Video and gallery: Google’s new Silicon Valley headquarters

google10cropGoogle may be having second thoughts about the design of its new London offices, but it is rather less reticent about that of its new Silicon Valley headquarters. It plans to transform a 2.5 million square foot site in the Californian city of Mountain View into a home for around 10,000 workers. The pastoral setting has been designed by Thomas Heatherwick and Bjarke Engels and incorporates parkland dotted with glass buildings including some Eden Project like geodesic domes. Unsurprisingly the campus buildings have been designed to achieve a LEED platinum accreditation and cars are largely discouraged from the site. Heatherwick has described the plans as humanistic and the plans include a number of community facilities including a new public safety building, two new parks, an educational science centre and even a residential development on neighbouring land.

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US FCC agrees net neutrality deal to classify Internet as a public utility

digiCord_t479The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a reclassification of the Internet as a public utility for the first time. It follows last month’s call from the UK Government for a similar approach to ensure that everybody has equal access to the online world. The FCC ruling specifically forbids Internet service providers creating a range of fast and slow services as a way – critics argued – of hijacking the Internet to gain monopolistic control over the digital economy and favour larger websites able to afford the higher rates. The ruling on ‘net neutrality’ has been broadly welcomed, not least by those campaigners who have argued for years that it would mean an end to the Internet as we have known it; an open platform that offers equal opportunities to all users and content providers and so fosters innovation.

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Lack of sleep of over a third of workers could be costly to the US economy

pillow02Forty-two percent of U.S. adults are getting less than seven hours of sleep on a typical night, the minimum number of hours recommended by the National Sleep Foundation for those aged 18 and older. Gallup research reveals not getting enough sleep is not only linked to lower well-being for individuals, but it is also costly to the U.S. economy. Employees may not have enough time to sleep because of working long hours, family obligations, insomnia or having poor well-being in other areas. For example, poor physical well-being, social isolation or financial strain could adversely affect quantity of sleep. According to Gallup, employers should explore interventions to promote the value of sleep and its link to employees’ well-being, as this relates to engagement, healthcare costs and productivity. When possible, they may want to allow employees to work flexible hours, which could make it easier for workers to balance work and family demands with getting enough sleep.

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Government makes public sector work more attractive and accessible for SMEs

public sector procurementThe latest changes to public procurement regulations in the UK have now come into force, which the Cabinet Office claims will make it easier for businesses to win government and other public sector contracts. The new regulations have a particular focus on making work more accessible and attractive for small and medium sized enterprises. The key reforms which came into force on the 26 February include the abolition of a pre-qualification stage for procurements below the EU thresholds and a requirement to take account of guidance on qualitative selection issued by the Cabinet Office for above EU threshold; the requirement for contracting authorities to insert provisions in all public contracts to ensure prompt payment through the supply chain; and the requirement to advertise as many public sector opportunities in one place (Contracts Finder), and to publish award notices for contracts and call-offs from framework agreements.

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The latest issue of the weekly Insight is now available to view online

Insight_twitter_logo_2In this week’s issue; A new study from IBM challenges some of the most commonly held myths about Generation Y and lays down a few uncomfortable truths for employers; Our regular columnist Simon Heath likes this year’s shortlisted Design Awards entries, but not the way they are described; the Government sets out to define what makes a good public sector property design and management specialist; a call for greater understanding of how more women could develop and stick with STEM careers; some good news about fit notes workplace absence; the Green Building Council challenges developers to take a lead in environmental property; and the latest moves to shift London’s traffic, cyclists and pedestrians to new underground routes. Sign up to for weekly updates 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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Report exposes myths and uncomfortable truths about Generation Y

Multi-generational workplace generation YA new report from IBM proves what we at Insight have been arguing for some time; Millennials have some differences to previous generations of employees, but ultimately they have more in common than most commentators acknowledge and their impact on a multi-generational workplace has been completely misrepresented. While the report, Myths, Exaggerations and Uncomfortable Truths, acknowledges Gen Y’s different experience of the digital world, it also demonstrates what we would suggest has been obvious all along; that unless Generation Y has arrived from another planet, it will share many of the strengths, weaknesses, drives, fears and abilities common to other demographic groupings. The study of 1,784 employees from organisations in 12 countries challenges many of the key myths about Generation Y and also lays out a number of ‘uncomfortable truths’ for employers.

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Employers embrace mobile workforces but retain traditional workspaces

Employers are embracing mobile workforces yet retaining traditional workspacesNearly three quarters of employers that offer staff the opportunity to work flexibly are failing to reorganise their workplaces to reflect the new ways of working. Research commissioned by US based AV company Barco, found that while 86 percent of organisations indicated a remote working approach was being used within their business; rather than using this policy to reduce desk space, 73 percent of organisations admitted they still had allocated desks. This is despite the fact that the top three drivers for unifying communications are to increase productivity (51%), reduce costs (44%), and increase collaboration (27%). And though the BYOD trend is continuing, with half (50%) saying personal laptops and personal tablets (45.2 %) are being used in the workplace; 82 percent of those surveyed said that laptops are still company issued.

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London reveals latest plans to move cars, bikes and people underground

london-underground-roadsThe Mayor of London has revealed the latest plans to move the city’s pedestrians, bikes and cars underground and elevated on decking. The latest proposals would see a number of the capital’s major roads mounted or buried with the space saved at ground level converted to greener and more pleasant uses (and property development obv).  An announcement from the Greater London Authority claims that over 70 sites across London have been considered for the scheme which will include new tunnels, fly-unders and decking. It follows hard on the heels of another proposal to create the Underline, a network of cycle lanes and walkways based on the city’s existing web of unused tunnels. The roads proposed for the new scheme include the A4 in Hammersmith, the A13 in East London and sections of the North Circular Road.

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Over half of employers reject mandatory quotas for women on boards

Over half of employers reject mandatory quotas for women on boardsThe Women on Boards review published by Lord Davies in February 2011 looked at the obstacles that prevent many women from reaching senior positions in business, such as FTSE 350 corporate boards; and set a target of 25 per cent of board positions being held by women by 2015. As the anniversary of the report approaches, new research by the CIPD, business leaders and Business and Women & Equalities Minister Jo Swinson MP, has revealed resistance to the idea of mandatory female quotas as mooted by some EU members, with over half those polled suggesting that the government should instead set a more ambitious voluntary target to improve gender diversity in boardrooms post-2015. Two thirds of respondents said that an open and supportive culture that encourages gender diversity would be a more effective way of improving gender diversity at board level.

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Leading role for property sector in promoting ‘green infrastructure’ says UK-GBC

Key role for property sector in promoting 'green infrastructure' says UK-GBCThe property industry can play a leading role in protecting and enhancing national features and biodiversity. That is according to a new report by the UK Green Building Council Task Group which presents the business case for “green infrastructure”, the term used to describe natural and semi-natural features ranging from street trees and roof gardens to parks and woodland. Demystifying Green Infrastructure finds that introducing green infrastructure into the built environment offers a range of business opportunities, including an increase in the value of land and property, as well as social and environmental benefits. Aimed primarily at developers and occupiers, the report also identifies risks from failing to incorporate adequate green infrastructure into projects, such as delays in planning, increased costs and reputational damage.

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