Unpredictability and office environment are key causes of workplace stress

Stressful environmentThe two most common factors influencing work related stress levels are unpredictability (26 percent) and workplace environment (21 percent) according to a poll by US jobs site CareerCast.com. The results, based on 834 respondents found that most of the respondents (62 percent) rated their jobs as highly stressful, while just 11 percent felt the amount of stress on the job was low. Other key stressors were deadlines (20 percent) and safety of others (16 percent). Interestingly, few people felt that length of work day/week (7 percent), personal well-being in danger (5 percent), potential for promotion (3 percent) and travel (1 percent) were major job stressors. Any number of factors can contribute to an unpredictable workplace; either the flow of responsibility changes from day-to-day with new tasks added or changed at random intervals or expectations may change. Running a close second is the workplace environment and culture, which includes interactions with bosses, co-workers and clients/customers.

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What is most important about office design might well be invisible to the eye

The essential is invisible to the eyeThere is an ongoing feeling within the facilities management discipline that when it comes to the design of workplaces, facilities managers are not consulted early enough or well enough or consistently enough to ensure that the end result of the design process is a workplace that is as functional and as effective as it could be. The reason this feeling persists is that in many cases it is true. Or at least is true to a greater or lesser extent depending on how you view these things. And if that sounds woolly, then you have to remember we are talking about facilities management here, finding a definition for which has been like nailing jelly to a wall for many years. In many cases the demarcation between workplace design and workplace management is based on the mistaken idea that the two have little correlation when in fact the relationship between them should be more akin to that between sex and parenthood. One is an act of creation and the other of care – with the latter a direct consequence of the former.

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Manchester set to run out of Grade A office space this year, claims report

XYZBuildingManchester could completely run out of ready to occupy, Grade A office space this year, according to a new report from Colliers International. The snapshot of the commercial property market in the city claims that take-up of space in Manchester during 2015 was over a third (37.5 percent) above a ten year average and the rate of occupation by both UK and overseas firms was double that of the previous three years. As a consequence, the local property market is currently unable to keep pace with demand and the availability of Grade A space declined by 61 percent during the year to reach its lowest level since 2006. There is now just 216,000sq ft of Grade A stock available to let in Central Manchester, with major new developments in the key Spinningfields district (above) and elsewhere not expected to complete until later this year and into 2018.  Even some of these spaces are already let, according to the study.

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New chair of Women on Boards to review FTSE 350 representation

women-on-boards-blog-bannerThe government has appointed a new chair to carry on the work of Lord Davies’s Women on Boards Review which was set up in February 2011 to determine the obstacles preventing more women from reaching senior executive positions. The Chair of GlaxoSmithKline, and former Chair of RBS and Sainsbury’s, Sir Philip Hampton, has been appointed to lead the review of representation at FTSE 350 companies. Dame Helen Alexander, Chair of UBM, will take on the role of Deputy Chair to the review. The new review will continue on from Davies’s voluntary business led initiative, which saw female representation on boards in the FTSE 100 rise from 12.5 percent to beyond the target of 25 percent. The next phase of the review will focus on one of the key recommendations from Lord Davies’s report, building a pipeline for female executives and emerging non-executive directors to improve representation at the executive layer of companies.

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Majority of UK’s small businesses would opt for coworking spaces

Regus paddington co-working spaceAlmost three quarters (72 percent) of small businesses in the UK believe coworking spaces are the ideal environment to base a start-up. Although the research was carried out by Regus, which happens to provide just that sort of workspace, the research did detect some strong preferences from small businesses that suggests sharing office space is the best solution for fledgling firms to thrive. When asked about the benefits of coworking compared to other workspace options, more than eight in ten respondents (83%) from the research, which canvassed the opinions of over 2,600 UK-based small companies, claimed it was a much more cost-effective alternative to a fixed office. The opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs (70 percent) was also identified as a major plus point, with 63 percent believing that shared space provides more inspiration than a traditional office setting and 61 percent saying that this kind of workplace offered a more creative environment that regular offices.

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Workplace design alone cannot motivate us or make us happy at work

HappinessThere’s a good reason why we find it hard to establish the causal links between our working lives and our personal happiness. It’s because it’s all very complicated. So complicated in fact that you can sidetrack any discussion on the subject by asking elementary questions such as: ‘what do you mean by happy?’ or ‘should it be the role of work to make us happy?’ A lot of suppliers would like us to think that there is a correlation between what they do and how happy people are at work, but the research shows that things are never that straightforward. It all depends not just on a stimulus but how we choose to respond to it.  One thing that seems evident is that the design of the workplace would be characterised as a ‘hygiene factor’ according to the work of Frederick Herzberg dating from the 1950s, which explained why the things that motivate us are not the mere opposites of those which make us unhappy.

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What Douglas Adams can teach us about workplace design

Douglas AdamsEach day you can find somebody or other sharing their thoughts on ‘the office of the future’ or ‘the death of the office’. My view is that you should steer clear of taking this sort of stuff head-on, on the basis that hardcore deskheads have heard most of it before and already concluded that there are more important things to worry about in a fit-out than what a pool table and a second hand armchair tells us about workplace design. Since I first tried banging on about this sort of thing in the mid 1990s, a period of time which saw a great deal of feverish speculation of this sort, an innocent world in which you still had to explain what you meant by ‘hot desking’ rather than sneer at it and before we all learned how to spell Millennium, I’ve learned how naïve the debate can be. Whatever the business case, whatever the legislation, the demands of employees and whatever the potential of the technology, the workplace is valued far too much to be disposed of completely.

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Moderate growth for global commercial real estate predicted in 2016

global economyUS and European office markets will tighten further in 2016 as demand for space outpaces a limited number of new developments, according to CBRE Group’s 2016 Global Real Estate Market Outlook. However, the extent of tightening in individual cities will depend strongly on local job growth in major office-using industries. Global prime rents across the three major property types—office, industrial and retail—are expected to grow 2.2 percent on an annual basis, according to estimates from CBRE’s Global Rent Index. The Americas, thanks to the strength of the US property sector, is expected to see commercial real estate rents rise 3.4 percent in 2016, as consumption growth and rising employment, combined with comparatively limited new supply levels, simulates demand. Rents in EMEA are forecast to rise by 3.2 percent thanks to a combination of increased consumer spending, pent-up demand for commercial space and anticipated further monetary easing by the European Central Bank.

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Better workplace design and management could save the NHS £1 billion

NHS workplace designThe National Health Service could make around £1bn in savings if it made better use of its estate, including more efficient workplace design, according to Lord Carter’s wide-ranging 18-month review into the operations and productivity of the NHS. The wide ranging review claimed that a total of £5bn could be saved by adopting a range of best practice standards. Carter examined 32 hospitals as well as looking at systems in the US, Germany, Australia, Italy and France for the report. Among the differences highlighted were variations in the use of floorspace, with one trust using 12 percent for non-clinical purposes and another using 69 percent. Overall, the review suggests that the NHS could save £1bn by 2020 via from the better management of estates, such as lighting, heating and the utilisation of floor space. The challenges of running the NHS estate efficiently have been something of an issue for some time, as we have reported.

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Report reveals huge surge in use of flexible working worldwide

W-Careers-Flexible-workplace-004Three quarters of companies worldwide have now introduced flexible working to enable employees to vary their hours and work from home or on the move according to one of the largest global surveys of its kind conducted with 8,000 employers and employees across three continents. The Flexible: friend or foe? survey was commissioned by Vodafone and took place between September and October 2015. The countries surveyed were Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, the UK and the USA. A total of 8,000 employers and employees were interviewed online. The rapid adoption of high-speed mobile data services, fixed-line broadband and cloud services is playing an integral role in this workplace revolution: 61 percent of respondents now use their home broadband service to access work applications and 24 percent use a mobile data connection via their smartphone, tablet or laptop with a broadband dongle.

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