when space matters (for collaboration, innovation & knowledge transfer

)
in the build up to KMUK 2013, I asked the speakers to reflect on the importance of space. This is a summary of the responses with a few of my observations thrown in for good measure.

24 June 2013

contents
observations from the chair a summary of ‘findings’ ‘my’ workspace encourages collaboration does not encourage collaboration memorable moments (where) collaboration innovation knowledge transfer reflection where and how (you work) making a case for radical change? positive impacts negative impacts and where the jury is still out interesting conversations (where) its about a frame of mind and people as much as location real vs. virtual workspace a symbiotic relationship importance of f2f contact appendices & bibliography why space matters postcards as a stimulus for conversation
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“…probably the best coffee in the World” about the author

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acknowledgements
The report has been made possible thanks to the input of: Alim Khan Alison Turner Barney Smith Chris Collison Christine Rubner Hultmann Ditte Kolbeck Dr Bonnie Cheuk Dr Susanne Etti Gwenda Sippings Jean-Pierre Bouchez Louise Lorton Margaret McNaull Mark Field Nick Milton Paul J Corney Rob Benson Ron Young Stephen Perry Sue Mucenieks
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observations from the chair
Work space matters! In my early days cramming for exams I’d seek a quiet spot. I craved solitude to concentrate but contact (body language, expressions as well as sounds) to stimulate creative juices and share experiences.
I’ve recognized as I’ve worked with and in different cultures that there is no ‘silver bullet’. Individuals need different environments and surroundings to be creative and to share. And they need time. Here’s an example: Over dinner some years back I was seated next to two authors who confessed to widely differing methods of stimulating their thought processes: “I always keep a notepad by my desk to record thoughts I’d had while asleep”; “I take a recorder with me when walking the dog as that’s where I get me best inspiration” Today much of what ‘knowledge workers’ do is driven by the need to collaborate: with peers, clients, management, stakeholders and competitors. A lot of that collaboration is now conducted in virtual workspaces using social media tools, in their infancy a decade ago when the first KMUK event was held. So I thought it might be interesting to repeat the exercise my colleagues at Sparknow and I ran with the delegates at KM Europe (the last to be held in the UK) in 2002. We asked 6 questions about their workspace (environment and practices) and how they thought virtual working might impact them in the future. I am indebted to those KMUK 2013 speakers who responded this time.
This exercise is an effective cross cultural way of getting people to think differently about a task or challenge: the change of venue and ‘profession’ proving a catalyst for innovative thought and sharing. So many interesting exchanges take place around water coolers, coffee machines and even going to and from prayers (in the Middle East). Organisations that recognise and exploit these opportunities are pursuing a strategy of what I’d describe as Orchestrated Serendipity. Here’s an example of a room in Khartoum, Sudan, used to run a working session entitled, ‘when you look at things differently, the things you look at change’

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a summary of ‘findings’
I’ve highlighted some of the answers (unattributed) that stood out for me and compared them against the tips I’d provided in a recent blog post entitled ‘why space matters...’
‘What to think about when planning physical collaboration spaces:

my workspace 2013

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…this open environment is very conducive to knowledge sharing and collaboration particularly as the knowledge team sits amongst the client serving staff and are considered part of the team as a result…

my workspace 2002

*

* * * * *

Importance of light, food and the demise of the managers’ dining room Serve great coffee and make space memorable Use unexpected spaces for exhibits Analyse flows (of people and knowledge) and be opportunistic Create a knowledge (and information) hub’

Paul and I have recently moved offices and now have adjoining offices with the FIRST connecting door in the Commission About half our work is directed, and half we have freedom. This door, and our communication through it has changed the dynamic and is wonderful. It creates lots of possibilities for collaboration, even with individual offices.

memorable moments 2013

my workspace
Throughout the responses there are differing opinions on what is the optimal set up to encourage collaboration. I recall dreading going into a trading area, then as now totally open plan, feeling like I was entering a bear pit and many people are uncomfortable with conducting conversations in full sight and sound of others. As a ‘virtual knowledge worker’ for 15 years I find I need a combination of both personal space (and quiet) and collaborative space (and personal contact). In helping a client to plan an open space environment (claims area) a few years back we paid much attention to giving people the ability to create their areas with a sense of their own character or that of their team.
when space matters | June 2013

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We sometimes use the formal meeting rooms for informal drop in sessions for staff to come and find out about our services...

memorable moments 2002

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…’s office. Its fun to get in there, it's a nice place. There is a bouncy chair you can sit on and jump up and down. There is candy. There are sharp comments. People come to get playful and to know things. People bring gifts. Started by giving out candy, and then people started to feel a bit mean just taking, and not giving, so a kind of ritual of `giving to take' started to establish itself so people bring candy now

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memorable moments
This question yielded some vivid descriptions. Perhaps the most striking ‘takeaway’: the workspace environment is critical for stimulating the way people work and think about work. My memorable moment was at a client’s in Jeddah where Victoria Ward and I had gone to run an awareness-raising event with senior management at the start of the programme of work to develop a knowledge management strategy. Faced with the prospect of conducting hands on sessions in an auditorium we scoured their buildings for a suitable open space with comfortable seating. It took a lot of cajoling to persuade their top ‘brass’ to work in a breakout room. Once the political/etiquette hurdles were overcome the session ran smoothly and got the programme off to a flying start. Interestingly this theme reappeared in one of the speaker’s responses.

reflecting where and how 2013

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…our open plan layout really doesn't suit me and on office days, I rarely get through the work I hope to do due to constant interruptions and noise. Sometimes, this can be stimulating and the conversations are good but I now do at least 1 day at home to have some quiet space. But I now always feel behind as can't be productive in the office.

reflecting where and how 2002

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I use my office for 'getting things done'. When I want to reflect or be more creative I go to another room or even to my house in France for peace and tranquillity + no phone!

reflecting where and how
I loved the ‘I do my creative thinking on a horse’ comment from 2002. It bears out the earlier anecdote about the authors. In my case I used to retreat to my study with a clippings file but today with so much material in digital format our systems have become the messy office and we use search engines to try and make sense of the mess.

a radical case for change 2013

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a radical case for change
It’s clear that in the success stories a huge amount of preparation has gone into the relocation. When a client moved across the city, consolidating a number of businesses under one roof in an open environment, the biggest challenge was to build a metaphorical bridge between the old and the new. People were able to visualise themselves as a Tardis like room was created in the old building where all discussions about the new offices were held. And a blogger sited in the new building to provide regular updates and images during construction.

…We created guidelines for working in an open plan office right down to telephone etiquette, noise levels, desk sizes etc. In the old environment many conversations were held in offices, Partners were rarely seen or heard, staff kept to their own teams and rarely engaged with other service lines etc. In the new environment while there were challenges to begin with and some adjustments for senior staff in sitting out in the open we settled down quickly and for the first time everyone knew each other by name and on sight. There was a lot more collaboration, cross service line interaction,..

a radical case for change 2002

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Yes, the sales team were all moved to teleworking from home. We had to set up mechanisms to ensure continuing human contact
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The most striking comment though that illustrates the negative impact a change in workspace policy can have: …In Aberdeen, the free lunches were stopped as part of a cost-cutting drive in the early 90’s. The result? Packed lunches. People stayed at their desks. All day. Had anyone offered to the business unit leader that for a mere £3 per day they could significantly raise the level of collaboration, networking, sharing and deliver a resulting increase in motivation and productivity... He would have bitten their hand off!

interesting conversations (where) 2013

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The number 8 bus from the main station to the end of the line (which is also the main building entrance) is generally referred to as the "collaborating center", a designation usually bestowed on universities or other partners…

interesting conversations (where) 2002

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interesting conversations
No surprises here. It’s where people feel comfortable. Is this why there has been resurgence in interest in creating workspaces that foster collaboration?

Tend to stand on the staircase, or, like here, just stand in the same place in the corridor and wait for people to pass me by. Standing still in a thoroughfare.

real vs. virtual 2013

real vs. virtual
We are a more networked society today than 2002 and people (youngsters in particular) are much more comfortable working cross-border and ethnicity. A friend was describing how his son and peer study group located in 5 countries did their homework concurrently on line using a combination of Skype, Facebook, YouTube and Search Engines, each performing a different (unspoken) role as part of a team. That the tutor could be ‘Skyped in’ periodically is an illustration of how far social media is transforming the way we work outside of the corporate firewall (at least in academia). That generation (‘rent’ as they are known by some) are less constrained by political barriers, ethnicity and religion and ‘you are what you write’. While they are networked virtually often their face-to-face (f2f) interpersonal skills are under developed. A theme throughout the responses that underscores the above example is that some f2f contact is vital to build the trust all communities need to thrive; one of the rationales perhaps behind the early network collaboration systems that used to be known as ‘expert networks’ such as BP Connect?

*

Replicate rather than replace… Just a few minutes ago, I finished a Webex session with the UN which had me allocating 30 participants to breakout "rooms" which contained materials and videos. I was able to visit each room momentarily to check in on progress, spot people raising their hands, share back the outputs on a group whiteboard, "smiling", "laughing" and get votes and prioritization from a group representing 20 different countries, before conducting an open discussion with everyone. I would go as far as to say that it was even more productive than the equivalent physical workspace.

real vs. virtual 2002

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Virtual space is good for exchanging information, even complicated stuff such as designs but you need you need real contact for developing relationships and for closing deals

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‘my’ workspace
Q Do you think your own workspace encourages collaboration? Tell us about a recent incident where this happened
encourages collaboration

snippets from 2002

My office building has won awards but my own office space is quite small. Work 90% of time at my pc.

Old building, 3 offices, most networking “round the door’.

* *

Yes, very much so. Once a week we have a knowledge-sharing meeting, which is sometimes rich and sometimes rather empty. Once a month we have a brown bag session, where a colleague invites for a discussion based on material we are supposed to have read before the session… Our physical workspace is open plan and as such everyone is visible from Partner down to entry level associates. This open environment is very conducive to knowledge sharing and collaboration particularly as the knowledge team sits amongst the client serving staff and are considered part of the team as a result… Most recently one of the teams was working on a regional proposal and the knowledge champion who overheard his colleagues connected us to the proposal lead immediately so we could assist with some of the research etc. Yes. We are all on a large open floor and the different departments can interact and have conversations easily. Some conversations are non-work but that builds relationships which can result in more effective collaboration… …one place that I work occasionally with collaborators is the cafeteria, which is brightly lit, has plenty of space with round and square tables, electrical outlets and a decent wifi signal. I was recently working with a

We have several buildings along one road and people tend not to mix between them. But we do have a collaborative platform, on-line, and people make good use of that.

My working on papers doesn’t really encourage collaboration but with everything people exists via others and experience have taught me that paper as well as a lot of other things only becomes better at having had at least another pair of eyes to look at it, so I try to build up partnerships with other researchers where we go over each others things. Working at Oresund Network, do encourages collaboration due to open office space, and the project that I'm working on is a joint project, analyzing on focus groups etc. so we do need to discus the research conducted. Also it is a very small office so we all help out when it is needed.

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It does NOT. The architecture is based on long corridors with offices left and right. Little open spaces for meeting and interaction
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colleague on preparing an important upcoming meeting in this place, when her boss and several members of her team showed up unannounced. Suspecting that one of his team was working "offsite onsite", I think he was trying to extend his walkabout management style into new territory! In any event it gave some level of formal recognition to this informal practice…

snippets from 2002 Yes, because it is open plan. If you have a problem you can throw it open to everyone by calling it out across the office

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I have an office of my own, with an open door unless I am in a meeting, and the rest of the team (42 people) are in open plan. My office is available for use by team members when I am out. The only problem is that because of the need to store residual paper files, and to lock things away nightly to comply with Information Security policies, we have a wall of cabinets splitting the team in half. I do walk around to see people where I can, in my own team and elsewhere, rather than relying totally on emails or phone calls. As I walk round, I am likely to get approached about a work issue which might otherwise not be raised. If I'm visible, people remember more readily that it would be useful to involve my Department's expertise in their projects… My physical workspace (home office) encourages serendipity, but that’s a consequence of my lack of discipline, rather than a conscious drive for innovation. My disdain for filing means that I often have multiple clients’ materials out together – and sometimes that leads to useful connections and parallels. My virtual workspace is more a collection of spaces to work with clients, so is fragmented by nature (and requires a good memory for passwords!). Finally, my social workspace is probably the most collaborative – whether through LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or even some antiquated Yahoo Groups –it’s always good to connect when you’re working alone. Keeps you sane. Yes and no! It does encourage conversation but we still have silo working. I think there's an assumption that open plan equals collaborative working but there are very few huddle type areas which would actually help much more…

Yes, because it is open plan. If you have a problem you can throw it open to everyone by calling it out across the office

In our office everyone sits in cubicles with their backs to each other. Its pure Dilbert! We have recently set out a big table around which we can meet and it has made a big difference. People get together around it very easily.

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Yes it does. People like to use my office because it has great views of the countryside and nice art on the walls. Also we can use the main office when we need to work collaboratively to produce things. We have a conference room with lots of whiteboard space on the walls and we have lots of other resources around us such as flipcharts, web access, coffee etc. It is possible for me to feel isolated from the team when I am sat in my office and they are all next door but I can easily remedy this just by walking over or by actually moving my workplace in to the general office.

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snippets from 2002

* * *

This requires well-defined meeting structures and good meeting facilitation if we are to create a good knowledge sharing environment. In my department we are still struggling with weekly departmental meetings and monthly Lync / video meetings which is not creating any value because of missing facilitation… My own workspace is a mobile office - laptop, mobile etc. I collaborate online, remotely, in person with client or colleague. As I am working generally 'of no fixed abode' I win and I lose - I’m more easily with people, but teams are distributed. I used to work in a biochemistry research institution. The head of the department sponsored morning coffee every day of the week. The institute staff was invited each day to go to the library for 30 minute for a coffee break. At times it was show and tell especially after a weekend but normally this morning tea invitation enabled conversations between different groups, provided knowledge exchange that let to collaboration. At the time it was just something I took part in but looking back now - with a KM hat on - this was a little investment from the department but had a massive impact on collaboration and staff engagement.

It’s a warehouse office, very small, not much collaboration.

Our workspace is based around very individual offices but collaboration happens despite this around the coffee machine. No, workspace doesn't encourage collaboration - we work in 'cubicles'. I get round this by making a special effort.

People are missing the canteen environment where most of the collaboration used to take place.

does not encourage collaboration

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…I observed that collaboration is not encouraged in academia and researchers working in an enclosed space, are individualistic and do not share their research, except informally and social and professional affinities... Short answer is no. My workspace is open plan and hence encourages local collaboration i.e. with colleagues seated in the same area as I can easily see who's available etc. However, it positively discourages broader collaboration e.g. with team members and colleagues not in the area as it inhibits the ability to just pick up the phone to chat to somebody as I need to find a

Yes, our offices are largely open plan and people communicate well. We also have a constant flow of associates, course delegates and candidates flowing through the office which stimulates conversations and learning’s. Like our CKO summits where we bring together world leaders. It's a combination of a meeting and a space. In a castle in Dublin, log fires, relaxed, people who see themselves as peers are given privacy, retreat, permission and time.

when space matters | June 2013

Paul and I have recently moved offices and now have adjoining offices with the FIRST connecting door in the Commission About half our work is directed, and half we have freedom. This door, and our communication through it has changed the dynamic and is wonderful. It creates lots of possibilities for collaboration, even with individual offices.
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snippets from 2002

quiet/private space to do it. The fact that 50% of my group is overseas means I spend relatively little time at my desk and more time in individual spaces thus reducing the perceived benefits of the open plan arrangement.

Shares an office with a guy with a very different, but overlapping role. It’s an opportunity to share issues very fruitfully. It was partly planned

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I share an office with a colleague, as I am not in an open plan, I don't think it encourages collaboration. I need to make an effort to step out of office, and make it clear to colleagues they are welcome to come in anytime for a chat. With an office, (video) conference facilities, it enables me to collaborate very effective with my virtual team located in other countries. Not as much as it needs to - different departments package their client offers in isolation and without discussion with others. High level platforms exist but little is shared.

A new team office with an open door. Meet many times to discuss small things. And of course round the printers, over coffee.

My workspace is actually very small. I share a little office with four more colleagues. I do not think that my workspace encourages any co-operation.

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memorable moments (where)
snippets from 2002 Oh god, the spark' singing' workshop last year. It destroyed our careers. At the time, we had a boss who was very technology focussed, not interested in emotional intelligence. We thought, lets show her something new, something in km which is a real catalyst for change. We've always been very impressed by spark's work, so we took her to your workshop. Disaster. She hated it. From that moment, we could never get anything done. Had lost all our political capital. In fact, things got so bad we had to move.... Anyway, that was the best thing that could have happened. Now we are in the right kind of Directorate, doing the right kind of work and can probably do lots of work with you. For example, one research programme in our unit is into the mobile worker. I can see spark working there. And ever since then `singing' has conjured up to us the meaning of knowledge management. The point is to `sing'. When we were moving, I walked into Ann's office and saw a flipchart with `sing' written across it and we both looked at each other and remembered the spark workshop. NB Editors comment: At the 2001 KM Europe event in Den Haag, in the middle of the technology exhibition hall Sparknow ran a workshop which started with people singing. It had a major impact contrasting nicely with the traditional vendor stands.

Q Are there any parts of your building or workspace which you associate with memorable moments of work? Tell us about a time and place when this happened.
collaboration

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…the response to a global crisis saw our local floor conference room expropriated for an emergency response team. Normally our meetings there were 10-15 people... Now there were 60 people packed in, with laptops and cables everywhere, staffed round the clock, with a media circus outside in the parking lot nearby. As the corporate library is also nearby, normally the atmosphere was even calmer than most regular office spaces. For the few weeks that it lasted, the complete opposite was true, and the sense of urgency and uncertainty was palpable anywhere in the vicinity, on people's expressions, and from the energy, noise and bustle.. Afterwards, when the space reverted to its normal usage, there was no trace left at all of what had happened there: the room was left as it was found originally and the sense of calm was restored as well. Our team is quite small so we work well together as conversations generate lots of ideas and are enjoyable. We've recently invested in magic whiteboards so we can draw and note things down almost wherever we are… Being holed up in a board room working from 7am to 11pm for several days dealing with how to respond to some unexpected bad data. Telecons with our CEO at 11pm and working against the clock to agree response to release

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to the global stock markets before they closed for Christmas. Having our finance director going out for take away food for us and having our lawyer come in from a Christmas party to review some materials in full dinner dress - I can still remember his red bow tie.

snippets from 2002 …’s office. Its fun to get in there, it's a nice place. There is a bouncy chair you can sit on and jump up and down. There is candy. There are sharp comments. People come to get playful and to know things. People bring gifts. Started by giving out candy, and then people started to feel a bit mean just taking, and not giving, so a kind of ritual of `giving to take' started to establish itself so people bring candy now

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The kitchen area does at least make people say hello. I am a connect member with the Melbourne Hub - a co-working space in Melbourne, Australia. The set up of the space is accommodating a variety of work styles from open and collaborative to private. A weekly mixed-lunch encourages members to get together to learn from each other and to provide space to promote collaboration.

innovation

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The entrance of the Aalborg University in Copenhagen is a huge hall. A Friday afternoon young people came in. Two, three, four or five at the time, carrying sleeping backs, backpacks, beers, a pram, you name it. They talked and gestured enthusiastically, and I realized this was the gamedevelopment-weekend including a competition on producing the best computer game over 48 hours. The participants built their workshops in the hall by moving tables and chairs, utilizing the walls, the staircases the pram they brought. In short: everything. The room was not invented for such an event, but the exited game-developers from all parts of Europe were extremely creative. The high involvement, the engagement the good spirit and the exited atmosphere made this a memorable moment of work - hard to consider it as work

In the office kitchen, in my office. Normal coffee, water cooler kind of thing. Informal focal point of the business. Strength of chance encounter

Moments of Gestalt in my office, a clicking moment.' My office, at home, a backroom in a basement flat. I associate all my memorable moments with being at my desk in my office machines and pcs, music playing, nice lighting, moments of Gestalt. For example when building a new presentation there's a clicking moment, like a recent presentation on knowledge mapping. I needed to summarise and suddenly found out how to. It's a kind of womblike environment. The environment makes it possible.

knowledge transfer

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Most recently the regional team I was sitting with won a very large project and the Partner who got the call stood up and called the team together around his desk to announce the win, congratulate the team involved and

I have recently renovated my office space, new furniture etc, and this has made a big difference to how I feel about it and my work. There is a lovely view out the window and even Wind Chimes in the tree outside
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rang the office sales bell so everyone in the building knew about the win the office atrium is an open space so staff from all the floors above and below got up to see and hear the news first hand!

snippets from 2002 Working collaboratively with my team to produce a complex piece of work. We were able to work very effectively as a team to manage a complex thought process because we could all be in the same place and we were surrounded by useful resources

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…a memorable moment for me was bumping into the Finance Director on the stairs and asking about budgets for the year ahead and 'off guard' he gave me an insight into the up coming process that enabled me to pitch and get more. When I presented the COWI portal strategy for the Executive Board their meeting room was furnished with only a small meeting table and 10 relaxing chairs. That means that you can't sit as you normally do at a traditional meeting and therefore will be forced to change your own habits… We sometimes use the formal meeting rooms for informal drop in sessions for staff to come and find out about our services...

The corridors coz conversations happen.

thats

where

the

best

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reflection
My "old" office in another part of the building facing the Olympic Stadium… office which I used when I started my new job, meeting colleagues and going through steep learning curve. Since then, I moved office twice, and my friends/neighbours are scattered in other part of the building. Whenever I walk past this section of the building, it triggers the memory, and makes me realize "time flies, things happen quickly in this company, we are at a different stage of the program today".. In the corner of my office by the staircase is a shelf with various KM-related artefacts from clients. it's my own personal KM Museum! The most evocative of these artefacts is a laser-etched glass award which I helped Syngenta to introduce - the "TREE" awards for knowledge-sharing in their networks... Whilst they were just one part of a broader KM and Networking programme, they somehow sum things up for me whenever I pass them on the stairs.

My teaching experiences in the Business School. The teaching rooms are very well designed - very pleasing Scandinavian design with lots of windows and the students are very close to the teacher

Actually going in to liquidation and then being bought out. The months of tension felt across the open plan space were exhausting.

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The garden: writing a strategy. Somehow getting out of the room and staring at the screen freed me of the operational grind that distracts

snippets from 2002 A knowledge café run by us in Copenhagen (not our building, but our workspace) was very successful as much because of what we had to battle against to make it happen as anything else. We were supposed to be running a kind of review session, a knowledge café for 70. [and had chosen to use Nimspace as a kind of work shopping tool]. 120 signed up. We had those inseparable chairs, and a security guard who blocked us making any changes. Not only that, he would not let us start proceedings earlier to cope with demand. So we had lots of obstacles. Everything was against us. But we managed to uncouple the chairs and take them away, then we were all spilling out onto the corridor which attracted new people who were curious. Then we had to find a way of moving people on, so we used the wall displays which Nimspace had created and moved groups on, but left facilitators behind to continue to facilitate discussions and add to the walls). Because we had so many people and no tables and chairs and had to move them around, we also created real momentum, which generated real energy.

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where and how (you work)
Q How does where you work reflect the way you work?

snippets from 2002 I like to concentrate; it gives me a feeling of separation from domestic life.

I work better in isolation. Tend to walk around.

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I select where I work based on need to achieve certain things, rather than constraints. I do like to be outside for creativity. The easier access you have to colleagues, the more collaboration. For eight yeas I worked as a remote manager in Oracle. My team and my professional community were spread over Europe, Middle East and Africa. Collaboration was based on the available technology, which we used as much as possible. But it was rarely spontaneous. Nowadays I work as a researcher in Aalborg University. My research group shares a large room where everybody can see and hear each other. This makes it easy to ask questions, to involve yourself in on-going discussions, to go with the flow so to say. The shared physical room invites for interaction, and it becomes easier to collaborate. It certainly does. In the office, I feel it is more formal. When I work at home, I feel slightly more relaxed (especially when it reduces travelling time). In Myers Briggs Terms, I'm an ENFP. The 'P' at the end means that I have a tendency to be spontaneous and am easily distracted, and have a tendency to have several pieces of work "open" at a time - just like we do on our Windows desktops. My physical desk space reflects this! My office is in the roof or our home, with windows and a balcony to look over the mean streets of Ascot - so I'll regularly take a screen-break and take documents outside.. Fresh air = fresh thoughts?

I am based in an open plan office which suits me because I like to work with others - not on my own in a private office

Well good and bad can be said about open offices, usually it effect it positively since the mood around the office is friendly so it is fun being at work also you have to be effective when everyone around you are just that. On the other hand when everything is hectic phones are rings and people talking it can be hard to concentrate on certain aspects of research analysis.

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My desk is messy because I'm not there much and when I am I am usually multi-tasking and I like to leave things where I know I can find them. Also, leaving things out reminds me what I was up to when I walked away from it.

My own workspace is very conventional. It is always in a different state of order or chaos according to the different stages of any project I am working on.

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I work globally with a number of colleagues and my own team who are based in different countries so that means using social collaboration tools is key to instant responses and discussions on hot topics, decision making and problem solving. We also use video conference and TANDBERG Movi which allows us to "see" each other and feel more connected but this is not as spontaneous as chatting to a colleague over a desk partition or at the coffee machine. That being said we make use of what we have so tools like sametime/instant messaging or just picking up the phone to call each other happens more frequently and there is more transparency and sharing as a result because it is important we all know what is happening in the business as it happens in order to support exceptional client service globally. I am finding it increasingly important to seek a quiet, interruption-free environment when doing certain tasks, particularly, for example, strategizing, or writing of substantial length. This may seem to take us back to the days of an office with a closed door, but in fact such places are more common than they would first appear. Where I work provides an abundance of such offices, so the challenge is in synchronizing work patterns with colleagues so that meeting time, concentrated alone work time, and serendipitous encounters can all occur in healthy proportions. Having a "coffee culture" actually helps in this regard, as most people prefer to use one of the three main cafes on the main floor, rather than vending machines scattered on floors throughout the building complexes. …our open plan layout really doesn't suit me and on office days, I rarely get through the work I hope to do due to constant interruptions and noise. Sometimes, this can be stimulating and the conversations are good but I now do at least 1 day at home to have some quiet space. But I now always feel behind as can't be productive in the office. I'm sitting in open-plan office with small meeting room with transparent glass walls and therefore you can see who is present and who sits and work and is accessible and who is in a meeting. Via my PC I use Lync very much to

snippets from 2002 Actually I do all of my creative thinking whilst riding a horse.

I work at a PC because that's the nature of my work. Other people seem to be able to work in messier environments than me.

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My office, as well as having a pleasing visual aspect, is to me an enclosed and protected space it is here that I am able to do my deep and creative thinking.

I use my office for 'getting things done'. When I want to reflect or be more creative I go to another room or even to my house in France for peace and tranquillity + no phone!

* *

My office is not ideal but at least it’s in part of the main office. It's a bit restrictive and not a real reflection of where I work which nomadic, email, or in front of a flip chart. Email is best for distance, when you know people, when bilateral is best, for groups a flip-chart or a whiteboard

when space matters | June 2013

Cluttered. Before it was clutter, and overwhelmed me, it was helpful material. But now it’s overloaded. I love the curtains. They are a kind of colourful South American print. The other day I had them closed, I hardly ever have them closed, and I was really struck by how much they mean to me. Makes me feel safe in here, linked by telephone lines to the outside world.
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send small messages and handle fast discussions and benefit a lot from the presence function Lync has.

snippets from 2002 Its full of green plants. It’s very important, its not just an office but `my space' open and welcoming as well as my space.

*

In my own office I am able to concentrate on report writing and strategic or personnel issues. I am also able to have open conversations with my management team about issues and plans. At other times, I can gauge what is going on in the team from walking about, and having casual conversations with staff about things they might not otherwise think to draw to my attention. This helps me to know how we are interacting with other teams in the company, and enables me to open conversations with other Heads of Departments if I know we have helped them in a specific area recently. I work in a virtual team that has a global footprint.. We have several tools in place to make it easier to access information, to share content and to be connected. My collaboration is based on the available technology. The spontaneous chat over a cup of tea or coffee is not possible in this set up. I enjoy connecting with people in person. Technology is helping but it does not replace the beauty and power of F2F interaction.

*

Paper, chaos, untidy, reacting to innovations. No command and control. I think `tidy cupboard are danger zones', a sign of a problem. In the EC, too, there is an explicit rule (written down) about window status - how many windows you are allowed, depending on seniority. The other thing is the open door I was telling you about and how well this works to create semi-shared, semi-private space.

Now have a `double Dilbert corner cube' but don't know how it will work yet. Formerly on the (x) floor of a skyscraper in New York and couldn't move for paper, books, piles of things etc. A kind of snail's shell rather than a womb. A mess. This is critical for knowledge work. See Malcolm Gladwell `The Myth of the Paperless Office', as written up in New York Review. The point of knowledge work is that you have not structured things yet, so you need to spread them out, look for patterns and connections, cluster, reorganise. Most people who work with complicated ideas spread them out. The reason you spread things out is that you don't know where you want to put them yet.

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making a case for radical change?
Q Have you ever witnessed a company change its workspace radically? What happened?
positive impacts

snippets from 2002 positive impacts Yes, the sales team were all moved to teleworking from home. We had to set up mechanisms to ensure continuing human contact.

*

Yes, i have seen a transition from closed offices to open plan. Initially there was great reluctance, but two things made the transition easier. a) the managers went open-space as well, and b) the quality of the selected office furniture was excellent. This latter point made it clear that open space was an investment, not a cost cutting measure. Over time, everyone came to appreciate the open plan setting. Yes - the creation of a knowledge hub from an enclosed and quiet library in 2001…Some people migrated from their normal desks, some people started using the space as their main working space. Everyone started using the library and giving it a new lease of life. The estates and facilities people were resistant, they ended up replicating in all of the offices. In my first knowledge role the office practice I worked for moved to an open workspace environment and I was asked to be the change management leader for our floor. We had a great external consultant come in to assist with the move and the potential challenges it would create. We created guidelines for working in an open plan office right down to telephone etiquette, noise levels, desk sizes etc. In the old environment many conversations were held in offices, Partners were rarely seen or heard, staff kept to their own teams and rarely engaged with other service lines etc. In the new environment while there were challenges to begin with and some

Yes, the business started in a converted house and then moved to a big open plan office that was well though out in advance to ensure co-location of colleagues. Made a big improvement.

Yes, but not radical enough. We went from corridors and offices to open spaces

* *

When I worked for Elf. We went to a mostly open plan arrangement. Was probably an improvement but very gradual. I noticed the contrast when, after a while, I went to visit our French office which still had cellular offices, and I really noticed the difference. Not a radical change, but a subtly shifted culture.

Have just made a team office in the same corridor. Its open plan. Talk more to each other.

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adjustments for senior staff in sitting out in the open we settled down quickly and for the first time everyone knew each other by name and on sight. There was a lot more collaboration, cross service line interaction, Partners were more accessible and visible and staff felt engaged and part of a bigger team. The design and layout was sensitive to the size of the practice, they created comfortable and appealing coffee areas for teams to have informal meetings and quiet rooms where you are able to have confidential conversations etc if you need to away from your desk. In this new space you saw most of the team every day and not only once a month at a team meeting and the use of colour, plants, wall art and notice boards helped make it a positive working space.

* *

…At KPMG in the late 90s when there was a shortage of space the Partners agreed to reduce the size of their offices to create more open plan space for staff. This went down well and helped deal with problem. There were many Partners who were not happy but it was driven by the senior Partner. I remember visiting the British Airways Waterside building and being blown away by the impact of the space – the stream, cobbled streets, olive groves and Boeing 747 wheels. I was surprised by the design subtleties which encouraged people to connect – right down to the way the cobbles were arranged to be less “bobbly” in some areas to being people together (particularly those wearing stilettos!). GCHQ’s donut was also impressive and I know it had a significant impact on openness, awareness and serendipity there – but the Daily Mail would have balked at a publicly funded olive grove! My company has moved from two buildings where groups/offices were spread over several floors and different buildings to one floor. Especially an area called "green space" for lunch, functions, events has provided a great space to meet other colleagues / teams that in the past you would have not met unless you worked on a project together.

*

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negative impacts

snippets from 2002 negative impacts Legal and Compliance went to open plan for lawyers. It did not work. They said it was not a quiet enough thinking space. It was a lost opportunity for collaboration. .

*

BP had its fair share of smart environments, but more memorable was the negative impact of changing a workspace policy. In Aberdeen, the free lunches were stopped as part of a cost-cutting drive in the early 90’s. The result? Packed lunches. People stayed at their desks. All day. Had anyone offered to the business unit leader that for a mere £3 per day they could significantly raise the level of collaboration, networking, sharing and deliver a resulting increase in motivation and productivity... He would have bitten their hand off! A few years ago my company moved from a very colorful building with a lot of space, paintings on the walls and potted plants everywhere to a building with only one color – white. White on the walls, in the roof, on the floor, the tables – only different color was the chairs which were black, and a small group of lamps which were green. No paintings, no potted plants. Nobody was allowed to have a picture of the family or other personal things at the table. I felt like being hospitalized with serious illness. Even 30-40 employees shared a room, I felt isolated. I felt my brains stopped exploring. I felt so uncomfortable, I preferred working from home, even I am a very extroverted person. I realized I need joy for being creative, efficient and productive. Oh my god. Yes, to save costs. My company collapse people working in 2 floors into 1. As a result, director who used to have an office now have to share office with another colleague. The staff working in the open plan have to squash together (4 instead of 2 in a row) and sit closer with less space between them and less privacy. People don't really like it, and some put on headset to make calls or to reduce distraction. Internal meeting rooms become tiny, like toilet cubicles, and we laugh about them.

*

.

*

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* *

….I observe a change envisaged in my university, and it has been a very strong resistance from researchers who did not wish to question the subtle relationships within the 'compartmentalized workspace… One international organization in Geneva that I worked for, changed its office space for its communications department from closed offices to open space. This occurred after a fire had severely damaged that floor of the building, so it was likely an opportunistic decision. The nature of the work, and the preferences of staff, did not seem to figure in to the equation. As a result, both productivity and morale declined, and resentment grew against the privileged few who were allowed to keep private offices. Eventually a cluster pod arrangement was made that went some way towards addressing the concerns.

snippets from 2002 and where the jury is still out Yes, and its amazing how many reasons people will come up with as to why the new approach can't work - all of which disguise the fact that basically they have learnt to associate space with status and get very upset when it seems that they are losing something

and where the jury is still out

*

Our organisation is new, following… reforms - brings together people from a range of legacy organisations as well as lots of people new. The policy is hot desking which for most of us is a change. Some good points - can sit somewhere different every day, avoids too many empty desks - some bad points - have to check in which is an additional task every morning and a pain when you forget and find your desk has been rebooked. I was involved in the planning of a radical move from offices to a brand new open plan building and to hot desking and team areas in local government There was initially a distrust of the idea, and a Change Management team was put together to prepare staff for moves. My involvement was primarily to do with reduction of paper records storage, and people responded well to invitations to get rid of paper, and to store essential records offsite. Competitions spring up, and posters described the destruction of papers " the weight of an elephant" etc to put some fun into an important exercise. The Change Management Team had a timetable of communications heading up to the move itself, and this included a programme of hard hat visits to

The company I worked for some time ago hired new premises and moved our division there. The building was far from the centre of the town and commuting was quite complicated, but people shared big rooms (the building used to be factory). The co-operation was quite good but I do think that the reason was not space and new equipmentt but the qualities of the vice president. When he left the company the situation got worse.

*

Us noisy engineers used to be in a basement being mostly rowdy and fun. They moved us to a software area (Dilbert cubicles and silence). Swings and roundabouts really - harder to collaborate but easier to focus.

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the new building before it was occupied. Collaboration areas were built into the space, alongside team desk areas, and meetings rooms were kept to a minimum for meetings with members of the public, or personnel issues. Once the move had taken place (just after i left for another role) , I understand that the number of employees was less than anticipated, so there was less hot desking than people anticipated, but the informal meeting areas were popular.

*

My organisation has started to move much more toward open plan than individual or shared offices. Where the construction of the building allows interior walls have been removed and some big open plan areas created. New buildings are all created as open plan.

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interesting conversations (where)
snippets from 2002

Q Where do conversations?

you

have

your

most

interesting

work

The kitchen is good.

Coffee Shop

its about a frame of mind and people as much as location

* * * * * *

Wherever Interesting people are! I have my most interesting conversations in coffee shops, in bars and on the phone. The phone conversations can be the most radical -as these can happen at the drop of a hat and stimulated by an idea… but they are the most random and often the most productive - particularly if it is sunny, and I’m sitting in the Garden with a diet Coke. These happen in many different places in the office, on sametime/instant message, in meetings, on the bus on the way home, via our other social collaboration tools. The most interesting conversations are undoubtedly those that take place between academic community professionals with affinities. Tacit exchanges are particularly rich. But I personally use and transfer these exchanges by formalizing them for consultants in my office (IHRD). These two spaces are interactively combined. Both add-hoc coffee machine conversations with people from different departments which update me on what others are doing but the most informative conversations are 1 to 1s with my senior team in meeting rooms. The number 8 bus from the main station to the end of the line (which is also the main building entrance) is generally referred to as the "collaborating

Around the edges of formal meetings. You grab someone. You have the important conversations Through the open door.

In the cafeteria.

Tend to stand on the staircase, or, like here, just stand in the same place in the corridor and wait for people to pass me by. Standing still in a thoroughfare. Kitchen and flip chart.

Coffee machine

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center", a designation usually bestowed on universities or other partners. People are able to easily converse about work life as well as life outside of the office - coming from home, they usually discuss the latter, coming from work, the former. Perhaps it is the freedom from workplace norms that leads to interesting work conversations, or simply sitting side by side on a bus on a journey…

* * * * * * * *

…usually after meetings on way back to desk as something in the meeting has triggered a conversation. We've also tried "mingle and munch" to encourage people to talk to one another as they weren't! We've tried this over lunch and a "coffee morning" style. I can meet in the office, at the coffee machine, in the meeting rooms and via the phone, externally. for me it is not about where I can have meetings but I found it more important to want to share knowledge. In my office or in my boss's office. That's where we discuss strategic issues and planning and initiate new ideas which I enjoy. No one place - could be anywhere but generally I would say that they are face to face conversations rather than phone, VOIP , v/c etc. Anywhere, at the corridor, on the phone with an overseas colleague, at home with friends over dinner who sparkle work ideas, at a conference reception (certainly not during a conference presentation!). Via MS Lync (instant messenger). In client offices, usually as part of client internal conferences. I have had very interesting conversations at work that happened very spontaneous as someone noticed that I was visiting their office and we had a F2F over coffee, it could be with a colleague that I connect with the first time via instant messaging and we continue to have a call, at a conference , on a bush walk with a walking group.. .it can be everywhere.

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real vs. virtual workspace
Q In your experience, can you ever replace real workspace with virtual workspace? How?
a symbiotic relationship

snippets from 2002 future workspace Yes well just a simple thing as being able to log on at home and boom you are at work or at least have access to all that is needed to work. In the future even more so with web cams etc…I could imagine some kind of development in a virtual office concept so when I log on at home everything is the exact same as the office and it is the same for all working here. Also a long the lines of Knowledge management and intranets, which making working at home the same as working at the office, also with new technology the possibility of logging on anywhere in the world becomes a reality for more people and once it is incorporated, it will seem natural that we are more virtual than physical present which again used correctly releases time for leisure etc. which is becoming more and more valuable.

*

Replicate rather than replace… Just a few minutes ago, I finished a Webex session with the UN which had me allocating 30 participants to breakout "rooms" which contained materials and videos. I was able to visit each room momentarily to check in on progress, spot people raising their hands, share back the outputs on a group whiteboard, "smiling", "laughing" and get votes and prioritization from a group representing 20 different countries, before conducting an open discussion with everyone. I would go as far as to say that it was even more productive than the equivalent physical workspace. Sometimes you have to. You would never do so by choice, but if you need a virtual team, you need a virtual workspace. How is a huge question - I built an entire knowledge asset on How to Run Virtual teams, and you could not condense it down to the back of a postcard. Some of the key things you need to consider are Team Formation, Team Alignment, Leadership, Work practices, and Cultural sensitivity. I’m writing this sat on a boat in the Laguna in Venice… A few tips to remember: just because an online meeting is not in physical presence does not mean that normal meeting disciplines do not apply! Remember objectives, agendas, chairing, breaks etc; add in multi channel (e.g. chat), make sure everyone is in the same environment (do not mix the two). I manage 90% virtual.

*

*

My workspace is partly virtual as I am involved in distant student programme and we communicate with students by the Internet. My communication with the department goes partly through Internet too. I can work with virtual workspace but I miss the face to face communication from time to time. The balance between virtual and face to face is very important by my opinion.

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Yes, and given the global nature of the SKA network it is essential. It works pretty well but we do also run global conferences, rotating around all of our key country bases
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snippets from 2002

*

Being a global leader…I have learnt to adapt my leadership style, my communication style, my teaming style etc and while it does not replace the real workspace it works for us but it requires more effort and different skills and experience… As we work on many different projects I have allowed my team to manage a global project so they experience the challenges of global teaming, learn new ways to connect with each other, ensure they get feedback and buy-in from their stakeholders and consider the cultural and geographic challenges and differences that may exist. It is critical to be sensitive to cultural differences, language barriers and local business environments and to spend time creating strong networks and relationships. Familiarity with collaboration tools, communicating clearly and providing feedback/updates regularly and staying connected is critical in a virtual world and a good knowledge and skill set with social tools with accepted guidelines/rules is also key. Virtual space and the "real" space combine and can not exist without the other. The excess of virtualization limit social interaction, the creation and exchange of mainly tacit knowledge. Inversely exclusive focus on social interaction reduces the time required in the formalization of knowledge explicit firm. You inhabit a virtual workspace simultaneously with a real workspace: everyone is connecting from somewhere real, a fact often overlooked. Until immersive technology develops to the point where the real workspace virtually disappears, we will be dealing with both, one will exist simultaneously with the other. I have been using a wide range of collaboration platforms over the years, and found that attention, concentration, critical thinking, expertise and experience, active listening, and the quality of interactions and intentions brought to bear are more important factors than whether the workspace is virtual or real. That said, virtual workspace can be a constraint or enabler of these factors, depending on how it is used. Less often considered, though, the way in which real

future workspace Virtual space is good for exchanging information, even complicated stuff such as designs but you need you need real contact for developing relationships and for closing deals.

You can if people know each other well enough. Our webmaster works in New Zealand and hasn't been to the office for over a year but it feels like he is very much part of the team because everyone knows him from when he worked in the office before.

* *

You can't replace it. even thought we have to work with factories in Puerto Rico, Dublin, Singapore problems still only really get solved in face-to-face meetings.

It can't replace it (at least not with current technology) because the 'real' work still needs to be done face-to-face. 'real' = creativity, passion, experimentation. Current technology just provides a glorified phone call.

Absolutely not! You can't replace it because you need the human contact.

You can't replace it but you can use them in conjunction. Real has the advantage that information is less controlled and so more sharing happens even if by accident.
page 27 of 34 Not entirely - you will always need face-to-face to

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some extent.

workspaces are collaboratively created and inhabited can also be influenced, often to great effect, generating a sense of ownership, purpose, commitment, and enthusiasm for the work at hand.

snippets from 2002 Yes, in some ways. We ran a research special interest group for the DTI in teleworking. Audioconferencing is a fabulous tool if well matched to the purpose, and well managed. I remember a closed conference on KICKS, an BT audioconferencing system. There were four of us there and the meetings worked really well. Partly because of familiarity with each other, also for familiarity with the system. We learned some things which are now enshrined in good practice guidance, and I can tell you much more about. For example, you need two chairs for a conference call; a chair to get through the agenda and a moderator to makes sure participation is effective. Call it a technical chair and a participation chair. You need a 5-minute warm-up, so we used to start our calls at 5.55. We experimented with longer, but 5 minutes is enough for people to call in, go through the informalities as you would with a normal meeting etiquette. And don't have them too long either. Overall meetings end up shorter, sharper, better.

importance of f2f contact

* * * *

No - the richness of conversations, face to face with people, cannot be replicated by virtual workspaces. The different paths a physical conversation quickly takes can be very rewarding and the connection you get interacting with people builds trust and mutual understanding. No I think you need a combination - for me, virtual is hard if there is no existing relationship but very happy to work virtually when I have met people face to face - we are hoping to use Office 365 to enable collaborative working e.g. coauthoring would be more effective here than via email which we currently overuse. It requires a lot of training to handle dos and don’ts when video conferencing. You can of course be forced to have meetings via video conferencing, but I would prefer in an initial phase of a new relationship to meet face to face. Video Conferencing requires special good preparation from the meeting moderator and other participants at the meeting. I do liaise with our designated home working colleagues on video and voice conferences, and we share information, documents etc through intranet workspaces. However I believe it is preferable to meet people face to face to make these methods work best. In a global law firm, virtual team working was often the only way to make any progress, and it was sometimes difficult to get opinions at those meetings from members of countries where the culture was less assertive when senior managers were involved in a call. Our library service in my current organisation is 90% online and research enquiries come in by email or telephone, and this works for the customers and the service provider.

You need both. Virtual space needs to be very welcoming and open, so that it is joinable, not private, not excluding.

when space matters | June 2013

Yes. You need to understand its limitations and opportunities. If you are writing for the web, you need to understand language, catchy titles, format, form and content, when to use poetic license to get a point across…
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*

To a large extent I think yes, as long as there is planned F2F meeting/get together to feel the personal touch and build personal relationship, to get to know the person. How? An employee can work anywhere by providing them with communication technologies at employees finger tips: videoconference, telepresence, phone call, skype/facetime, online chat, social platform. Of course, need to agree on work objectives/targets with the employee and then empower them with the tools to access people/content and to communicate anytime anywhere. No in my experience you can't. I have access to a range of collaboration tools to facilitate virtual working and you can deliver using them but nothing beats getting folks together face to face to build relationships and to accelerate delivery. I would always advocate some face:face work for a team or group that need to work together over the longer term. On an occasional basis, but only with social tools and collaborative workspaces. The social element needs to come first. This is the way I have worked for the last 8 years. It is exciting meeting people from around the globe. However the opportunity to meet F2F at least once is extremely valuable. It provides just that extra level of trust that is a strong foundation. Interacting in a virtual team is very different from working with your staff/ team members face to face. In a virtual team you miss out on the spontaneous conversation, It is also provides several challenges to ensure you are well connected, to ensure you give ample time to hear teams needs and what is important to the individual as you don't see them in person on a daily basis.

snippets from 2002 … Its no coincidence that Ann and I are linguists and think a lot about language. Also important to have playfulness. I wrote something headed up `knowledge workers of the world unite' recently and followed it with a smiley face so people knew I was being playful. That kind of thing.

* * *

No, only partially. It's a serial monologue (email). You can't avoid the real workplace. You need to be able to `objectify' things, to visualise, to be able to touch things. That is the way new ideas come up.

Partly. It does improve comms. Chat, for example, is well used by compliance (less so by lawyers). Avistar*, desktop conferencing, is particularly good. It stops the `pissing match' of hierarchies about who has to go to whose office.

Yes, no problem at all. Often better creativity as a result of more virtual collaboration.

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appendices & bibliography
Though a piece of research conducted and funded by knowledge et al (www.knowledgeetal.com) it felt right to publish this as a Sparknow document in recognition of the original design thinking around postcards and space that have been a consistent part of Sparknow’s Knowledge Management work since its formation in 1997.
why space matters
I was recently asked by a new business focused website to write a thought piece on this. The Wall St Journal, Marrisa Mayar of Yahoo and a conversation with Professor Clive Holtham of Cass Business School were the genesis for ‘why space matters…’http://www.findtheedge.co.uk/innovation/managing-creativity/whyspace-matters-for-collaboration-innovation-and-knowledge-transfer in which I discuss the concept of Orchestrated Serendipity.

Method Since the theme of this year’s event is around collaboration, the use of social media and virtual working Leah and I thought it would be good to recognise the anniversary of KMUK by looking back a decade and decided to resurrect a postcard exercise about workspace run at KM Europe’s last visit to the UK in 2002 and compare and contrast the outcomes.

Here is a the front page and a first page response

postcards as a stimulus for conversation
Slow Knowledge: uses of the postcard in re-forming organisational time, place and meaning: 'In search of time' conference, Palermo, May 2003 Stephanie Colton, Angela Dove, Victoria Ward*, Clive Holtham,

NB Victoria Ward will be examining how postcards can be used in futures forecasting in a paper to be published jointly with Andrew Curry of the Futures Company in August 2013.

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“…probably the best coffee in the World”
Originally the Information Technology department was located in traditional offices with corridors and individual offices and had very little in the way of communal meeting spaces either formal or informal. It became apparent to the department that this was not conducive to collaborative working or the exchange of knowledge and information. The senior management and expertise was hidden away in their cells and there was no way of bringing together large project teams which was becoming a real necessity. An opportunity arose for the department to move to a new space which they accepted and it was decided that an open office concept would be embraced. The refurbishment was duly completed and the division moved in to what was a completely open plan space. This was partly successful in that it did allow large project teams to work together and collaborate. However, it quickly became clear that there were major problems with the lay out and not just because the senior management, in particular, found it a major culture shock. There was a lack of meeting rooms and private spaces which meant that there was a noise problem and specifically tele-conferencing became almost impossible. It also meant that there was nowhere to go to have smaller enclosed meetings which resulted in one manager having to carry out an appraisal with a colleague in his car in the basement car park ! Air conditioning and heating also turned out to be a problem in such a large open space since those on the outside of the space were getting a different climate to those in the middle. All these problems were exacerbated by overcrowding when a separate group of employees were temporarily relocated to this space. However, as a result, ….and the IT operating company lobbied for and were given permission to seek new premises again, albeit that any refurbishment costs would come directly from their own budget.
This is taken from an interview conducted by a member of the Sparknow team with a prominent IT professional. The idea of using a postcard as an object for stimulating conversations and inspiration should be attributed to Victoria Ward,

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Search commenced in April 2000 and in July, a building in central Den Haag was identified of which they wanted three floors. The whole building then also became of interest to the ….. Group at which point the Group Facilitation management wanted to have some input. … and his relocation team persuaded facilities that their need was immediate and that they had some specific needs that they wanted to incorporate into their refurbishment programme, which was, after all, coming out of their budget. The relocation team worked in close partnership with the group’s external architects to work on a brief for the ideal lay out and design that would encourage collaborative working throughout the operating company despite the not inconsiderable difficulty of being spread on 3 floors. Work commenced in December and was completed in June 2001 and the finished space includes

*

A large informal lounge space on the middle floor. To ensure that people were attracted to this space, from there respective lower and upper floors, Bram and his team invested in “the best coffee machine in the world” around which there are various comfortable and informal seating arrangements. This was an immediate success and is used constantly for a variety of meetings both informal and more formal, as well as for the occasional big event or celebration. It is an environment that clearly encourages debate, conversation and collaboration amongst the whole operating company by providing an open, informal space as a focal destination point. The remainder of the space on this floor is taken up with different sized• meeting rooms (including tele-conferencing facilities ) which are bookable in advance. The lower and upper floors are given over largely to open plan offices,• albeit with clever glass partitions with integral white boards to maintain a feeling of openness whilst reducing noise and climate control problems.

* *

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There are also designated “hot desking” areas on these floors for visiting workers from which they can access their own computers via portables. Initially, the use of space and investment in “luxuries” was criticized by some outside the operating company, as being wasteful. However experience has shown that the reverse is the case with real and valuable knowledge sharing and collaboration being fostered by the space. It was a considerable investment risk for the operating company but now they have more staff concentrated into a smaller area (square meters) than their original arrangements. One unforeseen drawback was that their coffee is so good that when the other floors were completed and other group companies moved in, people from these other divisions would feel free to use their space and drink their coffee, so a swipe access card system was introduced for the lounge. Again this caused some consternation but Bram pointed out that the cost came out of IT operating budget and that if outsiders wanted to use it they could, but at a unit cost per person. They have now invested in a juke box for the lounge area to be used at certain times.

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about the author
I help people and businesses to realise their potential: as an Advisor; business manager; coach; facilitator; and project director.
I have a broad global experience working at all levels across a range of industries: energy, finance, development, government, information, knowledge management, retail and software. To contact me: paul.corney@knowledgeetal.com Skype: corneyp I twitter: pauljcorney Office + 44 (0) 1323 728287 Mobile +44 (0) 777 6085857 www.knowledgeetal.com

My early background was financial yet eclectic: I spent 25 years in the City as Senior Manager at Saudi International Bank and as a Vice President at Zurich Reinsurance. Since 1998 I’ve run a portfolio of activities: Strategy & Business Advisor to the CEO of a software and consultancy group Sopheon PLC; Information & Knowledge Advisor to the CEO of a leading reinsurance broker BMS Group; and Managing Partner Sparknow LLP. An early pioneer of intranets in the mid 90′s and one of the first ‘knowledge managers’ in the City of London I’ve led many challenging assignments, often cross culture, and frequently cross continent. I was a visiting lecturer on knowledge and information management at London Metropolitan University and have published numerous articles the most recent of which is featured in Making Knowledge Management Work for Your Organization published by Ark Group in 2012. I speak at and chair international events. In 2013 I am again chairing KMUK, running a masterclass on knowledge capture and retention and helping the health industry in Sudan to share knowledge. Diplomacy intrigues me. I am a member of the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House) and the Institute of Directors. I’ve been the Chairman of Pyecombe Golf Club and the Manager of Hassocks Football Club both of which taught me the need for effective engagement. Since stepping back from the role of Managing Partner in the fall of 2012 I’ve combined business (leading km practice at Sparknow) with ‘pleasure’ (helping to get a charitable initiative off the ground in Sussex and advising and mentoring a local business through the early stages of its development). page 34 of 34

when space matters | June 2013

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