Redefining, reshaping and reinventing the work space
At our 70th Festival, I gave the keynote talk: ‘On being an orphan’ where I said:
“…The Tavistock Institute’s unconscious narrative is also that of an orphan and so it has had to be abandoned at least three times in its history in order to be where it is today…. The fourth floor of 30 Tabernacle St is full of orphans and abandoned children…. Miller suggested Institute employees were all professional refugees”
After almost 25 years at our current location, having survived many turbulent times, the Tavistock Institute is moving to a new home as part of a longer-term strategy to create for ourselves and our community a fitting home. This move is also an expression of our process of redefining ourselves, an organisation that is leading a trend and working with (rather than against) a new emerging context.
This is a complex and emotional process, involving a letting go in order to re-find and grow; a separation and goodbye alongside excitement for the new and the different; with anxiety about the same alongside a ‘good riddance’ feeling – all of which deserve equal attention and empathy.
Over the past year, we have found ourselves in a new global reality which has required us not only to be creative and adaptive but also offers an honest opportunity to learn and change. We have decided to take seriously the offer of the pandemic to take stock of the Tavistock space – physically – and in the world – and have engaged viscerally with a process of finding and redefining ourselves through the digital, the psyche and the physical.
We are responding to the impact of the global pandemic on us as humans, and also as professionals who need to contain and help others to process the shock of the last 18 months in order to move forward healthily and imaginatively. There is loss, grief, potential, discovery; there are remnants and there are remains. There are traumas – personal and collective and there is the desire to polarise: either hope we go back to how things were before or change 180 degrees, so we have nothing to remind us of the before. As humans and as a collective we need to simultaneously recycle, upcycle and throw away; we need to archive.
In the UK, we are still living with the legacy of how the Victorians conceived the office although of course, it has been changing: the evolution and history of office design and the future of the modern office. Now it seems we are on the cusp of a non-binary, much less controlled, more organic and non-linear model.
The new office, our office at least, is a Social Science hub full of opportunities, which will be less desk-based and more meeting and social-based – welcoming and fostering communication and engagement and hosting networks. Because it is flexible and dynamic, it can tolerate both continued social distancing and its abandonment, digital and physical interfaces and can bounce back from any further shocks.
The various physical zones – in a fractal-like design – create opportunities for accessing the liminal – that hidden and sometimes unconscious space – which bubbles up to the surface and back under it in iterative, sometimes repetitive, and sometimes haphazard ways – promoting reflection, thinking and collaboration – and perhaps challenging the convention of what work is/can be.
In the new space, we are putting equal emphasis on both form and function (and multi-function): we want the work habitat to embody ways of being, promote wellbeing of all its inhabitants, including the psychophysical and psychosocial.
We intend to lead this development from the front through our actions, followed by reflections on the experience, continuing to adapt and learn from it. Our new space can host large events such as:
Lunchtime Talks, gatherings, book launches, receptions, anniversaries and celebrations
Artists in residence – gallery wall space
Embodiment – exploring self-leadership and role through integrative movement: yoga, Alexander Technique, dance etc.
Our range of Professional Development programmes, some of which – Deepening Creative Practice in organisations and Organisational Consultancy: Working with dynamics have already elected to base themselves in the new office.
We are moving from Tabernacle St to Gee St in Clerkenwell – still near Old St and nearer to Farringdon/Barbican tube stations – the surroundings have a community vibe. This is a space to grow: not just to work and learn but to live and breathe, and it answers much of what we had imagined: nearby, flexible, open plan, light, airy, a refined 50s building with history, and with many local amenities. As soon as we walked through the door – we knew we could make this our new home.
We look forward to the emergence of a space promoting engagement and creativity, where we can welcome you all digitally and/or in-person @ the 3rd floor, 63 Gee St, London EC1V 3RS, UK.
Eliat Aram, CEO and Rachel Kelly, New Office Curator
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