Latest figures show record last quarter for UK commercial property investment 0

Latest figures show a record quarter for UK commercial property investmentInvestment in the UK commercial property sector totalled £20.5bn in the final quarter of 2014 – a 26 per cent increase on the previous quarter and the highest quarterly performance on record. The demand for Central London offices was a key driver for this as in the final quarter of the year, investment in this sector more than doubled from the previous quarter. The latest edition of Lambert Smith Hampton’s UK Investment Transactions report reveals that investment in the UK regions increased overall by 41 per cent to £21.1bn for the year as a whole – the second highest figure on record.  Overseas investors continue to be the largest buyers of UK commercial property, with investment from the US more than doubling year on year and interest from the Far East also increasing significantly. Click here for more information.

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Messy offices really are far less productive than those with clear desk policies 0

Messy offices really are far less productive than those with clear desk policiesI used to have a boss whose solution to dealing with all his paper-based correspondence was to simply let the detritus build up. When he couldn’t see  his desk any more, he would draw his hand across the desk and dump the whole lot into the bin. Invariably he’d miss something important and would often have to search the bin to find an important letter, invoice or memo. I had another boss who ate so much food over her keyboard that it had to be taken away and cleaned – a disgusting job, according to my colleagues in IT. So despite reading with some cynicism that a cleaning company has published new research which proves offices that cut corners on cleaning, or allow employees to work in messy, disorganised surroundings, are far less productive than clean, well-ordered offices; I must agree it shows the benefits of a clear desk policy .

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Flexible working improves the quality and quantity of sleep 0

Flexible working

Morning Sun by Edward Hopper

Giving employees more control over their work schedules may help curb sleep deficiency, according to health researchers in the US. A team led by Orfeu M. Buxton, associate professor of bio-behavioural health at Penn State University set out to explore the question of whether family-friendly work practices and other forms of flexible working had any impact on the quantity and quality of sleep. They results are published this month in the journal Sleep Health. Of the nearly 500 employees from an IT company surveyed over a period of a year, the researchers found that employees who were able to enjoy more control over their working day also enjoyed an average of eight minutes more sleep per night than those with rigid working hours. The research also found that participants’ perceptions of their sleep quality also improved.

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Regular exercise doesn’t reduce the risks of prolonged sedentary work 0

sedentary workAnybody who thinks that regular gym visits mitigate the ill effects of prolonged sitting at work is likely to be dead wrong. That is the key finding of a new study published in The Annals of Internal Medicine. The meta-analysis of 47 studies set out to explore the possible correlation between physical activity and the conditions most commonly associated with sedentary lifestyles including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. The results of the analysis showed that the crucial factor was not the level of physical activity away from the workplace but rather the length of time spent sitting while at work. The Canadian academics behind the study are calling for more research to establish just how much sedentary work is too much as a way of reducing the risks which they identify as a 15 to 20 percent higher risk of heart disease and cancer and up to a 90 percent increased risk of developing diabetes.

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Good communication is essential to ensure workplace health and safety 0

health and safetyLast week the HSE marked its 40th anniversary with a series of warnings about the continuing importance of maintaining health and safety. While the number of people killed at work has fallen dramatically since the HSE was launched, it’s important employers don’t get complacent. A lack of education among the workforce about the adequate measures to take when considering health and safety can still make a huge difference. Good communication is vital, so provide in depth, yet cohesive and easy to follow Health and Safety guides, including useful information like fire blanket locations, fire exits, what to do in an emergency and emergency phone numbers which are handed out to all employees. Regular talks about the importance of health and safety should be conducted every few months to reiterate health and safety messages.

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The new weekly issue of Insight is now available to view online 0

workplace insightIn this week’s issue: Colin Watson looks back on yet another year of dramatic workplace change and predicts we ain’t seen nothin’ yet; Mark Eltringham explores the complex nature of happiness and motivation; the BBC gets a shoeing from MPs for the running costs of its estate; the world’s taste for skyscrapers shows no signs of abating; bullying at work remains a blind spot for many managers; Paul Goodchild calls for more human centred design in office receptions; London’s thriving property market means available space comes at a premium and Sara Bean finds how flexible working is increasingly important for an aging workforce. 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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Study reveals grassroots appeal of flexible working and BYOD 0

Flexible working techThe grassroots nature of flexible working and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) practices is revealed in a new study from Intel Security which found that over three quarters (78 percent) of employees use their own electronic devices to work while a similar proportion (79 percent) use their company-issued devices for their personal activities. The survey of 2,500 professionals worldwide also found that 40 percent of people are happy to work ‘wherever’. While firms continue to have concerns about the security implications of BYOD and an itinerant workforce, their employees are rather more confident with the overwhelming majority (77 percent) confident that their employers have taken all appropriate security measures to protect data, even though a third (35 percent) admit that they log onto unsecured public wireless networks.

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Firms are wary of BYOD but confident they can deliver flexible working 1

Invisible BYODDespite greater awareness of the potential benefits of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), especially as a way of supporting flexible workers, a large number of European firms remain concerned about the security implications of the practice, according to a new study by HP of their attitudes to workplace technology. The study of 1,130 organisations in eight European countries found half believe that BYOD was likely to compromise their organisation and of those firms who had already implemented the practice, a fifth had experienced at least one security breach in the preceding year. In addition, fewer than half (43 percent) are confident that personal devices are properly secure, with a third (36 percent) expressing specific concerns about the contamination of networks with malware and viruses.

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MPs call on BBC to cut ‘staggering’ running costs of its estate 0

BBC television centre redesign plans confirmedThe body which oversees UK public spending has criticised the way the BBC is running its estate following the publication of a National Audit Office (NAO) report. While the report praises certain aspects of the way the estate is managed, especially its strategy of rationalising space, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is heavily critical of the BBC’s failure to meet its target of costs capped at 6 percent of licence fee income and the way the costs of some buildings are unacceptably high, including at the revamped Broadcasting House in London (above). According to the PAC, the running cost of the building is significantly more than others in the same area and around three times higher than a UK average. The BBC defended itself, highlighting progress in many parts of its estate and claiming that such comparisons did not stand up to scrutiny.

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How can we leave the open plan behind while desktop work endures? 0

open plan office cubicleWith all the chatter regarding BYOD and wearable tech, you’d think that the average worker must roam free. Yet worldwide, over three quarters (79 percent) of office workers still use a desktop computer; just over a third (36 percent) have devices that allow for mobility and only 39 percent of office workers can work from alternative places at least once a week. Those were just some of the results of a global survey carried out by Steelcase into levels of satisfaction amongst office workers. And far from encouraging mobile working the survey found that well over half (57 percent) of companies do not have facilities for mobile workers and external suppliers. Such low levels of mobility had led a significant proportion (41 percent) of the 7324 participants from 10 countries, to say they were “not satisfied” with their work environment.

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