Indoor air quality and the quest for a breath of fresh air in the workplace 0

indoor air quality

Edward Hopper, Office in a Small City, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

The modern workplace has to work harder than ever before. It must reflect corporate values, express something of the organisation’s brand, allow people to work to the best of their ability as well as look after their wellbeing, keep touch with the pace of changing technology and meet the demands of an ever changing legislative environment and keep costs down. All of these issues conflate around the challenge of providing a sustainable, comfortable and productive working environment in buildings that are filled with an increasing number of people and computers. It is estimated by the Building Research Establishment that even in a typical office each person and their technology will generate some 1500 W of energy per hour, the equivalent of the sort of fan heater that the EU is now keen to ban outright.

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The culture of presenteeism is not all just fun and games 0

PresenteeismTen or so years ago an office seating manufacturer commissioned me to prepare a report on the games industry. The idea was to target a market the company had decided was primed to hear their message about ergonomics and the deleterious effects of long hours spent sitting and peering at a screen. Not only would this develop a new market for the business, it would also showcase a new product they had launched specifically to target a younger and hipper audience, even one that was overwhelmingly male. All of the elements of a successful campaign appeared to be there – the right product, a sedentary workforce that often worked around the clock to hit deadlines in an industry that epitomised youthful cool and was willing to spend money to prove it. Except one thing was missing; the people who worked in the industry weren’t worried about ergonomics and their long term wellbeing and most knew  or suspected they’d be burned out and doing something else pretty soon anyway.

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Younger workers less tolerant of flexible workers than you would think 0

Younger workers less tolerant of flexible workers than you would thinkOne of the key drivers for bringing a flexible working culture into the workplace is to accommodate the needs of the younger generation of ‘millennial’ workers who are perceived to view the idea of the traditional 9 to 5 as archaic. But this open-mindedness appears to waver when applied to other workers. A recent survey by employment specialists Doyle Clayton has found Generation Y employees have the most negative attitudes towards older employees and part-time and flexible workers; seeing their colleagues’ flexibility as coming at their own expense. The Age Before Beauty? Report warns that there shouldn’t be an assumption that initiatives to support flexible working will be welcomed by staff in their twenties and thirties. And while younger workers tended to be most likely to perceive discrimination at their workplace, they were also the most likely to exhibit negative attitudes towards equality, for example seeing older workers as less valuable because of their age. …more

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Exam board introduces workplace issues to psychology A Level syllabus 0

workplace issuesOne of the UK’s five main national examination boards is to introduce a range of workplace issues as part of its updated Psychology A Level syllabus from next year. Cambridge based OCR claims that Psychology is the UK’s fourth  most popular subject at both A and AS level and is also one of the most popular subjects at degree level too. The issues will be introduced to the syllabus as part of an Environmental Psychology theme and will consider as issues such as the effects of allowing desk clutter on individual wellbeing (although it didn’t do much for Kanji Watanabe in Akira Kurosawa’s film Ikiru, above), gender roles in workstation personalisation and so on. Students will be expected to carry out their own research into the topics as well as draw on established sources of information. OCR also suggests that the subject may help to develop the emotional intelligence of those who take the subject.

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Key to successful BIM implementation is collaboration, says RICS 0

Key to success of BIM implementation is collaboration says RICSThe need for collaboration between all the professions working within the built environment was the overriding theme of a free seminar on BIM, hosted by RICS last week, reports RICS’ Schemes and Accreditation Manager Jon Klahn. The event featured speakers from quantity surveying, engineering and architecture, and was designed to help delegates learn more about BIM and RICS’ role in establishing BIM industry standards. Addressing the 80 plus attendees, Dr Anne Kemp FRICS, Director of BIM Strategy and Development at Atkins and Chair of ICE’s BIM Action Group said the various professions can no longer be driven by self-interest. BIM in itself is not the solution. But the change required to make BIM successful will ultimately allow for better construction, better buildings and a better environment. Successful BIM implementation requires a partnership of people, process and technology and for project teams to understand and appreciate each other’s roles as professionals. …more

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How we travel to work has enormous impact on wellbeing, claims new research 0

wellbeing and cycling

Part of London’s planned cycling infrastructure around Parliament Square

New research has further highlighted the important role that the mode of transport we choose to get work has on our physical and psychological wellbeing. Walking or cycling to work is better for people’s mental health than driving to work, according to the research by health economists at the University of East Anglia and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR). The report ‘Does active commuting improve psychological wellbeing?’ was published today in the journal Preventive Medicine and draws on 18 years of data from 18,000 people. It follows on the heels of two other reports published last month in the British Medical Journal and Science Direct which make related claims about the careful choices we should make about how we get to work.

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Rate of UK commercial property activity slows to weakest for 15 months 0

Growth of commercial property activity slows to weakest for 15 monthsThe UK commercial property sector grew for the 24th consecutive month in August, but at its weakest rate since May 2013. According to the latest Total Commercial Development Activity Index from Savills, which monitors the overall performance of the UK commercial property sector, the rate fell from +27.7% to +11.9% in August, the weakest expansion in 15 months. Commercial work continued to rise in the private and public sectors however, and despite growth slowing substantially in both cases, commercial developers in the UK remained optimistic. Anecdotal evidence linked this to positive expectations of increased public sector activity and client interest in new projects. Although solid overall, the growth of refurbishment activity in August was the least pronounced since May 2013 and following 17 successive months of growth, panellists reported stagnation in office fit-out activity as well. …more

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What lift design tells us about who we are and how we work 0

Lift designIn 1959, Californian cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman first identified a series of personality traits which go hand in hand with disproportionate levels of heart disease. The characteristics that link personality to sudden chest-clenching pain and death include an overblown sense of time urgency, a desire to fit as much into each second as possible, excessive competitiveness and aggressiveness and frustration when other people are doing things more slowly than absolutely necessary. In other words – your typical 21st Century human. Friedman and Rosenman coined a term for such people which has now entered common usage. They called them Type-A personalities. In Douglas Coupland’s 1995 novel Microserfs, one of the characters encapsulates what Type-As are all about. ‘Type-A personalities have a whole subset of diseases that they, and only they, share. The transmission vector for these diseases is the door close button on elevators that only gets pushed by impatient, Type-A people.’

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Portfolio working could become the norm in ten years time says KPMG 0

Portfolio working could become the norm in ten years time says KPMGAt last year’s Worktech London, Charles Handy discussed the ascent of the portfolio worker. In a new survey by KPMG, 63 per cent of business leaders agree that portfolio workers will gain mainstream commercial acceptance within the next ten years. But some confusion remains as to just what constitutes a ‘portfolio worker’ as distinct from employees on flexible work schedules or freelancers. Just over a third (35%) of Generation Y respondents understood the term “portfolio workers” but they felt that they were simply freelancers by another name (78%), as did three quarters of the senior executives (76%) and the older respondents (74%). According to the survey portfolio workers differ from freelancers by having contracts in place with a number of different companies simultaneously, with a guaranteed number of hours of work from all during any given period of time. This approach, as Hardy has predicted, looks set to become the new way of work. …more

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The latest issue of Insight is now available to view online 0

2.Insight_twitter_logo smIn the latest edition of the Workplace Insight newsletter available to view online; Colin Watson argues the urban environment is an increasingly important part of the ‘virtual’ workplace; Nigel Sikora describes how we’re learning to strike a better balance between distraction and privacy, between noise and quiet; and Justin Miller bemoans a lack of balance in the way the media wants to expose ‘waste’ in public sector purchasing. In news, why London offers the best returns on office refurbishment of any city in the world; the publication of two reports from the UK’s National Audit Office alleging poor management and a low priority given to the country’s public sector procurement function and we report on a discussion document by the BIM2050 Group on the digital future of the built environment.  We also include a link to the new issue of Work&Place, the journal we publish in partnership with Occupiers Journal.

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