Uptake of flexible working at UK firms continues to gather pace

flexible workingIn the last three years the adoption of flexible working by UK organisations has increased by over a third (37 percent), according to new research published by recruitment consultants Robert Half. The study, based on interviews with 200 HR Directors also claims that concerns that remote working without direct physical supervision leads to a decrease in productivity are increasingly unfounded.  The research reveals that 60 percent believe giving employees greater autonomy over working styles and practices including remote working and flexi-time results in increased productivity. Respondents also increasingly believe that offering greater autonomy to employees results in positive business benefits. Over half (51 percent) thought greater employee autonomy boosts creativity and almost half (45 percent) believe it makes employees easier to manage.

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Planning permission granted for two major towers at Canary Wharf

Canary WharfPlanning permission has been granted for two major new towers at Canary Wharf in East London. The developer Canary Wharf Group has been granted full permission for the 1 Bank Street development and outline planning permission for 1 Park Place. The 1 Bank Street building has been designed by architects Kohn Pederson Fox and is a 700,000 sq. ft. commercial property with 27 storeys including three levels of trading floors and also retail facilities at ground level as well as landscaping and public spaces. Bank Société Générale has already agreed a lease for 280,000 sq. ft. of the building over seven storeys on a 25 year lease. The planning committee at Tower Hamlets council has also granted outline planning permission for the 1 Park Place scheme, a 31-storey office building offering around one million sq. ft. of space.

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The latest issue of Insight Weekly is available to view online

Insight_twitter_logo_2In this week’s issue; we preview next month’s Clerkenwell Design Week; RBS sets out to save £18 million a year with a major office consolidation strategy in Edinburgh; Sara Bean reports on the importance of office location for employee engagement; Jim Ware offers a CEO’s perspective on a successful real life workplace strategy; Mark Eltringham extols the joys of procrastination and daydreaming; we look at the wellbeing benefits of a groundbreaking new acoustic office design element made from recycled plastic; and we ponder why exactly the electorate gets itself so riled up about office furniture. 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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Promotion: Can discarded plastic bottles foster employee wellbeing?

wellbeingEmployee wellbeing, productivity and privacy are hot topics in the workplace right now and AgileAcoustics think they have a unique solution to drive this forward. The company, based on campus at the University of Bradford has developed a range of acoustic panels that use plastic bottles destined for the scrap heap to make offices around the world more pleasant places to work. About 18 months ago they developed a ‘shaped’ wall print made from recycled plastic bottles, and raised £13,000 on Kickstarter. Shortly after Stuart Jones, the Founder met with a Commercial Interior Designer who loved the prints and advised him to look at the acoustic performance. Jones quickly set to researching the prints acoustic performance, and shortly after decided to develop a spin-off product with class-leading acoustics performance.

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A preview of Clerkenwell Design Week 2015

1504_CDW_Showrooms_FV-027The organisers of Clerkenwell Design Week have announced the latest up to date details of its events and showrooms programme. Taking place between 19 and 21 May, this is the sixth year the event has taken place in London’s creative centre. Over 80 showrooms will take part this year, hosting a range of activities, discussions, showcases, product launches and talks. Confirmed keynote participants include designers such as David Adjaye (top), Michael Young and Patrizia Moroso. New participants this year include heritage brand Carl Hansen & Søn and modernist storage specialists USM. Office furniture firms Wilkhahn and Connection Seating will both open new showrooms on Great Sutton Street, while flooring manufacturer Milliken is significantly expanding its Berry Street premises.

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Want to rile the electorate? Buy some office furniture.

office furniture expenditureIt’s fair to say that most people can go about their day to day lives without worrying too much about the price of office furniture. That is until they need to work themselves into a state of excitement about the amount of taxpayers’ money being spent on desks and chairs. We’ve already highlighted how the hackles of the electorate are raised easily by the sight of refurbished offices although we are at a loss to explain why, especially when you consider it in comparison to the spectacular foul-ups associated with IT procurement and the fact they probably don’t sit around on tea crates at home. This visceral reaction is an international phenomenon. While the good people of Sheffield can whip themselves up about a £73 task chair,  across the pond a political storm has formed around the £4 million expenditure of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on office furniture.

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Employers neglecting to check ergonomic safety of office workers

ergonomicThe widespread adoption of mobile devices, not to mention the development of the Internet and uptake of flexible working, may render the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 hopelessly out of date, but they continue to oblige employers to ensure that employees’ workstations are assessed for ergonomic comfort and safety. A survey by Fellowes claims over half of companies (62%) acknowledge they have a duty to foster the physical and mental health of their staff, but found that 31 percent of workers were left in charge of conducting their own self-assessments. In over a quarter of organisations (27%), staff raised concerns that their monitor or display screens were not appropriate and more than one fifth (21%) weren’t aware of any legal requirements when assessing a display screen.

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WELL building standard launched in China

macquries (1)The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) and the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) have launched their WELL Building Standard in China. The standard sets out to improve the health and wellbeing of people and claims to complement international green building rating programs such as LEED, BREEAM International and Three Star. The Standard is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring features that may impact human health and wellbeing, through air, water, nutrition, light, physical health, comfort and mental and psychological wellbeing. The standard claims to be based on medical research that links buildings with the health and wellness of the people working and living in them and helps building owners and occupiers to understand those links and create a healthier working environment.

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Employers want next government to take more action on staff wellbeing

WellnessWith the General Election less than a month away, more help to support staff wellbeing is one of the most popular incentives on employers’ wish lists. According to research from Group Risk Development (GRiD), employers believe wellbeing initiatives benefit the business bottom line by improving staff morale and absence rates. Almost one in five (19%) want the next government to take more action to promote staff wellbeing, with managing stress (38%), promoting a healthy work/life balance (64%) and introducing more flexible working initiatives (47%) some of their more important focuses. The research found that many employers have already made a start, as there has been an increase in health and wellness promotions and line managers better trained to spot signs of stress and mental health conditions.

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Office location key factor for staff engagement, with home working preferred

Office location most important productivity factor, with home working preferred

It might be disheartening to learn that despite an employers best efforts to design an engaging and inspiring workplace, for many employees it’s where the offices are located that matters most. In a recent UK poll by ClickSoftware over half (57%), said office location was the most important reason why they’d stay in their job ahead of both pay (52%) and job security (33%). However, the most preferred place to work is at home, with 60 percent of people identifying this location to be ‘very comfortable’. The survey also looked at the factors that affected job performance, and found one in five people (20%) believe their productivity at work has been negatively affected by the location of their job. This increases further in the capital with over a quarter of Londoners (26%) feeling that their productivity would suffer by working in a ‘horrible location’. more…

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