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13 November 2015

Flexible working

What Leonardo da Vinci can teach us about the six hour working day

What Leonardo da Vinci can teach us about the six hour working day

The latest idea to grip the sometimes limited imagination of the world's workplace chatterers is that of the six hour working day. This has its roots in a Swedish experiment designed to limit the hours people work in an attempt to improve their work-life balance and possibly even increase their productivity. These are always commendable goals and you can see the logic. We know people find it increasingly hard to switch off, we know that this is bad for them and we know that long hours don't necessarily equate to greater productivity. The problem is that the very idea of a six hour day is rooted in the same command and control thinking routinely derided by the very people pushing for a new era of fixed hours. Indeed, you could achieve a six hour day simply by telling people to work a strict 9 to 5 and remember to take their full lunch hour and a couple of proper breaks. The whole idea is deeply conservative, dressed up in radical clothing.

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Workplace technology

People and businesses remain unprepared for next wave of technology

People and businesses remain unprepared for next wave of technology

The attitudes of businesses, public sector employers and people to the next wave of technological change remains a tangled and sometimes conflicting mishmash of fear, uncertainty and indifference according to three new reports. According to a new study published by Vodafone and YouGov, while businesses are aware of their need to keep pace with technological developments, around half doubt they will be able to keep up over the next five years. Meanwhile, a study from marketing technology firm Rocket Fuel claims that British people are broadly aware what is meant by artificial intelligence and many feel it will have a positive impact on their lives, especially millennials. However, another study from jobsite Indeed claims that a fifth of young people are unaware of the idea of automation and its potential impact on the jobs market and around half don't even consider it when making their career choices.

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Staff engagement

This might be the reason why firms are failing to fully engage their employees

This might be the reason why firms are failing to fully engage their employees

One of the enduring quests organisations continue to undertake is that for the fully engaged employee. They do this for very good business reasons. Managers who understand the benefits of employee engagement can expect to reap the substantial benefits of a more collaborative work environment. In turn, this will lead to an engaging and productive workspace. However, in a majority of organisations, employee engagement remains lower than 35 percent. In light of this principle, Impraise has conducted a study based on over 30 000 feedback interactions between hundreds of managers and employees to see how they would differ from each other when asking for feedback. The results that were found resulted to be interesting and gave a better understanding of the how engaged employees are, and what firms can do to address the chronic levels of disengagement.

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Green building

Megacities 3.0 report

Megacities are leading the way on climate change, claims action group

Ahead of COP21 next week, a new report 'Climate Action in Megacities 3.0', published by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) and research partner Arup states that since COP15 cities have taken the lead in climate action by forging a collaborative pathway to low carbon and climate resilient development. Mayors have scaled-up action- with 51 percent of schemes now delivered city-wide, as opposed to 14 percent in 2011. Since the last major COP in Copenhagen, C40 cities have taken 10,000 climate actions – a doubling of actions in just six years – and have committed to reduce their CO2 emissions by 3 Gt CO2 by 2030, equivalent to the annual carbon output of India. Furthermore, decisions taken by global cities to invest in low carbon development over the next 15 years have the potential to avoid locking in a total of 45 Gt of CO2, or eight times the total current annual emissions of the United States.

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Co-working

WeWork announces latest plans to dominate London's commercial property scene

WeWork announces latest plans to dominate London's commercial property scene

Coworking giant WeWork has announced three new deals as it seeks to become the major player in London's commercial property market. The firm, founded by Adam Neumann in New York in 2010, has made no secret of its plans for London as we reported earlier this year. The office space provider already has six London locations which it lets out …

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Human resources

Many staff are planning to bunk off or shop online at work this Black Friday

Many staff are planning to bunk off or shop online at work this Black Friday

Whatever you make of Black Friday, and we see it quite clearly as an alien intrusion that taps into the worst instincts of some people, there is no doubt that it has quickly captured the imaginations of pretty large parts of the UK population. Although only on these shores for a couple of years, its influence is such that the media has already begun what promises to be an annual hand-wringing over this coming Friday's outpouring of consumerism. Meanwhile logistics companies are dusting off their mothballed depots to cope with demand and gum up the roads while retailers continue to ponder whether they want to associate themselves with the whole wretched exercise in the first place. It's also a growing problem for employers as two new surveys show that a significant number of their employees are planning to spend at least some part of their day shopping online, throwing sickies or taking the day off work.

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Agile working

Insight Briefing: the growth of agile workplaces in the UK public sector

Insight Briefing: the growth of agile workplaces in the UK public sector

The process of transforming the UK's public sector estate may have begun under the last Labour administration but it's fair to say that change really began to kick in as a consequence of the austerity programme initiated by the current administration. Central Government departments and local authorities had already started exploring new ways of owning and occupying their property in …

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Workplace

The benefits of peeling back the layers of the workplace onion

The benefits of peeling back the layers of the workplace onion

The onion metaphor is normally used to describe the layers which must be peeled away to get to the all-important “core” of a problem or issue. The biggest question that is normally asked with respect to choosing office space based on the promise of improved productivity, is quantifying the value of the various initiatives that might be contemplated or proposed. I can’t help but think of how complex that question is due to the many “layers” there are to work through to get to a final quantifiable answer. In its most simple form the question of productivity in the workplace, is confined to how staff utilise their time to undertake the tasks or duties that correspond to expected output. But of course it is not only their use of time, but the environmental influences associated their environment, both in the workplace, its surroundings (the actual building and the precinct in which it is located) and their method of travel to the office.

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Public sector

Some good and bad news about the Government's real estate strategy

Some good and bad news about the Government's real estate strategy

Two key themes have shaped the current UK Government's attitude to its real estate and other resources since it came to office in 2010 and embarked on a programme of austerity. They are the twin desires to 'cut waste' and 'do more with less'. These are not easy tricks to pull off, as a new report from the Institute for Government suggests.  Published ahead of the upcoming Spending Review, the study sees the Government's  main challenge being how best to match its commitments with its resources. Two of the main ideas discussed are the rolling out of more digital services and what the paper calls institutional reform, which it suggests includes the loss of another 100,000 public sector jobs over the next five years. But as two news reports published over the weekend suggest, this kind of change can sometimes create more problems than it solves when it comes to Government property.

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