February 28, 2017
New and updated guidance s being published today by Acas to help employers and their staff understand the many different types of employment arrangements that exist in the modern workplace and their legal entitlements. The revised guidance is released against the backdrop of Matthew Taylor (Chief Executive of the Royal Society of the Arts) review which considers the implications of new forms of work driven by digital platforms, for employee rights and responsibilities, employer freedoms and obligations, and the existing regulatory framework surrounding employment. The new Acas guidance reflects these changes to the way in which people work, are expected to work in the future, and follows recent legal cases about employment status; including the Pimlico Plumber and Uber decisions.
February 21, 2017
Business rates are a substantial overhead for many businesses, and therefore those occupying a property need to be aware of the impact of the 1 April rates revaluation and the forthcoming changes to the rates valuation appeals process. The revaluation may affect the level of compensation payable to some business tenants seeking to renew their leases. Current business rateable values took effect in England and Wales on 1 April 2010, based on rateable values on 1 April 2008. However, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is revising rateable values on 1 April 2017. While the rateable value of some properties is reducing, others (for example many London retail and restaurant premises) face a significant increase. You can check the draft values on the VOA website to see whether your property is due to change.
February 21, 2017
Leaders would have and even greater incentive to improve health and safety if their performance was more transparent and executive pay and bonuses were linked to it, suggests the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). This is one of nine summary recommendations made by IOSH in its response to the UK Government’s Corporate Governance Reform Green Paper proposals, which follow public concern about serious failures, such as those at Sports Direct. IOSH agrees with the Prime Minister’s views, expressed in her foreword to the green paper published last November, where she said: “…big business must earn and keep the trust and confidence of their customers, employees and the wider public”. The suggestions IOSH makes contribute constructively to those aims.
February 20, 2017
Shifting digital dynamics are reshaping the way organisations operate and are recasting the traditional route to business success, claims new research into the rise of the digital workplace. Ricoh’s new report into digital workplace trends produced in partnership with polling company Censuswide, argues that the latest technology strategies are rendered useless without proper commitment to skills training and the empowerment of those workers who will be making use of it. It advises that businesses need to work on improving the workforce’s digital dexterity by creating an office culture fit for sharing ideas and skills across social, video and digital platforms. The report identifies digital skills training as a key differentiator for employees seeking a new job. Over a third of UK office workers (37 per cent) say they would move jobs to a company which offered better digital skills in the workplace. Likewise a modest 18 per cent of respondents rated their skills as ‘excellent’ whilst 51 per cent said ‘good’ and 30 per cent considered themselves ‘average.’
February 16, 2017
The majority (79 percent) of workers say reliable and modern technology is more important to them than office aesthetics, while accessories such as ping pong tables, slides, hammocks and wacky office designs may look good in pictures, but they don’t necessarily make employees any happier or productive. The is according to a survey, conducted by storage firm Kiwi Movers, which found that 86 percent of UK adults who work in an office said fun features were of no specific value to their working life, 11 percent said they were nice-to-have and of some value and 3 percent said they were very valuable. The most popular office perks are those offer an immediate tangible benefit to the employee, but even so, as many as 23 percent don’t take advantage every day; while 71 percent overall said they’d like more space in their office and of those, 58 percent believe that could be achieved by removing non-essential items. The research also found that younger workers were more likely on average to take advantage of ‘environmental’ perks like chill out areas and recreational equipment.
February 10, 2017
This is the first of two responses to an excellent article by Antony Slumbers, in this instance offering that his views offer too conservative a view of how technology will shape the future of work. Dr Pangloss, the teacher of metaphysics in Candide, Voltaire’s hilariously sarcastic attack on Leibnizian optimism, offered a timeless and universal explanation of the most cruel and tragic events as “the best of all possible worlds”. I would argue however that far from creating a landscape of optimism, it facilitates a dismissal of all significant change as an irrelevance given that effectively we have no option other than to happily accept it. For example, whether property transitions to a service or remains locked in its existing institutional quagmire, it doesn’t matter. Either way its fine as it’s the best we can hope for. Accept it, happily. A Panglossian future only looks appealing if you’re –well, Dr Pangloss.
February 10, 2017
Sodexo has published its 2017 Global Workplace Trends report, which claims to define the most critical factors affecting the world’s workers and employers. According to the report, the trends portray a workplace that blends work life with outside life, catering to employee needs through improvements in wellness, space design and learning programs. “With this piece, we’ve distilled key findings from different sectors, generations and countries to produce a report that provides a holistic view of the global workplace,” said Sylvia Metayer, CEO, Worldwide Corporate Services segment, Sodexo. “It’s critical for business leaders to recognise the underlying trends driving change, to evaluate their significance and stay ahead of—rather than follow—them.”
February 3, 2017
Commercial construction activity in the UK for the 12 months to the end of 2016 fell to £16.7 billion, down 14.1 percent on the previous quarter, according to JLL and Glenigan’s Q4 2016 UK Commercial Construction Activity Index. In London, activity declined in a quarterly comparison but increased 2.7 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Construction started at 22 Bishopsgate in London City which will provide a total of 1.3 million sq ft of office space, and is scheduled to complete in 2019. The 70,000 sq ft office refurbishment of 33 Gutter Lane also commenced in Q4 with completion scheduled for the second half of the year. Elsewhere it was a mixed picture across the regions with commercial construction activity increasing in the North East, South West and Wales, albeit from a relatively low base; but activity was more subdued in other regions, particularly in Yorkshire and the Humber were the level of construction activity fell 22.0 percent y-o-y.
January 26, 2017
Workers across the globe are excited by the potential for technology to enhance their work lives and create new career opportunities, but over a third (40 percent) fear that they won’t be able to keep up with the rate of change required by digital business, claims a new survey. Across Europe 77 percent of workers acknowledge that disruption and increased competition will require more people with digital skills in order to compete on a global scale; however, the level of encouragement employees believe they are currently receiving to drive change in the workplace varies greatly throughout the world. Only 64 percent of respondents in the US saying they feel empowered by their company culture to lead innovation, whereas 90 percent of employees in Mexico feel their workplaces encourages them to drive change. The BMC study of over 3,200 office workers in 12 countries worldwide found that 88 percent of office workers across the world strongly believe that employers must create an innovative culture to retain staff and enable them to be successful with increasingly digital roles and responsibilities.
January 23, 2017
At this time of every year, the media is just getting over its predictable annual fixation with with retrospectives and forecasts. The last few of these workplace trends pieces are now dribbling out, many of them indistinguishable and based on some very familiar tropes and assumptions. These days such things tend to be shaped into lists, because that’s how the Internet likes these things. That is all perfectly natural and we are free to make our own mind up which of these features are meaningful and which are the cookie cutter products of the permanently unimaginative. No football pundit was ever fired for stringing together clichés rather than thinking and talking, and no marketing person has ever lost their job for publishing a list of Ten Trends. One thing all of these lists seem to share is an assumption that many of the ideas they reflect are new. That’s understandable. Nobody wants to think that what they consider to be on trend has all been seen before. The young people currently roaming around with wedge haircuts and ripped jeans won’t thank you for telling them they are 80s throwbacks.
January 23, 2017
Visitors to Barcelona may still see Jean Nouvel’s iconic, phallic Agbar Tower as a welcome sight on the city’s skyline, but the building is less loved by its owners and tenants according to a report in Spanish newspaper El Pais. Inaugurated in 2005, the 34-storey skyscraper has been sold twice in three years as tenants have vacated and plans drawn up to either refurbish it or turn it into a hotel. The latest plan from new owners Merlin Properties is to spend €13 million on a refurbishment that will include a multi-occupier space for companies working in Barcelona’s thriving tech sector, centred on the Innovation District that is home to the Torre Agbar. The refurb aims to deal with the most common complaints from previous tenants which, according to the report, include a dysfunctional doughnut shaped layout, poor sightlines, inappropriate location, small windows with no view, inadequate shutters and an unwillingness to work in a building with such an overwhelming brand identity. Image: Ralf Roletschek
January 19, 2017
Every physical setting sends distinct signals to meeting participants – signals that set the tone and provide a context for the conversation, even when they are subtle or not in anyone’s conscious awareness. You understand instinctively that the place where a meeting occurs has an impact on the nature of the conversation. Just imagine the difference between a conversation around a large formal conference table with expensive executive chairs and one that takes place in an informal employee lounge, with the participants seated in a circle on soft bean-bag chairs. Or consider the classic image of a boss seated behind a large desk, in front of a large window framing her silhouette as she delivers a performance review to a “lowly” subordinate sitting across the desk in a low, hard-back chair. Now think about that same performance review being conducted on two softer wing chairs of equal height, with a low coffee table between them. Or in a nearby restaurant or coffee shop. Or on a trail in the woods adjacent to the corporate office. Which of those conversations do you think will evolve in a more caring, respectful, and supportive mode?