UK labour productivity continues to flatline in spite of upturn

flatline_8205UK labour productivity continues to flatline in spite of the recent economic upturn, according to a new report from the Office for National Statistics. Overall productivity as measured by output per hour fell by 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared with the previous quarter. In 2014 as a whole, labour productivity was little changed from 2013, and slightly lower than in 2007, prior to the economic downturn. As ever, the devil is in the detail. There were notable increases in productivity in both manufacturing and construction but the modest gains in service industries obscure the fact that there is a great deal of variation across sectors and also the fact that any gains reflect a greater number of hours worked rather than an increase in the overall number of people employed or their underlying productivity.

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New study explores link between workplace design and productivity

workplace designThe latest report linking specific workplace design elements with increases in productivity and wellbeing has been published by flooring manufacturer Interface and organisational psychologist Cary Cooper. The Human Spaces report into The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace, claims that employees who work in environments with natural elements report a 15 percent higher level of well being, are 6 percent more productive and 15 percent more creative overall. The report is based on a study of 7,600 office workers from 16 countries. It concludes that office design is so important to workers that a third (33 percent) of global respondents believe it would ‘unequivocally’ affect their decision whether or not to work somewhere. Design is particularly important in India (67 percent), Indonesia (62 percent) and the Philippines (60 percent).

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CIBSE launches updated guide to environmental building design

environmental building designThe Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) has published the latest edition of Guide A: Environmental Design which the organisation claims is ‘the premier technical reference source for designers and installers of building services, especially low energy and sustainable buildings’. As well as updates to legislation and new research, the edition includes a completely new chapter which identifies specific requirements for achieving quality in environmental building design: adopting a holistic approach as well as a system to assure the quality of design calculations and decisions. The other chapters deal with a specific aspect of design including criteria such as comfort and ambient weather and methods of calculation for performance, heating and ventilation systems, methods for thermal comfort evaluation, energy demand and so on.

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Flexible working and recognition linked to happiness at work

happiness at workThe eternal quest for happiness is the subject of two new reports which conclude that if you want to feel more satisfied with your working life, it’s important to feel as if you are in control of it. New research from Professor Andy Charlwood at Loughborough University claims that government and employer policies that give people greater flexibility to choose the hours they work helps to foster their wellbeing and that overworked people are less satisfied with their lives and experience lower levels of psychological wellbeing overall. A second, less scientific study commissioned by US software provider InLoox claims that one of the most important determinants of happiness at work is an ability to work unsupervised or not to report to anybody at all so, if you must have a job, make sure you’re in charge.

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London workers take longer lunch breaks than staff in other regions

lunch breaksLondon’s workers take 25 percent longer for lunch break than their contemporaries elsewhere in the UK, according to Avanta’s London Worker Index. The report, based on a survey of 1,500 people in the capital, also found that some 24 percent of male workers report using their lunch break to take a nap, compared to just 14 percent of their female colleagues. In addition to napping, the survey found that 54 percent of London workers use their lunch break to go shopping, whilst a similar number (52 percent) run errands. More than a quarter (27 percent) visit the gym and over a third (28 percent) meet up with friends. However, not every Londoner is quite so lucky. Almost a quarter (23 percent) of Londoners skip lunch three or more times per week, and one in ten don’t take lunch breaks at all.

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Facebook moves into new California campus headquarters

facebook1Facebook has moved into its much discussed new headquarters building and campus in Menlo Park, California. As is the way these days, the relocation to the Frank Gehry designed HQ was announced by CEO Mark Zuckerberg on his own Facebook page and heralded by a number of images shared on social media by staff. Zuckerberg also shared an aerial view of the 22 acre location included its landscaped roof and has promised that more images and video will emerge ‘once we’re fully unpacked’. Controversially – maybe – the building features what is claimed to be the world’s largest open plan office space which will be home to many of the new building’s 2,800 inhabitants. In this regard, the design is resolutely mainstream as are the array of breakout spaces and cafes used to supplement the open plan and give people the chance to take some time away.

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New safety regulations to affect even routine building maintenance tasks

New safety regs to affect even routine maintenance jobsAny organisation which intends to contract for construction work could risk fines or imprisonment if they do not comply with new legal safety regulations covering site management. Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com  is warning that The Construction (Design and Management) (CDM) Regulations, which come into force on 6 April, will affect all construction work in the UK. The regulations give ‘clients’, meaning anyone for whom a project is carried out, a greater role. Once in force, the regulations will require commercial firms to appoint a principal designer and principal contractor whenever any work involves more than one contractor – even where the work involved is very limited and over quickly. The scope of ‘construction work’ under the regulations is wide, covering everything from major infrastructure projects to installing new showers.

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CBRE acquires facilities management business from Johnson Controls

facilities managementProperty giant CBRE has reached an agreement to acquire the facilities management business of Johnson Controls for $1.47bn. The deal will see CBRE acquire the Global WorkPlace Solutions (GWS) FM arm of the business, allowing the new enterprise to manage nearly 5bn sq ft of commercial real estate worldwide consisting of 2.3bn sq ft in North and South America, 1.2bn sq ft in EMEA and 1.4 bn sq ft in Asia Pacific. GWS, currently employs around  16,000 people worldwide, and had a turnover of around $3.4bn in 2014.The deal also see the two firms enter into a ten year strategic relationship, with CBRE offering a range of real estate services with Johnson Controls offering HVAC equipment and a range of building automation systems and other products in return. Both firms will also share investment in research and development.

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Overwhelming majority of UK workers entirely unproductive, claims report

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The overwhelming majority of UK workers don’t do anything productive at all, according to a new report published today. The study of all available research into the illnesses, injuries, distractions, wastes of time, procrastinations, productivity drains and paralyses that afflict British workers found that the total annual cost to the economy is around £1.8 trillion, equivalent to 98.9 percent of GDP. The meta-analysis was carried out by a team of researchers at the University of Salford led by Dr April Fullstay and Dr Juan Bornev-Ryminnid drawing on nearly five years of research and surveys across a range of issues to create the ‘most comprehensive overview of UK absenteeism and unproductive behaviours, their causes and consequences yet published’.

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SMEs provide the key to encouraging more women onto boards

SMEs should encourage more women onto boardsResearch from the Government, released last week, found that women now accounted for 23.5 percent of FTSE100 board members, up from 12.5 per cent in 2011. The target is 25 per cent by the end of this year, meaning that another 17 women need to be appointed. However the research showed that small companies are less diverse at the top, with woman accounting for 18 percent of directors of FTSE250 boards. As Chairman of a company which employs 220 people, I believe that unleashing the potential of women in the business is an excellent way to grow and develop organisations. The female perspective is very powerful in every issue within a business. It adds enormous value to clients, can often save money by offering a different way of doing things and creates a better working environment.

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