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Office space is changing



The offices spaces of today are nothing like the work environments of the past. The quantum leap forward in information technology, office equipment, and management practice has changed the way we work forever.

Light, lean laptops that can be moved at a moment’s notice, virtual meeting rooms where users can join multiple colleagues from around the world in real-time, via live stream, and flexible environments that adapt to changing organisation needs are the norm today. But this has only been the case for the last 15 years.

“If you were to step into an office space from the 1980s or 1990s, it would look very different to the work spaces of today,” says David Seinker, CEO of The Business Exchange. “You would likely have seen formal, separate offices, and desks with heavy, immovable single-purpose devices such as typewriters and desktop computers. Jumping to the next decade, your typical 1990s office environment was a cubicle farm with grey, bulbous computer monitors, which was later found to have a distinct negative impact on employee wellbeing, productivity and creative thinking.”

Recent changes in the capacity and portability of office technology, like ultra-thin notebooks, digital whiteboards and cloud computing have catalysed the work environment and freed up businesses to shed the confines of the traditional, fixed way of working in favour of flexible, adjustable environments conducive to deep work and creative solutions,” he says.

Tech isn’t the only factor driving the evolution of the office. Co-working spaces came to the fore in the early 2000s, offering a workplace solution for independent workers, entrepreneurs and start-ups. This provided mobile workers and freelancers the benefits of operating in a shared space with like-minded people, without being locked down in long-term contracts. As enterprises scale, shared workspace venues have the benefits of offering professional services that help create a good impression, such as reception, and training and meeting rooms, without a business burdened with the full-time running costs of these amenities. This frees up cash flow for more important investments in talent and expansion.

“In our experience, many of the SMEs that begin as start-ups operating out of The Business Exchange, remain as they scale,” adds Seinker. “Management practice styles have changed, with many modern organisations adopting flatter hierarchy structures. This helps remove barriers and promotes communication and collaboration. Our adaptable spaces allow for custom development, while maintaining that creative, start-up energy.”

“These days, an office is more than a place to work,” adds Jandre De Beer, of V8 Media, a member of the Business Exchange. “In today’s corporate culture, work surroundings play an important role in attracting and retaining talent. We find that flexible environments which offer pleasant, social surroundings and spaces that allow businesses to nurture employee creativity are the way of doing business in the future.”

Co-working and shared working environments have moved beyond the start-up community and become diverse spaces for businesses to explore and grow. What’s different about today’s offices?

  • “Out with the large fixed desk and in with the hot desk,” says De Beer. “This offers a flexible environment that can be easily expanded as a business changes and grows”. This move also benefits the bottom line as it offers a more efficient, cost-effective use of space.
  • Out with the large open-plan office and in with smaller collaborative hubs. “Separate offices can be isolating, while large open-plan designs have been found to be distracting and make employees feel like they’re on a production line. Smaller collaborative hubs with elements such as breakaway zones allow teams to share a space in an environment that’s conducive to collaboration but significantly less distracting.”
  • Out with no-frills design and in with contemporary surroundings that are easy on the eye. “When it comes to the work environment, looks matter. Attractive, well-designed spaces feel more human, and this has a positive effect on employee wellbeing.”

“On the face of it, these changes to the way we work today may seem cosmetic,” comments de Beer further. “However, the evolution of the office to what it is today has been demonstrated to have a positive effect on businesses. Regardless of the size of a company, organisations note a reduction in absenteeism, increased talent retention and improved business performance. For companies and employees, offices are no longer just a venue you’re in for eight hours a day. They actively contribute to the work experience and offer a new way of doing business.”


Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK



One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Robots coming to IFA



Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit

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