2018 spool

There are few voices left in Workplace independent of the supply chain. Strangely this has coincided with Workplace being talked about more than ever before. Draw your own conclusions as to what this means.

When I started this blog back in 2011, I aimed for a post a week. I’m down to about two a month now – 25 appeared during 2018, the year in which I also had The Elemental Workplace published, of which over 2,500 have been sold in ten months. There was several reasons I wrote it, explained here and in a more obtuse fashion here. 2018 was also the best year for views of this blog – over 16,000. I’ve committed to writing the second book during 2019, with a view to publication in 2020. There’s still a lot to say.

I had five hopes for Workplace in 2018 – ever the optimist – none of which were realised. We still lack a critical mindset, have become even more subsumed in gobbledygook, pursue design fads, make up our own ideas about what everyone else does and still don’t hear occupier voices. So much for all that. Let’s call them hopes for 2019 and keep going until they change for the better.

I had some fun with my friend Ian Ellison of 3Edges – now the intellectual voice of the newly-re-named IWFM – co-creating a Workplace Leadership Manifesto which will be one of those things that re-surfaces at some future time. At least I hope it will. Ian is one of my very small number of go-to analytical thinkers – along with Nigel Oseland, Kerstin Sailer, Perry Timms and Simon Heath. They often read my blog drafts for sanity and voice, as I’m often closer to the edge than I am comfortable with and they make sure I don’t go over. Thank you, its massively appreciated.

There were a couple of stints of live blogging from the two UK Workplace Trends events. I love doing this, creating as analytical a response as I can while it’s happening and posting on the spot. I also launched The Elemental Workplace at the first US Workplace Trends conference in New York in the Summer, which was a blast.

There was plenty of scope for thinking and writing about the schism in the drastically-underrepresented world of FM as IFMA arrived again and BIFM changed its name to IWFM and lots of people got upset. It seems to have calmed down now, at least for a while. The problem remains however for what is effectively an ‘umbrella’ discipline of getting people to associated with the whole umbrella and not just its constituent parts. There will be more, I’m sure.

Yet if the world of Workplace was dominated by one issue in 2018 it was the latest incarnation of the open plan debate. It led me to create the first (probably) taxonomy of the fourteen workstyles we have known and at least in my own mind put the debate out to grass. The fact that we have accumulated fourteen and not reduced it to one and dispensed with the others means simply that no workstyle is perfect, and that none is able to deal with a small critical number of challenges that present polar opposites. It really is as simple as that.

In the frustration that bubbled through during the final live post of Workplace Trends in October came the conclusion that there is still stuff we all know that we need to all agree that we know so that we can move on and attain a deeper level of insight, which gave rise to the Seven Laws of Workplace. I broke another keyboard writing it. As often happens, it didn’t end there and there are now eight laws. I’m sticking at eight.

I’m still optimistic about Workplace. I still won’t put up with the jargon and the BS. I’ve got a pile of new stuff to publish. I’ll be staying positive for all of 2019 too – nothing critical will come without something constructive. I’ll acknowledge my sources and give my thanks for inspiration and insight. What is fantastic is that even though workessence is over seven years and 290 posts old, it still feels like we’re just getting started. That’s got to be a good thing.

Happy 2019 everyone.