March 15, 2017
Cluttons has proposed that a mobile coverage rating should be added to lettable workspace criteria, because despite mobile and internet connections being the fifth essential utility for the modern environment they are often overlooked when leasing space. With the rise of dependence on SIM-based equipment, the property firm argues that workplaces should be let with a coverage rating, measuring connectivity within a property. It argues that given the fast-paced evolving nature of the sector, landlords who invest in excellent telephony infrastructure are likely to secure tenants for longer periods and potentially achieve higher rental values. The approach is being borne out by the government recognising the importance of better mobile and internet infrastructure, by making it a focal point to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by the end of 2017. This comes as no surprise given that several emerging markets are leap-frogging the adoption of technology and are quickly outpacing the UK in the sophistication of infrastructure on offer to occupiers. London is ranked near to the bottom of the internet connectivity league table when looking at Europe.
March 10, 2017
A majority (84 percent) of British employees use their smartphones at work, with 78 percent regularly responding to text messages during working hours and on average spending as many as 120 hours per year using their smartphones during the working day claims new research. The data, compiled by LaptopsDirect.co.uk, also found that 59 percent regularly take personal phone calls whilst working; 52 percent admit to answering instant messages via platforms such as Whatsapp and Facebook, and 9 percent have sent a Snapchat from their workplace. Employers are not completely against the use of smartphones, though under half (44 percent) permit the reasonable use of smartphones, according to the research; but 14 percent of respondents admit to having been told off for using smartphones at work, and 4 percent have been disciplined for use of their own tech during work time. Of most concern for employers is the fact that more than a third (38 percent) of respondents regularly check their social media accounts while at work.
March 9, 2017
As has been the case with recent UK Government Budget announcements, Chancellor Philip Hammond’s first Budget addressed a number of issues related to the workplace, technology and infrastructure. It was the first Budget delivered in the post Brexit era and this clearly informed many of the announcements made. While most of the headlines over the past 24 hours have related to the changes to the tax status of the self-employed as a way of raising around £2 billion, the announcements also covered a broad range of topics related to the workplace, HR, technology and property sectors and have drawn an immediate response from key figures in the sector. These include nearly half a billion pounds relief on the vexed question of business rates reforms, a new focus on technical qualifications and a greater investment in 5G and other forms of digital infrastructure. We’ll be having our own say about the implications of the Budget in the near future, but in the meantime, here’s a rundown of the key announcements and the reaction of industry experts.
March 9, 2017
Google has revealed the latest designs for its new Mountain View office campus, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group and Heatherwick Studio, the partnership that is also collaborating on Google’s new London offices. This is the third iteration of the designs which will now be presented at a public hearing pending approval by Mountain View City Council. The designs of the purpose built office complex and campus maintain the tent like structures from previous ideas as well as a heavily landscaped environment. The public spaces, pavilions, cafes, research labs, event spaces will be at ground level with offices on a mezzanine level. The new design for the roof incorporates curved metal shapes in grey which will discourage birds from flying into the structure.
March 9, 2017
If European employers want to attract the best job candidates, they need to utilise the latest mobile technologies to attract the right talent pool, a new report commissioned by the Futurestep division of Korn Ferry, has claimed. In a digital and mobile-first world, where candidates browse potential jobs and apply via mobile devices, just 20 percent of respondents in EMEA use mobile technology tools for recruitment – the lowest usage rates in the global study. In addition, just 45 percent say they use video interviewing, while only 46 percent use online assessment tools. According to Talent Forecast, the second part of a major global survey into recruitment and engagement which polled more than 1,100 hiring professionals this represents a missed opportunity as these can help make the talent acquisition process streamlined and more efficient.
March 8, 2017
This is the second of two responses to an excellent article by Antony Slumbers, the first being this perspective from my mirrored room, in this instance offering that his views offer a far too presumptive picture of how technology will shape our work future. The paragraph headlines are from Antony’s original article. One person’s optimism is another’s pessimism. A decade ago the dream of liberated commute-free teleworking was, to many, the nightmare of enforced seclusion to the soundtrack of the dishwasher. The deployment of robots for the performance of menial tasks creating time and wealth for leisure is another’s horror at the loss of employment and resultant anomic fragmentation and decay. The fatally pointless optimism of Candide’s Dr Pangloss was agnostic in regard to every such outcome. It was positive only because there could be no alternative, and therefore no better alternative.
March 6, 2017
Younger workers are less and less loyal to employers, which is driving firms to place greater emphasis on benefits, empowerment and a better working environment, according to a study from ReportLinker. The small scale online study of 500 people found that Millennials are less likely than older generations to say they’re highly committed to their employer, with just 40 percent saying they somewhat agree with this statement compared to 66 percent of older workers say they’re highly committed to their organisation. The report concludes that this is encouraging employers to introduce new ways of winning the loyalty of employees. For example, 87 percent of employees who are more involved in decision-making are also more likely to say they are committed to their employers although, as always, we should be wary of the distinction between correlation and causation.
March 6, 2017
Over two thirds of people in developed markets worldwide now own a smartphone, according to a study of 625,000 people by Google and researchers Kantar. But sales in major markets fell 2 percent last year as the market reached full maturity with consumers reluctant to change brands and vendors increasingly focussed on selling upgrades and replacing existing devices. The five-year study found that 70 percent now use a smartphone, up from 51 percent in 2012. Dependence on the devices is also growing with 54 percent preferring to carry out a task digitally, two-thirds (65 percent) use the smartphone to go online ‘at least as much’ as a computer, and 76 percent using their smartphones or other connected devices while watching TV.
March 3, 2017
The Institute for Employment Studies (IES) has published its annual collection of articles addressing today’s pressing issues for organisations. In acknowledgement of current turbulent times, the team of researchers and consultants have pulled together existing research and their own insights from working with organisations, offering their reflections on how leaders and HR practitioners can successfully navigate the imminent challenges. The collection, Darkening Skies? IES Perspectives on HR 2017, reflects the current sense of uncertainty around what future awaits. The shift towards new and more precarious forms of work, made possible by the growth in digital platforms and solutions, is a recurring topic appearing in many of the articles. They also explore the possible effects and mitigations of known issues such as the ageing workforce and its associated health implications; the growing need to support employee financial wellbeing; and the dangers of ignoring the employee voice.
March 2, 2017
The ethical, practical and philosophical implications of how we live alongside robots is something we will have to address very soon. It is a point well made in this conversation between Kate Darling of MIT and the neuroscientist Sam Harris. But we’ve had parts of this conversation before. For example, while most people will not have read the book from which it came, those with an interest in work, workplaces and their links with our happiness (or perceived lack of it) will know that the British philosopher Bertrand Russell once famously said that “one of the symptoms of approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important”. This famous quote is taken from a short book he wrote in 1930 called The Conquest of Happiness. It’s worth going beyond that quote and reading the whole thing to see it in context and remind ourselves that a preoccupation with finding happiness is not current, but eternal. In fact, large passages could have been written today, especially those which consider our relationship with work, the time and energy we expend on it and the importance each of us attributes to what we do.
March 2, 2017
Fostering behavioural change among employees to encourage them to make healthier lifestyle choices could deliver both productivity gains and economic growth, a new report claims. According to Human-Centric Health: Behaviour Change and the Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases, by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Willis Towers Watson, behavioural economics will be critical to encourage healthier lifestyles and reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular disease, mental illness, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes) that account for approximately 16 million premature deaths annually and will cost an estimated cumulative loss of $47 trillion in economic activity worldwide over the next two decades. According to the analysis, technology such as mobile phones with accelerometers that make activity challenges easier and engage individuals in a community of supportive peers will improve people’s understanding of health-related knowledge and encourage them to reshape their behaviour. Linking individuals to ‘commitment contracts’ to exercise, quit smoking, or adhere to medicine prescription schedules will also be easier to monitor using sensors and mobile technology.
March 1, 2017
Entrepreneur and inventor Sir James Dyson is to create a 517 acre campus in the Cotswolds as part of a £2.5 billion investment to establish a robotics and artificial intelligence firm capable of taking on the likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook. Although Dyson has previously come under fire for his decision to site parts of his operation overseas, the creation of the facility is the biggest investment in the UK’s technology since the Brexit vote. The firm has consistently increased its headcount in the UK in recent years and now employs around 3,500 people in its home market. The latest announcement is expected to see that increase that to 14,000, many of them highly skilled engineers and scientists. The location is a former RAF base in Hullavington, Wiltshire, and will aim to significantly shift the perception of the firm as primarily a vendor of vacuum cleaners to become a pioneer of AI, robotics and high density power systems.