Mind research reveals relentless email checks extend to toilet breaks

empty-toilet-rollThere have been quite a number of polls over the summer warning of the dangers of presenteeism and overwork; but the latest one from Mind does make for uncomfortable reading. It has found that more than 1 in 7 of people (15 percent) who receive work emails sometimes check them while in the toilet and nearly 2 in 5 (38 percent) of those who receive work emails admit that they often check them outside of work. Only half of respondents (50 percent) say that their manager respects that they have a life away from work. As well as having personal lives interrupted, the survey found that this relentless email-checking culture is making it difficult for workers to switch off when they should be preparing for sleep and the mental health charity warns a culture of working round-the-clock is making it difficult  for people to achieve a healthy work/life balance.

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The reason offices will always be needed is tied up with human nature

Far awayPeople have a tendency to confuse what is possible with what will happen. This appears to be a particular issue when we consider the effects of new technology. Hence the enduring talk of the death of the office, which technology makes possible but which people make impossible. One of the key areas of research that describes this tension is the work of Tom Allen at MIT. Allen made his name in 1984 with the publication of a book called Managing the Flow of Technology which first popularised the Allen Curve, a graph of his research findings which shows a powerful negative correlation between physical distance and the frequency of communication between colleagues. So precisely can this be defined, that Allen found that 50 metres marks a cut-off point for the regular exchange of certain types of technical information.

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Three quarters of employers fail to deal with employees’ anger issues

Three quarters of employers fail to deal with employee’s anger issuesThe gunman in Virginia who shot dead two people at his former workplace is thankfully a rare example of someone whose anger at work boiled over into extreme violence. But the case demonstrates the pernicious effect anger and resentment can have in a work environment. While colleagues are expected to work cohesively together to achieve mutual goals and targets, unfortunately this isn’t always the case, and there are often seething resentments building underneath the professional facade. A new study by Health Assured found that 86 percent of workers regularly vent their anger and frustration at a co-worker and three quarters (74 percent) of them claim that their manager regularly makes them angry by not leading the workforce effectively. A failure to manage such situations is borne out in the fact that 79 percent of employers admit to finding it difficult to deal with employees with anger management issues.

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People are surprisingly ignorant of basic technological terms

Ignorance of technologyOne of the assumptions we might make about people in our increasingly digital world is that everybody has a pretty good grasp of what some of the more basic technological ideas actually mean. That cosy assumption is challenged by a new study from IT firm Daisy Group which claims that a fifth of the UK population don’t know what WiFi is, three quarters have no idea what is meant by VoIP, nearly half (43 percent) don’t know what The Cloud is and a similar number (44 percent) are baffled by the term ‘fibre broadband’. Even business owners and managers, for whom a basic grasp of this kind of stuff would seem essential, are at a disadvantage. Nearly a third (29 percent) of 1,100 surveyed couldn’t define fibre broadband (29 percent), a quarter (26 percent) hadn’t the foggiest about The Cloud and pretty much everybody is left cold by data centres.

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Women in full time work earn 22 percent less than men, claims study

gender-payWomen managers are effectively working for free nearly two hours every day, according to a report into the gender pay gap from the Chartered Management Institute and Xpert HR. The report draws on a survey of 72,000 UK managers published which found that women working in full-time roles earn 22  percent less than men, which the authors claim means they are ‘unpaid’ for 1h 40m a day. According to the analysis of the data from the 2015 National Management Salary Survey, for men and women of all ages and in all professional roles the pay differential now stands at an average of £8,524, with men earning an average of £39,136 and women earning £30,612. In 2014, the gap stood at £9,069, or 23 percent. The difference rises to £14,943 for senior or director-level staff, with men earning an average of £138,699 compared to the average for women of £123,756.

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What the Enlightenment can teach us about workplace design and management

Age of ReasonThe enduring struggle to improve the working conditions and performance of people through the design and management of their workplaces has more than a whiff of the Enlightenment of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries about it. The Enlightenment marked a new era in which the old superstitions and dogmas were to be overthrown by pure reason. This intellectual development was seen by its proponents as enough to convince the world of the ways in which we could improve the human condition. It’s a battle that was won in some ways but which continues to this day, as you can tell from the work of the most prominent modern day evangelists of pure reason such as Richard Dawkins, Ben Goldacre, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens and the enduring ability of people to believe palpable nonsense.

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The long hours culture may be making us unwell and less productive

Long hours cultureWe should have worked out by now that long hours and productivity are not the same thing. It’s been a long-standing issue in the UK where people manage to combine some of the longest working hours in Europe with levels of productivity that fall habitually some way behind those of our partners on the mainland. Over the past couple of weeks a couple of reports have been published which not only make the point that the long hours culture and an obsession with work may actually be reducing our productivity and even harming us physically, emotionally and psychologically. The range of ailments associated with the dysfunctional ways we work include stress, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, relationship breakdown, a range of infections and feelings of isolation. The question they posit is whether it’s all worth it, especially if we’re not getting as much done as we’d like to think.

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Flexible working and coworking are disrupting property markets worldwide

wework-soho-london-1Coworking space and the growth of flexible are already having a major disruptive effect on commercial property markets worldwide, according to a study from real estate trade association CoreNet Global. The survey of members representing a diverse range of sectors found that the two most disruptive trends in the market over the short to medium term are flexible working environments (64  percent) and new technology (64 percent). The report, which has been issued to CoreNet members ahead of the organisation’s 2015 EMEA Summit which will take place in London in September, claims that coworking spaces are capitalising on these trends to have a major disruptive effect on local property markets and are particularly attractive to occupiers from specific sectors such as those working in financial technology.

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Flexible working now an almost universal employee benefit, claims study

flexible workingA new report from employee benefits provider Unum claims to set out the future trends and challenges affecting the benefits packages firms should offer staff. One of the headline claims from the report is that four out of five employers (79 percent) already offer flexible working. ‘The Future of Employee Benefits’ report surveyed 13 organisations and incorporated the results with those of a series of interviews and roundtable discussions with employers and specialists including representatives from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. The report identifies a series of macro trends affecting workplace wellbeing and the recruitment and retention of employees over the next 15 years, which were categorised into four distinct working environments: The Ageless Workplace; The Mindful Workplace; The Intuitive Workplace; and The Collaborative Workplace.

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Demand for commercial office space in UK cities continues to surge

HSBC HeadquartersAccording to the latest quarterly update from property advisors Knight Frank, demand for commercial office space in the UK’s regional markets remains remarkably  strong, driving upward pressure on rental prices and increasing the demand for new commercial property developments. According to the report, demand is up by around a half compared to  the previous quarter, with Birmingham enjoying the largest increase of around 400 percent. Strong economic growth is reflected in healthy occupier demand, which saw a total of 2.08m sq ft taken up in the three months to the end of June, which was 51 percent ahead of the first quarter and 49 percent above the five year quarterly average. The stand out let was HSBC’s at Birmingham’s Arena Central development (top) which accounted for fully half of the city’s take up of space and which we reported here.

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