The latest issue of Insight Weekly is available to view online

Insight_twitter_logo_2In this week’s issue; the ten most sustainable buildings in North America; Mark Eltringham examines the ways different countries approach ergonomics. Steve Taylor looks at the evidence for doing less sitting and more standing at work, while a new report from the Work Foundation sets out the challenges facing the next UK government to improve the health of the country’s workforce. In news; Facebook almost doubles the size of its London HQ, the adoption of flexible working by UK organisations increases by over a third and new data shows that the UK office market is growing as employers strive to create environments designed to enhance staff wellbeing. Sign up to the newsletter via the subscription form in the right hand sidebar and follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.

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New long term standing desks study announced at Virgin Media

sit-stand-desking_illustrationA new 12 month study into the application and effects of working with standing desks has been announced by the University of Chester in conjunction with Virgin Media. However it’s a pretty small scale model – at just one site and presumably with a limited cross section of the general population. It will involve the participation of two groups of 12 agents at Virgin Media’s contact centre in Sheffield. The research will be led by John Buckley, Professor of Applied Exercise Science at the University of Chester, with the aim ‘to uncover the impact of a less sedentary working environment on health, wellbeing and productivity.’ The two groups of agents involved will take it in turns to spend six months each using adjustable sit-stand desks and staying on their feet for a minimum of two hours daily.

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Rising commercial property costs driving small businesses out of London

commercial propertyThe vast majority of small businesses in London and other parts of the South East are considering relocating over the next five years because they are frustrated with the lack of appropriate facilities and soaring commercial property costs in the region. A new study from the University of Sussex’s business incubation network Sussex Innovation claims that nearly two thirds (63 percent) of small businesses, rising to 78 percent of technology startups, believe their future may depend on leaving the capital. The study claims this threatens the viability of the Government’s flagship Tech City hub just months after it announced a new scheme to attract firms to the area. The research is based on a study of over 500 business owners and leaders in London and the South East and was presented at the launch of Sussex Innovation’s new hub in Croydon.

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Are these this year’s ten most sustainable buildings in North America?

Bulliit Centre - sustainable buildingsThe American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) have selected what they claim are the nation’s top ten examples of sustainable architecture and ecological design projects. The COTE Top Ten Awards program, now in its 19th year, claims to be the profession’s most rigorous recognition program for sustainable buildings. The program highlights projects that are the result of an “integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology … which make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts through strategies such as reuse of existing structures, connection to transit systems, low-impact and regenerative site development, energy and water conservation, use of sustainable or renewable construction materials, and design that improves indoor air quality.”

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Facebook nearly doubles the size of its London headquarters

Regent's PlaceFacebook has nearly doubled the size of its UK headquarters on Euston Road in Central London, according to property owner British Land. The firm has signed a deal with the landlord that will see it add 66,000 sq ft to its existing 87,000 sq ft office. Facebook will occupy the fifth floor of the Regent’s Place building, as well as floors nine to sixteen and some shared space on the ground floor. The company has recently relocated from a 36,000 sq ft office in Covent Garden. Facebook is one of several global tech giants migrating to the area around Euston and Kings Cross which is in the midst of a multibillion redevelopment. The most high profile new resident is Google which is building a giant new headquarters building in King’s Cross. Other organisations in the area, which has been dubbed the Knowledge Quarter, include UCL, the Guardian and the government’s Digital Catapult Centre.

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Half of people say flexible work is a key consideration when changing jobs

Over half of workers say flexible work is a key consideration when changing jobsThe days when staff would commit to a business for life and be chained to a desk for upwards of 10 hours per day are long gone, as today’s employees increasingly seek flexible work. According to a survey of over 1,000 UK workers by PageGroup, 26 percent of people would cite flexible working as the most important consideration for their next job, compared to 18 percent who cited it as a primary consideration in their current role. Across all age categories, respondents are more motivated by the opportunity to work flexibly than they were at the start of their career, with 57 percent of respondents highlighting this as a key motivator. Forward-thinking organisations, particularly the media and tech start-ups typified by those based at London’s Silicon Roundabout, are now high on the wish list for candidates.

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Is it now time to take a stand on sitting in the workplace?

standing in the workplaceThe search for wellbeing is taking over the workplace as companies look to attract and retain the very best talent. Bosting health, happiness and productivity in the office environment is now paramount to counter potential negative health effects and growing discontent from office workers. A key factor in this topic is the ill-effects caused by workers spending the vast majority of their day sitting inactive at their desks. Workers are now taking a stand in the office and companies are being forced to act. Recent research carried out by the American College of Cardiology reported that an office design that makes people sit at their desk or meeting room for hours every day is equally as bad as putting a cigarette in their hand; leaving them at raised risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

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How local approaches to ergonomics redefine worldwide standards

ergonomicsWe live in the Global Village, Marshall McLuhan’s construct of an electronically contracted world in which attitudes, cultures and our political, business and legislative framework begin to pull together. And yet still each nation is characterised by the little differences that set it apart from its neighbours and even nations on the other side of the globe. So while there are many common threads that bind workplace design in different countries many of the core issues that shape the way we design and manage offices, such as demographics, status, organisational culture, technology, legislation and corporate identity can  vary from country to country. The way these are viewed and the emphasis each country places on each of them shape how they manifest themselves in the local market.

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Proposal to fund development of Grade A office space in Northern Ireland

Scheme launched to look at funding office development in NIPlans to develop a scheme that ensures Northern Ireland has enough Grade A office space to meet its needs has been launched by business development agency Invest NI. It follows the publication of a report that found while demand for Grade A offices has remained relatively steady over the past three years, with no new development taking place, both the overall supply and Grade A supply has fallen steadily. Of the total supply, only around 320,000 sq ft is classified as Grade A, 250,000 sq ft of which is located in Belfast City Centre. Nearly a quarter (21%) is contained within units that are smaller than 10,000 sq ft, a further 36 percent within units sized between 10-20,000 sq ft and there are only three office buildings across Northern Ireland that could offer space exceeding 20,000 sq ft.

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Flexible working and smart tools prove a big hit with UAE employees

Flexible working in UAEIt’s not just in the UK where employees say they are attracted by the idea of flexible working. A new study from YouGov commissioned by the Dubai based Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) claims that employees in the United Arab Emirates now rate employers most highly for the smart tools and flexible working opportunities they offer. The study of over 1,000 employees and HR professionals in the UAE was commissioned to uncover emerging trends in human capital management. It found that 64 percent of employees rate flexible working hours, provided by employers based on personal circumstances, as good or very good, which is particularly prevalent amongst Emirati respondents (83 percent). The majority of employees (74 percent) also believe a remote and flexible work schedule increases their productivity.

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