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.
March 24, 2015
Yesterday, the Government published its State of the Estate report for 2014 detailing the size and cost, efficiency of use and sustainability of central government buildings. The report covers all central government property with the exception of the military estate, prisons, NHS, Defra rural estate, Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Home Office and overseas estate. The current Government has laid great store on its ability to rationalise and improve the estate and the report focuses on its achievements in this regard. The report claims that since 2010, the changes have resulted in the estate divesting some 2,000 properties (28 percent of the total), reduced the footprint of the estate by 2 million sq. m. (a 20 percent reduction). It claims that this has been achieved by “identifying underused properties and modernising buildings to make better use of a smaller number of properties and the space within them.”
March 19, 2015
In yesterday’s budget announcement, the Chancellor maintained the Government’s focus on regional devolution and investment in both physical and digital infrastructure. In truth, there was little surprising in the announcements, many of which had been signalled in advance and were rooted in existing policies. Some of them arrived fully formed, such as the devolution of powers related to business rates. Others, including the much talked about and overdue investment in regional infrastructure such as the cross country fast rail link, were fleshed out. Given that this is a budget with both eyes on the forthcoming general election, it’s a shame that some announcements lacked detail. Here are six of the key announcements that will affect the workplace, technology and property sectors.
March 2, 2015
The latest changes to public procurement regulations in the UK have now come into force, which the Cabinet Office claims will make it easier for businesses to win government and other public sector contracts. The new regulations have a particular focus on making work more accessible and attractive for small and medium sized enterprises. The key reforms which came into force on the 26 February include the abolition of a pre-qualification stage for procurements below the EU thresholds and a requirement to take account of guidance on qualitative selection issued by the Cabinet Office for above EU threshold; the requirement for contracting authorities to insert provisions in all public contracts to ensure prompt payment through the supply chain; and the requirement to advertise as many public sector opportunities in one place (Contracts Finder), and to publish award notices for contracts and call-offs from framework agreements.
February 26, 2015
The Mayor of London has revealed the latest plans to move the city’s pedestrians, bikes and cars underground and elevated on decking. The latest proposals would see a number of the capital’s major roads mounted or buried with the space saved at ground level converted to greener and more pleasant uses (and property development obv). An announcement from the Greater London Authority claims that over 70 sites across London have been considered for the scheme which will include new tunnels, fly-unders and decking. It follows hard on the heels of another proposal to create the Underline, a network of cycle lanes and walkways based on the city’s existing web of unused tunnels. The roads proposed for the new scheme include the A4 in Hammersmith, the A13 in East London and sections of the North Circular Road.
February 25, 2015
The UK Government has published its new Property Profession Competency Framework which it describes as ‘an outline of the skills required to manage property assets at both operational and strategic level.’ The Government Property Profession (GPP) framework aims to provide a basis for improving the capability of civil servants working in property asset management roles. The GPP competencies complement the Civil Service competency framework and are defined as: professional and technical expertise; statutory, regulatory and professional requirements; interpretation and analysis of data; sustaining and developing the GPP. It is hoped that these competencies and levels will appear in job descriptions for property asset management roles and be used in appraisals for GPP members. Image: award winning Rochdale Borough Council HQ.
February 23, 2015
In this week’s issue; Maciej Markowski says most companies are not like Google, so don’t require a Google-cloned office; and Mark Eltringham explains why Charles Handy was largely correct in his pronouncements on the changing nature of work. Take up of leased office space in London hits its highest level since 2000; the UK workforce sees an increasing pay divide; and with new flexi-rights just weeks away, Acas publishes a new free guide on Shared Parental Leave. The Government publishes the latest edition of its ‘Greening Government ICT Strategy’ report; and the House of Lords’ report, Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future, predicts that 35 percent of jobs over the next two decades will be automated. Sign up to the newsletter via the subscription form in the right hand sidebar and follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
February 20, 2015
Whichever party or coalition forms the next UK Government will face a raft of serious challenges with the emerging digital economy, including making plans for the automation of up to a third of existing jobs. That is the main conclusion of a new report published this week by The House of Lords. Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future, argues that the next 20 years will present the UK with a range of profound challenges and opportunities and it is incumbent on the Government to address them at the earliest opportunity. As well as imminent and well known issues such as the need to roll out ultrafast broadband countrywide and the development of skills and digital clusters, the report also highlights the particular issue of what to do about the claim that up to 35 percent of jobs over the next two decades will be automated.
February 19, 2015
The Government has published the latest edition of its ‘Greening Government ICT Strategy’ report, which looks at how central public sector bodies in the UK are addressing environmental issues directly associated with hardware as well as related issues such as travelling to work, the use of property, working cultures and the delivery of services. For the first time the report includes details of energy consumption. The main commitments of the strategy are the ongoing shift to cloud based ‘digital by default’ operations and a focus on the flagship the Way We Work (TW3) flexible working programme which aims ‘to ensure that civil servants have the modern tools they need to enable them to work effectively together and with customers. New greener digital technologies and working practices will help do just that.’
February 19, 2015
The UK Government has announced that it is to invest £50 million in providing free Wi-Fi on a number of regional rail networks across England and Wales. The rollout will extend to Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN); Southeastern; Chiltern and Arriva Trains Wales. In addition, all future bids for new rail franchises will have to include provisions for Wi-Fi infrastructure. The government has said it is focusing on those operators that currently have limited plans to invest in Wi-Fi infrastructure to give the greatest benefit to customers, which may explain the absence of long distance carriers. The plan is to offer greater access to free wi-fi on the country’s rail network by 2017. The money is equivalent to the amount Network Rail has returned to the Government for missing punctuality targets.