Office Surfing

The Emporium of Dangerous Ideas aims to re-establish the importance of dangerous ideas as agents of change in education – to shift the axis of what is possible! It is for everyone who is passionate about education including college, university, school staff and students as well as those engaged in education throughout the creative communities.


They’ve recently shared a great idea for remote workers or office workers working in education.

A Dangerous Idea for creativity at work

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work in a very different environment from your usual workplace? Would you like to try it out and become an office surfer? Would you like your organisation to Host an office surf? Would you like to meet people from other professions and sectors? What? … Spend some time in a different work environment, doing your work or work as a host, welcoming a surfer to experience your working environment.

Why? … Two reasons (among many!):

  1. To become more aware of the physical work environment, and the effect it has on your work. Does your workplace help you to be creative? How is the new environment different? What about it is helpful? Any ideas you could take back and implement in your own workplace?
  2. To meet new people and have interesting conversations. The random coffee scheme that was organised by Education Scotland has put hundreds of people together for interesting conversations, and ideas have grown out of it. Benefits?

As a Surfer you get:

  • the chance to see what working in a different environment feels like, and how it suits – or doesn’t – your work and your style
  • to benchmark your own work-space against the one you are visiting, and against best practice, and come away with ideas for improvement.
    As a Host you get:
  • feedback on your work environment from a fresh pairs of eyes, based on rigorous research rather than just personal preference
    You both get and interesting and unexpected connection.

The Emporium of Dangerous Ideas gets:

  • stories, photos and videos from surfers and hosts about their experiences
  • the assessment of what makes a creative environment
  • lots of great learning to share

Results of the office surf will be shown at the Emporium Finale in an exhibition of creative change. This will take place on Friday 19 June 2015 view programme and book online:

If this sounds like a Dangerous Idea that you would like to be a part of, please contact Dawn Brooks for more information on how to take part.

Any responses should be in by Thursday 30 April 2015.


The Office of the Future

OK, so you get the drift….in big commercial companies remote and mobile working is really taking off (primarily as a cost-cutting means). It’s also slowly seeping through to the public sector (for example Local Authorities).

So what does this have to do with the office blueprint? Well, remote working needs are starting to have a serious effect on how offices are designed. My post a while back on house of the future fell a little flat, but Office of the future is big business.

So what will the office of the future look like?

Cisco has recently been redesigning some of its office buildings “with the remote worker in mind” and Intel had a go at doing this last year. Some of the key elements are:

Hot Desks


Hot desks, drop in desks, desk sharing, team areas, call them what you will. These are desks that people can plug in and work at. In the past hot desks have not had a good reputation (issues over ownership, space etc). Things have got better and as people are more familiar with mobile working and desks are often used more as a touch-down space hot desks are back in favour. Some organisations have randomly allocated these while others have desks grouped in teams. It’s also likely some offices will bring in smart scheduling software to ensure maximum desk occupancy.

At the Improving Services and Reducing Costs Through Flexible Working day I attended Emel Morris, Head of Communications at Hertfordshire County Council talked about team spaces. They found that some mobile workers (for example social workers) were not keen on hot desking but when these desks were allocated to a team (say 5 desks for 10 mobile workers) they were much more popular. Workers liked the fact that they could work next to their colleagues when in the office.

At Intel they “created a bank of first-come, first-serve offices for people who spend most of their time working from home, complete with storage lockers.

Some ideas on how to manage hot desks are available from the Flexibility site.

Adaptable Environment

The recent BBC article on smarter work places suggests that “walls could become screens showing diaries, documents or video conferences.” Electronic wallpaper could potentially show any useful data. There is definitely a move to making offices a more interesting environment so that when people do visit them they stimulate creativity. It’s what has been happening in the library world for some time (see JISC’s library of the future work).

On a recent trip to the Colchester campus of University of Essex I was lucky enough to have a tour of one of their iLab buildings. This is “an inspirational facility designed for group work, which transports users from their everyday environment into an extraordinary space encouraging creative thinking and problem solving.” It was great and hopefully offices will be encouraged to have similar spaces in the future.

The whole idea is to have this sensory, seamless smart environment,” said Dr Puybaraud. “You will turn up and this environment is ready to support you and the way you work.

Instant offices or Remote Offices

Mobile working requires our office to be everywhere and anywhere. Remote offices may become more popular, café commuting definitely will and instant offices (business centres that allocate some space to hot desks) will also be increasingly used.

Video conferencing might also turn a corner. If it becomes more natural and realistic most offices will have a dedicated room. The vision is:

Videoconferencing is crystal clear, allowing easy eye contact and reading of every participant’s body language and facial expressions. Sales managers love videoconferencing: They can give live demonstrations for potential customers located anywhere. It’s popular in homes as well, not only as a communication device, but also as an entertainment medium.

So to conclude although the paperless office didn’t quite happen our work spaces are definitely changing.

So what is our office of the future going to look like? Well for many of us it will look very similar to our spare bedroom or garden shed.