About Neil Franklin

Neil Franklin is Insight's news editor

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Green building council publishes new guidance for UK local authorities

Green building council publishes new guidance for UK local authorities

green buildingThe UK Green Building Council has published new guidance for local authorities on the environmental performance of their new buildings. The organisation has published its latest Commercial Playbook to “fill the gap left by national policy, which is not currently delivering change at the pace that is required to meet the UK’s environmental commitments”. More →

‘Great Resignation’ means companies must adapt to needs of workers

‘Great Resignation’ means companies must adapt to needs of workers

Great resignationWorkers are leaving jobs like never before, and it’s causing a shortage of talent that has companies around the globe reeling, according to a survey conducted by Citrix Systems. Based on a poll of 1,000 US based knowledge workers, 40 percent have left at least one job in the past year or are considering doing so. The report from the firm sets out the factors behind the so-called Great Resignation and what firms may have to do in response. More →

Commuting has some mental and physical health benefits, claim researchers

Commuting has some mental and physical health benefits, claim researchers

commuters and commutingA new study from researchers at University College London claims that the journey to work has benefits for people’s mental health, fitness levels and work-life balance. According to the study into attitudes to commuting led by neuroscientist Joseph Devlin, around half of the 3,000 people surveyed said taking in the scenery by train was the ‘best part’ of heading into the while a quarter said it was the chance for ‘me time’, including reading, listening to podcast or catching up on emails. More →

Hybrid working opens door to greater risk of data breaches

Hybrid working opens door to greater risk of data breaches

hybrid working data breachesMore than eight in 10 (83 percent) UK businesses say hybrid working increases the risk of a data breach, yet over a fifth (22 percent) remain unprepared if it happens, ­­with speed of response the top concern. According to new research published within TransUnion’s Data Breach Support for Businesses ebook (registration), business leaders expect 43 percent of their workforce to be hybrid working in the coming year, splitting their time between the office and remote working. Yet this change to working practices means a far greater potential for devices and data to end up in the wrong hands. More →

Remote working led to drop in high quality output, Microsoft study concludes

Remote working led to drop in high quality output, Microsoft study concludes

remote workingA new study of 61,000 Microsoft employees claims that the sudden shift to remote working had a profound effect on their work behaviours and output. Overall, remote workers spent less time in meetings, had fewer real time conversations and worked in more siloed ways. Crucially it found that there was a reduction in the strengths of ties between people and fewer networking opportunities. While not suggesting that office based work and remote work are necessarily better than the other, the study concludes that the drop in loose connections and chances of networking with other teams could have a negative impact on higher quality work outputs and working culture. More →

Air quality guidelines from WHO aim to save millions of lives

Air quality guidelines from WHO aim to save millions of lives

air qualityNew World Health Organization (WHO) Global Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs) claim to provide clear evidence of the damage air pollution inflicts on human health, at even lower concentrations than previously understood. The guidelines recommend new air quality levels to protect the health of populations, by reducing levels of key air pollutants, some of which also contribute to climate change. More →

Flexible working rights consultation welcomed by CIPD

Flexible working rights consultation welcomed by CIPD

flexible working rightsThe CIPD has welcomed a new consultation from the UK Government on making flexible working requests a day one right. The CIPD launched its #FlexFrom1st campaign in February, calling for all employees to have the immediate right to request flexible working. Under the proposed legislation, companies would be obliged to explain their reasons if it is then refused. The plan would also oblige employers to respond to such requests more quickly, and is being billed as a major reshaping of the way people work in a post-pandemic world, making flexible work the default. More →

Demand for office space outside London could soar, claims KPMG report

Demand for office space outside London could soar, claims KPMG report

New ways of working will boost UK productivity and increase employment levels in cities outside of London, according to a new report from KPMG. And as businesses in some sectors prepare for employees to spend two to three days a week working from home on a permanent basis, demand for office space could see capacity potentially increase by as much as 40 percent, according to a new KPMG report, New working patterns and the transformation of UK business landscape.

The increased availability of office space in major business hubs is expected to attract businesses from smaller areas to fill up the vacant space, with cities like Manchester, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds and Birmingham set to see employment rise by 5-10 percent as a result. This will have a significant knock on effect for demand for office space.

Areas in central London are also expected to benefit, as well as smaller towns and cities with a large proportion of the workforce working partially from home. Meanwhile, less dense business areas could see a decline in employment and may need to be transformed into more residential, leisure, retail and other uses.

As the business landscape consolidates, KPMG analysis also claims the change could boost overall UK labour productivity by 0.5 percent, thanks to businesses being able to tap into a larger pool of workers, suppliers, and clients.

Yael Selfin, Chief Economist at KPMG UK, commented on the report: “As we emerge from the pandemic, businesses need to adapt to the new environment they will be facing. Some may choose to relocate to larger business hubs to boost profitability, while others in less central areas could see their local customer base profile change. While the overall impact on the UK economy is expected to be positive, the changes ahead could prove challenging for those businesses already saddled by the pandemic.”

The report examines how local high streets in residential towns and neighbourhoods are expected to reap the benefits of greater homeworking through increased demand by residents during the week. But the impact on high streets across the UK is unlikely to be uniform. Some places may be hit relatively hard by the loss of office workers due to their proximity to a larger business hub, which may be compounded by the loss of commuter footfall among remaining employees due to the prevalence of working from home.

Yael Selfin added: “As people spend more time working from home and less time in the office, we could see a revival of the local high street.

“They will need to transform into places of purpose to meet demand for community-based services, hospitality, culture, as well as retail. High street offering in smaller towns and cities may need to become more focused on residents’ needs and less focused on businesses and commuters.

“This transformation will require local government, residents and businesses to work together to map their future shape and make concrete plans to support and enable the necessary changes to make the most of the new post-Covid business reality.”

Chris Hearld, Head of Regions at KPMG UK, commented: “Over time, a shift in business location could support the rise of several major business hubs across the UK. An increase in the concentration of businesses and workers has the potential to make those businesses located there more productive and enable these areas to serve as the engines of economic growth. This should also support the Government’s Levelling Up agenda. Cities like Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, and Newcastle stand to benefit from such a consolidation of business locations. For this to happen they will need government to work closely with local leaders to ensure the transition is smooth and any barriers to growth are quickly ironed out.”

Landlords and occupiers must work together to meet climate change challenge

Landlords and occupiers must work together to meet climate change challenge

flexible work and climate changeDisruption, cost, building style, individual goals, responsibility and shared space are cited as the key sustainability challenges for the flexible office sector, according to the latest research report from The Instant Group. But while there is still a lot of work to be done in the sector as the role of the workplace evolves, Instant says that flex operators have an opportunity to lead the way in meeting the challenge of climate change. By creating innovative, low-carbon buildings, curating a clear engagement strategy with occupiers and landlords, and ensuring a low-carbon ambition is understood and adopted by everyone, flex operators can be the first to implement highly sustainable workplaces. More →

Climate change action highlighted by coalition ahead of Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day at COP26

Climate change action highlighted by coalition ahead of Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day at COP26

climate change actionFollowing the sobering message from the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, a coalition led by C40, the Global Alliance for Building and Construction (GlobalABC), The Resilience Shift, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) announce #BuildingToCOP26 — a partnership to promote radical collaboration for climate change action ahead of the Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day at COP26. More →

Uncertainty remains, but many people looking forward to meeting colleagues again

Uncertainty remains, but many people looking forward to meeting colleagues again

As businesses in the UK prepare to open their office doors en masse in the first week of September, new research reveals that office workers have got that back-to-school excitement and are feeling largely positive about the transition. Recruitment firm Michael Page questioned over 2,000 UK office workers on their attitudes to returning to the office and found that after eighteen months at home, around half claim to be ‘excited’ or ‘happy’ to spend more time in the office with their colleagues. Reminiscent of the first day back at school, almost three in ten (28 percent) said that they had picked out their outfit and packed their bag ahead of their first day back in the office. More →

Business confidence back to pre-pandemic levels, with fewer plans to shrink offices

Business confidence back to pre-pandemic levels, with fewer plans to shrink offices

CEOs of the world’s largest businesses are increasingly optimistic about the outlook for their own business, according to the latest KPMG CEO Outlook Survey. Despite a slower ‘return to normal’ than expected, their confidence in the global economy has returned to levels not seen since the start of the pandemic. The number planning to reduce their office footprints has fallen dramatically since the height of the pandemic, and instead there is a growing focus on introducing flexible working cultures. More →

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