UK’s best workplaces + Great workplace puzzle + Digital future

Insight_twitter_logo_2In this week’s Newsletter see the latest issue of Work&Place, which features Ian Ellison’s look at the workplace puzzle and what an esoteric Marxist French philosopher can teach us about workspace. Mark Eltringham says that despite debates about technology, culture, buildings and design – it all comes down to the human element; and Sara Bean finds that unlike men, when women start having children, they’re promotion and pay prospects suffers. In news, driverless vehicles will have a significant impact on the real estate sector; evidence that organisations which support mobile technology see a rise in productivity; and a new partnership aims to drive sustainable property development in Europe. The UK’s best workplaces are announced and a new study confirms that the digital future will mean a reliance on physical office space will recede. Download our Insight Briefing, produced in partnership with Connection, on the boundless office; visit our new events page, follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.

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Is this the missing piece of the facilities management puzzle?

W&P7 coverThe IFMA Foundation Workplace Summit of summer 2014 felt like an optimistic time for facilities management and the workspace industry. Heavyweights from the sector were asking searching questions about our organisational contribution, with thankfully less of the internally focused, debate-free hubris typical of much of the industry narrative. The newly announced (and now evidently historical) collaboration between BIFM and CIPD was in full swing, endorsed by social media savvy Twitterati under The Workplace Conversation banner.  Finally, I thought, we seemed to be talking less about space as a commodity and more about people. Melissa Marsh of Plastarc captured it at the Summit as she evidenced co-working principles: less “managing facilities” and more “enabling communities”. It felt like some were finally starting to realise the fundamental qualitative difference between workspace and workplace: the role of culture.

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UK’s ‘best workplaces’ announced by Great Place to Work

Great Place to WorkGreat Place to Work has announced what it considers to be the UK’s best workplaces. The category for large firms was headed by McDonald’s and IT firm Softcat followed by Salesforce UK, Cisco, Capital One and Hyatt. The medium sized organisation category was headed by  housing association RHP Group followed by manufacturers Cosatto, financial services firm Goodman Masson, R Twining & Company and IT provider UKFast. IT companies were also prominent in the small business category with Foundation SP and DMW, first and second respectively followed by professional services firm Futureheads Recruitment, non-profit Resurge and professional services firm, New Chapter Consulting. Google topped the best multinational category, followed by SAS Institute, manufacturing firm WI Gore & Associates IT firm Net App and telecommunications firm Telefonica. A full report on the awards including its methodology can be found here.

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Start-ups help drive the rise in uptake of serviced offices in Australia

Australian office marketThe number of flexible workspaces is growing in Australia, which has seen a 15 percent increase in new serviced offices and co-working spaces opening in the last year, according to data from Instant Offices. But the country still has some way to go when compared to other major international destinations for business, with only 300 such offices in total compared to more than 3,000 in the US alone. During the relative economic uncertainty of the past year – with growth limited to 2.5 percent however, Australia is now witnessing the growth of a “contingent” workforce. Small businesses of four employees or less make up more than three quarters of the total market, and considering that in two of the country’s commercial markets, Sydney and Melbourne, the typical entrance to the market has been via fixed lease of seven to 10 years in length; the agility offered by flexible workspaces is gaining in appeal.

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9 in 10 UK office workers stressed by meeting room technology

Video conferenceMeeting room technology which does not work seamlessly is a hindrance for productivity, with 86 percent experiencing serious “meeting stress” when grappling with it during meetings, according to research from Vanson Bourne and Barco. Among the biggest challenges for UK employees were sharing content and screens, and finding the right cables to connect to devices. In trying to deal with problems, staff are wasting significant amounts of their valuable time: 60 percent try to fix problems themselves, 49 percent call support, 30 percent end up giving up. 15 percent even postpone meetings until technology problems can be fixed. The vast majority (90 percent) actually pre-prepare for failures: preparing handouts as alternatives to tech, coordinating with IT in advance, and 44 percent even do a tech rehearsal. As a result of struggling with technology in meeting rooms, a quarter of UK office workers have missed important deadlines, and some have even missed out on personal opportunities like promotions (7 percent).

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New partnership to encourage creation of age friendly workplaces

Hiring older workersBetween 2005 and 2015 the number of people working over the age of 50 in the UK increased by 2.5 million, while those working over the age of 65 more than doubled. By 2022, there will be 12.5 million job vacancies that need to be replaced due to people leaving the workforce in addition to the two million new vacancies that will be created. However, there are estimated to be just seven million younger people to fill them. Recruiting and retaining older workers will be critical to closing this gap. Now in a major new initiative, the Centre for Ageing Better has gone into partnership with Business in the Community to identify and test what works to recruit, retrain and retain older workers. Through this partnership, it wants to hear from employers across the country who see the benefits of older workers and who are implementing changes to create age friendly workplaces.

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UK, Germany, Switzerland and Poland lag Europe in flexible working

UK, Germany, Switzerland and Poland lag behind in flexible workingA new report has verified the value of flexible working by showing a positive correlation between employee happiness and the adoption of flexible working practices. Yet, the research conducted by IDC and sponsored by Cornerstone OnDemand also reveals that flexible working practices have been taken up at different speeds across Europe, where the lowest flexible working maturity appears to be clustered in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the UK. Business managers and HR respondents stated a low level of flexible working adoption in Poland, the UK, Switzerland and Germany – surprising, given the competitive labour market in these regions. The Nordics, Spain, Benelux and Austria were perceived to be the most mature when it came to flexible working options. Among the respondents from Poland, less than 50 percent of those surveyed were allowed to work from home, while the figure for the Nordic countries was 87 percent.

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London’s office occupiers likely to move out to regions over next decade

Moving to BirminghamThe high costs associated with accommodating staff in London will lead to a trend over the next decade of office occupiers moving away from the capital to the major cities around the UK. This is according to the 2016 edition of property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton’s annual Office Market Report, which highlights the significant and growing difference in premises, staff and housing costs between Central London and the UK’s other key cities. For cities such as Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham, staff and premises costs (including rent, business rates, day-to-day running costs etc) for a new-build office collectively amount to just over £50,000 per workstation. Measured on the same basis, a workstation in London’s Midtown area carries an annual cost of well over £80,000. In practice, this means that the overall cost of occupying a new-build office in a location such as Bristol for 500 staff stands at £27m per annum; in Midtown, the total cost would be over £13m higher each year.

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Digital divide in businesses is holding back the British economy

Digital workplaceA digital divide is opening up across the British economy, with just over half (55 percent) of “pioneer” firms adopting digital technologies and processes, while the other half (45 percent) are falling behind, according to new research by the CBI and IBM. Despite the UK taking top place globally for e-commerce and fifth place for the availability of technology, it ranks only fourteenth in the world for company-level adoption of digital technology, with many companies struggling to digitise their businesses at the rate of peers in other countries. Companies cite a mix of connectivity challenges and security concerns as barriers to digital adoption, but predominantly they are hindered by a lack of appropriate skills inside their business (42 percent of firms) and an unclear return on investment (33 percent). The report’s findings for the UK echo those of a global study carried out by Cognizant.

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The digital future of work is more about humans than machines, claims study

future of workThe claims that robots will render the human species redundant are largely exaggerated suggests a new report from Cognizant’s Centre for the Future of Work and the Economist Intelligence Unit. But we will have to find a new path and it may be one that emphasises human strengths and characteristics working alongside robots. The study of 420 managers in Europe and the US explores the future of the workplace in an increasingly automated world and suggest we will also see the emergence of new jobs involved in the design of augmented reality and avatars as well as a generally greater emphasis on robot-human partnerships in an increasingly digital world. The study claims, unsurprisingly, that the reliance on physical office space will recede, forcing businesses to employ intelligent workplaces which will monitor workers’ environment, needs and even moods.

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