February 3, 2016
The UK Government has today published the latest edition of its annual State of the Estate report, which gives an update on plans to consolidate, divest and modernise the central government property portfolio. Minister for the Cabinet Office Matt Hancock claims that the current administration has reduced the size of the estate by 2.4 million sq. m. since 2010. (As is the way of these things, the minister claims this is equivalent to 336football pitches, 43 Shards or more than the entire principality of Monaco. Presumably individual departments measured their own successes in blue whales and double decker buses.) He claims that this means that the total central government estate has fallen below 5,000 holdings for the first time and could fit inside the area of West Finchley (which is a new measurement on us). The reduction has been achieved by selling property ranging from the historic Old War Office (top) to an old bakery and lighthouse.
January 22, 2016
We’ll return to this in detail next week, but yesterday the business standards company BSI working with the Cabinet Office launched a new code of practice on Smart Working. The Smart Working Code of Practice, BSI Publicly Available Specification (PAS3000) has been designed to support organisations in implementing smart working principles. The Cabinet Office sponsors it on behalf of the Smart Working Charter Steering Group of industry, academia, institutions and other public sector bodies. According to the Cabinet Office, the code brings together best practice from across the world and across disciplines and will enable organisations to move from principles to standards and benchmark themselves against high performers in smart working. At the launch, the organisers also announced the second annual The Way We Work (TW3) Awards, a Civil Service programme recognising government teams that have created smarter ways of working.
January 20, 2016
The UK’s top three employers are Jaguar Land Rover, AstraZeneca and Harrods according to an independent survey conducted by Statista for Bloomberg’s content and research arm. The results were from an extensive online employee survey among 15,000 workers in more than 1600 UK-based firms with at least 500 workers. They revealed that 70 percent of the best employers within the top 50 are British firms, including the top three. Microsoft, Nike and Google led the US companies within the top 50 which make up 12 percent. Microsoft is the only technology firm in the top 15 of the full ranking, with Google in second place, ranked 16th. The survey found that employees working in the Professional Services industry were the most likely to recommend their employer, while employees in Government Services were the least likely. The complete list of 400 firms across 25 industry sectors and the methodology can be found at the Bloomberg Best Employers UK 2016 site.
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’.