner, the thinker. – John Wade “If I was you,” said a colleague recently “now would be a very good time to involve customers, to get more people involved”. No, I thought, right now that would be the worst thing we could do. Collaboration can kill creativity.…


    People do their best thinking in private, NOT in groups. Over 800 studies show this to be true. So why do we keep building open workplaces under the guise of increased Innovation? 


    When is collaboration useful?

    • When dealing with complex problems that span a range of disciplines
    • For getting buy-in
    • When dealing with fundamental and/or strategic problems


    When isn’t it?

    • You really need to think
    • You need radical thinking
    • When you need a quick solution
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