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Insight_twitter_logo_2In this week’s issue; we glimpse the lives of Japanese workers who reject social norms and instead choose to live in Internet cafes; a new report explores how artificial light and the dark affect us in more ways than we might think; HSBC announces its plans to relocate a thousand employees from London to Birmingham; the civil service looks for better ways to meet the needs of disabled staff and overcome their current barriers to career progression; the Government reports on the state of its estate including a look at how it is introducing new ways of working to drive change; a new report lays out the challenges and opportunities of the much talked abut subject of workplace wellbeing; and Anna King offers some thoughts on this year’s MIPIM event. Sign up to the newsletter 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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Civil service addresses work conditions and careers of disabled employees

disabled employeesThe UK Cabinet Office has published a report in partnership with Disability Rights UK to look at ways the Civil Service can better support the careers of its 27,000 staff with disabilities and health conditions. The report claims that ensuring that disabled employees ‘fulfil their potential makes basic business sense and would significantly enhance the Service’s performance.’ It claims that there has been some progress since the last report on the subject in 1998, but that barriers remain. Nearly 9 percent of civil service employees now claim to have a disability which is more than double the reported rate of 4.1 percent in 1998. The report identifies the underlying challenges and looks to share best practice. It notes that while there is strong commitment to disability equality from senior champions, this has not been translated into line manager action and cultural change.

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MIPIM demonstrated how property industry is moving with the times

16600996569_f9cd51af5f_kIn its 26th year, the colossus conference that is MIPIM was back in full flow. With 93 countries were present, 4, 500 investors and 22, 000 registered delegates there were numerous developments presenting opportunities around the world. And crucially, there were more people apparently buying than selling, meaning that strong investment activity will follow. A dumbfounding prediction from property agent Cushman & Wakefield, that global real estate investment could rise 11% to 1.2 trillion euros – an indication of just how much healthier the market is. However, the renewed positivity isn’t simply a return to the ‘good times’, it is apparent that the pain the recession brought in 2008 hasn’t been forgotten and we are seeing a revised formula for property that includes sustainability, collaboration and – crucially – people.

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London remains world’s most expensive city in which to live and work

Commuters walking into the central financial business district of London's DocklandsLondon has retained its place as the world’s most expensive city for businesses to accommodate their employees. But according to the latest analysis from Savills, Hong Kong and New York are closing the price gap. The three cities have dominated the Savills Live/Work Index since its launch in 2008 and form a tight group of world class cities where it now costs over US$110,000 per employee per year to rent typical office and living space. London is now 7.3 percent cheaper in dollar terms than in June 2014, while 4th placed Paris has slipped below the US$100,000 per employee threshold for the first time since mid-2012 as a result of rental falls, dollar appreciation and euro weakness. Meanwhile, fuelled by an improving US economy and tech industry expansion, San Francisco has outpaced all other cities in the live/work index, with growth in rent and other real estate costs of 55.1 percent since 2008.

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Wellbeing continues to improve despite static pay levels, claims ONS

WellbeingThe overall wellbeing of the UK population continues to improve despite ongoing concerns about pay levels and job security, according to a new report published today by the Office for National Statistics. The latest analysis includes an assessment of changes in national wellbeing for the first time and finds that year on year 33 percent of indicators had improved, 42 percent showed no overall change, 21 percent were not assessed and 5 percent deteriorated. The proportion of people in the UK giving the highest ratings for each aspect of personal wellbeing measured by the report increased significantly in the financial year ending 2014. The report defines wellbeing as a measure of “how we are doing as individuals, as communities and as a nation, and how sustainable this is for the future” based on 41 metrics.

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Report identifies the challenges and opportunities of workplace wellbeing

workplace wellbeingMuch of what has been called workplace strategy in recent years has been more about cutting costs than supporting people, often to the detriment of the latter. That is the central claim of a new report authored by Kate Lister and Tom Harnish of Global Workplace Analytics and sponsored by office furniture maker Knoll. The paper, What’s Good for People? Moving from Wellness to Well-Being, explores how better workplaces, processes and practices can improve workplace wellbeing, employee engagement and organisational performance. The study starts from the premise that people are dealing with unprecedented stresses and pressures in the workplace which now need to be addressed in the context of a recovering economy, the limits of an approach that focuses on doing more with less and an increasingly scant pool of human resources and talents.

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Number of women in FTSE 100 boardrooms doubles in four years

Broken-Glass-46There is now at least one woman in the boardroom of FTSE 100 companies and the number of women on their boards has doubled over the last four years, according to the latest update from the body charged with monitoring the targets set by the Government in 2011. The latest data shows that women now make up 23.5 percent of top company board level executives, up from 12.5 percent and just shy of the targeted proportion of 25 percent. The Government has refused to set quotas but instead has relied on a soft touch approach to the issue. The report also finds that women now hold 24 percent of board level positions at all blue chip companies, up from 18 percent four years ago. Almost a third (32 percent) of new boardroom appointments in the past year have also gone to women, up from just over 13 percent over the same period four years ago.

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HSBC to relocate its UK headquarters building to Birmingham

GBR_BPO_110215ARENA201Banking giant HSBC has announced the relocation of its core banking business for personal and business customers to the Arena Central development in Birmingham. The move will see the bank take a long term lease on a 210,000 sq. ft. office and relocate around a thousand employees to the new headquarters building from London over the next four years. The choice of location follows a review into the bank’s operations and its ability to service the needs of some 16 million customers in the UK. The West Midlands is the UK’s second largest financial centre after London, with some 220,000 employees across the region. Two years ago, Deutsche Bank completed a deal for 200,000 sq. ft. of new space at Brindleyplace and earlier this year, the local council announced plans for the Snow Hill area in an attempt to create an alternative to London’s Docklands.

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Workplace services provider to pay all staff the living wage

Diversity in the workplaceServices and facilities management group Sodexo has announced it is to join the Living Wage’s Service Provider Scheme and in future will report on and address the gender pay gap. It is part of its Public Service Pledge, an ethical manifesto for its contracts and conduct that includes a set of commitments aimed at ‘achieving a fairer and better society’. The Pledge also details ways in which it will step up reporting on its public sector contracts to increase transparency and accountability. Chief among these are pledges to publish the savings produced for Central Government through its contracts, and to publish annually how it has contributed towards Government clients’ stated target outcomes. Sodexo employs 34,000 employees in the UK and Ireland, with over half of those working on Government contracts, in justice, defence, healthcare and education.

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Film: The Japanese workers who withdraw to live in Internet cafes

Publication1Japanese workers appear to manifest some of the most extreme reactions to the challenges of modern life. Often these are related to the uncertainties of work and the fracturing of time and space associated with contemporary working life. Two of the most common characteristics of the Japanese response appears to be isolation and exclusion. Recently, the Japanese Government investigated the phenomenon of banishment rooms which some firms are alleged to have used to exclude unwanted employees. There has also been a great deal of talk about hikikomori, those people who lock themselves away from the rest of the world, estimated to be up to 1 percent of the population. Now, a new film from Shiho Fukada tells the story of two Japanese men who have taken to living in Internet cafes as they seek to find their way in life.

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