December 7, 2015
One of the most intriguing and yet least talked about developments in the UK’s workplace design and management scene over the past couple of years has been the roll out of the One Public Sector Estate scheme, which encourages local authorities to share and divest parts of their vast, messy and under-utilised estate. The Cabinet Office, the central government department behind the scheme, claims that the current programme involving 32 local authorities will yield around £129 million in property sales and savings of £77 million in running costs over a period of five years. Now, more than 100 councils are set to join the scheme including several that are set to acquire greater autonomy through the Government’s plans for devolution. The new regions set to sign up to the programme include Greater Manchester, the City of Liverpool, West Midlands and Sheffield as part of 24 new ‘partnerships’.
November 30, 2015
In this week’s newsletter; Mark Eltringham argues the six hour working day is a deeply conservative idea, dressed up in radical clothing; Matias Rodsevic says it’s important to understand what employee engagement actually means and Darren Bilsborough identifies seven separate layers or “skins” of workplace productivity. As COP21 gets underway, there’s evidence that Megacities are taking the lead in climate action, WeWork unveils its latest plans to dominate London; three new reports reveal technological confusion in the workplace; and a study says the Government’s challenge is how best to match its commitments with its resources. You can also download the new issue of Work&Place and access our first Insight Briefing, produced in partnership with Connection, which looks at agile working in the public sector. Visit our new events page, follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
November 16, 2015
Two key themes have shaped the current UK Government’s attitude to its real estate and other resources since it came to office in 2010 and embarked on a programme of austerity. They are the twin desires to ‘cut waste’ and ‘do more with less’. These are not easy tricks to pull off, as a new report from the Institute for Government suggests. Published ahead of the upcoming Spending Review, the study sees the Government’s main challenge being how best to match its commitments with its resources. Two of the main ideas discussed are the rolling out of more digital services and what the paper calls institutional reform, which it suggests includes the loss of another 100,000 public sector jobs over the next five years. But as two news reports published over the weekend suggest, this kind of change can sometimes create more problems than it solves when it comes to Government property.
November 2, 2015
The process of transforming the UK’s public sector estate may have begun under the last Labour administration but it’s fair to say that change really began to kick in as a consequence of the austerity programme initiated by the current administration. Central Government departments and local authorities had already started exploring new ways of owning and occupying their property in the same way as their private sector contemporaries. Now they were incentivised to respond to an administration that was not only prepared to cut their budgets but was introducing frameworks and legislation that encouraged them to innovate and pioneer a new generation of agile workplaces. In our first Insight Briefing, produced in partnership with Connection, we look at how these forces for change have catalysed a new approach and challenged the idea that innovation in workplace design and management is primarily the preserve of the private sector.
October 17, 2015
This week’s newsletter features our first Insight Briefing, produced in partnership with Connection, which looks at agile working in the public sector. Adrian Campbell says office design needs the direct contribution of its most important influencer, the end user; and Mark Eltringham welcomes a new report that debunks the belief that ‘sitting is the new smoking’. Demand for flexible co-working space looks set to soar; investment in commercial property is at its highest level worldwide since 2008, and businesses continue to find the creation of a productive workplace challenging. Sydney leads the world in Activity Based Working according to the Global Cities report; and working parents in the US are reluctant to let employers know how stressed they really are. Visit our new events page, subscribe for free quarterly issues of Work&Place and weekly news here. And follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
October 9, 2015
Keynsham Civic Centre & One Stop Shop in Keynsham, near Bath, has been named the Best of the Best workplace in the country at the British Council for Offices’ (BCO) annual Awards. The office was recognised as the Best Corporate Workplace in the UK, topping a list of six other award winners recognised for excellence in office space. The building provides an environmentally sustainable, low maintenance and flexible workspace, whilst acting as a catalyst for the regeneration of the town. As a workplace for the local council, the judges praised the building’s impressive use of natural light to create an ‘uplifting workspace’ as well as the design of the office floors which lend themselves toward flexibility and encourage collaborative working. The team behind the building was also commended for conducting a thorough and impressive stakeholder engagement process, from the inception of the project through to completion.
September 23, 2015
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has welcomed the announcement of four new Whitehall diversity champions to help the Civil Service become more representative of modern Britain. In a National Audit Office report earlier this year, the NAO said that although Whitehall had made some progress on promoting diversity, it needed to place greater emphasis on departments’ valuing and maximising the contribution of every member of their staff. The report by the watchdog also concluded that the Cabinet Office was not using the data it holds on staff to manage workforce changes and hold departments to account. The new advisers, who include Paralympic swimming hero Chris Holmes, Director of Paralympic Integration for London 2012, will work to challenge policies and advise ministers and Civil Service leaders on increasing the numbers of people in the workforce from under-represented groups.
August 9, 2015
In this week’s issue; Lee Parsons argues the impact of office relocation can no longer be solely measured in tangible terms; Mark Eltringham questions people’s reluctance to simply go on holiday and explores the complex links that exist between our surroundings and how we think and act. The Government lists around £118 billion of publicly funded building projects over the next five years; and flexible working is the main driver in the growth of Cloud data services. Ergonomics experts focus on the much discussed topics of sedentary working; the Work Foundation presses employers to support the health of older workers; and from the latest edition of Work&Place Rebecca Booth explains one of the biggest obstacles to successful change leadership is “change fatigue.” Subscribe for free quarterly issues of Work&Place and weekly news here, follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
August 6, 2015
The UK Government, in conjunction with construction industry data specialist Barbour ABI, has published a full detailed list of around £118 billion of publicly funded building projects scheduled for the next five years. You can find the pipeline as a spreadsheet here, with the data broken down by sector and including some basic data for each project. The Government has also introduced a dedicated website with details of the projects with updates to the raw data available via both the central government website and at data.gov.uk. The government construction pipeline is now updated twice a year which the Government claims will ‘extend its reach beyond the major construction spending departments and improve the integrity of the data’ and demonstrate its commitment ‘to continuous engagement with industry and government clients on current use and future improvements’.
August 3, 2015
If you’re reading this on holiday this week, don’t. Life’s too short. Go jump in the pool or something…. For everybody else, a slew of surveys have been published over the last few weeks that confirm something that we may already know; we are finding it increasingly hard to forget about work, even during our supposed time off and many people are forgoing holidays altogether, although not necessarily because they’ve forgotten about the off switch on their smartphone. We reported recently on one of these, from the Institute for Leadership and Management, but three more have passed over our desks over recent days. With the usual caveat about vested interests, the studies, from the TUC, alldayPA and public sector members club CSMA all confirm not only how prevalent this form of presenteeism is, but also how harmful it can be to ourselves and employers.
August 1, 2015
In this week’s issue; three new studies have joined the already extensive body of work linking workplace design and productivity; how business practices and the way people use technology vary across sectors; and over half of US workers say the 9 to 5 day is an outmoded concept. Amanda Sterling argues social media at work can help shift the power dynamic from the few to the many; Gary Chandler explains how workplace design can express a firm’s culture and Mark Eltringham explores what the Midwich Cuckoos can tell us about Generation Y. The Government challenges businesses to consider the boost untapped disabled talent could bring to their workforce and CoWorking giant WeWork looks to acquire over 1 million sq. ft. of space in London. Subscribe for free quarterly issues of Work&Place and weekly news here, follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
July 29, 2015
As we reported last week, the UK public sector is embracing some interesting new ideas in the way it uses real estate, especially its commitment to get rid of some of it by adopting flexible working and shared space. However, it’s one thing looking to use space in more flexible ways but without the technological infrastructure, it’s hard to see how they will be able to achieve as much as they could. It is in this regard that they are lagging behind their contemporaries in the private sector, according to a new report from O2 and YouGov. While the report, Redefining selling, serving and working, offers up the usual appeals for us all to make more use of the sorts of things O2 wants us to buy, there is plenty of interesting detail to tease out once the pinch of salt has been applied, not least how business practices and the way people use technology vary across sectors.