January 17, 2017
The debate around designing a workplace that works for millennials and now Gen Z is a public one. Every week a new article highlights what is required to create a workplace that millennials want. However for large companies with a diverse workforce, more than the desires of just one generation must be considered to make the workforce effective. Is it possible to create a universal workforce that can work across generations to serve the needs of all employees, and should that be the goal for workplace design? Right now, we know that tech firms are drawing more top talent than they did before. It can be seen in the a comparison of Harvard MBAs in 2007 and again in 2014 that went into banking (13 percent down to 5 percent) vs tech (up from 7 percent to 17 percent). Following their lead, broader design has shifted to adopt a tech feel in their own offices, with open layouts trending upwards. Office amenities from ping pong tables to slides are also rising as companies try to bring a fresh approach to the workplace.
January 17, 2017
Much of the current focus of the debate about the impact of artificial intelligence has been on how the ‘rise of the robots’ will spend the end for many job roles. Yet that mischaracterises the true effects according to a new report from Infosys, released today, to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos. The report, Amplifying Human Potential: Towards Purposeful Artificial Intelligence, concludes that the implementation of AI doesn’t necessarily mean job losses. In fact, 80 percent of businesses adopting AI which have replaced, or plan to replace, workers with technology, will be far more likely to retain, retrain and upskill those employees impacted. The study also claims that the adoption of AI will mean a number of other important benefits for organisations including a predicted 39 percent revenue rise by 2020 as a result of the implementation.
January 12, 2017
The European Display Screen Equipment Regulations were first introduced in 1992 as a way of improving the posture and wellbeing of people working with computers in the office. Although welcome at the time as a way of promoting good ergonomics practices in a rapidly digitising world, that’s now a long time ago and the workplace has changed a great deal in the meantime. Here’s a list of thing that have happened in the intervening years: 1. The Internet. Actually, we can stop there. Any piece of workplace legislation that predates the Internet almost certainly won’t be fit for purpose, especially one that is based on how we should work with computers, let alone other devices. Yet there it all is on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website. It’s all so hopelessly out of date, it’s like starting a farm using a paleolithic cave painting as your guide to animal husbandry. The guidance is even called Working with VDUs which is certainly quaint, if nothing else.
January 12, 2017
While a fifth of respondents to a study commissioned by Cascade HR revealed the topics most likely to keep HR awake at night in 2017 said they don’t foresee any challenges as Brexit begins to unfold, the remainder highlighted recruitment, managing organisational change and staff morale as the overriding struggles they expect to encounter. While 80 percent of participants said their organisation is OK, good or excellent at managing major change, significant areas for improvement were also identified, with 61 percent stating better communication is required, 57 percent striving for greater staff involvement/engagement and 50 percent highlighting the need for improved planning. Of the 275 industry professionals questioned in the survey, to uncover their plans and fears surrounding Brexit and other significant economic developments, 59 percent said they will rely on technology to help them manage such change.
January 11, 2017
A new study from Colliers International claims that 62 percent of companies in the TMT sector are looking to expand their headcount. Despite advances in technology and artificial intelligence in the workplace, Colliers latest research suggests that over 62 percent of enterprises in the Tech, Media and Telecoms (TMT) sector are seeking to employ more staff to drive their company forward, demonstrating that the human factor still plays a critical role in business development. The report was conducted by global real estate firm Colliers International, based on a number of interviews. The study also claims that only 12.5 per cent of the firms which were interviewed were looking to contract their workforce. Interestingly, technology was viewed as the least important strategic resource by all but one company. Yet most businesses surveyed did expect big change and efficiency improvements through the introduction of new technology in the business and the workplace, especially the development of cloud-based systems.
January 11, 2017
Last year we ran a piece which looked at some of the outlandish ways designers have offered people the chance to get some peace and quiet at work. The extremes people will consider as they deal with the challenge of office acoustics is enlightening. All of those examples relied on the principle of keeping at least some of the racket produced by colleagues from entering the ear. But a new prototype product launched at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas frames the issue differently by going back to source. The Hushme is a voice masking device for mobile phones. It has integrated earbuds and comes with a range of masking sounds such as wind, rain, monkey, Darth Vader and squirrel. You have to wonder who it’s aimed at but the makers suggest it is all about privacy. Then again, it may make an ideal gift for some and could be popular for this year’s Secret Santas.
January 11, 2017
A new study claims that the application of Big Data in the workplace has now reached a tipping point as two thirds of organisations now consider its application of ‘strategic’ consequence, with just a fifth (19 percent) still at an experimental stage. According to the 2016 Big Data Maturity Survey from AtScale, nearly all of the 2,550 businesses who took part (97 percent) claim they will do as much or more to apply Big Data to decision making over the next three months. The main application is expected to be business intelligence according to 75 percent of respondents to the study. The AtScale study also found most companies now deploy Big Data in the cloud rather than keeping it on premises. “There’s been a clear surge in use of Big Data in the Cloud over the last year and what’s perhaps as interesting is the fact that respondents are far more likely to achieve tangible value when their data is in the cloud,” said AtScale CTO and co-founder Matt Baird.
January 6, 2017
Topical workplace issues featured prominently at this week’s British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology annual conference held in Liverpool. Four of the key takeaways from the event deal with issues such as the right to disconnect when working from home – a right recently enshrined in law in France, the way different personality types deal with emails, the toxic relationship between employers and employees and even how managers can learn to show their staff more love. The focus at teh event underlines a growing awareness of the complexities of our new relationship with work and workplaces.
January 6, 2017
Over half of graduate employers are struggling to fill their graduate vacancies, partly due to students reneging on offers. A poll by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) claims that 52 percent of employers did not fill all of their graduate vacancies last year and while one in five offers were declined, 7.1 percent of offers made were accepted and then reneged. The size of the challenge differs by sector. Accountancy, banking and engineering firms are the most likely to find reneging an issue. It is less of a problem in the public sector and among law, utility and IT businesses. However, employers are finding ways to tackle the issue with 97 percent communicating and 78 percent holding events for graduates between offer and join date. As a result the proportion of job offers reneged is falling – in the AGR’s 2015 poll 8.2 percent were reneged. Employers are also being advised to take more of a digital approach to reaching ‘tech savvy’ graduates.
January 5, 2017
Worldwide spending on the Internet of Things (IoT) is forecast to reach $737 billion for the past year (2016) as organisations invest in the hardware, software, services, and connectivity that enable the IoT. According to a new update to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Semiannual Internet of Things Spending Guide, global IoT spending will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.6 percent over the 2015-2020 forecast period, reaching $1.29 trillion in 2020. The industries forecast to make the largest IoT investments in 2016 are Manufacturing ($178 billion), Transportation ($78 billion), and Utilities ($69 billion). Consumer IoT purchases, the fourth largest market segment in 2016, will become the third largest segment by 2020. Meanwhile, cross-industry IoT, such as that for connected vehicles and smart buildings, will rank among the top segments throughout the five-year forecast.
January 3, 2017
Working with colleagues across different geographies and time zones has become the norm since an increasing number of organisations now integrate and seek collaboration at a global level. Interestingly, according to Cisco, 62 percent of workers now regularly collaborate with people in other countries. These globally integrated enterprises (GIE) aim to draw in the best talent from across the world, delivering maximum innovation and efficiency. The rise of global and distributed teams has been further encouraged by the popularity of remote working, with 71 percent of office workers now choosing greater flexibility to work from various locations instead of travelling to the office everyday . And the trend only looks set to gain pace, with 56 percent of senior leaders in large global companies expecting global teams to increase in the next one to three years.
January 3, 2017
Over the last few years there has been something of a widespread backlash to the idea that we need to have constant access to information and our colleagues to work effectively. The touchstone for this movement is of course the open plan office but it has become something of a scapegoat given the universality of the problems of interruptions and distractions. One of the most vocal proponents of the idea that sometimes we need to work quietly and alone is Susan Cain, the author of Quiet and the person responsible for the TED Talk presented below on sound and acoustics. But she is not alone, as we suggested in this feature. Nor is the message new. Nearly 70 years ago, Aldous Huxley bemoaned the din of technology in his 1946 essay Science, Liberty and Peace, which covers a range of topics including this prescient piece on silence: