July 24, 2015
We’ve reported previously on the Government’s One Public Sector Estate scheme, which encourages local authorities to find ways to share office space and find other ways of divesting buildings as well as freeing up land for development. Over the past two years there has been a phased rollout of the scheme to 32 councils. Now the Cabinet Office and the Local Government Association claim they have gauged the success of the first two phases and are confident the scheme can be expanded nationwide. Their announcement suggests that the 32 councils who are currently on the programme own 28 percent of council land and property assets in England and have applied the ideas of the One Public Sector Estate Initiative to free up land for around 9,000 homes and create some 20,000 new jobs. The councils involved are also expected to raise £129 million in capital receipts from land sales and cut running costs by £77 million over 5 years.
July 10, 2015
Employees at UK local authorities are frustrated at their poor quality working environments and councils are suffering as a result, claims a new study from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Over two thirds (68 percent) of employees polled for the report claim their workplaces need to be upgraded and nearly all (92 percent) said they take the standard of workplace into account when deciding where to work. Furthermore, 80 percent of current employees claim they take the standard of working environment into account when making decisions about whether to remain in the current role. In an interview with LocalGov magazine, Paul Bagust, director of UK commercial property at RICS, also warned that short term cost cutting in the workplace is likely to be counterproductive in the long term.
June 13, 2015
In this week’s issue; Dr Kerstin Sailer, Ros Pomeroy and Rosie Haslem describe the ten demonstrable facts about the workplace you may not know; Mark Eltringham says the most pervasive and enduring myth about the office is that it is somehow dying off and discovers that people have been writing guides to good ergonomics since the early seventeenth Century. Also this week; a parliamentary inquiry into the effects of design on behaviour is launched by the Design Commission, a survey for World FM Day reveals the key role played by FM in wellbeing and productivity, the US Government’s plans to reform the way federal office space is managed, and too few employers advertise jobs with flexible working opportunities. Subscribe for free quarterly issues of Work&Place and for weekly news via the subscription form in the right hand sidebar, follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
June 11, 2015
Over the past few years, the UK Cabinet Office has looked to the way it procures and occupies real estate as an important way of reducing the country’s budget deficit. One other country that is following suit is the US. The congressional Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the US House of Representatives has unanimously approved legislation to reform the way federal office space is managed, procured and occupied. The Public Buildings Reform and Savings Act of 2015 sets out ways to reduce and consolidate space, divest unnecessary buildings, improve oversight of facilities management, negotiate better and shorter lease terms with the aim of saving billions of dollars each year. In the UK, the Government claims to have reduced the public sector estate by 2 million sq ft in just three years with a range of similar approaches, saving around £1.2 billion.
June 8, 2015
Last Friday was National Work From Home Day in the UK. Each year, the TUC and organisers Work Wise seem to take this as an opportunity to analyse data about the uptake of flexible working and arrive at the wrong conclusions. This year, its analysis of the ONS Labour Force Survey found that the number of people regularly working from home had increased by more than 800,000 since 2005, taking the total to over 4.2 million. These are solid enough data, but what are we to make of TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady’s conclusion that: “these figures show millions of British workers have adopted homeworking and are enjoying a better work-life balance, while saving time and money on costly commuting that benefits no-one”? There are several reasons to suggest that he’s got that wrong to a large extent.
May 28, 2015
A new survey from techUK, the trade association that represents technology companies in the UK, claims that while civil servants see IT as key to delivering their mission, they don’t think their departments have the right skills and culture to enable digital transformation of public services. This extends to the way goods and services are procured with particular consequences for smaller suppliers. Of the 929 Civil Servants surveyed for the study, less than 1 percent of respondents see IT as an overhead, while over three quarters believe it to be a necessity. However, there remain significant barriers to technology adoption. Over three quarter (68 percent) claim that having the right skills internally is critical to improving the procurement process; but only 20 percent agree their department has the skills and capabilities to manage suppliers.
May 10, 2015
It’s not just the UK public sector that is looking to achieve major restrictions in its expenditure on property through the use of technology, shared space and more efficient facilities management practices. According to a report from the Judicial Conference of the United States, organisations in the nationwide US judiciary have achieved significant savings with an ‘aggressive space and rent reduction initiative’. The judicial branch across the nation claims to have achieved nearly 30 percent of its target of reducing building space by 3 percent over the next three years. Federal courts are reducing space by ‘closing or downsizing facilities; closing, reducing, or finding different uses for circuit libraries; releasing under-utilised space; and using technology and mobility to share space when possible’.
April 22, 2015
A new report published this week by The Work Foundation, Healthy, Working Economies sets out the challenges facing the next UK government to improve the health and wellbeing of the country’s workforce. The report calls on the government to review how it is using local organisations, such as Health and Wellbeing Boards and Local Enterprise Partnerships to encourage improvements in workforce wellbeing and health. The Work Foundation recommends that a standardised set of measures be included in the Joint Strategic Needs Assessments performed by Health and Wellbeing Boards, including measures of employment outcomes for individuals with health issues. The report also suggests that employer leadership is needed to drive the step-change needed to improve the health of the workforce.
April 21, 2015
Increased workloads that limit the time available to implement new working practices is one of the reasons why the reported awareness and usage of BIM (Building Information Modelling) has fallen for the first time in five years. The fifth NBS National BIM Report, which looks at how UK building design professionals are adapting to the use of BIM, found that awareness and usage has fallen from 54 percent last year to 48 percent. However, out of 900 respondents to the survey, most believe BIM will become the ‘de facto’ standard for the design process within three years, as 92 percent expect to be using it within that timespan – and 95 percent within five years. With just months to go until the mandated use of Level 2 BIM on public sector projects in 2016, this year’s report looks at the built environment’s readiness.
April 17, 2015
It’s fair to say that most people can go about their day to day lives without worrying too much about the price of office furniture. That is until they need to work themselves into a state of excitement about the amount of taxpayers’ money being spent on desks and chairs. We’ve already highlighted how the hackles of the electorate are raised easily by the sight of refurbished offices although we are at a loss to explain why, especially when you consider it in comparison to the spectacular foul-ups associated with IT procurement and the fact they probably don’t sit around on tea crates at home. This visceral reaction is an international phenomenon. While the good people of Sheffield can whip themselves up about a £73 task chair, across the pond a political storm has formed around the £4 million expenditure of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on office furniture.
March 25, 2015
There is now at least one woman in the boardroom of FTSE 100 companies and the number of women on their boards has doubled over the last four years, according to the latest update from the body charged with monitoring the targets set by the Government in 2011. The latest data shows that women now make up 23.5 percent of top company board level executives, up from 12.5 percent and just shy of the targeted proportion of 25 percent. The Government has refused to set quotas but instead has relied on a soft touch approach to the issue. The report also finds that women now hold 24 percent of board level positions at all blue chip companies, up from 18 percent four years ago. Almost a third (32 percent) of new boardroom appointments in the past year have also gone to women, up from just over 13 percent over the same period four years ago.
March 25, 2015
Services and facilities management group Sodexo has announced it is to join the Living Wage’s Service Provider Scheme and in future will report on and address the gender pay gap. It is part of its Public Service Pledge, an ethical manifesto for its contracts and conduct that includes a set of commitments aimed at ‘achieving a fairer and better society’. The Pledge also details ways in which it will step up reporting on its public sector contracts to increase transparency and accountability. Chief among these are pledges to publish the savings produced for Central Government through its contracts, and to publish annually how it has contributed towards Government clients’ stated target outcomes. Sodexo employs 34,000 employees in the UK and Ireland, with over half of those working on Government contracts, in justice, defence, healthcare and education.