The Punk Workplace – not just another middle class rebellion

Posted: October 17, 2014 in Uncategorized


We’re fortunate.


That we didn’t have to work in a Satanic Mill.


We’re fortunate

That we haven’t lost a colleague because our workplace is dangerous.


We’re fortunate

That people actually want me around.


We’re fortunate

That coming to this Ikeafied blandtopia doesn’t send more of us home with emptiness and psychological pain.

We have a workplace to unfuck.  And I have NO RIGHT to share with you answers that are based on academic research or professional rigour.  I say so because for years, I was the recipient of workplace planning – or not – or overplanning.  So I think we need to Punk up our workplaces.  And I don’t mean in a Gaultier kind of Punk (or even Westwood these days).

I mean proper true street punk it up.  Unless you’re a massive consulting firm then basically you’re stuck with leather, marble, dark wood and a place that sucks out your very soul on the swipe of your pass.

Some people may say Punk is a gimmick.  Well it might be from our lofty University Challenge perch, but Punk means real to those truly in the know.  No plastic here.  Just improv; rebellion and feeling something.

The Punk Workplace is about you saying “fuck the establishment” and creating your space where you belong and believe in.

It might be reclaimed furniture; bespoke something; or no place at all.  What it needs is a workplace with feelings to start with.

Thereafter it’s about allowing you to put around what you need.  A zone; variety; colours.  Not some “space planner” to tell you how much square feet you need.  Or your boss to say “no you WILL have an office”.

Bring your own device?  Bring your own fucking self to start with.  Bring your own DESIGNS more like.

Don’t say “here’s your desk”…allow people to find their place or places.  All property is theft.  Anarchy rules so don’t tell me to be an anarchist.  I want to be me at work.  And that includes how I work, where I sit, and what I need around me.

Punk is the ultimate in individual expression categorised by that lack of conformity.

If we were all sat on bean bags in shorts and with our dogs at our sides, that’s about as Punk as a local Trendy Parents meeting.

We need more conformity at work like we do a thinner iPad.  We need more battery in our devices and we need humanity in our workplaces.  Not boxes to transact in.  Places to be human and give your best endeavours within.

A few quick logistics.

When you start a new job you get asked “how and where would you like to work?”

Options include

1. Accept the grey/beige stuff we already have.  Not Punk even if you try and say it’s anti establishment / non trendy.  Punks never wore crimplene.

2. Use the nice all white stuff we already have – which is better than beige.  Not Punk more Kylie video

3. Pick your own stuff – we’re doing a makeover – getting there but a bit Green Day-esque.

4. Bring your own stuff – we’d happily ship it in – more like it.  Very Joe Strummer

5. Work where you like – cos we trust you – much more Anti-Nowhere League

6. Work – what’s that? – very CRASS.

There’s no hallmarks to a punk workplace except that when you see one, you know it is one.

With a nod to the person who does the facilities, a wink at the HR team and a smile at the CEO whilst she was writing on the graffiti wall in the stairway.

  1. foxhumanresources says:

    Where there is ‘struggle’, punk thrives, but what is struggle? Opposition? Defiance? Dislike? These lyrics from a long forgotten song kind of sum that up really…

    “We can talk of riots and petrol bombs
    And revolutions all day long
    But if we fail to organise
    We’ll waste our lives on protest songs”.

    Standing by your side Brother Perry as the struggle continues to unfurl and your ‘singing’ voice spreads further…oi oi.

  2. perrytimms says:

    So I am going to comment on my own blog just for clarity. This was my Pecha Kucha presentation at Workplace Trends conference 2014 on Wednesday 15th November 2014. I was asked to talk about the Punk Workplace following a Virtual Cuppa chat I did with Neil Usher (@workessence).

    I am NOT middle class (by the definitions I’ve found). I am and always have been working class. Not that this should matter but I am proud of my heritage, of my parents and of myself (as a functioning member of society).

    Nor was this blog or my take on the Punk Workplace a middle class thing – I deliberately stated this to avoid anyone thinking it was a play on trends. I believe in a punk philosophy of difference; individuality and non-conformist thinking which is what I was trying to get out of this post.

    So I am not ignoring mechanics in Bromsgrove. Or factory workers in Huddersfield. Or care workers in Dorking. Or welders in Haverfordwest. Or a store assistant in Kilmarnock etc.

    Some of these guys don’t have to worry about a soulless working environment I call “blandtopia” where space planners and senior managers are boxing them into a dull space to do their work. Millions of people in office work are subject to squeeze, poor light, crappy pretentious attempts to make the work place funky and generally zapping conditions.

    Of course people on production lines and in warehouses and in hospitals deserve a great place to work. We all do.

    My call here is to give people dignity, choice, influence. Help them shape their working space.

    So if some of this post is lost on people, I’m sorry my writing sometimes does that. I have nothing to back this up in a research sense only that people seem to respond to this with a cheer and a whoop. Which – in my world – trumps a published paper in an academic journal no-one knows about.

    I am not an expert in the design principles for building.

    I have 26 years of working in blandtopia to fall back on though. If someone had asked me to punk up my workplace, I’d have absolutely gone for it with all my heart and soul. I had some of the most forgettable working environments ever in my past that seemed to get only worse as I left that world behind.

    Since then, I do my white collar stuff anywhere I can and I am like a free spirit soaring above the grey clouds of Dullsville.

    I’ve never worked in anything other than office type work.

    But I have friends & family who work in Fire Service; are Teachers; Builders; and Debt Collectors. Work in Social Care; logistics and retail. I have clients across a range of industries. They would all like a better place to work. They would all like the choice to influence how that was. IMHO they all deserve a punk workplace.

    None of them are middle class. The only class they belong to is that of hard working people who deserve something better.

    I hope that clears anything up.

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