April 27, 2017
Employees are divided on whether remote access to the workplace is really a positive or negative development, with almost a third of UK workers (32 percent) feeling that having remote access to the workplace means they can’t switch off in their personal time. According to the latest CIPD/Halogen Employee Outlook report, two-fifths of UK workers (40 percent) admit to actively checking their work mobile or emails at least five times a day outside of working hours. Nearly a fifth (18 percent) feel as though they are under surveillance with remote access to work, and 17 percent say it makes them feel anxious or even impacts their quality of sleep. However, almost a third (30 percent) of employees say they feel empowered by having remote access to the workplace, showing a divide in opinion. Indeed, more than half of employees (53 percent) say it helps them to work flexibly and more than a third (37 percent) say it makes them more productive.
April 27, 2017
More than six in ten workers value happiness at work over salary and even those more motivated by salary agree that a setting that allows friendships to flourish could provide invaluable benefits for businesses, a new survey suggests. The research by Wildgoose found that 57 percent of respondents thought having a best friend in the office made their time at work more enjoyable, almost a third were more productive and over one in five said it boosted their creativity. The survey also highlighted the differences in attitudes across various groups and demographics. Women were far more likely to prioritise happiness, with eight in ten placing it above salary, compared to just 55 percent of males. The job level of an employee also played a significant role. For 85 percent of managers, salary was deemed more important, while 70 percent of entry-level, interns, and executives chose happiness.
April 26, 2017
A major research study into Health and Wellbeing in offices has been launched by the British Council for Offices (BCO). “Wellness Matters: Health and Wellbeing in offices and what to do about it” is a year-long project which aims to provide definitive guidance on how to enable office Health and Wellbeing across a building’s lifecycle. The major research study has been commissioned to critique existing Health and Wellbeing measurement and certification, identify the most recent and relevant medical evidence justifying a proactive approach to Health and Wellbeing in the built environment, and give guidance on the business case for investment in this space beyond simply improving productivity. Most significantly, this research aims to deliver a practical guide to creating a healthy environment across the different stages of a building’s life cycle, from design, construction and leasing to the most important aspect by time and value: occupation and asset management.
April 25, 2017
For decades, humankind has sought to establish the link between office design and productivity. And by humankind I mean a parochial band of researchers, suppliers, workplace specialists, futurologists and designers with a special interest in the whole thing. Most other people only expressed a passing interest in the subject. It did not seem to matter to this band that the whole thing had been proved many times over many years, invariably falling on cloth, if not exactly deaf, ears. We’ve known for some time what makes people happy and productive at work and much of the new research has merely served to proved something we already know. Undaunted, researchers maintained their quest for the evidence that would get the message across to an apparently indifferent world. This quest has mutated over the past few years into something that is at first glance only slightly different but which has some rather interesting implications. The go-to workplace topic of the early 21st Century is no longer productivity per se, but wellbeing, and that is making all the difference.
April 25, 2017
New research into workplace culture has found that employees with higher levels of autonomy in their work reported positive effects on their overall wellbeing and higher levels of job satisfaction. Researchers at the University of Birmingham Business School examined changes in reported well-being relative to levels of autonomy using two separate years of data for 20,000 employees from the Understanding Society survey. The research, published in the journal Work and Occupations, found that levels of autonomy differed considerably between occupations and by gender. Those working in management reported the highest levels of autonomy in their work, with 90 percent reporting ‘some’ or ‘a lot’ of autonomy in the workplace. The finding backs up research from Cass Business School, the German Institute for Economic Research, Abraham Maslow and elsewhere.
April 20, 2017
A new study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that cycling to work could halve the risk of cancer and heart disease and that any active form of travel to work offers similar health benefits. Although the report does not claim to establish the direct causal links, the five year study of 250,000 commuters in the UK concludes that “cycle commuting was associated with a lower risk of CVD, cancer, and all cause mortality. Walking commuting was associated with a lower risk of CVD independent of major measured confounding factors. Initiatives to encourage and support active commuting could reduce risk of death and the burden of important chronic conditions.” The five-year study compared people who had an active commute with those who were mostly sedentary in cars and public transport. The report found that regular cycling to work cut the risk of death from any cause by 41 percent, the incidence of cancer by 45 percent and heart disease by 46 percent.
April 19, 2017
It’s not just the nascent fourth industrial revolution that is challenging our traditional views of work, but also the growing realisation that we could be doing things so much better anyway. The author Douglas Coupland and the World Economic Forum are already holding conversations about the fundamental issues with work and how we go about it. At the heart of this is the very design of jobs and what it means for us and our wellbeing. Only 28 percent of people in the UK are highly satisfied with their jobs, and yet, estimates suggest that an adult in work would spend an average of 57 percent of their waking hours working. A new international study from the University of East Anglia and the What Works Centre for Wellbeing based on a review of 4,000 pieces of research claims to show why organisations often fail to improve staff wellbeing. It suggests that employees should be encouraged to design their own jobs, and find ways to help managers better understand their concerns.
April 18, 2017
When it comes to working in an office, hell really can be other people. Many staff can have enormous difficulties coming to terms with the sounds that form the backdrop to their working day, especially if they work in open plan areas. The problem of noise at work is particularly acute right now because most UK employees now work in open plan offices and at workstations that are on average about 20 percent smaller than they were ten years or so ago. Yet, on the face of it, the business case for working in open plan offices is pretty clear cut. Not only is it more conducive to communication and less bound by ideas of that great contemporary no-no that we call ‘status’, open plan workstations not only take up around half the space of cellular offices, the costs of fitting out a cellular office are around 25 per cent higher than an equivalent open plan space. It’s no surprise that the open plan is the default model for most workplaces in many countries.
April 13, 2017
More than half (55 percent) of employers have reported an increase in the level of stress and mental health related illnesses at work, according to the annual Benefits and Trends Survey from Aon. The survey claims that while 72 percent of employers believed they had a key role in influencing employee health in 2015, this decreased to 67 percent in 2016. The survey did find that employers have tactics to support health and wellbeing – branded wellness programmes (21 percent) and flexible working (20 percent) being the most popular – but these may be disconnected to what employees and the business actually need. Not surprisingly then, 58 percent would like a better understanding of the impacts of health risks, while 72 percent now use some form of data to drive health and wellbeing strategy. The most popular sources were absence data (57 percent) and employee engagement surveys (45 percent). In addition, the number of employers that have considered managing a known health risk is on the increase – rising to 48 percent from 25 percent in the last two years (42 percent in 2015).
April 11, 2017
A new report from Office Genie claims to identify the factors that affect the happiness British staff in the workplace. While the average level of workplace happiness for British employees sits at 3.63/5, the study of 2,000 staff claims to have found some serious causes for concern. Junior staff were the least happy in the workforce: they rank at 3.40 on the happiness scale – comparatively, business owners rank at 4.20 – a significant 25 percent higher. Of further concern, according to the report, was the fact employees with mental health issues feel unsupported in the workplace: Over half (51 percent) of such respondents believe their place of work offers inadequate levels of support. Amongst this demographic the most called-for support method is wellness initiatives, with 45 percent of people with mental health issues saying they would be beneficial – well above the overall average.
April 4, 2017
Nearly half (46 percent) of employees questioned in a new survey feel more stressed at work than they did a year ago and 17 percent feel their work stress levels are ‘much higher,’ new research has claimed. The data, from Specialists4Protection.co.uk also suggests that 16 percent of people in work claim to have taken medical advice to help them cope with work-related stress, and 13 percent are on medication partly because of this. Just 12 percent say they feel less stressed than they were 12 months ago. The impact of this is not just felt at work. Fifty five percent of those suffering from work related stress say it has adversely affected their sleep, and 19 percent claim it’s contributed towards a decline in their relationship with their partner. Four out of ten (40 percent) say work-related stress means they are not eating properly and 42 percent are doing less exercise.
April 1, 2017
The overwhelming majority of UK workers don’t do anything productive at all, according to a new report published today. The study of available research into the illnesses, injuries, distractions, wastes of time, procrastinations, productivity drains and paralyses that afflict British workers found that the annual cost to the British economy is around £1.8 trillion, equivalent to 98.9 percent of GDP. The analysis was carried out by a team at the University of Salford led by Dr April Fullstay and Dr Juan Bjorn Avery-Minid drawing on five years of research and surveys across a range of issues to create the ‘most comprehensive overview of UK absenteeism and unproductive behaviours, their causes and consequences yet published’. The researchers suggest that the era of robotic workers can’t come soon enough although the recent example of Microsoft’s Twitterbot Tay that was taught to be a bigot suggests even that may prove to be a complete waste of everybody’s time.