About Mark Eltringham

Mark is the publisher of Workplace Insight and IN Magazine. He has worked in the office design and management sector for over twenty five years as a journalist, marketing professional, editor and consultant.

Posts by Mark Eltringham:

Google and Yahoo office strategies teach us the value of the velvet glove

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Velvet gloveIt’s a week now since the whole Yahoo-ha kicked off and since that time everybody has had their say on the matter including – refreshingly – those in the mainstream media. The story has followed its own narrative arc, from the initial gasps of horror at Yahoo’s audacious challenge to a cherished piece of contemporary received wisdom (coupled with the reminder that Yahoo still exists) to something more thoughtful and circumspect as we learned more about the thinking behind the decision.What has become apparent is that Yahoo’s actions were based on a tacit understanding that people work better on certain tasks when they are together.

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Working ‘proper hours’ may no longer be possible

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I'm alright JackToday is the Trades Union Congress’s self-styled ‘Work Your Proper Hours Day’. Last week the TUC announced that it had used Government statistics to calculate that more than 5 million UK employees put in an average of over 7 hours of unpaid overtime a week, adding around £28 billion a year to the economy. Like me, you might be surprised the figures are that low and certainly I think a lot of people would be delighted to only put in an extra 7 hours a week. You might also be dismayed the TUC is advocating workers add less of their time into the economy by clocking off on time today. However, the bigger problem is surely with the language and ideas put forward by the TUC.

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Workplace Anachronisms: No. 1 – the BCO Specification Guide

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Boy Wearing Men's Dress Shoes and Suit --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisThe British Council for Offices claims that it is ‘Britain’s leading forum for the discussion and debate of issues affecting the office sector. Its members are organisations involved in creating, acquiring or occupying office space, whether architects, lawyers, surveyors, financial institutions or public agencies.’ If true, this makes its Specification Guide all the more remarkable for not only being wide of the mark about at least one key issue when it was published back in 2009, but about which it is growing increasingly redundant by the day.

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UK centralised public sector purchasing – still work to do

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Whitehall,_LondonThe National Audit Office today publishes its report  Improving Government Procurement. The mainstream media will doubtless stay focussed on the headline examples of ‘waste’, especially in high-spending and high-profile departments such as the MOD and NHS. But for the public sector and its suppliers there is more to be concerned about in one of the main conclusions of the report; that less than half of public sector spending in the UK is carried out across departments to take advantage of economies of scale. That this is the case has long been a source of frustration for those suppliers signed up to framework agreements who find that things aren’t as clear cut as they believe when it comes to purchasing decisions.

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Generation Y employees see themselves as risk averse

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Gen YThe Generation that put the Y in N-E-E-D-Y is the subject of yet another survey, this time one reporting that its members view themselves as less entrepreneurial and more risk averse than either Generation X (30-49 year olds) and the baby boomer generation (50-69). The survey of nearly 3,000 people by monster.com and Millennial Branding found that just under a third (32%) of Gen Y workers consider themselves to be entrepreneurial, compared to 41% of Gen X staff and 45% of baby boomers. Similarly 28% of Millennial respondents identified themselves as not being averse to risk compared to 40% of Gen X and 43% of boomers.

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UAE’s infrastructure investment drives rapid construction sector growth

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Abu DhabiThe full impact of high levels of government spending as well as private sector and foreign investment in infrastructure and development in the Gulf is evident in a new report from analysts RNCOS which claims that the construction sector in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is set to grow from its current size of $39.4bn at the end of 2012 by a compound rate of 9.5% a year until 2016. The report breaks the market down into four major areas of development; retail, residential, office and hospitality. The follow on effects for firms offering products and services will, of course, also be substantial.

Video: ‘We are not as endlessly predictable as you would think’

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An old one, but still my favourite from the RSA Animate series. It’s always worth reminding ourselves that the issue of motivation is very complex. People are not machines and function within the context of a whirl of emotions, relationships, influences, events, crises, stimuli, personal characteristics and thoughts.  That is why many of our assumptions about motivation are false. One of the presentation’s more important conclusions – that we are purpose maximisers as much as profit maximisers – is supported by the story we published this morning.

Yahoo is not the only firm that doesn’t like flexible working

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Yahoo! Sunnyvale headquarters.  October 28, 2001 (Y! Photo / Brian McGuiness)As news emerged over the weekend from Silicon Valley that Yahoo had introduced a new policy that insisted employees work from the company’s HQ, a survey from O2 in the UK highlighted just how many firms are not as keen on the practice of flexible working as they might claim in theory. The question we need to ask is whether this represents a genuine shift away from the assumption that we are moving towards more agile working practices, or is this just the last knockings of the old guard?

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Brussels to challenge the UK in court on Green Deal VAT

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Office at nightThe European Commission has confirmed intends to take the UK Government to court to force the Treasury to impose the full rate of VAT on energy-saving goods which are a key element of the flagship Green Deal energy efficiency scheme. The Green Deal is designed not only to improve the UK’s environmental performance but also boost the economy. The commission issued a statement yesterday confirming it would refer the UK to the EU Court of Justice over the practice of imposing reduced VAT rates on green goods which it claims break EU law and won’t deliver the aims of the government’s flagship Green Deal energy efficiency scheme.

Greenbiz publishes latest State of Green Business report

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Green Biz_0000Greenbiz has published its sixth annual State of Green Business report, setting out what it claims are the ten key environmental trends for organisations to look out for in 2013. Many focus on the overlap between pure business goals and corporate social responsibility, for example in terms of managing supply chains to reduce risk, making more efficient use of resources, the impact of new technology and working practices and the role of creating value through a healthy working environment.

Survey reveals UK’s total obsession with technology

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Square EyesGen Y may still be grabbing all the headlines but the full scale of the potential technological immersion of Gen Z is evident in the findings of a new report from Halifax Insurance. The Digital Home Index claims that the average child born in the UK today will spend around a quarter of their lives watching non-work related technology before the age of 80. The report also claims that three quarters of British people already claim they would struggle to get through a day without their technology. The full pervasiveness of smartphone, tablet, laptop and MP3 technology in modern British lives is apparent in some of the more jaw-dropping findings from the survey of 2,500 people.

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A third of companies make no checks on their suppliers

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Broken chainThe ongoing European horsemeat scandal may be the most high profile example of what happens when companies lose sight of what is going on in their supply chain, but according to a new report from Ernst & Young, ignorance of the ethical standards and activities of suppliers in the UK is endemic. Over half of UK businesses do not carry out due diligence on their suppliers and 30 percent admit to carrying out no checks at all. In turn, this inevitably throws doubts on the ethical standards of the same companies as well as any environmental or other aspects of corporate social responsibility.   More →

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