London firms focus on wellbeing and agile working to attract staff

agile workingAn additional 5.1m sq. ft. of office space will be required by 2019 to accommodate the growth of professional services firms in London, claims new research from CBRE. According to the studio, firms will also adopt more pragmatic workplace strategies that focus on agile working and wellbeing to meet their objectives. Nearly all (92 percent) of the respondents to CBRE’s Professional London survey claim they use the workplace to enhance employee satisfaction and 83 percent of firms use it to control costs. Firms are also placing more emphasis on wellbeing and more agile and intensive ways of using space, according to CBRE. Other factors such as technology and the design of the workplace are also increasingly important. The research suggests that staff are increasingly attracted by on-site amenities, connectivity and location and other ‘lifestyle offerings’.

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Everything you wanted to know about open plan but were too distracted to ask

open plan There is a lively and ongoing debate on whether open plan offices are a good or bad thing. Many articles would suggest that they routinely diminish productivity. Yes, the open plan office is not ideal for privacy and probably bad for conceptual focused work, but it’s a bit like saying a hammer is useless when you need to tighten a screw. The point is you don’t use it for that. Fans of open plan often underline how fantastic it is for building a sense of belonging, team spirit and ad hoc collaboration, often ignoring the challenges of working there. The point I’m making is that introducing open plan into your office is probably a good idea, but you really need to make sure that you provide your employees with a menu of settings which allow them to concentrate, have ad hoc meetings without disturbing their colleagues and provide some privacy for confidential conversations.

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More support needed to help people with depression stay at work

End of their ropeAt any one time around 1 in 6 people of working age are experiencing a common mental health condition such as depression or anxiety but a lack of awareness may lead employers to misinterpret symptoms as poor performance, finds a new report from Lancaster University’s Work Foundation.The paper, Symptoms of Depression and their Effects on Employment, recommends that in order to improve both productivity and health and wellbeing among those of working age, more concerted action must be taken to support people with depression to stay in and to return to work. The paper considers the ways in which some of the symptoms associated with depression can form a barrier to employment and calls upon government departments at a national and regional level to commit to improving the provision of evidence-based support to help people with depression.

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It’s perfectly logical why we should apply emotion in workplace design

Emotion in workplace designMost of the arguments put forward for enlightened workplace design are fact based. That’s useful but such arguments can also ignore the fact that we respond to our surroundings on an emotional level as well as a functional one. Once you accept that office design is as much about how it makes people feel as how it helps them work, then the design process can be as much about EQ as it is IQ. While businesses can shy away from dealing with the emotional facets of working lives, there is a growing movement that advocates not only greater awareness of the importance of emotional intelligence but is also able to draw attention to the benefits it brings to organisations and individuals. This was the underlying message of a groundbreaking event that took place in London recently which explored the use of emotion in a business context.

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Public sector lacks skills and confidence to buy more from smaller companies

public sector procurementA new survey from techUK, the trade association that represents technology companies in the UK, claims that while civil servants see IT as key to delivering their mission, they don’t think their departments  have the right skills and culture to enable digital transformation of public services. This extends to the way goods and services are procured with particular consequences for smaller suppliers. Of the 929 Civil Servants surveyed for the study, less than 1 percent of respondents see IT as an overhead, while over three quarters believe it to be a necessity. However, there remain significant barriers to technology adoption. Over three quarter (68 percent) claim that having the right skills internally is critical to improving the procurement process; but only 20 percent agree their department has the skills and capabilities to manage suppliers.

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Majority of employers want to promote mental wellbeing in the workplace

Majority of employers want to promote mental wellbeingEighty-four percent of employers believe they have a responsibility to provide a work environment that promotes mental well-being, according to a new Buck Consultants at Xerox survey report “Promoting Mental Well-being: Addressing Worker Stress and Psychosocial Risks,” released last week at the Global Centre for Healthy Workplaces Annual Summit in Brazil. The Global Survey on Health Promotion and Workplace Wellness Strategies – with a strong focus on companies in the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil and Singapore – found that more than one-third of employers rate the stress level within their organization as “high or very high.” However, over two-thirds of employers offer flexible work schedules, and more than half offer telecommuting to mitigate work-related stress, while more than half of employers rate their organization as very or extremely supportive of the mental well-being of their employees.

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Sheppard Robson release details of new mixed-use scheme in Clerkenwell

5278-68-86-Farringdon-Road-2Architects Sheppard Robson have released more details of their design for a major mixed-use project in the Clerkenwell district of London. The site is currently occupied by a multi-story car park and the new scheme, developed alongside Endurance Land will include a 3,900 sq m office development aimed predominantly at SMEs, particularly those in the media, technology and creative industries for which the area is known. The scheme includes a hotel and retail spaces at ground level. Sheppard Robson claims that ‘all elements of the development in-keeping with the vibrancy of Clerkenwell and nearby Exmouth Market, whilst also acknowledging the history of the site which is adjacent to two conservation areas’. The hotel will be operated by Premier Inn, and include a touchdown cafe open to guests and the public.

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Smart buildings, smart cities and the promise of infinite data

Smart citiesThe rapid urbanization of our world and the weaving of existing and new buildings into the urban fabric of Smart City initiatives are some of the great challenges facing our global industry today. Along with the vast amount of definitions and marketing campaigns surrounding the phrase “Smart Cities” comes the challenge of understanding why the movement is important to the Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Facility Management (AEC/FM) industry and how industry stakeholders can profit from, or at the very least, not get run over by the tsunami called Smart Cities. The emergence of Smart Cities as the conduit for ideas, thoughts, policies and strategies for the world’s urban environments is an important milestone for our industry, and it comes at a time of rapid innovation, convergence and redefinitions.

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We might spot patterns in office design, but a global picture is beyond us

lesser-hedgehog-tenrecThe ongoing evolution in the design of the places we work has much in common with evolution in the natural world. But whereas natural selection is dependent on its ‘Blind Watchmaker’ to shape creatures in response to the forces in their environment, workplace design is anything but blind – at least it is when done intelligently and with insight. To push this metaphor a bit further, evolutionary theory suggests that it is no great surprise that similar although unrelated natural forms develop in different parts of the world. So, what sort of animal is pictured at the top of this page? Obviously it’s a trick question or I wouldn’t ask. It’s a tenrec, a native of Madagascar that looks almost exactly like a hedgehog. Even though the two animals share no common ancestors, they have evolved very similar forms in response to similar challenges in their environment.

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Clerkenwell Design Week explores the links between design and the individual

Clerkenwell Design Week For a show with such an international perspective there are many aspects of Clerkenwell Design Week that mark it out as a typically British event. There’s the weather, of course, which can vary from day to day between drizzle and bright sunshine, marking the difference between visitors dodging showers and huddling in showrooms or spilling out onto the pavements to drink beer and talk turkey. Then there’s the very idea of Clerkenwell itself, a district in East London historically associated with the arts and crafts movements, dodgy dealings, immigrant artisans and labourers and the sort of denuded former glories that those with the right mindset like to appropriate and reinvent. London may exist as a City State within the UK, but it also provides the beating heart for many nationwide industries. For the UK office interiors industry that heart can be found in Clerkenwell.

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