October 24, 2014
Almost half (42%) of European office employees have no natural light in their working environment, over half (55%) don’t have access to any greenery and 7 per cent have no window in their workspace. Yet according to the findings of The Human Spaces Report, commissioned by Interface and led by Organisational Psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper, European employees who work in environments with natural elements report a 13 per cent higher level of well-being and are 8 per cent more productive overall. With nearly two-thirds (63%) of EMEA office workers now based in either a town or city centre and spending on average 34 hours per week in the office, their interaction with nature is becoming increasingly limited. Yet despite city dominated lives, the research found workers have an inherent affinity to elements that reflect nature. Flexible working was a surprisingly low preference, with just 11 per cent of workers choosing a space that suits their needs as their productive way to work.. …more
October 23, 2014
The expansion of flexible working rights was not only intended to improve workplace wellbeing and productivity, but encourage mothers to remain in the workforce. But it seems there is much work to be done to convince women that work and motherhood can mix. New research from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has found that half of women believe that having a baby poses such a risk to their career that they would consider remaining childless. The survey among women of childbearing age also found that two-thirds of women (67%) are concerned about the impact that having children might have on their career and half of the women who don’t currently have children (49%) feel their current career doesn’t offer them the flexibility they would need to care for a family. Over half of mothers (55%) admitted that balancing childcare and work has been a barrier to staying in work, with one in five (20%) stating that a lack of support from their employer has made life as a working mum more difficult. …more
October 22, 2014
Construction group Galliford Try plc, has been appointed to two new major office contracts worth a combined £77 million. Its been selected as preferred bidder by Northamptonshire County Council to build its new headquarters in Northampton in a £38 million project. The new 17,600 sqm four-storey building is intended to consolidate the council’s existing offices in the town, and regenerate an area on the south side of the town centre. In addition to the office space, a café will be created together with extensive hard landscaping around the site. Galliford Try is also to deliver a new office building at Sutton in Surrey for offshore engineering company Subsea 7. The £39 million project creates a new 150,000 sqft Category A office space and associated facilities on the site of the former Brighton Road car park. Galliford Try Executive Chairman Greg Fitzgerald commented: “We have a strong reputation in the office sector and we look forward to providing these two clients with the first class facilities they require.”
October 22, 2014
The Government must comprehensively reform its strategy if it’s to tackle the barriers that remain for many businesses in implementing health and wellbeing programmes. This is the message from the Health at Work Policy Unit’s first paper which was launched yesterday (21 October 2014) by Lancaster University’s Work Foundation at an event featuring Professor Dame Carol Black and Professor Sir Cary Cooper. The Way Forward: Policy Options for Improving Workforce Health in the UK examines why a large number of businesses have continued to neglect health and wellbeing given the strong business case and identifies the barriers facing employers at three main stages: planning, implementation, and evaluation of these policies. However, according to the lead author, Dr Zofia Bajorek, these barriers can be overcome by developing a health and wellbeing strategy which illustrates the potential for competitive advantage, investing in and executing evidence based outcomes which must then be measured and reported. …more
October 21, 2014
Twenty years ago the typical office was a busy place, with printers running, big, bulky computers taking up desk space, post it notes, notepads, scanners and fax machines whirring in the background. In today’s workplace, desks are barren in comparison to the offices of a generation ago, purely because there is little need for so much stuff. With the introduction of modern digital devices it is no surprise that the concept of the ‘work station’ as we once knew has changed. The truth is, almost everything we use in the office nowadays is readily available online, with even websites being created for the specific purpose of serving as online meeting rooms. This means the concept of a physical office, where colleagues go to collaborate, share opinions and exchange meeting notes, is no longer a completely valid concept. With this in mind, are desks really needed to create a solid working environment anymore? …more
October 21, 2014
The UK’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has appealed to people to free themselves from digital slavery for at least one day a week. Speaking in The Times, the Chief Rabbi (pictured above) calls on all people to give up their smartphones, tablets and other devices for at least a day a week as part of a campaign to revive adherence to the Jewish custom of the Shabbat in which people do not work between sunset on Friday and Saturday. He has been joined in his call by the Archbishop of Canterbury and The Pope, both of whom have urged people earlier this year to focus less time gazing into the unblinking eye of their devices and instead focussing on the real world, its issues and the people around them as a way of achieving a better work-life balance. The Chief Rabbi claims in the interview that the ceaseless need to respond to electronic messages distracts people from family life, communal living and spiritual reflection.
October 21, 2014
There is a well travelled international circuit for those interested in what office design tells us about the way we work that has, for a number of years, taken in London, Milan, Chicago, Stockholm and Cologne as its main stopping off points. This week sees the launch of Orgatec, the longstanding biennial workplace festival in Cologne. One of the interesting features of Orgatec is that, because it takes place every two years, it offers snapshots of key developments in the market. It throws a spotlight on whatever workplace professionals are talking about and whatever product designers are doing in response to the changing world of work. And it does it on a big scale. This year over 600 companies from 40 countries will be presenting across an exhibition area of 105,000 sq. m. This seems big, and is, but is down markedly on the size of the show from 20 years ago when Orgatec was the launch pad for seminal products such as Herman Miller’s Aeron Chair and the Ad Hoc furniture system from Vitra.
October 20, 2014
Work-related stress is the second most frequently reported health problem in Europe – with mental health disorders estimated to cost European employers around 240 billion euros per year. Psychosocial risks in Europe: Prevalence and strategies for prevention – published jointly by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) and the European Foundation for the Improvement of Working and Living Conditions (Eurofound), reveals that although fewer people report working long hours, job insecurity has increased across Europe, and in some countries work intensity has risen in companies struggling in the economic crisis. Work-related stress is also seen as a ‘sensitive’ or ‘difficult’ area — a perception that may however differ from one country to another. The publication of the report coincides with the theme for the 2014 European Week for Safety and Health at Work, (20 to 24 October) – Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress. All this week, EU-OSHA and its community of partners aims to get Europe talking about stress and how the psychosocial risks in the workplace can be tackled together. …more
October 20, 2014
Clerkenwell Design Week
“First we shape our buildings, thereafter our buildings shape us.” Winston Churchill, House of Commons opening speech. Buildings do indeed shape us, but what seems to affect us even more is the neighbourhood. It’s the immediate environment as opposed to buildings that is much harder to create. It needs numerous factors to influence it, among them the two most precious components– the right people and enough time. Politicians all over the world dream of creating zones that will draw the most innovative companies. But it seems that most of them grow organically – the Silicon Valley in California, the Silicon Alley in New York and the Silicon Roundabout in London. The combination of low rents, proximity to the centre of a dynamic metropolis and interesting culture made the East London neighbourhood of Shoreditch, Clerkenwell and Aldgate a perfect magnet for some of the world’s most exciting companies. So should you think about relocating there too? Here are some things to consider. …more
October 20, 2014
“The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.” I don’t believe this famous quote from the poet Robert Frost is particularly true but it appears to be an assumption that certain people make when it comes to creating those lists of office design that they describe as fun, trendy, cool or quirky or some other inappropriate, tired adjective. Invariably these offices feature such decidedly uncool and untrendy things as slides, swings and treehouses. One of the latest examples of this kind of thing is to be found on the BBC website with a number of pictures submitted by the sorts of adults who are not ashamed to claim that their idea of fun at work is apparently a meeting in a ballpool or on a swing. Of course, they don’t really think that, except in a work context. I’d bet they can easily walk past the ballpool at Ikea without feeling the need to dive in as an alternative to picking out a sofa.