Bring Your Own Device

No, not ‘Bring Your Own Dynamic-ness’. But, ‘Bring Your Own Device’. A surging concept in the ethos of Dynamic Work.

Susanne Dansey’s ‘Cowshed’ explores this growing concept in a recent post

“BYOD is an acronym for “Bring Your Own Device”, in other words – using your own technology for work purposes. The workplace is changing and the tools we use to work are changing. Gone are the days when employees will quietly accept whatever hardware the IT department has provided. Many of us are now using our own smart phones and tablets for work purposes making BYOD commonplace. People are working more of the time, at times that suit them and with devices they like. Boundaries between work and home life are becoming more blurred and many welcome the flexibility this brings (e.g. working parents).”

For many years, I lugged double. My personal laptop and my office laptop. My personal phone and my office phone. Why? Because the IT departments had very specific notions of the devices that they wanted me to use (namely cheap and consistent). I invested in my own devices because I wanted something more powerful and individual. Once again, the power of virtualisation enables a have-your-cake-and-eat-it win. IT departments don’t really care about the nuts and bolts or the form factor and style of your device. They just want (a) computer power, and (b) secure, controlled policies (as in system management profiles). Today, they can provide a sandbox virtual environment either remotely in a virtual environment or locally in a virtual machine. If your kit meets the specifications to run these environments tightly controlled by IT, then their view can be ‘knock yourself out and get whatever device you want and feel free to use it for whatever you want outside that corporate ringfence’.

At the heart of Dynamic Work is the spirit of flexibility to the right approach and right tool for the right job. Electronic productivity tools have too long been a one-size-fits-all standardization that imposed to many burdens and limitations on the users both professionally and personally. But BYOD looks to unshackle all of that.

Dynamic Work Surfaces

Dynamic Furniture

Dynamic Working can take all forms. It’s not just the digital tools, or human work practices, or work spaces that can be made more flexible and dynamic. The physical tools of desk, chairs, work surfaces, tables and a whole lot more can also be dynamic. Some of the best examples are inspiringly demonstrated in this video tweeted by my entrepreneurial muse and creative inspiration, Hugh Macleod.

WheelerKanik (the Dynamic Work partner in design) has done some outstanding designs for a recent Dynamic Work client which exploit modular desking components.



While Dynamic Work can entail flexibility of many forms, one of the most prevalent is ‘Geographic’ mobility. One of the major constraints to such mobility is simply lugging stuff. If you have heavy tools you depend on, it is sometimes easier for you to go to the tools than for the tools to go with you. The electronics miniaturisation revolution (laptops, notebooks, PDAs, phones) has obviously been the primary enabler to greater mobility. But now workers are moving from carpal tunnel syndrome to sore backs carting heaving backpacks and computer bags.

For this challenge and others (eg. tighter restrictions on what travellers can carry on planes), I had always thought that a great business proposition would be somewhere that just sold the smallest versions of everything. To me, ‘small’ and ‘lightweight’ are increasingly critical USPs in an increasingly mobile world. As I investigated the area, I came upon an outfit that was inspired by the same vision and have executed it brilliantly – Minimus. While a number of online e-tailers carry some travel sized items and dabble in this concept, Minimus is the world leader by far with over 2000 products on offer and a range of services.

So impressed was I over Minimus that I got in touch with their founder and CEO Paul Shrater to learn more about the business. We shared similar visions and business approaches and the conversation has evolved into a partnership. While Minimus is strong in the US market, it has not really done much overseas especially due to the high costs of logistics and shipping. As a result, Dynamic Work has signed on to be Minimus’ agent and representative overseas to assist with a number of opportunities that have been presented to them.

If hauling your bag around is one of the considerations keeping you office bound, then have a look at for some great fixes to that problem.

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Management By Sitting Around

Dilbert - Management By Walking Around

Management By Walking Around’ (MBWO) has been meandering through the corridors of management gurudom for at least as long as I have been in the business these past two decades. Supposedly, it was first introduced by HP founders Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett and later popularised by management guru Tom Peters. The notion was that a manager who did not sit in his corner office, but instead came out and mingled with his team got two benefits. First, the staff would be inspired by a more regular, more direct relationship with their leader. Second, the manager would have a more direct, more spontaneous, more immediate understanding of the business and its issues.

In the world of Dynamic Work, the imperative to get out of the expensive, space-inefficient dedicated office is even more acute. But the prescribed alternative…’walking around’…might not be the best approach. Perhaps in an environment with hustle and bustle and toing and froing, the manager could slip stream right into the eddies of activity. But modern knowledge work is a bit more sedentary grounded around the central tool of the PC. The PC anchors the knowledge worker who then pivots to phone, to other tasks and to chatting with colleagues.

When I run Business Value Productivity Services workshops with companies, the spontaneous and serendipitous interaction between team members is often raised as an extremely critical ‘shadow’ business process. In the open plan environments that predominate in many UK companies, the low partition desk units facilitate this casual interchange and collaboration. To take this principle of MBWO into the modern office, however, I propose that one changes from ‘Management By Walking Around’ (MBWO) to ‘Management By Sitting Around’ (MBSA).

Managers can take their PC work (emails, spreadsheets, documents, online resources) anywhere (save a few exceptions for some confidential stuff). And that includes smack down in the middle of their team. I practiced this approach as a senior manager at Microsoft and the dividends were massive.

  • More Relaxed Sharing – By my mere proximity and involvement in trivial banter, the staff felt more comfortable in raising small issues on the fly. For many issues, they would otherwise not have wanted to make a ‘big deal’ out of by getting up, coming over to an office and making a pronounced interruption. But often, these small issues served as considerable obstacles to them moving forward. The one minute, quick, casual answer from me saved them many minutes of wrestling with it for no purpose. Also, keeping close to these ‘small’ issues gave me a much better sense of the bigger issues in the team as I had many more data points of real instances of things that were actually impeding progress.
  • Passive Mentoring – My location allowed for a degree of casual and indirect mentoring. Many team members sat in ear shot. They could hear me on routine phone calls which allowed them to see how I dealt with and articulated a range of subjects. They could overhear the answers I gave to the people who shouted out their quick questions (it was not unusual after I responded to a team member’s question for someone to shout out, ‘what was that you said?…I’m having the same problem…’).
  • More Natural – I have seen some of the more ‘pointy-hair’ breed of managers try MBWO (see Dilbert above), and often it is awkward, contrived and sometimes downright creepy. These managers have read their guru articles, but just aren’t sure what to do next once they start their pathetic peripatetics. The ‘Sitting Around’ approach is much more natural. If push comes to shove, the manager just goes ahead and does what they would have done at their desk.

London New Enterprise

London New Enterprise

As Dynamic Work evangelises jettisoning fixed office spaces to save money, carbon and productivity, I get two very typical responses…

  1. Where do my people go to work then?
  2. What do I do with my office space I have then?

London New Enterprise has created a portal that helps to answer both of those questions…

Business space on terms specifically for new enterprise. View a range of units on favourable terms for new enterprise such as:

  • Stepped rents
  • Short term lets
  • Pop up shops
  • Units with zero deposit
  • Space for social enterprises and charities

The website not only provides helpful information, but primarily serves as a matchmaking service for companies shedding space (perhaps inspired by Dynamic Work cost cutting) with people looking for space. One major constituency for the latter would be the increasingly mobile and distributed workforces on the landscape. While business centres are cropping up rapidly, London New Enterprise could be the linchpin for even more expansion in this type of commercial space.

Where We Are Available: Outlook Social Connector

Outlook Social Connector

I caught Steve Clayton’s piece on the beta release of the Outlook Social Connector. I had hoped that it would finally bring about the ‘Where We Are Available’ functionality that I have been championing for years now (‘Where We Are Available’, ‘Make Office Better’, ‘Where We Are Available: TripIt’).

It seems to be more focused on info about people’s ‘background’ than their activity and work – “As you read your e-mail messages, glance down at the new People Pane to see the picture, name, and title of the sender. A rich, aggregated collection of information about the sender is included”.

It does talk about ‘activity’ but this information is more about their communications (like status updates) than their logistics. – “You’ll see rich information about your colleagues’ activity such as profile updates to their MySite, documents and websites they tag, and changes to their personal status message.”)

It is extensible through an ‘open’ SDK – “The OSC in Outlook 2010 will connect by default to the new social networking experiences in SharePoint 2010. We are happy to announce that connectivity to any network, including SharePoint, is built using our public ‘provider’ extensibility platform”).

And the site LinkedIn has already exploited that interop capability – “The LinkedIn team has built a provider for the OSC using our public SDK, providing you with pictures and activity information for your colleagues directly from their network.”

Ideally, the SDK and LinkedIn work could go that one step further to an integration between TripIt and Outlook Calendar.

Where We Are Available: TripIt


The ‘TripIt’ tool has taken off in the past year as a tool to publish and share one’s calendar which does starts to set the foundation for ‘where we are available’ collaboration (‘Where We Are Available’, ‘Make Office Better’). It does require a manual process of checking out the TripIt alerts of connections to see if they are relevant or intersecting with your own plans. The ideal solution will be an alert that hits you when a connection and you are going to be within X miles of each other for a period of at least Y hours.

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Business Value Planning Services

Microsoft Certified Professional

Microsoft has long pioneered innovations in the workplace through the use of technology and the current trend of ‘Dynamic Work’ is no exception. It was my personal work in this area during the most recent years of my tenure at Microsoft where I got an up close perspective on the accelerating changes happening in the workplace typically enabled by technology.

One of the ways Microsoft’s helps companies to exploit new technology is through its Enterprise Agreements (EA) and Software Assurance (SA) programmes. These licensing services not only provide easy and discount price access to the latest technologies from the Microsoft stable, but also include a range of services and extras to assist companies in their adoption and best use of those technologies.

One of the services available is ‘Business Value Planning Services’ (BVPS). EA and SA holders can use vouchers included in those agreements to get up to 15 day consulting engagements free of charge. The services are provided by specially certified Microsoft partners.

“BVPS is designed to help customer Business Decision Makers (BDMs) develop a plan to leverage the strategic value of the Microsoft Information Worker (IW) platform by improving an impactful business process, working with the customer to document, analyze, optimize, justify, sequence, and propose a plan to improve their business using Office System. We provide a reliable, repeatable process for certified BVPS partners to conduct, and be compensated for 3, 5, 10 or 15-day engagements according to the level of their customers’ Software Assurance benefits.”

One of the firs things Dynamic Work Limited did when it set up this year was to get its BVPS certification so businesses with EA and SA benefits can use them to engage Dynamic Work to explore new ways of changing their business and how technology can pave the way.

Where We Are Available: Twitter

Hugh Macleod Twitter 1

One of my first posts was on the topic of ‘Where We Are Available’. It focused on the ‘geographic’ side of flexibility and the tools needed to bring people together for collaborating in an efficient manner. In the little over a year since that post, the principles of ‘where we are available’ have risen in prominence across a number of social media.

The Twitter ‘status update’ is one of the most popular uses for Twitter.  Updates on where people are delivered with the immediacy of the Twitter medium entails a chance for connected (‘following’, ‘friends’) individuals to connect geographically.  What it lacks in integration (with standard collaboration and calendaring like Outlook and Exchange) it gains in immediacy and convenience.  People like Hugh MacLeod are actively exploiting which quality to prompt impromptu real-world connections and face-to-face meetings.  One of the big criticisms of distributed working is that one loses out on the ‘serendipity’ of people bumping into each other in the hallway or at the water cooler.  But exploiting Twitter in this fashion demonstrates how new tools can actually expand ones potential for serendipity and actively foster it in distributed working mode.

Hugh Macleod Twitter 2 

Dynamic Business Centres

DIFC London

The most logical question after encouraging one to abandon one’s fixed office space, if the public venues like cafes and libraries don’t suit one’s taste and maybe ‘home working’ doesn’t quite suit, then ‘Where can I work?’

The fact is that business centres and clubs are cropping up all over the UK and especially London is a variety of designs and packages to suit almost any work style or budget. Here are just a few to come to my attention in recent weeks…

  • The Arts Club – A charming ambiance with lovely appointed rooms and an eclectic membership. The focus is supporting artists, but one does not need to be Equity or anything to join. Membership for the year is about £750. Wifi in a comfy chair in the centre of London surrounded by colourful creatives (thanks Mike)
  • One Alfred Place – Their website describes it best, “If you live and work outside London, but need a place to meet or entertain clients and catch up with emails and phone calls between meetings – Welcome to One Alfred Place, a unique working space in the heart of the West End that combines the best of a private members’ club with the facilities and support you’d expect from your own London office.” (thanks Katie)
  • DIFC Global – An unsung gem in the business centre collection. The crème de la crème of office space and yet available for short terms (including single days), small areas (hotdesks) and reasonable prices. Absolutely first-class service in space as prestigiously appointed as its St. James Square address.
  • Argyll – Argyll offers a cross between a members club package and a prestige business centre like DIFC (in fact, in the very same St. James Square as well as three other prestige addresses).

One useful resource for navigating and locating an appropriate business centre is the Business Centre Association. Quotes the website, “There are around 860 bca flexible managed space member locations across the UK, providing over 40 million sq ft of office space to 40,000 SME-sized business occupiers making use of 500,000 workstations.” In particular, their Map View centre finder is a great tool for finding a business centre near where you happen to be.