“We are building the kind of space we need for the future. We’re building for the employees here now and the eighth graders who will be here one day,” said Michael Ford, general manager of Global Real Estate and Facilities. “In the past, the employee had to flex to the space. Now, the space flexes to the employee.”
The refresh will, of course, be infused with technology, but more important to Microsoft is the employee experience. It will include:
- Apps for wayfinding, parking, intracampus shuttles, transit, and even placing lunch orders
- Driverless vehicle parking/pickup points
- A cricket pitch
- Potentially a food-growing program heated by the buildings servers
Similar projects will be undertaken in Ireland, Israel, Silicon Valley, Brazil and elsewhere.
“Increasingly, green building project teams have attempted to incorporate biophilic design into their projects, but often their efforts amount to adding trees and plants or water features to their buildings. I believe this is because nothing in their training or backgrounds has prepared them for this exercise, and their experience with green building rating systems has trained them to fulfill the minimum requirements of a checklist without thinking past that step. True biophilic design goes much further and deeper.”
This excerpt from Amanda Sturgeon’s new book, Creating Biophilic Buildings, looks at how Google employed biophilic principles in every aspect of their Chicago headquarters design. Google turned a windowless cold storage warehouse into a light-filled space. Key biophilic elements:
- Daylighting promotes circadian rhythms and reduce stress. Task lights with color temperature settings
- Places of refuge – private spaces where employee can feel protected but not unconnected
- Direct visual connections to the outdoors
- Video walls that undulate patterns of nature
She stresses the need for making biophilia part of the design strategy, rather than placing a few green things around as an afterthought.
“Your cognitive capacity is significantly reduced when your smartphone is within reach — even if it’s off. That’s the takeaway finding from a new study from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.
McCombs Assistant Professor Adrian Ward and co-authors conducted experiments with nearly 800 smartphone users in an attempt to measure, for the first time, how well people can complete tasks when they have their smartphones nearby even when they’re not using them.”
The research also found that just having access to your phone reduces your focus and lowers your productivity. Apparently your brain is occupied trying not to pick it up, look at it. or use it.
The NYT recently wrote about a study published by the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport that showed under-desk cycling improved subject's cognitive scores, accuracy, and speed.
The study compared sitting, standing, walking, and under-desk cycling. But before you requisition under-desk pedelers for everyone, be aware the study, while rigorous, only included 9 adults.
IBM pioneered telecommuting. Now it wants people back in the office.
That IBM called back its employees anyway is telling, especially given its history as 'a business whose business was how other businesses do business.' Perhaps Big Blue’s decision will prove to be a mere stumble in the long, inevitable march toward remote work for all. But there’s reason to regard the move as a signal, however faint, that telecommuting has reached its high-water mark—and that more is lost in working apart than was first apparent.
The communications technology offering the fastest, cheapest, and highest-bandwidth connection is still the office.”
This thoughtful article by Jerry Useem in November’s Atlantic offers several rationales for IBM’s about face on remote work, including:
- Need for “collaborative efficiency” – some studies indicate that groups can solve problems faster when working in proximity.
- Research by Ben Waber, a visiting scientist at MIT, who found that people working in an office together traded an average of 38 communications about a problem vs. an average of 8 communications if the workers were in different locations.
- “Radical collocation” – a term coined by Judith Olson, a researcher at UC Irvine. In the late 90s, Ford Motor Company let Olson run an experiment with six teams working on the exact same problem. All six teams worked in war rooms near each other. and all completed their software development projects in about a third of the time normally required for such work.
Our take: These studies by no means prove that remote work is less efficient than co-located work, but they help us understand why some companies might be swayed by reasoning that backs up their hunches.