Windy City Wisdom

What is the future of the workplace? What does it need to be? Does work even have a future?

These are the sort of questions The Workplace Conversation #TWPC is asking and on 21st November they mounted a Street Wisdom in Chicago to get fresh inspiration.

It was the first SW in the city, And the first ever Street Wisdom, as far as we know, to be held INSIDE. It was freezing in the city, so we took to the Merchandise Mart, a vast 1930’s industrial temple that was, when it opened the largest building in the world.

Today it’s a fascinating warren of art deco interior streets, home to – among thousands of other companies – Google, Motorola, Discover and the bustling digital start up hub 1871.

It turned out to be the perfect environment to hold a Street Wisdom. And this kicked off a really inspiring conversation about the road ahead for our workplaces and the work we do in them.

Beyond the Workplace and Street Wisdom

Beyond the Workplace and Street Wisdom#BTWC

The team from Beyond the Workplace have been working with Street Wisdom recently.

We wanted to share the stories of some of them so to set the scene, have a read of Chris Kanes blog.

Chris Kanes BlogHe says ‘Beyond the Workplace is all about engaging people from across the workplace spectrum to get to the core of the challenges facing the world of work in the 21st century.

It was my belief that to get novel perspectives, you have to use novel methods: sitting around and talking has been yielding the same tired ideas for years. What better way than ‘Street Wisdom’ – something new to nearly all of the participants – to try and shake out some new ideas?
Although I was hopeful, even I hadn’t imagined how successful the events to date turned out to be.’

Perry Timms writes on his blogPerry Timms

‘Suffice it to say that there was a reason for people to come together on 24th July, in blazing heat in London to use the Street Wisdom methodology in looking at the baffling topic of people and place. All part of the joint work of BIFM and CIPD. Into the issue of 21st century thinking, acting and doing in the workplace and the existing constructs of work still largely hung up on Industrial Revolution thinking and siloed mentality. Or something like that.’


Dan Pilling introduces his experience below

Our modern working lives are packed with meetings, must-do lists and desk-bound tasks. Received wisdom defines that ‘work’ is a thing that happens between 9 to 5 in the office – but that fact is increasingly becoming challenged by new, more agile work practices and enabling tech. For how much longer will this sedentary existence be the norm?

The impending Street Wisdom event – held by the recently formed ‘Beyond the Workplace conversation’ group (#BtWC) was on my mind as I parked up in the Sheffield city centre car park. To my relief, I emerged to a circle of friendly faces, awaiting the commencement of the day’s activities. In advance the event promised to ‘tune-in’ its participants into the untapped wisdom of the street – I had visions haranguing laden shoppers and flustered mothers with prams with pertinent questions about the future of the workplace… In reality proceedings commenced with an introduction by Chris Kane (BBC) and Ian Ellison (fellow BIFM workplace member and SHU tutor) into the objectives of the event, and an introduction to what the BtWC group were formed to do. It transpires that the whole BtWC thing was born of the need for BIFM and CIPD to start a conversation into the uncertain future direction of the working environment – and the increasing gap between where we work and what we do as a society between 9am and 5pm.

The particular event was a follow-on to the inaugural event held recently held in Trafalgar Square, and was born out of this need to investigate and push the ‘conversation’ forwards nationwide – with the idea to be as inclusive and broad-minded – to enable any and all interested parties to contribute. All very worthy stuff on the surface… but would anything come out of the day?

The introduction suggested that each attendee should consider a key question which they are currently pondering – whether it be workplace related, or a key life decision which may warrant some thought. According to Chris, our street leader for the day, The Street would reveal the response we were searching for. All very mysterious! 

Read his blog for the full story

Dan Pilling. Workplace designer, collaborator, BIFM workplace panel member and now aspirational fine-art printmaker. @poste_office

Street Wisdom Sheffield