November 26, 2016
In this week’s Newsletter; Ian Ellison says there are no silver bullets for workspace design, but it’s worth the effort; Justin Miller explores the workplace implications of seasonal affective disorder (SAD); and Jeff Flanagan explains why workplace design and management teams should look towards consumer-facing industries for inspiration. Asia set to lead the world in the uptake of artificial intelligence in the workplace; Staples announces tomorrow’s workplace design winners; and UK Government to invest properly in the next generation of technological infrastructure. One in seven UK employees now commute over two hours each day; Millennials reject the gig economy; Autumn statement could adversely affect London’s tech firms; and global report finds that flexible working is a necessity for younger workers. Download our new Briefing, produced in partnership with Boss Design on the link between culture and workplace strategy and design; visit our new events page, follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
November 25, 2016
The IFMA Foundation Workplace Summit of summer 2014 felt like an optimistic time for facilities management and the workspace industry. Heavyweights from the sector were asking searching questions about our organisational contribution, with thankfully less of the internally focused, debate-free hubris typical of much of the industry narrative. The newly announced (and now evidently historical) collaboration between BIFM and CIPD was in full swing, endorsed by social media savvy Twitterati under The Workplace Conversation banner. Finally, I thought, we seemed to be talking less about space as a commodity and more about people. Melissa Marsh of Plastarc captured it at the Summit as she evidenced co-working principles: less “managing facilities” and more “enabling communities”. It felt like some were finally starting to realise the fundamental qualitative difference between workspace and workplace: the role of culture.
November 25, 2016
The term ‘work-life balance’ has been promised by large corporations for years – and it now could finally become a key factor choosing a career. According to a worldwide survey, the upcoming generation of Y and Z workers demand more flexibility, less face-time, and rather than having to account for half-day annual leave, attending school plays or meetups, expect to be trusted to do the job on their terms. However, the research by Emolument also claims that in some industries, implementing such a shift in perception and practice is still a long way off, as client demands in terms of reactivity and timeliness remain unchanged. Employers do understand that dissatisfaction with work-life balance is more and more likely to be a reason for quitting though, and that higher pay struggles to compensate for time spent away from family and friends. With more pressure on women to cover for childcare commitment, housework and logistics, 42 percent of women say they’ve a bad work/life balance compared to 33 percent of men.
November 25, 2016
The enduring struggle to improve the working conditions and performance of people through the design and management of their workplaces has more than a whiff of the Enlightenment of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries about it. The Enlightenment marked a new era in which the old superstitions and dogmas were to be overthrown by pure reason. This intellectual development was seen by its proponents as enough to convince the world of the ways in which we could improve the human condition. It’s a battle that was won in some ways but which continues to this day, as you can tell from the work of the most prominent modern day evangelists of pure reason such as Richard Dawkins, Ben Goldacre, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens and the enduring ability of people to believe palpable nonsense. You can see the same appeal to reason as firms and facilities managers make the case for a progressive approach to workplace design and management.
November 25, 2016
More and more businesses are recognising the power of the workplace experience to drive employee performance and engagement. Global brand Airbnb, for example, has now renamed its head of human resources as “chief employee experience officer.” This is good news for workplace design and management professionals. We are well placed to capitalise on this shift in business opinion, but if we want to make a tangible impact, we need to bring practical solutions to the table. First and foremost, these need to be backed up by research. There have been few studies specifically into what makes a healthy and productive work environment. However, there are a number of research projects that examine how a human being’s surroundings impact their mood and behaviour, and in particular how consumer environments shape customers’ perception of and engagement with a brand. As workplace professionals, we can learn a great deal from this consumer research and this is why workplace design and management teams should look towards consumer-facing industries for inspiration.
November 24, 2016
Changes in business rates announced in yesterday’s Autumn Statement are likely to hit hardest the areas in the Capital such as Shoreditch and Fitzrovia where innovative tech companies are located, commented Jon Neale, head of UK Research, JLL. “The impact will no doubt undermine government plans to boost tech investment under its ‘Industrial Strategy’ announced earlier this week,” he said. “Meanwhile, office costs are high in London and post Brexit we need to minimise the risk that companies, will see cheaper continental cities such as Berlin as better bet place to set up shop.” He did add however that the promised “£1.3bn to improve roads and ease congestion is welcome and is likely to unlock development sites and promote economic development in many parts of the country. If the UK is to really address the challenges and opportunities of Brexit, investment in infrastructure needs to be more ambitious as well as more focused on an increasingly digital, hi-tech future. Green and smart city technology, new tram and underground networks and truly high-speed broadband would help provide precisely the platform UK business needs.”
November 22, 2016
One in seven UK employees commute over two hours or more each day. This represents an increase of nearly a third (31 percent) over the past five years, which claims the TUC, is due to a combination of low wages, high house/rental prices and the government’s lack of transport infrastructure spending, According to a new analysis by the union to mark Work Wise UK’s Commute Smart Week, in 2015 3.7 million workers had daily commutes of two hours or longer – an increase of 900,000 since 2010 (2.8 million). In 2015 one in seven UK employees (14 percent) travelled two hours or more each day to and from work, compared to one in nine in 2010 (11 percent). UK workers spent 10 hours extra, on average, commuting in 2015 than they did in 2010. This is the equivalent of an extra 2.7 minutes per day. London (930,000) has the highest number of employees who make long commutes, followed by the South East (623,000) and the East of England (409,000); while workers in Northern Ireland (+57 percent) have experienced the biggest rise in long commuting, followed by the South East (+37 percent) and the West Midlands (+27 percent).
November 18, 2016
Traditionally, the two principle vectors for change in the commercial property market have been lease lengths and space standards. Both have shrunk markedly over recent years, subject to the miniaturising effects of technological and cultural change. Even so, the effects of this contraction have taken place within an existing paradigm so have been easily understood, if not always acted upon.So it has been that major property organisations such as the British Council for Offices and CoreNet have been able to produce guides and reports based on well understood principles and without challenging the business models and assumptions of developers, landlords, workplace designers and occupiers. For most the challenges remained the same, not least how to resolve the sometimes conflicting timescales of people, place, property and technology that is the defining tension at the heart of office design and management.
November 17, 2016
Many of the techniques employed by modern illusionists rely on a thorough grounding in the research of psychologists. They’re not alone in standing on the shoulders of academics to bend people to their will. Many of our beliefs about the workings of our society and workplaces and their design are based on this sort of manipulation. It’s telling that the growth of consumerism in the 20th Century, especially after the War when we first began to move from a needs based economy to one fuelled by desire, was driven by the ideas of Sigmund Freud’s nephew. Edward Bernays became the ‘father of PR’ by popularising his uncle’s theories in the US then applying them to mould the subconscious desires of the American masses. He did this not just in the name of commerce but also in that of politics because he believed that society was becoming increasingly irrational, immoral and dangerous.
November 15, 2016
Take-up of prime office space in central Manchester is on course to hit 1 million sq ft in 2016 and could be influenced by the impact of Brexit. The latest research by Colliers International suggests that overseas investors retained an interest in prime Manchester office space partly because of the devaluation of sterling following the Referendum vote for the UK to leave the EU – as proven by the recent £164m acquisition of the 288,000 sq ft One St Peter’s Square by global real estate investor Deka Immobilien. There have been a series of other major deals, including an insurance firm taking 165,000 sq ft of Grade A office scheme, a global law firm moving its global centre into an 80,848 sq ft development; and a government department negotiating a 60,000 sq ft deal. The legal sector accounted for almost 25 percent of total office take-up so far in 2016, followed by media and technology (16 percent) and business services (15 percent). However, all this activity may result in a lack of ready to occupy space in the city by early 2017.
November 12, 2016
Ten countries including Australia, Canada, Germany, India and US announce plans to recognise zero carbon emissions buildings
The World Green Building Council’s goal to ensure that every building produces zero carbon emissions by 2050 took a major step forward this week as Green Building Councils in 10 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden, and the US) made progress on their plans to introduce net zero certification or designation schemes within their own countries, at COP22. Specifically, the Green Building Council of Australia, Canada Green Building Council, the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB), India Green Building Council and the US Green Building Council all announced their intention to introduce schemes that recognise and reward net zero carbon buildings, with some announcing target dates by which they will introduce them. These schemes could be either stand alone net zero certification schemes, or a net zero designation within existing certification schemes.
November 11, 2016
There is a witch hunt on in the workplace. “Open plan” has become a dirty word and the national press are leading the mob in vilifying this so-called scourge. The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and Business Week have all reported that “we can’t get anything done in an open-plan office” as it affects our concentration, our performance and our health. These news items are all damning, but perhaps not as damming as the Wikipedia entry on open plan which states: “A systematic survey of research upon the effects of open plan offices found frequent negative effects in some traditional workplaces: high levels of noise, stress, conflict, high blood pressure and a high staff turnover… Most people prefer closed offices… there is a dearth of studies confirming positive impacts on productivity from open plan office designs”.