Flexible working may improve productivity, but does it diminish creativity? 0

flexible working and creativityHomeworking seems to have become a bit of a hot topic this year, but one sentence published on the www.gov.uk website brought a cold sweat to the brows of many managers and employees across the United Kingdom. “From 30 June 2014, all employees have the legal right to request flexible working – not just parents and carers.” Despite the fact that the law allowing flexible start and finish times and working from home only covers employees who have worked for a company for at least 26 weeks and that the employers are still able to disallow it as long as it’s done in a ‘reasonable manner’, the threat of being sent to an employment tribunal brings some HR managers to the brink of hysteria. But is this really justifiable? The truth is, the new government policy will probably make flexi-work more common, but it’s already being implemented quite successfully across the globe, with plentiful research on its impact so far.

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Revised plans approved for development of iconic BBC Television Centre 0

Revised plans for former BBC television centre buildings approvedNew office space aimed at occupiers in the creative sector is included in Stanhope and Mitsui Fudosan’s planned redevelopment of the former BBC Television Centre in west London. The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham have granted planning permission for the revised plans for the mixed use development of the iconic building; to include the demolition of the existing Stage 4 and 5 office buildings and their replacement with a more sustainable and efficient new ten storey office building with improved facades, designed by architects AHMM. A change in use from residential to commercial has also been approved for a new nine storey office building fronting Hammersmith Park on the site of the old BBC restaurant block, with an overall increase in office accommodation across the site from 350,000 sq ft to 519,000 sq ft.

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Time to get back a sense of proportion about sitting down 1

Sitting_at_DeskThe well of public discourse about office design is regularly fouled by the effluent of people who really should know better. Normally this is characterised by hyperbolic assertions about how flexible working will lead to The Death of the Office (it won’t)  or how the decision by Yahoo and others to go into partial reverse on remote work will spell The Death of Flexible Working (it didn’t). All of this drivel can be forgiven when it comes from civilians, but the fact that it remains commonplace in the workplace media and emanates from the mouths of people who work in the sector is enough to make you despair. The latest example of this attention seeking behaviour, excretion of simplistic bullshit, market making or whatever you see it as, is the drive to demonise sitting, now normally expressed alongside some variant of the slogan ‘Sitting is the New Smoking’.

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Majority of firms lack a coherent approach to employee engagement 0

Employee engagementIn spite of the fact that the overwhelming majority of employees worldwide are disengaged at work, most organisations still don’t think they take a strategic approach to the issue. A new study by technology consultancy Altimeter claims that just 41 percent of organisations believe they take a strategic approach to employee engagement, while only 43 percent believe they have an organisational culture of trust and empowerment with many unable to use technology as part of the solution. The authors of the report cite another study published by Gallup in 2013 which found that 87 percent of employees globally are engaged, rising to 70 percent in the US. The report is based on a study of 114 organisations but mirrors the findings of Deloitte in their report from earlier this year which studied 2,500 organisations and found the same mismatch.

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Many firms lack the trust, equipment and policies to offer flexible working 0

Businessman lieEven though many staff would forgo a wage increase if offered flexible working, a large number of employers still do not trust their employees to work flexibly, according to new research from Samsung. The survey of 2,000 employees and 200 business owners found that 28 percent of firms remain sceptical that employees are sufficiently trustworthy to work away from their main place of work and outside normal office hours. On a more positive note, over half (52 percent) of employers associate flexible working with greater productivity and more than a quarter of employees (27 percent) would prefer the chance to work flexibly than accept a pay rise. The report also raises serious questions about the preparedness of firms to offer flexible working, even if they believe in the idea, with many lacking the infrastructure and policies to allow them to do so.

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Only a third of staff trust their senior management, finds CIPD 0

Only a third of staff trust their senior management, finds CIPDThere is little evidence of improvement in the quality of management in the UK over the last decade – and it is one of the reasons behind the UK’s long-standing productivity weakness compared to the likes of the US and Germany. According to the CIPD report ‘Are UK organisations getting better at managing their people?’ while 65 percent of employees are generally satisfied with their line manager and largely trust them and value their honesty, only 33 percent say they trust their senior management. It found that management processes are not always applied consistently or fairly and this is one reason why there is a lack of trust in senior leadership. These are deep-rooted problems and the solutions are largely down to organisations, says the CIPD, which is urging the Government to consider ways in which it can raise awareness of the challenges and potential approaches to tackling them, not least in its capacity as an employer.

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Flexible working is best built on the foundations of a great office 0

flexible working loungeIt’s getting on for two years since Yahoo’s much talked about decision in 2013 to ban its staff from homeworking but, in many ways, the fallout has continued ever since. Certainly a lot of commentary on the subject refers back to CEO Marissa Mayer’s trend bucking decision. This can only be because it was a defining event in what is an enduring debate about where we work and what that means for a range of factors including our productivity, wellbeing, sense of belonging, access to information, the way we structure our time and our ability to communicate with and develop relationships with our fellow human beings. If those things were the same regardless of how and where we worked, there would be no discussion in the first place. But they do make a difference and there is a discussion.

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Central London office take-up hits highest level since 2010 0

Office take-up in central London expected to hit highest level Take-up in the central London office market is expected to hit its highest level since 2010, bolstered by a massive increase in demand among firms in the Professional and the tech, creative and new media sectors. These sectors are forecast to employ a further 110,000 people across Westminster, the City of London, Southwark and Tower Hamlets in the next decade, which is expected to further increase demand. According to DTZ’s latest Central London Offices Update overall office take-up is expected to reach 14.5m sq ft in 2014; up by 30 per cent on the five year average and at the highest level recorded since 2010.  However , availability has continued to fall, with just 9.5m sq ft of office space currently remaining – the lowest level since 2001. This restricted availability is leading to a higher level of competition for space which is driving up rents. …more

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Quarter of UK workers stressed by way bosses handle change management 0

Quarter of UK workers mistrust management regarding workplace changeOne in four UK employees feel disengaged, with an “excessive amount of change” cited as one of the top causes of work-related stress. According to the 2014 Towers Watson Global Workforce Study under half of employees (48%) feel that leaders are inspiring them to give their best at work and as a consequence, they are not as productive as possible. The research suggests that senior managers are not successfully managing and communicating change, with less than a third (30%) of employees saying that changes are well-implemented at their organisation. Effective leadership is also vital to a company’s ability to retain its top talent as a lack of trust in leadership was named by workers as one of the top reason to consider leaving a job. And worryingly, only half (49%) of employees actually believe the information they receive from the senior leadership team.

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Wearable tech will change the workplace in unexpected ways 0

diceThe idea that we are all about to be supplanted by a new generation of artificially intelligent robot overlords has been in the news a great deal recently, partly as a result of Stephen Hawking’s recent pessimistic intervention on the subject. Whatever the truth of this apocalyptic musing, a more imminent generation of tech products means we are already testing the law of unintended consequences with regard to the stuff we create to help us. As technology firms clamber over each other in their attempts to be the first to open up the lucrative frontiers of wearable tech, a range of understandable concerns have been raised about some of the more obvious potential problems of security and privacy. But if we have learned one thing about our relationship with technology over many years, it is that whatever we expect from it will usually be wrong, sometimes spectacularly so.

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